The 14 State Challenge is a

marvelous initiative. The Winter issue of A.T. Journeys came in today’s mail and I read Anne Baker’s article (“14 States Endless Ways to Hike”) with great interest. I have been walking on the A.T. for 46 years and lived beside it for 13 years. I have no ambition to walk the entire length. This notion of hiking some portion in each state is very appealing. I have my aspirational patch already. Seven states down, seven to go.

Barry “Loop Trail” Chafin

Louisville, Kentucky
Did the “late Georgia start

Flip-Flop”: Springer Mountain to Harpers Ferry. Then Katahdin to Harpers Ferry — the best way to walk the Trail and see its demographic profiles and the most important ways of walking it! Loved starting with late starters, who are a fascinating mix. Loved the adventure down south (such as nearly getting killed by falling pines in the 80 mph winds in the Smokies, drinking moonshine, and talking politics with the [locals]). Loved to hate the bugs, flooded parts of the Trail, and the mud (thank God for the slimy rocks and roots so one can hop from one to another for miles, right?!) Loved to meet the much more solipsistic SOBOs. Loved the solitude of the southbound hike. Loved southern Maine and northern New Hampshire, especially the part from Caratunk to Gorham — so beautiful one could die of happiness. Loved walking back into the NOBO bubble and meeting the people I had hiked with down south — oh, the joy of seeing so many friends again! Loved the challenging weather in the Whites. Loved getting back into the temperate kind of woods, descending from Mount Moosilauke. Had some hard time through Vermont and Massachusetts due to vitamin deficiency and a head cold. Loved coming out of the NOBO bubble and its straggler tail; the woods were again all mine. Was amused by the occasional and quirky late summer section-hiker. Enjoyed the slow descent that went on and on, all through Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania; it was like landing a big jet, gently, oh, so gently. A big thanks to all of ATC, especially its volunteers. I am really grateful for being able to have this wonderful and insightful experience.

Jakob Jasa Kenda

Ljubljana, Slovenia
I very much liked the illustration

by Rick Sealock of the damage going on to the ash trees along the Appalachian Trail (“Beneath the Bark” Winter 2018). If one picture can capture the carnage, then he was successful. We are losing the fight on most invasive species issues in this country. The battle to fight these things is worth the doing and we can win with one. This is not an American Chestnut story. We have the tools, we just need the effort. Thank you.

Frank Moulds

Delray Beach, Florida
I would like to thank the ATC for

making my hike possible. I am sure walking the Trail is quite simple compared to the issues that must be handled daily to keep the Trail intact and clear. Thank you for what you do!

Patrick W. Wright

Chandler, North Carolina
ATC: Keep doing what you are

doing! The A.T. is a treasure we must protect. The original intent is being well-served. The fact that there is a continuous “thread” of a path through the wilderness that extends from Georgia to Maine is still a major source of wonderment to me.

Jeff M. Connally

Austin, Texas

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Letters to the Editor
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425-0807

 I was introduced to backpacking at age 8. I had a homemade pack — my dad made the frame out of aluminum tubing and my mom made a pack bag out of canvas. I’ve passed on that passion to my son, now age 10 and already an experienced backpacker.
– Douglas Wagoner

Ready to get my little ones into backpacks ASAP! Thanks for the inspiration!

 My oldest grew up to be kayaker and my younger one, who is now 29, is in Japan walking a thousand miles of trail and has climbed Mt. Fuji. They were 8 and 6 during our first backpacking trip. You never know with a child, how something you do with them will change their lives. I was 24 the first time I stepped on the A.T. and it changed my life and the lives of my children. It is an experience that stays with you your whole life.
– Monty G. Heise 

Feels like a dream but I’m gunna walk thru that arch in a little over a day! Tuesday can’t come fast enough. Just wish my pack was 20lbs :/ and not 40!

I read the book about Grandma Gatewood last fall. Ugh! So good! Badass woman just doing what she wants, setting herself free and handling with her own problems. #IWD#rolemodel

 Our little post office in Delaware Water Gap, PA gets more than 400 packages every summer for thru-hikers. I’ve seen folks sitting outside the PO with open boxes, putting on new socks or boots, new gear, etc. Our town streets are literally part of the A.T. (you have to walk through town to take the bridge over the Delaware to Jersey), so it’s like having a mail drop on the Trail itself. We were told that the huge number of thru-hiker packages helped save our little post office from closure a few years ago. So, thanks hikers!
– Terrence Fagan