AT Journeys Spring 2019
FOREST
HEALTH

and the Wild East

Travel and Adventure
in Trailside Communities

Celebrating 2,000-Milers

FOREST
HEALTH

and the Wild East

Travel and Adventure
in Trailside Communities

Celebrating 2,000-Milers

FOREST
HEALTH

and the Wild East

Travel and Adventure in Trailside Communities

Celebrating 2,000-Milers

Spring 2019
Support the Trail You Love
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Contents / Spring 2019
2018 2,000-miler Kevin “Hungry Cat” Kelly with fellow hikers in Shenandoah National Park — a beloved destination for both day visitors and long-distance trekkers.
“Family photo” at Woods Hole Hostel
Bear-resistant food storage containers
Diverse habitat in pitch pine — srub oak barrens
Postcards from paradise
A true sense of place

ON THE COVER
A.T. sunset near Newfound Gap in the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
By Aaron Ibey

Adventure and culture await in communities
along the Trail
A.T. Forests and the vitality of the Wild East
Congratulations to thousands of dedicated hikers on their A.T. completions
Tips on bringing your best friend along for the hike
Treat yourself to some of the finer things Trailside
2018 2,000-miler Kevin “Hungry Cat” Kelly with fellow hikers in Shenandoah National Park — a beloved destination for both day visitors and long-distance trekkers.

ON THE COVER
A.T. sunset near Newfound Gap in the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
By Aaron Ibey
What’s happening along the Trail
“Family photo” at Woods Hole Hostel
Bear-resistant food storage containers
Diverse habitat in pitch pine — srub oak barrens
Postcards from paradise
A true sense of place
Adventure and culture await in communities along the Trail
A.T. Forests and the vitality of the Wild East
Congratulations to thousands of dedicated hikers on their A.T. completions
Tips on bringing your best friend along for the hike
Treat yourself to some of the finer things Trailside
ATC Executive Leadership

Suzanne Dixon / President & CEO
Stacey J. Marshall / Vice President of Finance & Administration
Elizabeth Borg / Vice President of Membership and Development
Laura Belleville / Vice President of Conservation & Trail Programs
Cherie A. Nikosey / Chief of Staff
Brian B. King / Publisher

A.T. Journeys

Wendy K. Probst / Editor in Chief
Traci Anfuso-Young / Art Director / Designer

Contributors

Jordan Bowman / Communications Manager
Laurie Potteiger / Information Services Manager
Brittany Jennings / Proofreader

MISSION
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail — ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.
Board of Directors

Sandra Marra / Chair
Greg Winchester / Vice Chair
Edward R. Guyot / Secretary
Mary Higley / Treasurer
Colin Beasley
Beth Critton
Grant Davies
Shalin Desai
Norman P. Findley
Thomas L. Gregg
Daniel A. Howe
Robert Hutchinson
James LaTorre
Colleen Peterson
Rubén Rosales

President’s Advisory Circle

Hon. C. Stewart Verdery, Jr. / Chair
Stephanie Martz / Co-Chair
Diana Christopulos
Constance I. DuHamel
Lisa Koteen Gerchick
Jessica Herrera-Flanigan
R. Michael Leonard
Robert Rich
Thomas Torrisi
Sara Hazelwood Yanes

© 2019 Appalachian Trail Conservancy. All rights reserved.
Membership

For membership questions or to become a member, call: (304) 885-0460

[email protected]

Advertising

A.T. Journeys is published four times per year. Advertising revenues directly support the publication and production of the magazine, and help meet Appalachian Trail Conservancy objectives. For more information and advertising rates, visit: appalachiantrail.org/atjadvertising

MISSION
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail — ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.
Board of Directors

Sandra Marra / Chair
Greg Winchester / Vice Chair
Edward R. Guyot / Secretary
Mary Higley / Treasurer
Colin Beasley
Beth Critton
Grant Davies
Shalin Desai
Norman P. Findley
Thomas L. Gregg
Daniel A. Howe
Robert Hutchinson
James LaTorre
Colleen Peterson
Rubén Rosales

President’s Advisory Circle

Hon. C. Stewart Verdery, Jr. / Chair
Hon. Stephanie Martz / Co-Chair
Diana Christopulos
Constance I. DuHamel
Lisa Koteen Gerchick
Jessica Herrera-Flanigan
R. Michael Leonard
Robert Rich
Thomas Torrisi
Sara Hazelwood Yanes

© 2019 Appalachian Trail Conservancy. All rights reserved.
The staff of A.T. Journeys welcomes editorial inquiries, suggestions, and comments. Email: [email protected]

Observations, conclusions, opinions, and product endorsements expressed in A.T. Journeys are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of members of the board or staff of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

A.T. Journeys is published on Somerset matte paper manufactured by Sappi North America mills and distributors that follow responsible forestry practices. It is printed with Soy Seal certified ink in the U.S.A. by Sheridan NH in Hanover, New Hampshire.

A.T. Journeys ( ISSN 1556-2751) is published quarterly for $15 a year by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 799 Washington Street, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, (304) 535-6331. Bulk-rate postage paid at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and other offices. Postmaster: Send change-of-address Form 3575 to A.T. Journeys, P.O. Box 807, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.

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Contributors
Contributors

I’ve learned that the key to roadtrip success is to not just visit the big attractions, but to seek out and be open to unexpected experiences, food, and people

Kim O’Connell

A CHANGE OF SCENERY, NO MATTER WHAT THE SCALE, for me is always a refreshing way to reset my mind. Whether it is my husband and I taking our two dogs for a short walk in a nearby park or packing us all up for a road trip to a new destination. Every one of our contributors in this issue was inspired by an aspect of their lives that deeply influences them and delivers a fresh perspective, creating a collage of stories, voices, and images that is as varied as the landscape of the A.T. From finding solace in forests — and realizing how important it is to protect those shady canopies of escape — to the excitement of planning a new adventure, to simply absorbing the sense of place that comes from a familiar or new environment — these stories encompass the larger story of the Wild East.

Wendy K. Probst / Editor in Chief
AT Journeys contributor, Katie Eberts

Katie Eberts
Inspired by simple outdoor surroundings like flower gardens and song birds, Katie Eberts hopes her illustrations will leave you feeling happy. She graduated from the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design and is currently a freelance artist/illustrator based in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Over the past six years, she has created several feature illustrations as well as artwork for two covers for A.T. Journeys. Some of her other clients include: Bon Appétit and Delicious Living. “Working on an illustration about healthy forests really appealed to me,” she says. “Having the opportunity to depict plants, animals, and humans in one peaceful setting felt like a sort of shout-out to the Peaceable Kingdom paintings by Edward Hicks. It was such a treat.”

AT Journeys contributor, Hannah Fries

Hannah Fries
Hannah Fries grew up in New Hampshire, spending many summers hiking and camping in the White Mountains, on and around the A.T. She graduated from Dartmouth College and went on to get an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She has worked as an editor at Orion magazine and at Storey Publishing — and is the author of the poetry collection Little Terrarium as well as the book Forest Bathing Retreat. She currently lives in western Massachusetts with her husband Adam Brown, and son, Amos. “One of life’s greatest joys, I think, is getting to really know a place,” she says. “…whether that place is a mountain, a river,a section of trail, a patch of woods in your backyard, or even the teaming ecosystem of a city block.”

AT Journeys contributor, Kim O'Connell
Kim O’Connell
A resident of Arlington, Virginia, Kim O’Connell has written about conservation, science, and history for a range of publications. With her husband and two children, she is on a quest to see all 50 U.S. states (with only three more to go) and is a veteran of several ambitious road trips. “I was drawn to writing the story about Travel and A.T. Communities because I’ve learned that the key to road-trip success is to not just visit the big attractions, but to seek out and be open to unexpected experiences, food, and people,” she says. After a recent trip to Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, Kim has now added visiting a long list of A.T. Communities to her future travel plans with her family.
AT Journeys contributor, Mark Ellison
Mark Ellison
Mark Ellison began exploring the southern Appalachian woods as an undergraduate at Western Carolina University. He became fascinated with the beauty and solitude he found there. His doctoral research at NC State focused on the restorative benefits of hiking in wilderness, which opened doors for collaboration with researchers and practitioners from other countries to better understand the connections between nature and human health. “Writing about forests along the Trail was intriguing to me because of its focus on us as the primary stewards of their health,” he says. “…not only for our own well-being, but for the other species that share the planet with us.
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President’s Letter
President’s Letter

SHOW A.T. COMMUNITIES YOUR LOVE

ABOUT A YEAR AGO, I WOKE up in an Airbnb in Pawling, New York. Before a full day of meetings, I pulled on my boots, stretched a minute on the deck, and headed up the hill for a quick hike on the Appalachian Trail. How did we find this lovely landing spot? It was advertised as the “A.T. House.”

On a recent Pennsylvania trip, I stayed at the Shawnee Inn, a historic property that sits across the Delaware River from the forested hills of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Approximately 25 miles of the Appalachian Trail run through this park. The Shawnee routinely sends guests out on A.T. adventures and offers guided hikes on other trails in the area, along with river trips and meals made with garden-fresh produce.

Suzanne Dixon / President & CEO

In Hot Springs, North Carolina, the Smoky Mountain Diner offers a “Hungry Hiker” burger on its lunch menu. Farther south, near Bryson City, the River’s End restaurant is sandwiched between the best of land and water recreation — the A.T. and the whitewater of the Nantahala River.

From Georgia to Maine, close to 50 communities and counties are designated Appalachian Trail Communities. These and many other towns, villages, and small cities near the Trail are hospitality centers not only for the A.T., but also for all kinds of other outdoor recreation experiences. These communities are where visitors launch their explorations of the Wild East — the important corridor of open space that consists of and surrounds the Appalachian Trail. Where hikers, walkers, bicyclists, paddlers, birders, and you name it provision, refuel, and rest up.

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Letters
Letters
A.T. Journeys Winter Issue cover

YOU GUYS ROCK! IT TAKES SO much to maintain a trail so long, rugged, and with so much foot traffic. Yet the only time I found myself hopping over downed trees was the day after a hurricane (and Trail maintainers were already out there). I know that your work goes beyond Trail maintenance, but this is just one example of the excellent work you do. Thank you!

Kreg “Carrot Top” Moccia
Peabody, Massachusetts

BEGAN A 30-DAY BACKPACKING trip to escape from everyday life and stress in Carlisle, Pennsylvania last June — heading northbound with no destination in mind. While meeting so many amazing people on the Trail and having such a great time, I wished the trip would go on. I realized I already had everything I needed on my back, so I got permission from my boss to continue hiking. My 30-day trip turned into a six-month adventure. I ended up having the time of my life on the Appalachian Trail. My adventure came to an end when I summited Springer in mid-December. I returned home, constantly wishing I was still on the Trail. Life is better there. Now I wonder what great adventure will come next in my life.

Christopher “Just Dave” Dube
Townsend, Delaware

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Overlook
Overlook

THE TRAIL COMMUNITY IN BLOOM

A.T.  - White Mountains National Forest just before Franconia Ridge. By Aaron Ibey

A.T. – White Mountains National Forest just before Franconia Ridge. By Aaron Ibey

WITH SPRING COMES NOT ONLY A RETURN OF warmer weather and greenery but also hiking boots and packs. The Teahorse Hostel in my home town, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, opened its doors recently and already our A.T. Community is busy with hikers. Harpers Ferry and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will be hosting its annual Flip Flop Festival at the end of April and hikers, choosing a “flip-flop” thru-hike, will come into town for last minute guidance and workshops before heading out on their adventure. While originally started as just an A.T.-focused event, the Flip Flop Festival has grown into a town-wide activity, involving all types of local businesses and bringing in visitors well beyond A.T. hikers.

In addition to Harpers Ferry, A.T. Communities up and down the Trail are making similar plans. In my area, our newest town, Round Hill, Virginia is gearing up for its Designation Day Appalachian Trail Festival. Planned for June, the event will coincide with the northbound thru-hiker “bubble” arriving in our area. From the early days of Damascus Trail Days, to now multiple communities along the entire Trail, we are seeing the importance and benefit hikers bring to these small towns.

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THE HEALTH OF FORESTS ALONG THE A.T. IS INTEGRAL TO THE VITALITY OF THE WILD EAST
By Mark Ellison / Illustration By Katie Eberts
Healthy Forests - AT Journeys Magazine
WE FIND ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL A REPRIEVE FROM MODERN LIFE FULL OF NOISE, LIGHT, AIR POLLUTION, AND CONSTANT CONNECTIVITY. Exploring the Trail is like going home, or entering a restorative cocoon. Though we have tried to separate ourselves from nature in our urban lives, our health is inseparable from that of the Earth. We are responsible for tending the relationship with the forests of the Wild East now, helping to replenish them similar to how the Cherokee and other indigenous cultures have for centuries.
Since the first section of the Appalachian Trail opened in 1923, millions of people have set foot on it seeking an escape in wild nature that is freeing, awe inspiring, and life changing; using it as an exit ramp from frenetic schedules, invasive noise, and incessant demands on our attention to some of the most splendid landscapes in the country. The U.S. population that year was 111 million, it now eclipses 327 million, bringing with it profound impacts.
AT Journeys: Trailhead - Buttermilk Falls
BUTTERMILK FALLS
There are numerous waterfalls along the A.T. — and nearby side/blue-blazed trails — that make for great viewing and destination hikes. At roughly 200 feet, Buttermilk Falls is the highest waterfall in New Jersey and is accessible via a 1.6-mile hike on a blue-blazed trail just off the A.T., or steps away from a parking area for those who don’t want to hike in. The striking waterfall is also part of a loop hike, which includes the Appalachian Trail, glacially-formed Crater Lake, Hemlock Pond, and several vista points with views of the surrounding Kittatinny Mountains.
AT Journeys: Hiking Basics
AT Journeys: Hiking Basics
Know Before You Go
Hiking even just a portion of the Appalachian Trail is the adventure of a lifetime, but you’ll enjoy that adventure even more if you’re prepared. Brush up on all the basics from proper gear and food to health and safety.
Basics: Footwear / Blisters
The most important thing is that shoes fit well and are broken-in. Nothing spoils the fun or ends a hike quicker than blistered feet. On a day hike, broken-in tennis shoes can be a better choice than brand-new boots. When carrying a backpack or hiking on rocky terrain, more substantial hiking shoes or boots may be desirable, but some hikers walk the entire A.T. in running shoes or cross-trainers. Remember, the heavier your pack, the more substantial a shoe you will need. Shop for boots in the afternoon as feet swell throughout the day. Thru-hikers can expect their feet to expand over the course of their hike, so if between sizes, choose the larger size. To help prevent blisters, break in new shoes or boots gradually before you begin your hike. As soon as you feel any discomfort or “hot spot” developing, stop hiking and place moleskin or duct tape over areas developing soreness.
trailhead
A.T. – Bear Mountain, Connecticut By Aaron Ibey
A.T. – Bear Mountain, Connecticut
National Trails Day
JUNE 1ST
Thousands of Events. One Adventurous Day. Find your own adventure and celebrate National Trails across the U.S.
A.T. – Protect Yourself Map
Protect Yourself
One of the greatest risks to your health while hiking the A.T. is from contracting a tick-borne disease. This most recent map from the CDC illustrates how widespread reported cases of Lyme disease have become on the East Coast. Risk is heightened during spring and summer.
A.T. Congressional Update
Congressional Update
Find out what’s happening on Capitol Hill — and how it will affect the Trail.
For more information visit:
appalachiantrail.org/takeaction
A.T. – Protect Yourself Map
Protect Yourself
One of the greatest risks to your health while hiking the A.T. is from contracting a tick-borne disease. This most recent map from the CDC illustrates how widespread reported cases of Lyme disease have become on the East Coast. Risk is heightened during spring and summer.
A.T. Congressional Update
Congressional Update
Find out what’s happening on Capitol Hill — and how it will affect the Trail.
For more information visit:
appalachiantrail.org/takeaction
trailhead
A View Worth Saving
By Peter J. Barr
Condition of the historic fire lookout tower atop the A.T.’s Rich Mountain — overlooking Hot Springs, North Carolina — became so unsafe by 2017 that it was closed indefinitely to hikers seeking to enjoy its 360-degree vantage point. Falling into disrepair in recent years, it suffered mightily from sustained vandalism and the stresses of weather extremes at its 3,670-foot elevation. The Rich Mountain tower straddles the state line and boundaries of North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest and Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest. The 31-foot lookout was erected by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in 1932 and utilized for fire detection for the next six decades. It has since remained a beloved scenic viewpoint along the A.T. for visiting hikers, and a historic structure that portrayed a bygone era of natural resource protection methodology. Too treasured of a landmark to lose, a partnership comprised of the Forest Fire Lookout Association (FFLA), the USFS, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), and Carolina Mountain Club joined forces to complete restoration of the tower in 2018. The restoration was made possible by funding from the ATC’s License Plate Grant Programs in North Carolina and Tennessee. Grants made to the North Carolina FFLA — a non-profit that seeks to preserve, restore, and interpret historic fire lookout towers — leveraged an additional $100,000 from the USFS to achieve the project. The Rich Mountain tower received a full structural overhaul, including new roofing, wooden cab walls and deck railings, lightning rods and grounding wiring, fresh paint, installation of durable, vandal-proof metal-grate flooring and stairs, and even a security camera to mitigate vandalism. Both the tower’s venerable history and its stunning panorama from the top are now preserved and accessible to A.T. hikers as a reward for their long climb up the mountain.
The Rich Mountain Tower is just one of six fire towers that have been restored along the Trail in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. They include: Albert Mountain, NC; Wayah Bald, NC; Wesser Bald, NC; Mount Cammerer, NC/TN; and Camp Creek Bald, NC/TN. The Blood Mountain, GA, and Roan High Knob, NC/TN, fire warden cabins are used as A.T. shelters.
The newly restored tower offers 360-degree views from Rich Mountain.
By Shannon Millsaps \ NC Forest Fire Lookout Association
A View Worth Saving
By Peter J. Barr
Condition of the historic fire lookout tower atop the A.T.’s Rich Mountain — overlooking Hot Springs, North Carolina — became so unsafe by 2017 that it was closed indefinitely to hikers seeking to enjoy its 360-degree vantage point. Falling into disrepair in recent years, it suffered mightily from sustained vandalism and the stresses of weather extremes at its 3,670-foot elevation. The Rich Mountain tower straddles the state line and boundaries of North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest and Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest. The 31-foot lookout was erected by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in 1932 and utilized for fire detection for the next six decades. It has since remained a beloved scenic viewpoint along the A.T. for visiting hikers, and a historic structure that portrayed a bygone era of natural resource protection methodology. Too treasured of a landmark to lose, a partnership comprised of the Forest Fire Lookout Association (FFLA), the USFS, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), and Carolina Mountain Club joined forces to complete restoration of the tower in 2018. The restoration was made possible by funding from the ATC’s License Plate Grant Programs in North Carolina and Tennessee. Grants made to the North Carolina FFLA — a non-profit that seeks to preserve, restore, and interpret historic fire lookout towers — leveraged an additional $100,000 from the USFS to achieve the project. The Rich Mountain tower received a full structural overhaul, including new roofing, wooden cab walls and deck railings, lightning rods and grounding wiring, fresh paint, installation of durable, vandal-proof metal-grate flooring and stairs, and even a security camera to mitigate vandalism. Both the tower’s venerable history and its stunning panorama from the top are now preserved and accessible to A.T. hikers as a reward for their long climb up the mountain.
The newly restored tower offers 360-degree views from Rich Mountain.
By Shannon Millsaps \ NC Forest Fire Lookout Association
The Rich Mountain Tower is just one of six fire towers that have been restored along the Trail in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. They include: Albert Mountain, NC; Wayah Bald, NC; Wesser Bald, NC; Mount Cammerer, NC/TN; and Camp Creek Bald, NC/TN. The Blood Mountain, GA, and Roan High Knob, NC/TN, fire warden cabins are used as A.T. shelters.
Sunrise on Mount Washington. By Adam Richardson
Sunrise on Mount Washington. By Adam Richardson
_
Our list of determined individuals
Our list of determined individuals
includes those who reported hike completions of the entire Trail (thru-hikes or section-hikes) to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy since last spring.
Congratulations to all 1,197
Congratulations to all 1,197
determined hikers who reported their completion of the entire Appalachian Trail in 2018.

For the third year in a row, the number of thru-hikers who reported completing a flip-flop itinerary was greater than the number of those reporting a southbound thru-hike, although northbounders are the largest category by far again. We received applications from hikers as far away as Bulgaria and New Zealand.

The Green Tunnel, Grazing Season, Spring Beauty Wildflowers, Rhododendron
Boiling Springs, PA
Step Out Title
Easy travel and adventure await in an eclectic mix of Communities that run the length of the Trail
By Kim O’Connell / Illustrations By Rebecca Harnish
One recent Sunday morning, my husband and I were visiting my in-laws in south-central Pennsylvania when we decided to take a drive and do a short, day hike. I love the countryside there, with its apple orchards and farm markets peppering the rolling hills in all directions, and neighborly towns with cozy pubs and family restaurants. With my brother-in-law along for the ride, the three of us headed for Boiling Springs, a picturesque town in Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley.
48 A.T. Communities
14 states
2,192 miles
Find Your Next Adventure
Explore the Trail by state to find out more about the towns and areas you want to visit — and even locate parking — with the A.T. Interactive Map at: appalachiantrail.org/explore
Learn more about A.T. Communities at: appalachiantrail.org/ATcommunities
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Hiking with Dogs
Whitetop Mountain in Virgina
MY HUSBAND AND I WERE ON A SHORT overnight hike with our two terriers, from the Trail just north of Damascus, headed for our campsite at Saunders Shelter. As we approached the Trail junction to Taylors Valley, our older dog, Tali, alerted to something ahead. Hackles raised, she slowly backed away growling and barking, and refused to go forward. It was a sunny day and we could see the way ahead just as well as Tali, but neither my husband nor I saw any sign of danger. We tried to coax her forward, but she would have none of it and continued barking and balking. At this point I could feel my own adrenaline rising as I was certain my dog had spotted a danger that I could not see. Eventually, we realized she was alerting to a burned and blackened tree stump beside the Trail, which she may have thought was a bear. My husband ultimately had to carry her past the “bear” so we could continue our hike.
Hiking with Dogs
Hiking with Dogs
Whitetop Mountain in Virgina
MY HUSBAND AND I WERE ON A SHORT overnight hike with our two terriers, from the Trail just north of Damascus, headed for our campsite at Saunders Shelter. As we approached the Trail junction to Taylors Valley, our older dog, Tali, alerted to something ahead. Hackles raised, she slowly backed away growling and barking, and refused to go forward. It was a sunny day and we could see the way ahead just as well as Tali, but neither my husband nor I saw any sign of danger. We tried to coax her forward, but she would have none of it and continued barking and balking. At this point I could feel my own adrenaline rising as I was certain my dog had spotted a danger that I could not see. Eventually, we realized she was alerting to a burned and blackened tree stump beside the Trail, which she may have thought was a bear. My husband ultimately had to carry her past the “bear” so we could continue our hike.
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Appalachian Trail Indulgence
Appalachian Trail Indulgence

thru-hikers revel in opportunities to stop in Trail towns — not just for a shower, laundry, and resupply, but also to splurge on lodging, meals, or other special experiences and opportunities near the Trail.

Many long-distance hikers enjoy the simplicity of a basic camp meal and sleeping bag surrounded by nature — but those same hikers sometimes find a wonderful balance in taking a brief break to enjoy the culture and cozy hospitality of nearby Trail communities.

Thru-hiker Bruce “RTK” Mattson and Michael “Sharkbait” Neiman offer up their recommendations for finding creature comforts and downright gourmet meals along the Trail. The two — who met before their 2018 thru-hikes through each other’s blogs — put their heads together to publish Platinum Blazing the Appalachian Trail: “How to Thru-Hike in 5 3-Star Luxury, a 150-page hard-copy or downloadable guide to comfy beds and soft sheets, hearty homecooked meals, yoga classes, massages, theater, concerts, and other great cultural events in towns and communities along the A.T.

Appalachian focus
Appalachian focus
Woods Hole Hostel
photographer Ben Benvie
WOODS HOLE HOSTEL IS A MAGICAL PLACE found just a short distance off the Appalachian Trail in southwest Virginia. It’s home to the owners Neville and Michael (pictured in front) but also feels like home to every hiker and traveler who is lucky enough to visit.

Stay at Woods Hole and you might find yourself in the kitchen helping to prepare one of their famous communal meals or maybe you’ll be outside tending to the gardens that fill your plate with delicious organic food. You’ll quickly learn that this is not a place to simply rest your head, it’s a place to learn, laugh and share. Whether you’re doing group yoga, eating homemade ice cream, or exchanging stories in the front yard, a day spent here will be a memorable one. Neville and Michael have created a space where you don’t simply feel like a hiker or guest, you feel like a member of the family.

At the end of my stay, I decided that we needed a ‘family photo’ and like most family portraits, this self-timed attempt didn’t quite go according to plan. It did however, result in what I consider to be a perfectly imperfect image. Just like life on the Trail and my time at Woods Hole Hostel. It’s full of smiles, laughter, and a little bit of chaos.” ~ Ben Benvie

Woods Hole Hostel
recommended
recommended
Contain Yourself
Human-bear conflicts are increasing along the A.T. triggering temporary and permanent campsite, shelter, and A.T. section closures, and euthanized bears.
These drastic results can only be prevented by A.T. campers doing an excellent job of storing all smellable items and keeping a clean camp.

Bears have the keenest sense of smell in the animal kingdom, smelling food from several miles away including toothpaste, sunscreen, trash, etc. (burning food/trash doesn’t help.)

Always use a bear-resistant food storage container (BFC) to store food and smellables while camping. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee website lists approved hard and soft BFCs; most are also rodent proof.

Using a bear-resistant container not only helps to protect you and the bears, it also makes your experience more fun and comfortable overall by keeping other wildlife — like mice, raccoons, skunks, or squirrels — from pilfering your pack.

Appalachian Trail Signs
How to use BFCs:
NEVER sleep with your food, smellables, or BFC while camping.
Always close and lock BFCs per their instructions.
At campsites with a food locker or cable system, put your BFC in/on those.
At campsites without a supplied food storage locker, place hard and soft BFCs
100 feet from your sleeping area; tie soft BFCs to immovable objects.
For more helpful information and to report bear incidents visit: appalachiantrail.org/bears
Contain Yourself
Human-bear conflicts are increasing along the A.T. triggering temporary and permanent campsite, shelter, and A.T. section closures, and euthanized bears.
These drastic results can only be prevented by A.T. campers doing an excellent job of storing all smellable items and keeping a clean camp.

Bears have the keenest sense of smell in the animal kingdom, smelling food from several miles away including toothpaste, sunscreen, trash, etc. (burning food/trash doesn’t help.)

Always use a bear-resistant food storage container (BFC) to store food and smellables while camping. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee website lists approved hard and soft BFCs; most are also rodent proof.

Using a bear-resistant container not only helps to protect you and the bears, it also makes your experience more fun and comfortable overall by keeping other wildlife — like mice, raccoons, skunks, or squirrels — from pilfering your pack.

Appalachian Trail Signs
How to use BFCs:
NEVER sleep with your food, smellables, or BFC while camping.
Always close and lock BFCs per their instructions.
At campsites with a food locker or cable system, put your BFC in/on those.
At campsites without a supplied food storage locker, place hard and soft BFCs
100 feet from your sleeping area; tie soft BFCs to immovable objects.
For more helpful information and to report bear incidents visit: appalachiantrail.org/bears
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Indigenous

Pitch Pine
(Pinus rigida) — is a small to medium sized hard pine species.

Often with an irregular growth that is twisted and gnarled in appearance, this shade-intolerant species can inhabit low nutrient areas with harsh conditions.

Pitch Pine is found in the eastern United States from southern Maine to northern Georgia.

Total life span of a pitch pine is approximately 200 years.

Scrub Oak
(Quercus ilicifolia) — sometimes called bear oak, grows as a small gnarled tree or shrub.

The species is restricted mostly to the northeastern U.S.

Scrub oak ranges from 3-30 ft. in height and generally has a life span of only 20-30 years.

Pitch Pine
(Pinus rigida) — is a small to medium sized hard pine species.

Often with an irregular growth that is twisted and gnarled in appearance, this shade-intolerant species can inhabit low nutrient areas with harsh conditions.

Pitch Pine is found in the eastern United States from southern Maine to northern Georgia.

Total life span of a pitch pine is approximately 200 years.

Scrub Oak
(Quercus ilicifolia) — sometimes called bear oak, grows as a small gnarled tree or shrub.

The species is restricted mostly to the northeastern U.S.

Scrub oak ranges from 3-30 ft. in height and generally has a life span of only 20-30 years.

Pitch Pine Scrub Oak Barrens

By Marian Orlousky

THE PITCH PINE
— scrub oak barren habitat is characteristic of ridgetop areas in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and south through the Appalachian Highlands and Blue Ridge Province. These barrens are found in areas where weather conditions are variable and often extreme, and where soils are thin, well drained, sandy, acidic and nutrient poor. This habitat is sometimes referred to as “ridgetop dwarf-tree forests” because of the tendency for the tree growth to be stunted under the harsh conditions.

trail stories
trail stories
Postcards from Paradise
An artistic take on traveling the A.T.
By Rebecca Harnish
Sink laundry postcard

WHILE PLANNING MY MINI ART kit — debating over the colors for my palette, deciding on tools, cutting watercolor paper to fit in my backpack’s shoulder pocket — I daydreamed about plucking it out whenever a mountainous view or interesting plant struck me with inspiration. I saw myself painting on top of peaks, sketching ferns from a comfy rock on the side of the Trail, capturing the big milestones as I passed them with swift brushstrokes.

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Parting Thought
Parting Thought
A.T. near Great Barrington. By Raymond Salani III
A.T. near Great Barrington. By Raymond Salani III

THE CLEAN SOUND OF ICE SKATES SKIMMING across an indoor skating rink is nothing like the sound of those blades on a frozen pond or lake. Outside on the lake, there are bumps and cracks and ripples; there are frozen-over bubbles with thin layers of surface ice that crackle like paper. And then there’s the slightly frightening booommm! that echoes now and then across even the thickest-frozen waters as the ice expands or contracts, and cracks. The face of the lake is like the membrane of a drum, sending the sound reverberating from shore to shore.

In western Massachusetts, the A.T. meanders around the edge of Benedict Pond in Beartown State Forest, which includes a popular campground and picnic area in the summer, complete with a small beach. During the warmer months, smoke rises from campfires and kids splash in the water. In July, A.T. volunteers, staff, thru-hikers, and members of the local trails community get together to celebrate Great Barrington A.T. Community Day, serenaded by the Berkshires’ own ukulele band. But in winter it’s a different world, gleaming and still.

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AT Journeys Spring 2019
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