President’s Letter
“Walking the Range” – White Mountains, New Hampshire – By Rebecca M. Fullerton
The Art of the Trail
I am not an artist. At least not in the sense of the artists we are presenting in this incredibly beautiful issue. I have always wished I had the skill, talent, and gift to put pen or paint to paper and render a visual record of what I see before me.

This is not to say that I do not artistically express myself. My cooking has been described as artful; and I have at least a modicum of talent in stringing words together so that they sometimes go beyond sharing information to eliciting an emotional reaction from the reader. But possessing true artistic talent, such as Rebecca Harnish, Mike Wurman, and George Rue who create art through paint, pen, and photography, is a skill that will not be mentioned in my epitaph.

And yet, as I have worked and walked along the Appalachian Trail, I have sometimes felt I have not only observed, but contributed, to the art of the Trail. I was particularly struck by this idea recently as I was doing boundary work along the section of Trail that my husband Chris and I maintain. Boundary work is so very different from hiking. There is no clear path and the jumbles of fallen trees and briar bushes require you to slow down, observe, and evaluate before taking each step. The light from the sun is different in these untraveled woods. With boundary work, it is through this wilder piece of the Trail that we come through, not to clear down to tread, but to cut away distractions and blockages from the sight line we are following. Pink ribbons and yellow slashes of paint interrupt nature to show the protective edge to the resource for which we are responsible.

I see the art of this place — both in its natural state and through the impact I have on it with my work. This is a form of art that almost all hikers will never see; but I know it is there and it is part of what makes the Appalachian Trail.

I also like to think that our very presence in a place is a part of the art of the place. The artist is always a part of the image they have rendered — just behind our shoulder as we look at the landscape in front of us. We talk about the Trail as being the muse to the art presented here. The work that we do to protect and preserve the Trail is our artform. It is also necessary to ensure that the inspiration for art that the Trail provides will be there well after our brush strokes have faded away.

Sandra Marra / President & CEO