I spent more than 10 years of my

career in the Marine Corps overseas. My boys speak multiple languages and have lived all over. For most of their lives, they have been raised abroad. My goal in hiking the Trail was for them to experience the best of our own culture; a sense of true Americana. The fellow hikers we met on the Trail as well as the community of people around the Trail renewed my sense of the human spirit and helped deliver to my impressionable children a positively formative experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Scott E. Pierce

Brussels, Belgium
I started hiking as a substitute

for running when I developed arthritis. [Then I] joined the Chester County Trail Club and started section hiking in 2005 at James River bridge heading north. I know I can climb a rock wall on my hands and knees. I can walk 12 hours in the freezing rain or in blistering heat. I can go without a comb or a mirror for two weeks at a time. I can sleep with strangers and wake up with friends. I can forget the fact that these new friends could be my grandchildren – and they can forget that too.

Leslie Spangler

West Chester, Pennsylvania
“The Trail always provides.” We

heard these words over and over as we hiked, but it was in mid-August near the end of our thru-hike that those words took on a personal meaning for us. I got a text from my sister back in southwestern Pennsylvania that our mother had developed a life-threatening blood clot in her upper leg. My husband and I knew that we needed to head home, but how would we get to an airport or rental car company when we were in a very remote part of Maine? A great friend and ‘16 thru-hiker, Ted “Lucky Dog,” did some research since a cell signal for us was mostly non-existent. He encouraged us to hike the next day to MM 1956.2, ME 17, hitch a ride into Oquossoc and then try to get a ride to Farmington, Maine where we could rent a car and then drive to Pennsylvania. We did as he suggested, but about one mile before coming to ME 17, the A.T. crosses a dirt road and then it goes right back into the woods. As we stepped out of the woods onto this dirt road, we had to stop because a car was approaching. A car? On a dirt road in remote Maine? The driver stopped in front of us, and a female passenger put the window down and asked if we needed a ride. I was overcome with emotion at both the question asked and the ongoing thoughts about my mom’s situation as I hiked that day. My husband explained our situation to the couple, and without hesitation they came up with this plan: come back to our cabin for the night (have dinner with us, take a hot shower), have breakfast tomorrow morning, and then we will drive you wherever you need to go to rent a car (turned out to be 75 miles away). That is exactly what happened, and we arrived in Pennsylvania the next day and spent a week there until we knew that my mom’s health situation was stable. Steve and Allyson, day-hikers out looking for a good place to start their next day’s hike, became our unforgettable “Trail angels.” I am forever grateful to them for their impeccable timing, understanding, hospitality, kindness, and generosity. The story does not end there, though. They gave us specific instructions to call them once we returned to Maine and they would pick us up at the rental car company and return us to the dirt road at MM 1955.2 so we could resume our thru-hike. Thank you again, Steve and Allyson. You are and will always be one of our best stories from the A.T. Yes, “the Trail really does provide.”

Gail L. Stairs

Titusville, Florida
CORRECTION: In the Fall 2017 feature “Summit Seekers,” a crucial partner of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) in this program — the Student Conservation Association (SCA) — was not mentioned. The SCA is a vital part of the Summit Seekers program and a valued partner to the ATC. We apologize for this error and thank the SCA for their continued partnership.
A.T. Journeys welcomes your comments.
The editors are committed to providing balanced and objective perspectives. Not all letters received may be published. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.
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Letters to the Editor
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425-0807
 I’m done with finals! Now all I have to stress about is hiking the Appalachian Trail in February. Which means it’s really time to get to work. –Aaron Richards
Summer on the Appalachian Trail is amazing; warm, vibrant, and green. Winter is a lot different. It’s cold and severe, almost sterile. The flora and fauna so abundant before has dwindled to fallen leaves and a few tracks in the snow. But along with that change comes a quiet peace and beauty. The contrast is staggering
 We are all winners each time we step onto the Trail. – Kelley Spencer Sr.
 Seeing several people I hiked with finish their journey on the Appalachian Trail is awesome! Just can’t wait til it’s me! Great job guys! – Robert Shutts Jr.
#graysonhighlands on my #appalachiantrail thru-hike was the first time I really experienced the indescribable feeling of calm and knowing that this is exactly where I needed to be in the universe
Cold weather has me missing the #appalachiantrail. May have to prepare for a winter #hike
Huge thanks to all the kind souls who help maintain trails every year! From people who volunteer for a summer to folks who pick up litter on day hikes, we are very grateful. You guys rock. And kudos to orgs like @PCTAssociation and @AT_Conservancy for organizing Trail crews!