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The 1980s, Part 1
An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann

After the explosive growth in membership and weekly club activities during the 1970s, the 1980s were a decade in which the club maintained a full and varied schedule of activities and also looked in new directions as a steward of the Appalachian Trail.

Meetings and Paperwork

The club expanded its Appalachian Trail efforts, moving beyond the clipping, blazing, litter pickup, and shelter maintenance tasks of previous decades. In January 1981, two Appalachian Trail Conference employees came to Allentown to help the club plan management guidelines for the AHC section of trail. When ATC held its first Mid-Atlantic regional meeting in 1985, Sam Carlson, Harold Croxton, and Ginny Musser represented AHC. 1985 was also the year that ATC held its first Presidents Meetings in Harpers Ferry (for presidents of the AT maintaining clubs) and President Carlson attended.

The National Park Service purchased its first tracts of land in the AHC section of trail in 1979. As a result, in January, 1982 the club scheduled its first boundary hike to monitor and inspect these lands. Under the guidance of Harold Croxton, who also served as KTA's statewide AT Monitor Coordinator, the club began submitting the annual reports required by NPS.

Financial Support

AHC continued its support of the Appalachian Trail Conference. In 1983 the club donated $400 to fund ATC’s expanding programs and increased personnel costs and began to support efforts to protect Appalachian Trail lands along the Blue Mountain, donating $100 to the Wildlands Trust Fund. The next year AHC upped its financial support to WTF; the club gave $250 and individual club members kicked in another $250. This money was matched by the Trust for Appalachian Trail Land, doubling the club's contribution. In 1985, AHC joined three other AT maintaining clubs to raise $1500 to help the Lehigh Valley Conservancy purchase the Loch property to protect the view shed from Baer Rocks. When the effort came up $205 short, AHC members voted to make up the shortfall from the club treasury.

Maintaining and Protecting the Trail

On behalf of AHC, Earl Raub organized 35 hikers who conducted the Susquehanna-Delaware River portion of Operation Walkthrough on the Appalachian Trail in May 1980. The purpose was to have hikers cover the entire Trail from Maine to Georgia at one time and submit reports detailing needed trail maintenance work to ATC and the maintaining clubs.

The Spring Maintenance Hike on the first Sunday in May was an annual schedule staple. In 1987, an after work picnic at Leaser Lake was added.

To encourage responsible trail use and educate hikers, Trails Chair, Harold Croxton, organized a schedule of weekend shelter caretakers. In 1989, a picnic table was added to the Allentown Shelter to offer a level alternative location to encourage backpackers not to cook inside the shelter. A gate and boulders were placed west of Ft. Franklin Road to block vehicle access to the AT in 1988. The gate east of PA 309 was installed the next year.

Earl Raub organized three more club airplane wreck clean ups along the AT during the decade – at Bake Oven Knob, Wolf Rocks, and near PA 325. Funds realized from the sale of the scrap metal ($314.85) was donated to ATC and AHC garnered publicity in local newspapers and in the Appalachian Trailway News.

After a major vandalism incident at the Outerbridge Shelter resulted in three large holes in the shelter roof, 23 members devoted a weekend to repairing a significant portion of the roof (1984). In 1988, the club totally replaced the roof, installing a metal roof.

Keystone Trails Association

AHC members were actively involved in KTA. Ginny Musser was elected KTA President in 1986 and served four years. In 1987 Merritt Zimmerman, who had served KTA in several capacities, including nine years as an officer, was awarded KTA highest honor, the Citation Award.

When KTA hosted the ATC biennial meeting at East Stroudsburg in 1989, AHC volunteered to staff the Information Desk during the week. To help prepare members to answer attendee questions, AHC conducted a pre-Conference 7-mile club hike around town to familiarize members with the town and its facilities. The Club also handled Housing for the Conference.