February 19, 2019 The Start of a New Year by Karen Gradel
We look forward to many activities in 2019, as we say goodbye to some old friends and welcome new ones.
As we were honoring Holly Vogler with an Honorary Membership for her longtime service to the club, I looked around the room and saw a number of dedicated people who have served the club for many years. These people are the backbone of the AHC. This year and in the past few years we have seen the passing of some members who have been fundamental to the function of the club. We’ve been fortunate to have new members step up to fill these open positions in the club. We also have some new hike leaders this year. I want to sincerely thank everyone who has given their time to help the AHC preserve the physical trail and the spiritual ideals of the Appalachian Trail.
This upcoming year we have numerous opportunities for you to get involved. As always we have our Maintenance Events on the Appalachian Trail, at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center and at Lock # 2 on the D & L Trail. There will also be lots of hikes, some old favorites that are scheduled year after year and some new trails to explore. We are also going to add more family hikes to our schedule to get kids out into nature and excited about outdoor activities. Kayaking and camping trips will be offered. We will also provide Trail Magic again on June 27th and 28th. It’s always a good time to sit with the Thru Hikers and hear their stories. And one of the things we always hear is how well maintained our Shelters and section of the trial are. This is a testament to our hard working volunteers!
February 19, 2019 Corridor Monitoring - What It Is and Why We Do It by Lucy Cantwell
Walking the boundaries of Appalachian Trail lands to prevent encroachments is an essential part of our responsibilities as a maintaining club.
It's the time of year for the Allentown Hiking Club to do our annual corridor monitoring. We talk about it a each meeting, but some of you may wonder, "What is this all about?" Here is a brief explanation of this annual activity.
A critical component of our duties as a maintaining club of the AT is corridor monitoring and boundary maintenance: keeping a close eye on the federal estate purchased to protect the Appalachian Trail. The AT "corridor" is the land owned by the National Park Service that extends a few hundred feet on either side of the trail. Corridor monitoring means walking along and examining the border of this NPS land and the adjacent lands ( for example, privately owned lands, state game lands, municipalities) to assure that all boundary markers are in place and no encroachments have occurred. This involves leaving the AT treadway and bushwhacking over rocks and through dense vegetation to locate "monuments," i.e., the markers installed by surveyors years ago to establish a line between NPS lands and that of neighboring landowners.
Encroachments, such as illegal dumping of waste, timber theft, rock piles, discarded machinery, hunting blinds, or evidence of incompatible uses such as ATVs are also documented. These discoveries are subsequently reported to the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy) and corrective action is taken, if needed. During the monitoring we also post signage along the boundary lines, indicating which areas belong to the NPS. Volunteer monitors thus become the “eyes and ears” of state and federal landowning agencies. Monitoring helps assure the American public that its investment is being cared for and protected.
The Allentown Hiking Club monitors 35 tracts containing over 600 acres, which has 106 surveyor's monuments and 15 1/3 miles of exterior boundary. This is divided into 7 sections and is monitored by club members who commit to individual segments of about 4-7 miles each. Some of our monitors have been doing their sections for upwards of 20 years!
New volunteers are always welcome and encouraged to step up and join the action! If you think you might be interested in participating in the corridor monitoring, please contact the Monitor Coordinators listed on page 2 of the newsletter. We'd be happy to have you join one of the established monitors when they hike their section to collect the monitoring information. Also, keep an eye out for announcements on the AHC Forum, as monitors may post their hikes on the spur-of-the-moment, since good weather conditions are generally better for this activity. Be adventurous and come and see what it's all about!
February 19, 2019 The ATC 2018 Biennial Conference by Cynthia Paetow and Agnes Sablow
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s (ATC) written 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.” We were excited to be a part of the ATC conference this year and to learn how much this organization does for the hiking community.
One of the things that stood out is the number of clubs, organizations, governments and individuals that work together for the benefit of the Appalachian Trail (AT). One of the AT’s core values is Cooperation. We had speakers from A.T. Communities, the AT Park Ranger, ATC Board members, Youth Representatives and so many more. There are a multitude of groups, organizations, governments and individuals working hard behind the scenes to maintain this trail that we all enjoy.
The focus for much of the weekend was on getting new people outside hiking on and maintaining our trails. Diversity in race, ethnicity, age and abilities was discussed and we were encouraged to look at our own groups and networks. Some ideas included offering specialty events such as those for young adults or family hikes to bring out adults and children together. History or cultural hikes were mentioned as well as reaching out to other diverse groups in our area.
Overall, we think our club is on the right track. Like many other clubs, we have an aging membership, but like any established group, it has its ebbs and flows. Our schedule is currently filled with many different kinds of activities from short city walks to long strenuous hikes, from kayaking to camping and a variety of cultural treks, maintenance hikes and social activities. We have daytime, evening and weekend hikes of various lengths. Our Meetup and Facebook pages have added to our Club Page, bringing in new attendees and members.
Our club can also utilize the ATC website. In fact, the ATC encourages us to list all our maintenance events on their website which is another way for people to find us. Logging all of our volunteer hours maintaining the AT is extremely important in continuing to obtain funding for the AT. The more hours that are logged and submitted shows the government how much work it takes to maintain the trail. The ATC can also “compete for a significant amount of NPS [National Park Service] funding from its national “Volunteer in the Parks” program.” So, when our Appalachian Trail Chair, Ed Ritter, asks us for our volunteer hours, please make sure he gets those.
Finally, we would encourage everyone to visit the ATC website. There is so much information there that we could not even begin to cover. Whether you are an active hiker, someone trying to get back into shape, someone who wants to help maintain the trail or someone who can no longer hike but wants to support the Appalachian Trail, there is something for everyone.
Hope to see you all soon on a hike, at a meeting or working together on a maintenance activity.