During my many hours of hiking the metro parks and state parks in Ohio and West Virginia, I have only encountered a handful of individuals maintaining the paths. I try to stop and talk with them because they provide a special but thankless service. I have enjoyed many miles of hiking on a clear, safe trail because someone else has maintained the path. The 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail is also maintained by volunteers. Last year some 6,200 volunteers worked 210,000 hours repairing trails, painting blazes and maintaining shelters, privies, and wells. I don’t know how many of these wonderful folks I will have the chance to meet but I want to just share my thankfulness for them and the work they do. What a special sacrifice they make for people they will never know.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has its headquarters in Harpers Ferry, W.V. and the conservancy works with 31 trail maintaining clubs to manage A.T. Volunteers. Workers from those clubs take the time and energy for most of the day-to-day work of keeping the A.T. open and safe. In addition to maintaining the path, club volunteers keep the shelters in good repair and monitor the trail corridor itself. Of the 31 official Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs, the southernmost club is the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. It has its base in Atlanta and oversees the first 75.4 miles of NOBO’s hike on the A.T. It keeps a watchful eye from the southern terminus of the A.T. (Springer Mountain) to Bly Gap (just north of the North Carolina line). It also supervises the 8.8-mile approach trail to Springer beginning at Amicalola Falls State Park. To learn more about this club check it out here: http://www.georgia-atclub.org/