There are many names associated with the Appalachian Trail, most of which are not household celebrities or faces that you would recognize – names like MacKaye, Hall, Shaffer, and MacGyver (ok, you might know the last one). Those familiar with the A.T. might know all these names. So who are they? Let me share….
Benton MacKaye (March 6, 1879 – Dec. 11, 1975) (rhymes with high, not hay) is the man who in 1921 proposed an Appalachian Trail. Mr. MacKaye, an American forester, planner and conservationist, was born in Stamford, Connecticut. His idea of creating a continuous trail through the Appalachian mountains was presented in his 1921 article titled An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning.
Warner Hall lives in the hearts of most thru-hikers. He is the hiker who posed for the original plaque on Springer Mountain in 1933. The plaque was sculpted by George H. Noble and serves as the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
Earl Shaffer 1918-2002 was known as “The Crazy One,” and was the first person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. He was a WWII veteran and author of several books on the trail. Mr. Shaffer was a three time thru-hiker – he hiked northbound in 1948, southbound in 1965, and northbound again at age 79, 50 years after his first hike.
Angus MacGyver – the television series MacGyver (1985-1992), followed a secret agent (Angus MacGyver) played by Richard Dean Anderson, who worked as a troubleshooter for the fictional Phoenix Foundation in Los Angeles and as an agent for the TV United States government agency, The Department of External Services (DXS). The TV MacGyver would construct useful devices, disarm bombs, and escape impossible danger by using common materials. Like the thru-hiker, MacGyver was able to make use of any mundane materials around him to create unorthodox solutions to any problems that he faced. The A. T. term “MacGyver” is really any act of building or repairing gear with duct-tape, rubber bands( and whatever else might be in one’s pack or just laying around) and lots of imagination and adaptability.