I decided since I was going to spend so much time on the Appalachian Trail, sleeping over 100 nights in my Big Agnes Hotel room (my tent), that I should join the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). The ATC was established in 1925 and today is a national not-for-profit corporation that is a confederation of the 31 local trail clubs with assignments to maintain the Appalachian Trail. In addition the ATC is a membership organization with supporters from all 50 states and more than 15 other countries.
Since 1972 the central headquarters of the ATC has been located in Harpers Ferry, WV, a quarter-mile from the Trail. Every thru-hiker that stops by HQ (and almost everyone does) gets his/her picture taken. Their photo is placed on the bulletin board as part of that season’s crazy, brave, extraordinary group of adventurers. The Conservancy functions with a governing body of 15 volunteers, a membership of close to 40,001 individuals (I just joined pushing that number over 40,000), an annual budget of $7.3 million, and a full-time staff of about 45 employees in six locations.
The mission of the ATC 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,” while it’s stated vision is, “to connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy. We are committed to nurture and protect this sacred space through education and inspiration. We strive to create an ever-expanding community of doers and dreamers, and work to ensure that tomorrow’s generations will experience the same mesmerizing beauty we behold today.” http://www.appalachiantrail.org/
I got my membership packet in the mail yesterday and I was excited to see what they sent me. I received a cool oversized AT map that will go over my desk. I have a great map at work and one on the refrigerator but this will be a nice reminder where I type my blog about the trail. Along with my membership card, I got a great patch and a bumper-sticker-style decal. Several weeks ago I received my first of six issues of A.T. Journeys Magazine and an additional online newsletter that provides updates and news from the trail. On the list of benefits delineated by the ATC they conclude by saying, “Best of all, experience the pride and satisfaction of knowing you are protecting an irreplaceable American treasure – the Appalachian Trail.” I am happy to participate in such an organization.