Over 900 people converged on the E&H campus in July for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy conference.
The Appalachian Trail (AT), running 2181 miles from Georgia to Maine, needs a lot of volunteers to keep it clear of fallen trees, free of overgrowth, and faithfully blazed. The members of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) are the hard-working volunteers who keep the trail in trip shape. The conference included a slew of hiking on trails near the campus, excursions for flora and fauna finding, and many workshops of particular interest to folks who are in love with hiking and the outdoors.
There were many alumni on hand for the event, and they all seemed to be proud to see their passion celebrated back on the campus of their alma mater.
David and Jeannette Reynolds Kendall (’73, ’74) were there to promote their lodge just off the Appalachian Trail. Jeannette’s friend, Carolee Jackson Bondurant (’74) helped with promotions at the Kanati Lodge table.
Sam Belew (’71) was also on hand as a vendor. His light weight tents, dubbed “Appy Trails” tents, were the focus of great discussion since the whole tent weighs just over a pound…making it popular when packing for a long hike.
Andy Zimmerman (’90) was at the conference to take in some hikes, workshops, and also to promote his hiking club, The Smokey Mountains Hiking Club.
Bunny Medeiros (’80) helped lead hikes and excursions, Martha Winquist Emery (’79) enjoyed the event, Betty Jane Hagan (’68) helped as a registration volunteer, Rosemary Bailey Baker (’74) was there to attend workshops, and those are just the folks we ran into!
Betty Jane Hagan routinely hikes portions of the Appalachian Trail to do maintenance. Hiking into the forest with “a pulaski over her shoulder” sounds like hard work, but the grins as she greets fellow volunteers is evidence of her enthusiasm for the hard work. This conference seemed as much like a reunion as anything. She says it is “great work, great fun, and great friendships.”
Charlie Maynard (’77) serves on the ATC Board of Directors and led several hikes and workshops for the event. In addition to previously serving as director for Friends of the Smokies he has written extensively on hiking trails and the Blue Ridge, Smoky, and Appalachian Mountains. He says the ATC helps him fulfill his mission as a pastor as it also provides a treasured service to our country. “The first time I ever stepped foot on the Appalachian Trail was as a freshman at E&H. We started walking at Elk Garden. It is important for our country to have a foot path that slows us down to experience America at its best -- in the wilderness and trail towns. Getting to participate in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as a board member has been a fulfilling of my calling as a minister. It was a blast this weekend to have trail friends and colleagues at E&H where I first experienced the AT.”