Betsy Kane
Betsy Kane will be the program coordinator for the 2015 Gathering, which will be held Oct. 9-11 at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

(Contributed photo)







































































































































































The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association

An off-trail family of hikers, dreamers and friends of the trail working

to preserve, protect and promote the long-distance hiking community.

 The Gathering

Mark your calendars for 2015

The 34th annual Gathering will be held at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pa., over Columbus Day Weekend, Oct. 9-11, 2015. We held our Gathering there in 2013 and except for the rain that was out of our hands, the weekend was great and the facilities were superb. Betsy Kane, a newcomer to organizing Gatherings but who has experience putting on conferences on the college level, will be the program coordinator. (That's her at the left.) Learn more about her in the winter newsletter. And stay tuned over the course of the next few months for details on this year's fall classic.

Newsletter has details on the Gathering

Betsy Kane has compiled a list of information about the upcoming Gathering that appears in the summer newsletter, everything from where to park, where to camp and where to shower to details about the photo contest, the apple contest and the post-Gathering work trips. You can read the newsletter online at the newsletter page.

Recap of the 2014 Gathering

Chilly at night but gloriously blue skies by day kept the fall foliage on fire for our 33rd annual Gathering at Williams College. And what a difference a few years make. The first time we camped out at Eric White's field south of Williamstown, we were welcomed by soaking wet fields from lots of rain the week before we arrived. This time the weather was mostly dry and the fields were in pristine shape. The campfire was located below a slight dip, buffering the noise from many campers. And sunrise every morning over the northern flank of the Greylock Range was simply spectacular.

And then there were the programs, especially Saturday night's feature presentation by Chris Gallaway, aka "Frost," who treated us to a preview of the A.T. movie he's been working on. It lived up to the billing we gave it: The combination of beautiful cinematography, crisp photos, inspirational music, tight writing, great narration and seamless editing made Frost's film quite moving. It was packed with emotions that ran the gamut of every thru-hiker's experience. It became a Gathering moment when, during a post-film question-and-answer period, Frost lived up to his trail name and recited from memory Robert Frost's classic poem, "Birches."

There were numerous other moments that helped make this Gathering another ALDHA classic, but we'll save those for the winter newsletter. Meantime, if you have any thoughts, comments, kudos you'd like to share about the Gathering, please, PLEASE email them to

Critiques and Diplomas

If you didn't drop off your critique sheet, or if you forgot to drop off your Long Distance Hiking Diploma worksheet, it's not too late to mail them to us at ALDHA, 10 Benning St. PMB 224, West Lebanon, NH 03784. We rely on the critiques for the planning of future Gatherings, especially if we return to Williams College in a couple of years. And if you haven't submitted your diploma worksheet, mail it to us and we'll be happy to mail you your personalized diploma in Long Distance Hiking.

Group photo

Many thanks to "Crooked Sticks," aka H. Dean Clark, for once again providing a bevy of professional photos of the Gathering, including our family portrait taken on Sunday morning. Click on the image below for the high-resolution version that you can download to your computer and use at will. (The original image is 3 MB in size, so download time may take a minute.) If posting elsewhere online, please credit Dean.

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Gathering History

The first Gathering was held before ALDHA was even officially created. In the fall of 1982, Warren Doyle gathered together long-distance hikers and friends of the trail for a weekend retreat in southern West Virginia, and it was during that time of fellowship and renewal in the community of the Appalachian Trail that the seed of an idea for ALDHA was planted.

Six months later, at a meeting in Harpers Ferry on March 5, 1983, attendees voted to formally establish an organization of hikers, maintainers, friends of the trail and folks who dream of someday hiking the A.T., and they christened their newborn group the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association.

ALDHA has held an annual Gathering ever since, with locations varying from north to south to accommodate our ever-growing membership.


Walkin' Jim

The Gathering Song

At the 2000 Gathering in Pipestem, W.Va., Walkin' Jim Stoltz was asked if he would compose a song for ALDHA to help mark the 20th Gathering the following year. He readily agreed, then admitted later that it proved to be a lot harder than he thought it would be. When he stood up to perform it that next year at the 2001 Gathering in Hanover, N.H., we think he hit it out of the park.

A few years later, he sat down and recorded it for Weathercarrot's video documentary on the 25th anniversary of ALDHA. Click the link below to listen. Feel free to download it, too. After his untimely passing in 2010, Jim's former wife gave ALDHA the rights to it, and we offer it to you all in hopes that it'll stir fond memories of the Gathering and that you'll always remember Walkin' Jim.

"To the Gathering Again"
by Walkin' Jim Stoltz, 2001