If you haven't already, be sure to check out the new AT Hiker App, a complete guide to the Appalachian Trail created by thru-hiker and ALDHA member Ryan Linn. Information from ALDHA's A.T. Thru-hikers' Companion has been incorporated throughout the app.
Ryan debuted the app in 2013 and he is back out on the A.T. right now gathering more data, more photos and more ideas to keep this the No. 1 A.T. app. See a few screen grabs and read about some of the many features of the app on the AT Hiker App page of this website.
The summer newsletter is here during the first week of summer! It is 40 pages long and in full color, and features a 6-page spread on this fall's Gathering with information about our new venue -- Williams College -- as well as the campsite, the workshops, dining options, directions, reminders, and other information. Read it thoroughly so you'll know what to bring along (apples, photos, earplugs to name a few!). We really want to see as many people come to this year's Gathering as possible because the feature presentation on Saturday night is not to be missed.
The black-and-white version of the newsletter for folks who get the print edition will have to wait a while. It is being sent to the printers this week.
Both editions include a story about ALDHA's search for missing thru-hiker Geraldine Largay. A team of 12 hikers headed into Maine's North Woods in late May and while we came away without finding Largay, we did discover that ALDHA can, in fact, put a team in the field, have it stay in the field, and cover a lot of very difficult terrain over a matter of just a few days. The story includes two pages full of photos from our endeavor.
Also in this issue is a story by a brand new member of ALDHA who joined at Trail Days and volunteered to write a story about Lyme disease. It's something every hiker on the A.T. must read.
We also have stories on ALDHA at Trail Days, ALDHA on a corridor boundary work trip in Virginia, profiles of the latest inductees into the A.T. Hall of Fame, the Hikers' Muse column, minutes from ALDHA's spring meeting, and last but not least, a beautiful story with photos about the formal dedication of the new ALDHA Hiker Pavilion in Waynesboro, Va., where we also put on a hiker feed for the 35 A.T. hikers who were lucky enough to be there that day.
The link to the PDF of the e-edition is here: www.aldha.org/newsletter/2014B_summer.pdf
The other big news this week is the upcoming Hiker Feed in Salisbury, Conn. (Find a story about it on Page 10 of the summer newsletter above.) Organized by Hiker Miker for the second year in a row, all ALDHA members in the area are encouraged to attend, lend a hand with feeding the hikers, and talk up ALDHA and this fall's Gathering. Part of the joy of the experience is never knowing who you'll meet. Last year, the last hiker to come through the hiker feed went on to become this year's feature presenter at our Gathering. Trail magic at its finest.
The Hiker Feed will be Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29, at the hiker parking lot off of Route 41 in Salisbury, Conn., just north of Cobble Road and right at the spot where the A.T. crosses the road. Wear an ALDHA T-shirt and join the fun. Camp out overnight on Saturday and make a fine weekend out of it. See you there!
The spring newsletter is finished finally and the E-edition is posted here for all to see. The print version should already be on its way from the printers, so keep watching your mailbox if you get the black-and-white, shorter print version.
As always, the digital rendition is more than twice the length of the print one, and in full, dazzling color. Consider helping us to cut costs (and to save a few trees) by opting not to receive a print newsletter and instead get an email alert when the newest E-edition is available.
This issue contains a review of the new book about Grandma Gatewood that was written by journalist Ben Montgomery, who gave a talk on his research at last year's Gathering. We also have an excerpt from the book to show you what's in store for you if you decide to read the whole thing.
Also in this issue is a tribute to McAfee's Knob, the unofficial symbol of the Appalachian Trail. It wasn't always on the A.T. In fact it has only been an official part of the trail for roughly 30 of the A.T.'s 75-plus years of existence. But it is without question the "King of the A.T. World," and we'll explain what that means in the story. (It is chock full of hiker photos from the knob, too.)
Elsewhere we pay tribute to longtime ALDHA member Fred Waigand who passed away earlier this year; we take a hike on the new Great Eastern Trail with its first two thru-hikers; we tempt you with the promise of good food at this year's A.T. Hall of Fame banquet coming up soon in June; and we take you to the Northern and Southern Rucks where ALDHA is playing an increasingly larger role.
The big news, however (how's that for burying the lead?), is the announcement of our Saturday night feature presenter at this fall's Gathering. Read who it is and why you should be excited about not only seeing his presentation but also about WHERE you will see it.
The link to the PDF of the e-edition is here: www.aldha.org/newsletter/2014A_spring.pdf
Lots to pass along since the first of the year: The 2014 Membership Directory was finished, printed and mailed to all members. A spring work trip is on the agenda. And an ALDHA-led search for missing hiker Geraldine Largay (in photo at top left) is also on the horizon.
The Directory: Those whose dues were in good standing received their copy by now. The booklet lists every single member, their address, phone, email, trail name and hiking resume. It's an invaluable guide if you're looking for a fellow hiker whose real name you don't know, or if you're looking for someone who recently hiked a trail you're interested in doing. It can even be used to help carpool to events like the fall Gathering.
Spring work trip: It will take place at Blackburn Trail Center in Virginia on April 23 to 25 and involve corridor boundary monitoring. For details, contact RonBungay@verizon.net.
Search for Geraldine Largay: Join us during the last week of May for a weeklong search for missing hiker Geraldine Largay, between Routes 4 and 27 in Maine (Rangeley to Stratton). The search is being organized by former ALDHA Coordinator Mike Wingeart, and we have the blessing of the Maine Warden Service to give it a shot. We will likely focus on the area north of where the major activity occurred last year. Contact Mike at 443-791-9196 if you'd like more information or would like to join us.
Visit the Thru-Hikers' Companion page to watch a new video of ALDHA Coordinator Kip Redick explaining why you should take along the Companion when you hit the A.T., whether it's for a short day hike, a section hike or a thru-hike. If you join ALDHA you can get a free copy of the PDF version of the guidebook. And of course you can also purchase a hard copy from either the ATC's Ultimate Trail Store or The ALDHA Store.
Some sad news to start the new year with word of the death of Ernst Banfield, aka "Raven." He was a perennial presence at Gatherings in the late '80s, 1990s and early 2000s. He thru-hiked the A.T. in 1985 with his wife "Sunshine" and when she died of cancer, he not only lost his hiking partner but also his soulmate. He composed a ballad as he hiked north in '85, a song that would be called "On the A.T." He performed it at many Gatherings until he was too ill to attend anymore. He would take a lot of photos at Gatherings and was always sure to send copies to ALDHA's coordinators. A Marine veteran, he conducted the first workshops at the Gathering geared specifically to veterans. In 1998 he was made an honorary life member of ALDHA, the highest honor we can bestow. He died Jan. 3 at age 84.
We'll have a fuller profile of Raven in the 2014 Membership Directory. For now his fellow hikers can visit this memorial website and leave their thoughts for his family to add to their collection of memories.
The biggest digital newsletter in ALDHA's history is now available on our website. There are 44 full-color pages chock full of information about ALDHA and the Appalachian Trail as well as other long-distance hiking trails. The lead story unveils the news that our venue for the 2014 Gathering will be Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., with camping a short ways down the road on the field we used in 2011.
Click here to go to the newsletter page, or click the front page at right to get a closer look of Page 1.
Among the other stories is a look at the mysterious disappearance from the A.T. of thru-hiker Geraldine Largay, complete with a timeline of what we know about the days leading up to and immediately following her disappearance. We also have a profile of the hiker who this year set the new endurance record for a self-supported thru-hike of the A.T., complete with photos from his hike and a National Geographic-style breakdown of each day he was on the trail, how far he went, how quickly the states disappeared behind him and where he resupplied along the way.
This newsletter also brings you a look at our new board members, a new program called ALDHA Shares, a complete 12-page retrospective of the 2013 Gathering, news from the A.T. Museum, the Hikers' Muse, a book review, minutes of ALDHA meetings, a trivia quiz on the fall newsletter, and an interview with the songwriter who penned what is perhaps the greatest trail song ever written.
Glad tidings are here with free shipping on orders of $50 or more from the ALDHA Store, from now until Jan. 1. A groupwide email went out this week with a colorful catalog highlighting the newest items in the store, along with free shipping details. NOTE: There was concern that delivery would not be guaranteed by Christmas because of previous family commitments of our volunteer merchandise coordinator, but with a snowstorm blanketing the East Coast this weekend, those plans have been postponed, so therefore THERE SHOULD BE NO PROBLEM getting your items delivered by Christmas if you order before Thursday, Dec. 19.
By the way, we've added a new feature to the store in the shape of an ALDHA Gift Membership. You pay for a year's membership for a friend, family member or -- better yet -- a 2014 thru-hiker, and then print out, fill out and trim the special gift certificate we put in the catalog. It'll fit in a standard 6 3/4 envelope and can be stuffed in a stocking or put in the mail. And as always, it costs only $10 a year to be an ALDHA member. See what the gift certificate looks like on Page 2 of the Holiday Online Catalog here.
Otherwise, we've made a few housekeeping updates to the web page, including a refreshed set of dates of all major trail festivals for next year including hot links to their respective websites. Check it out on the Links page.
In other news, the winter newsletter is at the printers and should be in the mail soon. Delivery by bulk rate during the holidays may be slower than normal. Hope you get it, though, by Christmas. That's about when we expect to have the E-edition version of the winter newsletter posted online. It's just about killing the editor but this issue is expected to be 44 pages long, lol. Keep an eye out :-)
The 2014 Thru-Hikers' Companion will be out next month! It not only arrives earlier than usual this year, it also comes for the first time with brand new TRAIL PROFILE MAPS that were prepared by professional cartographers at 23-mile intervals. It also includes newer, revised maps, and more of them, to show you where to get resupplied in town. The book is chock full of information about town services near the Trail, water sources at shelters, and other tips for next year's thru-hikers and section-hikers. The information is gathered by volunteer field editors from ALDHA in the summer and fall and supplemented by the ATC's staff up and down the Trail.
No one profits personally from the sale of this book. It's all for the hiker and the Trail.
This is an ALDHA-edited guidebook printed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and if you order your copy now from the ATC's Ultimate Trail Store, you'll receive a FREE electronic set of profile maps. Buying the Companion from the ATC provides a huge benefit to programs and staff directly related to the preservation of the Appalachian Trail, so please support the ATC, ALDHA and the Trail. It costs $14.95, $13.45 for ATC members, through ATC.
We have posted a new brochure for 2014. Feel free to download the PDF and make copies for anyone you think might be interested in coming to the fall Gathering, which in 2014 will be in Williamstown, Mass. More details about the Gathering will come, of course, over the next few months, so keep checking. The brochure has basic info about ALDHA and what we do. It's ideal to give to friends who may have never heard of ALDHA but you think might want to join. Our principal operating funds come from dues, and they're still pretty darn cheap at just $10 a year, so the more members the better. Please help yourselves to a brochure here, on the join/renew page.
The Gathering critiques are in (still not too late to mail yours to our snail mail address!) and the reviews were generally very favorable, which has been very gratifying. Many folks were quite pleased at the proximity of all the venues: Camping, classrooms, cafeteria and even the showers, with at least one person delirious over the generous shower hours lasting from morning to night over 4 days. Notes about the programs will be kept in mind for a year from now, when we get to do it all over again, hopefully learning from this year and years past.
Here's one comment mailed to us from Florida after the Gathering:
I can not thank everyone enough for the fabulous Gathering 2013. All those who contributed great & small really helped make this a wonderful experience for me. Thank you thank you thank you & See ya all on the trail & at ALDHA 2014!
We'll post some photos soon on our photo gallery site, the group photo will be posted on the Gathering page shortly, and we'll have writeups on various aspects of the Gatheirng in our winter newsletter. Submissions for the newsletter are always welcome, so by all means email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd especially love to get copies of any photos you took. THANKS.
If you weren't able to buy them in person at the Gathering, we now have in stock at The ALDHA Store the following items:
- Brand new ALDHA bandanas in a variety of 10 colors (from left in image above): orange, light pink, yellow, red, gray, light blue, gold, purple, forest green and royal blue.
- We also have a limited number of new ceramic ALDHA mugs, specially made for us by the son of the late Jean Cashin at his shop that's just a claypot's throw from the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. We sold out of the version that had a special remembrance of Jean on the back. What we have left are the same high quality but sport only the ALDHA logo on the front. (See image at right.) Supplies are limited.
- And we have an assortment of items from the late Walkin' Jim Stoltz, the proceeds from which will directly benefit ALDHA and its trail programs. We have his book, DVD and several CDs for sale through The ALDHA Store. Supplies of these are limited.