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September 2017

The Tie That Binds...

I love looking at photos in the GATC history books. I am always amazed at the clothing they wore on hikes. Many of the men have on ties. Sweaters are common. Many women wore dresses or skirts. Light and quick-dry clothing would not make it on the scene for many decades. Of course, even the packs and other equipment look somewhat strange to our modern standards. Those pioneers would most likely be appalled at what we spend on equipment and even clothing. Those photos reflect a much different time than our own. Yet, one thing remains unchanged. The tie that binds us to those pioneers is our shared love of the Appalachian Trail, especially our beloved section in Georgia. It was a love of the Trail that brought the original GATC volunteers together and it is that same love that bring us together today. Everything they did in their day and everything that we do today is based upon our love for the AT.

In 1930, the GATC volunteers probably had no idea that a bug called the Woolly Adelgid would come to be a threat to the hemlocks along our Trail. But just a few years ago they did come. And a band of GATC volunteers, led by our ever-faithful David Stelts, rallied around the cause to fight them off. Had our Club ancestors ever heard of the invasive plant, Garlic Mustard? Probably not. But ask Laura Northrop. Last year she led groups out to the field to pull up a hundred pounds of the stuff at one time. The early pioneers did not have to worry about excessive crowds coming to hike the GA AT in the Spring. Today, Jay Dements leads the Trail Ambassadors as they attempt to mitigate the effects of overuse and abuse on the Trail. Sure, the early pioneers had their share of problems. And they faced each one because they loved the Trail. We face our issues today for the same reason.

Some of you may have never heard of the GATC Search and Rescue Committee. Actually, in my opinion, to call them a committee is a misnomer. They do not serve by having meetings or discussions around the table. Eddie Foust leads this team. They willingly undergo some of the most intensive and technical training required of any GATC volunteer. They stand ready to assist in operations to find lost or missing individuals in the forest. We are indeed fortunate to have such a highly trained group ready to jump into action. Why do they do this? For the same reason that some of us rebuild and maintain waterbars and others clean privies. Our love of the Trail drives us all to act.

We are preparing now for 2018. There are always new issues to face along with the ongoing ones that seem to stick around. What is your love for the Trail calling you to do? Whatever your interest there is a way for you to apply it for the Trail.

Submitted by: Don Hicks