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November 2017

Whew! Hurricane Irma paid a visit to North Georgia on September 11th and what a mess she left. After an initial survey of the damage on the AT, Don Converse, our Trails Supervisor, has estimated that there are over 500 blowdowns on the GA AT alone. We anticipate that the Forest Service will release a plan to clean up but GATC is not waiting for that. Even now, District Supervisors are issuing the call to begin the cleanup. Parts of the Trail are described as "impassable." We have requested a waiver from the Forest Service to use chainsaws in the wilderness. Without that, some estimate the cleanup may take months. We have also requested "emergency" sawyer certification/recertification classes to get more volunteers available for the huge task. If you are interested, keep your ears open for those announcements.

By the time you read this, our annual Business Meeting will be over. We will have elected Board members for 2018, including many new faces. These leaders will have already begun planning for a great year ahead. Committees will be formed and the work for next year will be in full force. Are you ready to do something new next year? Whatever your interest, there is a place to express it in GATC. Let your voice be heard. With all of us together I know we will have a great year. In 2017, GATC volunteered 21, 891 hours. I believe we will do more in 2018.

Not to simply bring up a smelly subject but to keep you informed regarding an issue that GATC is currently facing. I mentioned last month that we are experiencing "leakage" in several of our moldering privies. David Stelts is already implementing a short-term plan which includes using kitty litter to absorb the liquid that has escaped from the bin, then putting the result back into the pile. David is working on the long-term plan and we hope to deliver a proposal to the Forest Service by the end of the year.

The latest report from ATC President/CEO Ron Tipton includes data regarding thru-hiker starts. In 2017, over 3800 people started a northbound thru-hike. We know that most of them started in Georgia. As of September 26th, 2,526 had made it as far as Baxter State Park where they must obtain a permit to enter the park and continue their hike. Congratulations to every one of them and congratulations to the GATC Trail Ambassadors and others who helped them get a good start on their adventure.

I hope the intent of the “Presidential Ponderings” column is broad enough to allow the President to occasionally say, "I didn't know that." I was taking a quick first glance at atcamp.org, an ATC website that allows hikers to register their hikes and get an idea of where the crowded camping spots are likely in the area they intend to hike. When viewing shelters along the Georgia AT, there is a statement that says, “Quotas are active for (shelter name/campsite name).” That seems to me to imply that somewhere, someone is enforcing a quota for how many campers are allowed at that site. Maybe one of you is doing just that. I didn’t know that. Also, when you view space at Springer Mountain Shelter, there is a note that, “This area is for group use only.” Again, I didn’t know that. But if this is actually true, it won’t be the first time that I didn’t know what was going on. I can only say that I have a wonderful group of Board members who can always keep things going in the right direction even when I have no clue.

Speaking of websites, our own site continues to grow as it seems that features are added every day. I know from my own professional experience in bringing technical projects to fruition that it is often a huge and thankless task. There are endless complaints as no system is ever perfect. I am grateful that Van Hill has not pulled out all hair as he carries us into the 21 st Century. When you see Van at the Christmas party, try to think of at least one thing that you like about the website and thank him and his hard-working committee.

A lot of GATC volunteers work tirelessly in the background and most of us don't even realize how much gets done. One such individual is Pete Buak, under the direction of Joe Boone, our Information and Education Director. We constantly get email requests for information about the Trail: where can I find water, where are the best place to get on/off the Trail and other Trail condition. Pete is the guy who responds to most of these and, in most cases, provides followup to the hikers to make sure they have the most current and accurate information to make their hike safe and fun. For many who hike the AT in Georgia, Pete is their only contact with GATC. And he is a fine representative for the Club. Thanks to Pete, Joe and so many others who work in the background when so many of us don't notice.

Submitted by: Don Hicks

Whew!  Hurricane Irma paid a visit to North Georgia on September 11th and what a mess she left.  After an initial survey of the damage on the AT, Don Converse, our Trails Supervisor, has estimated that there are over 500 blowdowns on the GA AT alone.  We anticipate that the Forest Service will release a plan to clean up but GATC is not waiting for that.  Even now, District Supervisors are issuing the call to begin the cleanup.  Parts of the Trail are described as "impassable."  We have requested a waiver from the Forest Service to use chainsaws in the wilderness.  Without that, some estimate the cleanup may take months.  We have also requested "emergency" sawyer certification/recertification classes to get more volunteers available for the huge task.  If you are interested, keep your ears open for those [G1] announcements.[G2] 

 By the time you read this, our annual Business Meeting will be over. We will have elected Board members for 2018, including many new faces.  These leaders will have already begun planning for a great year ahead.  Committees will be formed and the work for next year will be in full force.  Are you ready to do something new next year? Whatever your interest, there is a place to express it in GATC.  Let your voice be heard.  With all of us together I know we will have a great year.  In 2017, GATC volunteered 21, 891 hours.  I believe we will do more in 2018. [G3] [G4] 

            Not to simply bring up a smelly subject but to keep you informed regarding an issue that GATC is currently facing. I mentioned last month that we are experiencing "leakage" in several of our moldering privies.  David Stelts is already implementing a short-term plan which includes using kitty litter to absorb the liquid that has escaped from the bin, then putting the result back into the pile.  David is working on the long-term plan and we hope to deliver a proposal to the Forest Service by the end of the year.[G5] [G6] 

            The latest report from ATC President/CEO Ron Tipton includes data regarding thru-hiker starts.  In 2017, over 3800 people started a northbound thru-hike.  We know that most of them started in Georgia.  As of September 26th, 2,526 had made it as far as Baxter State Park where they must obtain a permit to enter the park and continue their hike.  Congratulations to every one of them and congratulations to the GATC Trail Ambassadors and others who helped them get a good start on their adventure.

            I hope the intent of the “Presidential Ponderings” column is broad enough to allow the President   to occasionally say, "I didn't know that."  I was taking a quick first glance at atcamp.org, an ATC website that allows hikers to register their hikes and get an idea of where the crowded camping spots are likely in the area they intend to hike. When viewing shelters along the Georgia AT, there is a statement that says, “Quotas are active for (shelter name/campsite name).”  That seems to me to imply that somewhere, someone is enforcing a quota for how many campers are allowed at that site. Maybe one of you is doing just that. I didn’t know that. Also, when you view space at Springer Mountain Shelter, there is a note that, “This area is for group use only.”  Again, I didn’t know that.  But if this is actually true, it won’t be the first time that I didn’t know what was going on. I can only say that I have a wonderful group of Board members who can always keep things going in the right direction even when I have no clue.[G7] 

 Speaking of websites, our own site continues to grow as it seems that features are added every day. I know from my own professional experience in bringing technical projects to fruition that it is often a huge and thankless task.  There are endless complaints as no system is ever perfect. I am grateful that Van Hill has not pulled out all hair as he carries us into the 21[G8] st Century.  When you see Van at the Christmas party, try to think of at least one thing that you like about the website and thank him and his hard-working committee. [G9] 

 A lot of GATC volunteers work tirelessly in the background and most of us don't even realize how much gets done.  One such individual is Pete Buak, under the direction of Joe Boone, our Information and Education Director. We constantly get email requests for information about the Trail: where can I find water, where are the best place to get on/off the Trail and other Trail condition. Pete is the guy who responds to most of these and, in most cases, provides followup to the hikers to make sure they have the most current and accurate information to make their hike safe and fun.  For many who hike the AT in Georgia, Pete is their only contact with GATC.  And he is a fine representative for the Club.  Thanks to Pete, Joe and so many others who work in the background when so many of us don't notice. [G10] [G11] 

Submitted by: Don Hicks


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