Wow! By the time most of you read this newsletter, we will be deep in the holiday season and this year will be almost over. And what year it has been. You have heard a lot about PATHE (Protecting the AT Hiking Experience) this year. That task force (or committee, I’m never quite sure which) achieved several major milestones in 2017. The group developed consensus on the definition of “the AT Hiking Experience.” That was actually much more complicated than we had imagined. The group continues to build/rebuild one campsite each year. The focus is on sidehill tentpads. Gooch is the current project. Be looking out for the next PATHE project in 2018.
Mother Nature was particularly rough on everyone this year. Hurricane Irma came through and left over 800 trees on or around the Trail. Don Converse rallied several sawyer teams and with the help of the Forest Service and other organizations cleared the majority of the blowdowns in a remarkably short time. What seemed to be an impossible task was accomplished by a lot of cooperation and volunteers willing to devote the time to clear the Trail in a timely manner.
The GATC Trail Ambassadors kicked off the thru-hiking season with a big year. There were more patrols, more active Ambassadors, and more contacts than ever before. Planning is already underway for an even bigger year in 2018. Like Uncle Sam, Jay is always looking for a few good men (and women).
GATC has always strived to get the most relevant trail condition information into the hands of hikers. In 2017, there was an exponential blast of data pushed out to hikers through the GATC website. Joe Boone has really taken advantage of electronic media to get this done. A new section on our website includes the latest update on just about any trail conditions. Hikers can find information to help plan their hike. There is up to date information regarding water sources. They can find accommodations and sources for supplies anywhere along the GA AT. There is information about shuttles and directions for driving in a car from all directions. Hikers who come to Georgia unprepared have no excuse. Everything they need to know to plan a safe and enjoyable hike is found on our website.
Together we accomplished an incredible amount of good things. And much of what we do is either in the public eye or fairly well known within the GATC family. But I know that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much, much more that gets done and very few people notice. Take the Activities Committee as just one example. Are you aware that the hikes that we are enjoying now were planned in the Spring of 2016? And all that planning takes place within a short period of time. Think about it: a dayhike every Saturday and Sunday; one or two backpacking trips every month. Every hike has to be planned out and scouted. Every hike must have a leader and co-leader. Registration and waiting lists have to be developed. And that is just the hikes. Every GATC activity is coordinated by the Activities Committee. How Melanie keeps all that going together without losing her mind is beyond me.
We are so fortunate to have such dedicated leaders and so many willing volunteers. That is what makes GATC one of the premier trail maintaining clubs anywhere on the AT. And that is why 2017 was such a great year. Let’s all prepare ourselves for an even bigger and better year in 2018.
I look forward to seeing you at the holiday party.
Submitted by: Don Hicks