Trail Magic: Many Hands Keep Hikers’ Feet Moving

One aspect of the hike often not considered is the path itself. This, after all, is the fabled Appalachian Trail, which extends some 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, and one takes for granted that even though the path rose and fell sharply with the undulating terrain – calling these sections “MUDs and PUDs” for “mindless ups and downs and pointless ups and downs” – it would be cleared and well-marked.

All too often hikers forget that countless dedicated but unheralded volunteers toil laboriously to maintain thousands and thousands of hiking trails from sea to shining sea.

The other day the author spoke with one of these workers, Dick Welsh of Quaker Hill, CT. It turns out Dick, who spends a fair amount of time in Maine, helps maintain those first seven miles or so of the AT from Monson, past the Leeman Brook Lean-To to the 60-foot Wilson Falls, one of the highest cataracts on the entire trail.

“I enjoy giving back to the community. Some people give to the United Way, but I’m not just sending in 50 bucks. I’m giving my time, something that’s meaningful,” he said.

This year Dick has volunteered about 80 hours of time working on the trail – clearing brush, cutting trees and otherwise making the path passable for pedestrians.

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