Leave No Trace

Today was another work day on the Appalachian Trail, but I had company this time. My hiking club, the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club, is 102 years old and maintains 64.4 miles of the AT in Pennsylvania. Once a month, our club runs a trail work day and today, five of us showed up to clea blow-downs from an 11-mile stretch north of my section, from the parking area at PA-645 south to the abandoned power line.

It was slow going because of all the chainsaw work required, and after three hours, we’d only made it about three miles in.

Since I have to work tomorrow, I turned around and headed back with Scott, the caretaker of the 501 Shelter. We decided to clean up the area around the William Penn Shelter on our way back, and it’s a really good thing that we did.

Someone had built an unlatched hiker box, put food in it, and was keeping it in the shelter. This is a recipe for rodent infestation and will eventually attract black bears, both of which making the shelter unsanitary and unsafe.

Presumably, the same person recently built a lean-to not 20 yards up the hill from the shelter. The wood was still green, and they’d clearly used a drill to screw it all together.

It took Scott and I an hour to collect the trash to pack out, break down the box and the lean-to, and haul the wood with hardware in it to the scrap pile left from the privy rebuild we did here last year so that it can be hauled out in a couple of weeks when the club is up there again.

Why did we basically destroy this person’s creations? Because they violate Leave No Trace guidelines, which state that protected lands should always be left as is and that non-trail areas should remain unmolested. Unfortunately, the AT passes through the most populated areas and has the most road crossings in PA, so things get pretty messy here, but this was particularly egregious considering what this person carried in and the danger he was inviting for other trail users.

In other news, I am hopeful that I’ll be fulfilling my hiking club’s volunteer ridgerunner position starting this summer! I may also soon be the owner of a class B RV, which I plan to use to travel the North American continent, also starting this summer! Stay tuned!

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