HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. (Sep. 17, 2018) – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) announced today that author Cheryl Strayed, writer of the bestselling memoir “Wild,” will headline the upcoming celebration of the 50th anniversary of both trails being designated as National Scenic Trails.
Strayed will speak on the importance of protected wild spaces during a virtual event produced by the ATC and the PCTA that will be broadcast live on Oct. 2, 2018 from 2-6 p.m. EST. Additional guest speakers include Suzanne Dixon, president and CEO of the ATC; Liz Bergeron, executive director and CEO of the PCTA; and Dr. Tyler Nordgren, Artist, Astronomer and Night Sky Ambassador.
Cheryl Strayed will discuss her bestselling memoir “Wild” and the importance of trails and natural spaces during a live stream celebration of the National Trail Systems Act on Oct. 2.
Noted author, speaker and National Geographic adventurer Jennifer Pharr Davis will host the event. Davis has covered more than 14,000 miles of trails on six different continents, including a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and three completions of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).
The entire four-hour event will be broadcast live at ATPCT50.org and on the social media channels of both the ATC and the PCTA. Other exciting details about the Oct. 2 event will be announced in the coming weeks.
The National Trails System Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson on Oct. 2, 1968, led to the designation of both the A.T. and the PCT as the first National Scenic Trails on the same day. This iconic event in conservation history has helped to create and protect some of the country’s most important places for wildlife and visitors.
“This 50th anniversary celebration is about much more than the National Trails System Act’s lasting impact in creating these two iconic footpaths,” said Suzanne Dixon, President and CEO of the ATC. “The event is a chance for us all to think about conservation and how we must work together to preserve these public lands, not just for today but for future generations. The Appalachian Trail is one of the most significant landscapes in the eastern U.S., and we have to draw awareness to the issues impacting the Trail and encourage a deeper engagement with the communities and people whom we work with. We’re thrilled to have Cheryl as the main part of the event, as is a champion for our Trails whose book continues to have a transformative effect on the A.T., the PCT and the millions of people inspired to visit them each year. Cheryl’s involvement makes our October 2 event a must-see for all of those who care about these national treasures and want to learn more insights from an accomplished author.”.
“Wandering through the West’s most spectacular wilderness landscapes on the Pacific Crest Trail is an experience worth protecting, and that’s really what we’re celebrating this year,” said Liz Bergeron, executive director and CEO of the Pacific Crest Trail Association. “The Congress of 1968 knew that, and that’s why the PCT and the AT were enshrined as the first two National Scenic Trails in this landmark legislation. Being on the trail gives me a sense of the enormity of place, which, conversely, makes me feel small. I love gaining that perspective, bringing it home and applying it to my daily life. America should be proud of the fact that we’ve set aside these vast public lands and trails for all the world to enjoy and love. We should continue to hold them in the highest regard, not only for today, but for future generations.”
"I’m turning 50 in September, and it strikes me as beautifully fitting that the Pacific Crest Trail — a trail so dear to my heart and important in my life — is celebrating a 50th birthday of sorts too," said Strayed in a contribution to Nick Kristof’s New York Times newsletter. "On October 2, 1968, the Pacific Crest Trail and its counterpart to the east, the Appalachian Trail, were designated National Scenic Trails when President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the bipartisan National Trails System Act into law. Years later, when I was writing my book 'Wild' and researching the history of the PCT, I reflected on how very much the trails created by the National Trails System Act embody America’s highest ideals of democracy. In the form of a network of nearly 60,000 miles of humble dirt paths that you can mostly access for free, we’re reminded that this land belongs to all of us.”
Strayed is also the author of multiple New York Times bestsellers, including “Tiny Beautiful Things,” “Brave Enough” and the novel, “Torch.” Her bestselling memoir, “Wild,” chronicles her 1,100-mile solo hike on the PCT in the summer of 1995. The book received widespread acclaim and was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film starring Reese Witherspoon.
The event is sponsored by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Northwest Federal Credit Union, with additional sponsorship from Gossamer Gear, Osprey, REI and Vasque.
For more information about this celebration, visit ATPCT50.org.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. On October 2, 2018, the ATC will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act, which protects the A.T. and other scenic trails as part of the National Park System. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, visit www.appalachiantrail.org.