Fifteen years ago, David Stelts volunteered for a stint on ATC's Konnarock Trail Crew, which was working jointly on a project with the Georgia A.T. Club. Working alongside GATC volunteers led him and his wife Pat to join the club, where they have not only been maintainers, but have taken on many other roles as well.
In December 2014, GATC President Beth Rothermel honored David and Pat with the President's Award "for their commitment, leadership, and dedication to the GATC since 2000. Though this award is usually awarded to an individual, the Stelts have earned it as a team, since they can always be found working side by side. They have both worked faithfully for many years—David as secretary/historian and conservation director on the GATC Board, as district leaders and overseers, on the Konnarock Crew subcommittee, as co-chairs of the structures subcommittee, as volunteer liaisons, and with the alternate spring break committee."
The structures committee is in charge of shelters, privies, bear cables, and bridges. Pat and David have been especially proactive in trying to find solutions to the problem of privies filling up before they have time to molder, including testing biological decomposition agents at the Black Gap Shelter and Springer Mountain privies.
They both are trail overseers, and David is also district leader (and Pat's “boss”) for a heavily used section of the A.T. beginning at Springer Mountain. They often work as a pair—when David (a certified chainsaw and crosscut sawyer) is clearing blowdowns, Pat acts as swamper. “If David is taking down a tree to make benches or steps, Pat is working just as diligently skinning the logs of their bark,” says Beth.
Former ATC Resource Management Coordinator John Odell praised David for his
“incredible work engaging the club in rare plant monitoring, invasive-plant inventory, and invasive-plant-control projects.” Pat takes special pleasure in those activities as well, and they recently took their 11- and 13-year-old grandchildren out on the Trail to help remove invasive plants.
Pat and David have found that working on the Trail and engaging passing hikers is a great way to raise awareness about the Trail and to encourage new club members and maintainers.