Within 30 days of retiring from New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority in 2010, Artie Hidalgo began volunteering with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NY-NJTC) on the multiyear Bear Mountain project. Pro-crew members and volunteers together have rebuilt and relocated a heavily used and badly eroded section of the A.T. for long-term sustainability. Much of that effort has involved rock work, including shaping, moving, and installing granite steps and building stone retaining walls/crib walls. Under the leadership of professional trail builder Eddie Walsh on the project, Artie learned dry-stone walling, and it quickly became a passion.
That first year, Artie volunteered 700 hours on Bear Mountain and a total of 1,000 hours for the Conference. He also was introduced to ATC and its Trail crews and has since volunteered on the Konnarock and Rocky Top Crews. He helped found the Jolly Rovers Crew with other NYNJTC volunteers. As a member of the Jolly Rovers (now a separate nonprofit organization), he has done stonework in many locations and led workshops at the Wilderness Skills Institute.
Artie says, “Doing the work I love and sharing that knowledge with others is a privilege. Interacting with other volunteers and promoting their skills makes the experience of teaching its own reward.”
Davis Wax, ATC seasonal crew leader and ridgerunner, first met Artie when they both volunteered with the Konnarock Crew in the summer of 2013. “I had minimal trail crew experience at that point, especially in rock work, and Artie took me under his wing to teach me all he knew about crib-wall construction. We were working on the Bluff City relocation of the A.T. near Pearisburg, Virginia, and had to put the trail over a rocky bluff. I was lucky to be able to work directly under Artie to put in a section of crib wall. By the end of the week, he had instilled a great appreciation in me for the intricacies and finesse of stone work.”
Davis continues, “Artie’s dedication to trail work and to the ATC is profound. His passion has inspired me over the years to dedicate myself to doing trail work as well. I hope to see Artie volunteering on ATC crews for many years to come and to get to work with him in the near future.