By John Killam
Dan Hammer “took the hike” at about 6:30 a.m. July 29, 2014. “Hammer” had been in declining health for several years and had recently been moved from assisted living to a nursing home. He had asked to be taken off dialysis several days prior to his death.
Dan Hammer was a life member of ATC and a friend of A.T. volunteers, A.T. Conservancy employees, and hikers. I first met Hammer while we were working on the Konnarock Trail Crew, I believe it was in 1993. He was in his early sixties then. He had started what he hoped would be a thru-hike of the A.T. a year or so before. He did not complete the A.T., but he learned that there were trail crews that were building and maintaining the Trail and got involved as a volunteer.
In his later years, Hammer continued his contact with the crew program by participating in “Clean-Up Week” at the Konnarock basecamp. For years, he volunteered at ATC Headquarters and worked at the ATC booth at Damascus Trail Days. And, for a couple of days before the booth opened each year, he did “trail magic” at his favorite spot south of Damascus where the Trail crosses U.S. 421.
He attended most of the ALDHA Gatherings that were held in West Virginia over the last 15 to 20 years, and also attended some Gatherings in other states.
I already miss him. I understand from his son that Hammer’s body will be cremated and that his grandson, Ben, who thru-hiked the A.T. in 2013, will scatter his ashes somewhere near the Trail this fall.
I hope to be there.