Mark Heede “Mr.Happy”
Mark Heede thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2000. His fellow volunteers have deemed him the name “Mr. Happy”. In 2014 he found his “give-back” opportunity in a big way by volunteering as the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club’s (ODATC) Trail Maintenance Supervisor. After two-terms in this position, Heede’s impacts on the role continue to reverberate throughout the ODATC section of the Appalachian Trail. During his time as Trail Maintenance Supervisor, Heede oversaw the routine week to week maintenance of the ODATC’s Trail section from Rockfish Gap to Reed’s Gap and coordinated and supervised several large scale projects including but not limited to; a National Park Service Trail Inventory of the clubs Trail section, a 24 step stone staircase, a Bear Box project for the Paul Wolfe Shelter with both National Park Service and private land owners adjoining the shelter area; as well as the installation of a larger and safer tool shed for the club. Heede also worked in securing and coordinating trainings for ODATC section maintainers such as chainsaw maintenance and CPR-First aid, as well as coordinated annual maintainer appreciation dinners and campouts. He also served on the Konnarock steering committee and the A.T. license plate steering committee.
Heede was well known for going above and beyond the call of a volunteer Trail Maintenance Supervisor by reacting to the needs of the Trail regardless of the situation. In November 2018 ice storms brought down hundreds of trees across the A.T., adjoining official blue blazed side trails, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). Ultimately, there were enough fallen trees across the Trail that it was closed to hikers from Humpback Rocks to Rockfish Gap. Despite the fact that ODATC’s maintenance season had ended Heede took charge of clearing the trail of the fallen trees and organized up to half a dozen fellow certified sawyer crews to help reopen the Trail over the course of four months. When bear encounters were on the rise in 2016, Heede was fast to answer the call of a volunteer by printing and posting bear safety information along the Trail within a matter of hours. This program continues to provide information for hikers about safe hiking in bear country each season. Heede also went on to obtain Bear Spray donations for the volunteers who are section maintainers for ODATC.
Heede continues to be a section maintainer, an ODATC sawyer and a regular attendant of monthly ODATC work trips under the leadership of Amanda Noe who succeeded him as Trail Maintenance Supervisor. David Grimes, ODATC President states “Mark has a personable nature that allows him to keep the team’s focus on the big picture and not let problems derail a project or a team’s sense of contributing to the Trail. At one point in his tenure Mark reminded himself and his trail crew working on one of those trail projects where just about everything has not gone according to plan “no one is making us do this so I guess we must be having fun!””