Steve Weissman can tell you almost anything about the two-mile section of the Appalachian Trail he maintains in Stoke State Forest.
“Being the primary caretaker of a section of the A.T. means establishing a relationship to the Trail and to your section in a way that is different than anything you previously experienced as a hiker. You literally get to know every tree, every slight change in elevation and every blaze,” explains Steve, who has hiked approximately 350 miles of Trail sections between Maine and Tennessee. Steve is also a supervisor for 20 miles of the Trail in New Jersey and has been a maintainer for 15 years. Steve hikes almost 50 miles of the A.T. each year, inspecting various sections of the Trail, chain sawing any blow downs, and doing other maintenance tasks.
Steve received his J.D. from Rutgers School of Law- Newark, and when he’s not busy litigating cases, he can be found on the A.T. with at least a set of hand pruners and a small hand saw. Steve is the chair for the A.T. in New Jersey, he is also a great legal asset to the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and helps them pro bono.
“Steve works hard at whatever he does…. Whether it’s a blaze or a downed tree, Steve is on it,” Eddie Saiff remarks.
While it is the beauty and the grandeur of the A.T. and the hiker appreciation that sustains Steve’s commitment, it is the community that he is most thankful for. He considers the maintainers, sawyers, and trail crews to be the backbone of the A.T volunteer community. Steve goes on to explain that their work, however, wouldn’t be possible without the support of state parks and forests, as well as the staff from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.
Whenever Steve is on the A.T looking north and thinking he could walk all the way to Mt. Katahdin, or if he is looking south towards Springer Mountain, he can’t help but appreciate the work that a community of dedicated volunteers could accomplish in making the A.T its own unique experience.
Steve explains that being a volunteer is hard and challenging, but always rewarding.
“You will become part of a community of folks who share a similar devotion to the A.T., and you will have the support of that community when you need it,” he says.