When A.T. volunteer Dean Sims (Trail name: Mr. Konnarock) first hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1946, he had to bushwhack and knock on doors to find the footpath. Many Trail maintainers had been fighting WWII, and the Trail had fallen into disrepair. Dean, a seaman, continued to hike sections of the Trail whenever his ship docked in a port close to the A.T. By the time Dean retired in 1984, he had hiked about half the Trail and seen the A.T. renewed.
After retiring, Dean joined the then newly formed Konnarock Trail Crew – and he has never left. He has spent 25 years volunteering on A.T. Trail crews, traveling from Maine to Georgia to work on the large scale projects tackled by the crews: Trail relocations, rehabilitation and bridge/shelter construction. He has helped build 20 shelters – his favorite type of project. Dean has also volunteered as a Ridge Runner – greeting, assisting and educating the hikers on his assigned section of the A.T.
Looking back over his long A.T. career, Dean’s concern now is the education of the next generation of A.T. volunteers. “It is the elder’s responsibility to pass these skills on,” he says of his 25 years of accumulated knowledge, “in 100 years the Trail will still be here, and Trail maintainers will still need these skills.” Dean’s dedication and hard work are much appreciated by Appalachian Trail managers. “Here at Konnarock” says Kerry Wood, VARO Regional Trail Resources Manager, “he’s called the Volunteer of the Century!”