Hikers who reach Mount Katahdin like to pose next to the sign that marks the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Lester Kenway is one of the volunteers who put that sign in place. Though he’s replaced it three times, it represents just a small part of Lester’s volunteer efforts on behalf of the A.T.
Lester has been dedicated to the A.T. and trail building since his first trail crew experience – in 1972 as a member of the Bates Outing Club. This was an “important experience” for Lester; he continued trail building as a professional and a volunteer.
A member of ATC and the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) for more than 35 years, Lester – now MATC’s President – has chaired the sign committee, managed MATC’s Trail crew program, and built shelters and trails.
On MATC’s section of the A.T., Lester’s goal is to “build things once, and build them to last,” primarily using stone. But moving stone requires special skills and tools. ATC’s Bob Proudman, notes that the Griphoist and other methods for moving stone pioneered by Lester are now widely used on the A.T. and other trails. “Lester is the quintessential crew leader,” says Bob, “always prepared with decades of trail-building experience,”
Lester has taught trail building all over the United States, and says the “character of the A.T. . . is wild and challenging. . .not just a gravel path. Working on trails,” he adds, “creates something good for people and something good for the earth.”