At a young age, Marit Anderson began dreaming of hiking the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) after reading a book by Cindy Ross. Having only done a small amount of hiking throughout her life it was not until years later, while she was working as an adaptive ski instructor, that she began taking regular backpacking trips.
By 2009, Anderson began considering section hiking the A.T. through Virginia but ultimately decided to hike the entire length of the Trail in-between her seasons as a pre-k and middle school teacher. Nervous of journeying alone, Anderson reached out to the A.T. community and found two ladies who were eager to join her and who would ultimately complete the approximately 2,100 mile A.T. alongside her.
Following her thru hike, Anderson’s hobbies remained related to her passion for sports, until eventually one of her friends invited her to a trail maintenance event with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). Since then, Anderson has been a PATC hike leader, section maintainer, a trail workshop and work trip leader, a past PATC Vice President, and more recently a co-founder of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s (ATC) Wild East Women (WEW) affinity group.
Wild East Women is an affinity group that supports women in engaging with the Trail in meaningful ways, such as featuring interviews with women who are involved with the A.T., providing tips and strategies for outdoor adventures, and most of all helping women get involved with hikes and stewardship events along the A.T. corridor.
In her leadership role with the WEW, Anderson is described by her fellow WEW members as communicative, organized, consistently positive and realistic, bolstering, foundational, as well as a straightforward problem solver who helps set solutions in motion. “Marit is an incredibly humble, supportive and multi-talented individual. She has served as an extraordinary co-chair and leader for Wild East Women and has inspired a network of women and their allies to steward and celebrate Trails and public lands across the Eastern seaboard” says ATC’s Education Network Coordinator, Van Tran.
Anderson explains that maintaining and overseeing the Trail requires a lot of work. She recalls taking twelve hours to weed-whack her two-mile section of adopted Trail this year. “Part of enjoying life is about paying it forward. WEW is about getting people engaged and comfortable with helping to maintain the Trail with as little intimidation as possible. Once people join their first work trip they are exposed to the amount of hard work that goes into maintaining the Trail and they may realize how it all helps to create a fun hiking experience.”