Sam and Sharon Ripley

August 2009

Together, Sam and Sharon Ripley have contributed more than 13,000 hours to the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (NBATC), based in Lynchburg, Virginia. They both recently received lifetime achievement awards from the National Park Service. 
“For the past 25 years, Sam and Sharon have been invaluable assets to the NBATC,” said board president Norman Sykora. “They have eagerly volunteered many hours of both maintenance and management time in support of the Appalachian Trail.” 
The couple first learned about the trail club in the early 1980s through a “Day in the Park” event in Lynchburg aimed at promoting outdoor recreation. Sam went on a hike that night and within days was doing trail work. 
Over the years, they have served in several posts. Sharon has been both secretary and president of the NBATC board of directors in addition to logging many maintenance hours with Sam, who has been supervisor of trails since 1991. Sam couldn’t tell you how many shelters and outhouses he has helped rebuild or how many miles of trail he has relocated and maintained, but he can tell you why. “It gets me out on the trail I love,” he said. “That’s what I enjoy the most.” 
The Ripleys have lent their trail-maintenance abilities to other projects in Central Virginia, as well as on trails out west with the American Hiking Society. 
Sam and Sharon’s contributions are all the more impressive because they both work full time. Sam is an occupational health nurse, while Sharon is an orthopedic nurse.