“Don’t work alone!” says Tom Gorrill of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. “Reach out to friends, acquaintances, and youth groups that are not yet involved with the Trail. Bringing them along on a day work trip is a great way for them to become more comfortable and get to know you and the rest of the group. Becoming involved in a group you are not familiar with can be intimidating, so be sure to make new volunteers feel welcome and valued.”
Tom’s parents liked to hike and camp, and one of their favorite areas was Gulf Hagas in ME. Hiking on the Appalachian Trail, he was intrigued by the idea of a continuous trail that stretched all the way to Georgia, more than 2,000 miles. His interest was rekindled years later when he and his wife took their own children on a two-night hike on the A.T. He joined the Maine A.T. Club and began volunteering. For several years, he helped a friend who maintained a section of the Grafton Notch Loop trail that connects with the A.T. on East Baldpate Mountain.
MATC President Lester Kenway says that Tom, as a retired civil engineer, brings his professional training and knowledge to his work. As the overseer of the Baldpate District on the A.T. and two side trails for the club, Tom coordinates the work of 31 maintainers, more than any other A.T. district in Maine. He also serves on the committee that equips three seasonal ridgerunners.
ATC’s Maine Conservation Resources Manager Claire Polfus praises Tom and his maintainers for their work last year to clear the Trail after a brutal winter: “Some areas had a hundred blowdowns in a mile! Tom was out almost every weekend in May and June to help clear the Trail and led a huge effort by maintainers to get it cleared by the time hikers came through.”
Tom appreciates the people he has met volunteering and the lasting friendships formed with other volunteers. He looks forward each year to working with young people from high schools, colleges, and camp groups—the future maintainers of the Trail. This summer, Dirigo High School students cleared waterbars and helped construct a new moldering privy. Camp Tekakwitha helped clear and reopen the Bemis Stream Trail, which had been closed due to logging.
Recently retired, Tom says, “I seem busier and enjoying life more than when I was working. When I’m not on the A.T., I enjoy building and repairing wood/canvas canoes, ham radio, restoring our old house, and gardening.”