by Leanna Joyner

And they’re off

March 30, 2016

Trees have put on their buds at lower elevations in the Southern Appalachians, and just as hopeful, many hikers are setting out on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) with their compasses set northward.

On the Trail, hikers will likely encounter Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) ridgerunners and caretakers who have already started their season. They’re out there to offer information and encouragement to hikers. They’re modeling the best in Leave No Trace behavior and celebrating hikers boosting their own Trail Karma by packing out their own and others’ trash, digging a gold-star cat-hole well off the Trail, or showing respect by using phones out of sight and earshot of those who came to seek fellowship with the wilderness.

Who are our Southern Regional Ridgerunners?

We have a passionate cadre of on-trail educators. We have 2,000-milers, section-hikers, long-distance hikers of other National Scenic Trails, people who volunteer with A.T. clubs and those who have worked with conservation corps.

Already, with just one hitch under their belts, they have:

  • Helped hikers who arrived at the Trail under-prepared by introducing and orienting them to maps.
  • Providing information on resources ahead like water and the next place to mail gear home.
  • Packed out garbage carelessly left by others.
  • Witnessed an emergency search and rescue team evacuate a hiker who was too cold.
  • Provided guidance to others on gear.
  • Assured that folks new about the brand new privy and tent sites at the Hawk Mountain Campsite a .5 mile south of the shelter.

If you’re planning a hike in Georgia in the next couple of months, make sure you plan ahead by reading the ATC’s information on Hiking the Trail. If you’re setting off on a thru-hike, also remember to register your hike.

If you’re planning a spring break hike or have flexibilty in your schedule and destination in ​the spring, we’ve got a number of recommendations that exemplify the ​A.T.  experience. Give us a call at 304-535-6331 for more information on those hikes.