by Natrieifia Miller

Club Round Up: A.T Communities and Clubs Partnerships

Harrisonburg Community
Vince Mier is the store manager of Walkabout Outfitter’s Harrisonburg location. Along with David Landis, he is also a co-leader of the Appalachian Trail Harrisonburg Community Committee, which he has been a part of for about 3 years. Even before his thru hike in 2011 Vince has been a big champion of Trail spirit and the outdoors life.

He brings those ideals into ​the store, namely by keeping a signup sheet for customers to volunteer with the A.T. Harrisonburg and posting information regarding the local Trail maintenance club, the Southern Shenandoah chapter of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. The store also holds an annual “Gearing up for a Long Distance Hike” event, which was held on December 8th this year. This event focuses on giving participants an overview of Leave No Trace principles and the A.T. but is open to those planning hikes on other U.S. trails, as well as international treks.

This year the Harrisonburg community at large also participated in two big events of which the Southern Shenandoah PATC was also partnered. The first was Family Hiking Day, a day of events planned all along the A.T. occurring on September 24. This was the first time that the community members actually hiked alongside PATC members. Vince said that the event was a huge success and that they will definitely be seeking out more partnerships like hikes and trail work in the future. Their photo was even chosen as a winner in the ATC Family Hiking Day Photo Contest held by ATC.

The other big community event was the second annual Harrisonburg film event. Held on October 3, the community presented “Trail Magic” at a local downtown theatre. They also hosted the director of the film and had tablers, among which PATC was present. Over 100 tickets were sold, raising an excess of $700. All of the money raised will be split between two local trail projects. Funds will be used to expand a trail presence at the children’s Explore More Discovery Museum and to create a trail-related outdoor park in downtown Harrisonburg.

Waynesboro Community
Amy Allamong is the new A.T. Community ambassador for Waynesboro, Virginia. In an interview we discussed plans that the community has for making a bigger impact in 2017. The community participated in ATC’s 2016 Family Hiking Day event and plans are underway to organize a larger hike for the event next year. Local Trail clubs, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and Old Dominion A.T. Club, spread the word about their work by tabling at two local Waynesboro events, Extreme Fest and River Fest.

There are also plans to revitalize the use of a local church hostel. The community is currently working to tackle the need for overnight volunteers to manage the space during the 3-4 weeks that it is open for hiking season, since the community would love to retain this benefit for A.T. hikers.

In early 2017 Amy will also be meeting with Dave Hennel, a teacher at Waynesboro high school and long time PATC member, about establishing a new community social media campaign. Updated details on this movement and social media partnership will be highlighted in a future Register Blog post so stay tuned!

Wind Gap Community
The Bangor Trail Blazers are a backpacking/hiking club focused on education and preservation of outdoor recreation. Their Facebook page attributes the club’s creation as “as a way to connect students from the Bangor School District to the community through outdoor recreation and education.” This past year they were involved in working with the A T hiking clubs in erecting an information kiosk at the Fox Gap trailhead which is 7 miles from the Wind Gap trailhead. Both trailheads run through or just north of the core boroughs in the Slate Belt region. In addition to the kiosk the Bangor Trail Blazers club also participated in family hiking day and in Wind Gap’s annual Trail to Town Jamboree. Their presence drew attention to youth involvement to educate about the A.T. and the long term commitment to preserve the community’s portion of the Trail as part of Wind Gap’s A.T. Community designation.

The Bangor Trail Blazers were interviewed as part of the Blue Valley Times newspaper, that ran in Sharon Davis’s “Commerce & Conversation” column.

“As a member of the Batona Hiking Club, which maintains our portion of the Appalachian Trail, I had trail maintenance experiences with them. As a Club we offered to assist with future maintenance projects. When the Batona Club asked us to get involved with the kiosk project, we as a Club jumped on it.” -Sean Moran

You can read the full feature of the trail blazers here.

Bangor Trail Blazers during construction of kiosk