by ATC Volunteer Program Staff

Meet Greg Ritson, Technical Trail Specialist

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited to introduce Greg Ritson as ATC’s Technical Trail Specialist for the 2023 season. As Technical Trail Specialist, Greg will be traveling along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) providing a variety of workshops centered around skills needed to care for the Appalachian Trail.  

Greg is looking forward to sharing his passion for trail work with others while exploring the beauty of the A.T. this season. Learn more about Greg and his work below and join one of his upcoming training courses near you: 

Why do you enjoy trail work?

Trail work is active participation in conservation. Trails are resources to the public for recreation in nature. They grant access for people to experience ecosystems and witness views while minimizing the impact of traveling to those places. Aldo Leopold said in A Sand County Almanac, “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Trails are a way of building kinship with the land; they foster people to become better stewards of the land. I work on trails to facilitate stronger relationships between people and nature. I also do it to remind people they are part of nature, so that it inspires love, responsibility, and stewardship.

What have been some of your most challenging and favorite trail projects?

My favorite trail projects have always taken place in Wilderness. I really enjoy maintaining remote sections of trail, and especially meeting the challenges that come with clearing logs from the treadway with a crosscut saw. The context of Wilderness requires a very methodical, intentional application of diligent work. The result of this work leaves the trail both rustic and timeless. I find it very satisfying to be a part of that tradition.

How has your experience working on trail projects shaped your connection to the outdoors?

Working in the trail industry has granted me the opportunity to live my passion. It has grown my connection to the outdoors immensely. I have been able to participate in active stewardship of natural resources that sustain our planet, while fostering a means for the wider public to witness and enjoy these gifts. This work stimulates the body, mind, and spirit. This work has given me the excuse opportunity to travel to places I have never been. At the same time, it has allowed me to give back and make a positive impact to those same places.

What are you looking forward to the most this season as a Technical Trail Specialist with ATC?

I am most looking forward to exploring all the incredible places the Trail winds through as well as meeting some of the volunteers who make the Trail possible.

If you were to be personified as a trail tool, which do you feel would represent you best and why?

I hope to be personified as a Pulaski. It’s a versatile tool that can be used for both digging and cutting. It’s light enough to be carried long distances down the trail and tough enough to get the job done. As an individual I strive to be a jack-of-all-trades and place a lot of value on gathering a variety of different experiences. I feel this approach gives one better context for solving problems.

What would you tell someone who is not sure if volunteering on the Trail is right for them?

Trail work is a meaningful way to give back to the Trail. Volunteering gives you a chance to be part of the legacy of the A.T., it will give you appreciation for all the labor involved in keeping the Trail maintained. It takes a diverse array of talents to maintain the Trail. The worst thing that could happen is you spent a whole day outside in nature…with the birds, and the trees, and the views…wait…that doesn’t sound so bad! So what do you have to lose? Come on out and give it a try!