Blue Ridge Summit, PA — No good deed goes unpunished. In my case, the “punishment” is really a delightful reward. Last month I was asked to manage the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club’s (PATC) ridgerunner program. I couldn’t wait to be thrown into that briar patch!
Although I love being a grunt on the Hoodlums trail crew and overseeing my AT section, I’ve been searching to expand into a leadership role within PATC and this one is perfect for me.
These ridgerunners are highly trained, independent, experienced and motivated. Serving them is a high honor. If you could meet them in person, you’d know exactly why. You’d break your pick for any one of them.
The Ridgerunner’s primary role is to be an ambassador from the trail to those who use it. They are there to help and encourage, especially desired behaviors such as practicing the Leave No Trace ethic. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ridgerunner for more. Ridgerunning is a rewarding experience as readers know who recall the blogs I wrote while ridgerunning in Georgia this past March.
Each ridgerunner patrols a defined section of the PATC’s 240 miles of the AT. The length of their service is dependent on the where their patrol section is and the funding provided by the partner agency responsible for that section. They aren’t paid a lot, but that’s not really the point.
As for the good deed — I prepared a report for various senior AT leaders about my experiences and observations in Georgia. The report was widely circulated, and I think someone thought, “Okay wiseguy. You brought it up. Now step up!” I accepted in a nanosecond.
Here is a link to that report: https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D3624411_94596663_20574 Those who read it will learn a bit about what I leave out of my family-friendly blogs.
Looking ahead to upcoming challenges, the number of AT thru hikers and visits to the trail is expected to dramatically increase next year in response to two Hollywood movies — Reece Witherspoon’s “Wild” which involves hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail and Robert Redford’s “A Walk in the Woods” which is based on Bill Bryson’s popular book about hiking the AT. “A Walk in the Woods” opens Labor Day weekend.
Historical data tells us to buckle up and expect a huge increase in the number of inexperienced and inadequately prepared hikers. For my part, I’d rather be part of the solution than be part of the problem.
Meanwhile, I look forward to hiking with these great ridgerunners on patrol in, what for us, is the real world.
Several friends and acquaintances have congratulated me on my pencil drawings lately. I can draw, but not nearly that well. The featured image for this post was taken with my iPhone and processed by an app called Pencil Sketch. I’ve used this artful feature for more than a year and absolutely love it. I created the renderings that follow just to show you some of the tricks it has up its sleeve.