Trails don't just happen; they need people to nurture them into existence. Tom Thwaites, Father of the Mid State Trail, died on Christmas. The Mid State Trail is the wildest trail in Pennsylvania and is an integral part of the Great Eastern Trail.
I never met Tom Thwaites in real life, but hiking the Mid State Trail felt a little bit like meeting him. Trail creators, builders, and maintainers leave their fingerprints on their trails; they weave their hearts into the trails they love. No, I never met him, but nevertheless, maybe I knew him.
Hike his Mid State Trail. Better yet, volunteer on the trail to help maintain his legacy. Best still, volunteer and join the organization for just $12/year. And if you live nowhere near Pennsylvania, find your local trail and spend a day improving it. Please give back to the trails you love so that others may discover them too.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
New Plan Offers Protection for Shenandoah Mountain is an article about a great example of compromise and synergy between user groups who enjoy their trails in different ways and want to protect the land that they love. Check it out.
Some portions of the GET are open to bikes and the Shenandoah Mountain Trail is one of them. (There are other portions of the GET where I’d love to eat popcorn and watch people try to bike it.)
Bikers have done a lot of maintenance on trail, and those we met ranged from courteous to ultra-friendly, offering us water (we didn't need it, but it was a very sweet gesture). I was not offended to share trail with them – I felt like they were the ones sharing it with me. I was grateful to be there.
The Shenandoah Mountain Trail would make one of the best section-hikes along the entire GET and I highly recommend it, whether you have a few days to thoroughly enjoy it or whether you have a day to hit some of the highlights. This trail has far-reaching views, a sweet tower, a hidden spring, flowing streams, easy grades, and is well-maintained. It also hosts the high point of the GET: a small field with seasonal views called Bother Knob.
This is a spectacular area. Sometime in the next decade I'll be deciding between re-hiking the GET or revisiting another trail, and this section is huge plus for the GET. No one who has visited Shenandoah Mountain would question why it needs protection. I hope this plan will become reality.
You can check out the Friends of Shenandoah Mountain page for more information.
For right now, a guide to the area can be found online. Soon it will be in book form! Woohoo!
Monday, December 1, 2014
Great Eastern Trail
Ice Age Trail
- The Ice Age Trail and the GET have much more in common than I would have guessed. Most importantly, with both trails, were the people. I feel like each trail I hike brings wonderful lifelong friends into my life, and the IAT was no exception.
- These trails are also both lonely. While Devils Lake (IAT) may always be comparatively crowded and the Thousand Steps (GET) is a popular dayhike, neither of these trails boast many long-distance hikers. I met 4 on the Ice Age Trail.
- Easy resupply due to frequent town visits - just one section on each trail that is dicey for resupply
- Challenging camping situations at times due to private land or public land where camping is not allowed
- Maps are a necessity - neither the GET nor the IAT is fully blazed (this mostly applies to connecting roadwalks but there are wooded sections that are unblazed or underblazed
- Both trails have an element of choose-your-own-adventure, as the connecting roadwalks are often unofficial and you can link the trail together by foot as you like.
- Both trails have a bifurcation! East or west, which will you choose?
- They have similar ideal seasons for hiking: spring or autumn are your best bets to avoid ticks, heat, and mosquitoes.
- Both are routed through a large city (Chattanooga for the GET, Janesville & Madison for the IAT)