Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A.T. Community Summer Wrap-Up

This July, the Appalachian Trail Community of Great Barrington hosted a few events to get the word out about the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in the Great Barrington area. It was a successful month and we engaged many community members and increased the awareness of the A.T. and volunteerism on the A.T. in our area.

We began July by doing some outreach at the local Great Barrington Farmer's Market, at it's new location at the newly revived Great Barrington Fairgrounds.  It was a really fun day! Locals and visitors were asking questions, taking maps, and looking for day hiking tips and suggestions along the A.T. and other trails nearby. We had an abundance of Great Barrington Trails and Greenways information and handouts as well.  We also received many useful suggestions from locals that have helped hikers in the past, or want to help out along the trail, we had some questions regarding finding trailheads from occasional hiker hosts, suggestion to make a day hikes on the A.T. in Great Barrington list, where to get a map set, and so on.

All in all, we reached a lot of people that we wouldn't normally reach that had a curiosity and interest about the A.T., local trails, and the fact that the Kellogg Conservation Center is a regional office for Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Appalachian Mountain Club staff. If the opportunity arises again, I think it would be fun to table again (especially if the goat sausage vendor is right next door again, mmm).

Silvia also hosted a Phenology talk at the Mason Library in Great Barrington. Seven attendees were present, largely thanks to local hiker, Bess, for spreading the word to her friends. We only had an hour to go over what Phenology is and walk along the Great Barrington River Walk  to discuss how to identify phenophases. So far we have one volunteer who set up a Phenology Site in the area.  Hopefully we can set up a talk in the North Adams area to get some volunteers who live closer to Mt. Greylock.

On Sunday, July 13th, we hosted an A.T. Family Day hike up to the Tom Leonard Shelter along the AT from the Lake Buel Road trailhead. This hike is ideal for families as it is short and cool in the summer. The best part after the climb, is the view from the tent platform and checking out the shelter. We had 10 Adults and 9 children, counting the 3 leaders.  What was really neat about this hike is we were able to get a local a Trail to Every Classroom teacher in Sheffield, MA to help us lead and give parents great tips on how to hike with kids.  Christine Ward of GB Trails and Greenways and Silvia Cassano of Appalachian Trail Conservancy co-lead the hike as well. Each leader provided a different knowledge base for the kids and their chaperons which made for a delightful hike.
What is this privy all about?

Many people heard about it from all different sorts of advertising and fliers.  This was the first family hike offered for the July Great Barrington A.T. Community events, and it was definitely a success!
Lastly, the culmination of the Great Barrington Trail Community events was the second annual A.T. Community Celebration: Hikes and Picnic at Benedict Pond in Beartown State Forest. This event was held Saturday, July 26. It is a collaboration between DCR MassParks, GB Trails & Greenways, Greenagers, Appalachian Mountain Club and Appalachian Trail Conservancy. More widespread marketing and outreach was done this year and it showed.  The event offered a longer 6 mile hike from Tyringham to Benedict Pond, and a shorter hike utilizing the Pond Loop to the A.T. and then up to the Ledges. Both hikes ended at the picnic area at Benedict Pond for a potluck, swimming, and a grand ole' time.

When the group of those attending the 6 mile hike arrived to the picnic area at Benedict Pond in Beartown State Forest the amount of folks gathering in the picnic area for the potluck exceeded those attending last year. Attendees ranged from thru-hikers, section hikers, local folks that live near the trail, Berkshire Magazine (who did a feature article on the A.T. for July), local thru-hiker lodging/shuttle providers, Mass A.T. Committee Trail members and maintainers, AMC trail crew crew leaders, crew members, ridgerunners, and field staff, ATC staff, Great Barrington's town manager and family, and more. 
After the event was over, a thru-hiker rushed into the picnic area where some folks were lingering and said desperately, "I heard about this several miles from the trail and hurried to get here before I missed the food."  Luckily, we still had some food left for him, and he was delighted.  Last year we had lots of leftovers, but this year, we had one watermelon left to show. 
Knot Tying

A.T. Cookies? Sure!!

Adam and Cosmo chatting and grilling

This year the event was definitely a great glimpse at what this event could become each year, and it's exciting to see it progress! Thank you everyone for attending and helping and bringing your friendly faces and great hiking stories.  We look forward to next year's A.T. Community Celebration!
Local ATC Trail Angel, ATC Staff member, Silvia Cassano, and 2014 Thru-Hiker, Journeyman, who is now recovered from Lyme's Disease have fun. Journeyman stayed with the two on his left while recovering.

AMC Teen Trail Crew

Ledges hikes participants

Thur hiker table


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