A Dream Fulfilled — A Legacy Preserved!
PATC, the Charlottesville Chapter, and the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter met once more in Beagle Gap on Saturday, August 4, 2012, and dedicated the relocation of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail over the summit of Little Calf Mountain.
A crowd of around 30 people, mostly PATC members with families and friends, gathered at the Beagle Gap parking area before 10:00 A.M. for the event. John Hedrick, President of PATC, welcomed all to the dedication and briefly described its history and significance.
John recognized guests from Shenandoah National Park, including Steve Printz, who leads the Park trail maintenance crew in our region, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, including Bob Proudman, Director of Conservation Operations, and Bob Sickley, the Trail Resources Manager with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office.
Further, John recognized Augie Buckheit, the ATC/PATC Appalachian Trail Ridge Runner, and Mark Gatewood, leader of the Flying McLeods district trail crew.
The Rev. Dr. Heather Warren gave the invocation for this event. Dr. Warren, an Episcopal priest and a professor at the University of Virginia, is a PATCer who maintains a section of the Appalachian Trail and a blue-blazed side trail in the South District of Shenandoah National Park.
Bob Proudman spoke memorably of the history of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and our significance to the concept, construction, and continued maintenance of the Appalachian Trail in the context of the 75th Anniversary of the completion of the Trail.
Bob also addressed the conservation and resource management issues that continue to concern ATC and the public hiking community. He used the struggle by Jay Leutze and Dan “Wingfoot” Bruce to preserve Belview Mountain and the Appalachian Trail corridor in North Carolina to illustrate this, and drew parallels with other corridor issues to show that this story has no end.
By 10:30 A.M., the speeches were finished and the two hike leaders, Mark Gatewood and John Shannon, were busily trying to help the participants sort themselves into two groups: the "long hike" hikers (Beagle Gap – Jarman Gap) and the "short hike" hikers (Beagle Gap – Little Calf summit & return). Considering everything, these two superb leaders did an outstanding job, quickly, as the groups sortied from the trailhead to the summit.
Betty Gatewood spoke to the group atop Little Calf of the significant contribution to the project by students from Riverheads High School in Staunton, Virginia. John Hedrick measured the new trail section with the measuring wheel and Bob Sickley shot GPS waypoints along the route.
All hikers returned to Beagle Gap by noon in good shape (except for those who were "hit" by yellow jackets when they descended under the power lines above Jarman Gap). This physical activity was immediately followed by…food! Trail overseers, trail construction crew members, and all others chowed down at the potluck picnic we held in Beagle Gap.
We thank many people for their contributions to this very successful event:
- Bill Gallagher, who helped mow the trail in the meadow in the early morning
- Mark & Betty Gatewood, who brought, setup, and staffed the information tent
- Pat Fankhauser, who printed the programs for the event
- Our guests, who came from far away to help us celebrate and commemorate the relocation project
Most especially, I thank all who worked to build this relocation. We began turning dirt on it in September of 2011 and went back to work on it in March, 2012.
I apologize because I do not know or cannot remember the names of all who lent their backs, arms, and legs to this major effort. Everyone who worked on this project deserves our recognition and thanks!