’Tis The Gift

Most of us know the Shaker song, “Simple Gifts.” The lyrics came into what passes for my mind as I began to write about the work done by so many people to relocate the Appalachian Trail on Little Calf Mountain.

Each individual who has participated brings many complex competencies or skills. Yet they all present us, and the those who hike the A.T., a simple gift—volunteerism.

We are so close now to completing this project, which had languished in various plans and other documents for over 20 years. And, although we are not quite through with it, it is entirely appropriate for me to acknowledge those who have contributed so much to this effort and recognize their contributions.

Mark Gatewood

Mark is so much more than a “co-district manager.” He leads the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter and formed and leads the Flying McLeods trail crew in our South District. On this project, Mark has been key to each and every trip. He helped scout the route of the new trail section. He was with us when we reviewed the route with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy representative, Bob Stickley. Mark organized and led both the Flying McLeods and students from Riverheads High School in Staunton who, on successive trips, built sections of the relocation. Mark is known to be one of “those” people—a morning person—but that’s okay, too.

Patrick Wilson, Dan Dueweke, & Peter Harris

These fellows are experts and, in fact, teachers of the fine art of the safe and effective use of the grip hoist. In particular, they, and Catherine Kelleher, are expert dry stone engineers. Patrick and Dan are leaders in the PATC Central District in Shenandoah National Park; Peter is a leader in the PATC North District in the Park. Each volunteered immediately their considerable help when they learned of our need.

Catherine Kelleher

Catherine is very heavily involved with the trails work of the PATC; she has to be, she is our Supervisor of Trails. Regardless of her work load and personal life, Catherine also immediately volunteered to work with us to build the crib wall we need to make the new trail section safer and more secure. Additionally, Catherine has worked in the background to ensure that we have all the support we need to accomplish this project.

All who worked on the crib wall were highly impressed with the professionalism and leadership skills of Catherine, Patrick, Dan, and Peter.

The Crib Wall Crew

John Hunnekens, Susan Bly, Kelly Gueli, Richard Powley, and Lindsay Brown worked with and learned from Patrick, Dan, Peter, and Catherine. Thanks to their collaboration, hikers will safely traverse a sloping rock shelf that, when we laid out the trail, we could not easily avoid. You’ll have to go and see this, it’s truly a wonder.

The Side Hill Crew

Diane Royal, Lee Criscuolo, Norman Stulz, Liam Stulz, Andy Wilgruber, Harry Hicock, Connie Wright, and John Shannon formed our all-important crew who constructed the side-hill tread needed to climb the mountain. This is hard, tiring work and it takes a real eye for detail and skill with a McLeod to finish the dug-out mineral soil into a well-formed treadway that supports thousands of footfalls without cupping and sheds water without causing ruts.

Mary Jorgensen

Once again, Mary supported us as our chef and “camp coordinator.” She planned the menus for our supper, breakfast, and lunch and prepared and served our food. Additionally, she opened the J. Frank Schairer Trail Center for us and cleaned up after we left on Sunday morning, so that we could get back to work as soon as possible.

Diane Royal

Diane, who is a dedicated and consistent member of the Acme Treadway Company trail crew, worked multiple roles on this project in April, almost as an ombudsman does. Besides helping out wherever possible and needed, she composed and took all the photographs of the Little Calf Mountain A.T. relocation.

John Hedrick

For several years, John served the Club and the A.T. community as our Supervisor of Trails. Now, as Club president, he is even more involved on a daily basis with all that we in PATC do and our interactions with our government partners. On Sunday, John came out to support the crew after attending a tract management meeting on Saturday in Pennsylvania. Throughout, John has especially supported us in the PATC South District.

I cannot adequately thank everyone for his and her contributions to this project and the A.T. I can only add, “Bravo Zulu,” guys!

Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.