What Does The Fellowship Require?

The Fellowship includes all who are given, grasp, and use a tool having a large, hoe-like blade on one end and a tined blade on the other, to grub out duff and grade the underlying mineral soil to create and maintain…the treadway of a hiking trail.

Membership is not as easy or as uncomplicated as it sounds. Membership is demanding: it demands a certain personal integrity. After all, its Brothers and Sisters arise early on days when they could remain asleep and travel Long Distances to Remote Locations.

To dig, weed, clip, and paint.

There's no arguing with the work the members of our Fellowship perform. They often spend all day working a section of ground measured in feet or inches, just to get the job done correctly.

Expectations

You stand upon the shoulders of people such as Myron Avery, Frank Schairer, Andy Anderson, Paula Strain, Elizabeth Johnson, Fred & Ruth Blackburn, and many, many others.

PATC Worktrip 1935-39

Great things are expected of you!

Our Expectations

Our expectations of you are simple: that you will keep your trail well-maintained, report your work regularly, be a good steward of the tools we provide, and be safe in your work.

Safety

Safety is Rule #1. PATC is primarily concerned not just with the work you do, but your safety and the safety of those who work with you. You must be aware of the inherent dangers. You must understand that some aspects of trail maintenance work can be dangerous.

Training

We expect you to take advantage of the training we offer. This training occasionally involves outside groups or individuals but most often is organized, staffed, and led by seasoned PATC members. In all cases, the training is of professional caliber.

Work Reporting

We—the Supervisor of Trails and your District Manager—need to know what you have done on your trail section. We need to know what you have encountered and what we need to do to better support you. We also need to report all of the Club's work to our government agency partners.

Tools

We expect you to take care of the Club-owned tools that you borrow to use on your trail section. This involves cleaning the tools of mud and returning them to the tool cache or storage area from which you checked them out.

Your Expectations

This is not a one-way street. You expect great things of PATC as we expect much of you. We support you and all overseers by providing training, tools, agency and inter-agency coordination, and skillful expertise.

Standards

You need to know if there are differences or distinctions between trails and what standards apply to each.

Training

You have every right to expect training in basic, intermediate, and advanced trail skills, safety, and tools usage. PATC provides that every year.

Tools

Not many people have McLeods, Pulaskis, Peaveys, or cutter mattocks in their tool sheds at home. (Still fewer people know what a McLeod, Pulaski, or Peavey is.) You have every right to expect PATC to provide, on a loan basis, the major tools you need to do your job, and we do just that. We also help you find the best price for tools if you wish to buy some.

Agency Coordination

You have every right to expect that the officers, elected and appointed, will support you by coordinating issues that may occur with your government agency partner, such as the National Park Service or the USDA Forest Service. If issues occur, or you have questions regarding your government partner, contact your District Manager. She or he will help.

Expertise

Sometimes the work that needs to be done may exceed your ability and availability to perform it. In those cases, you have every right to expect help from PATC in the form of volunteers and expertise. These resources are always available to you, with good planning and coordination.

Easy Reporting

We expect you to report your work; you should expect us to make that easy to accomplish. We do. You should report your work online through our Web site. All you need to do is create for yourself an online account there.

Your Enemies

Rainfall

Erosion is your enemy and rainfall is its primary cause. The ideal trail would be designed with a gentle grade, have dips naturally integrated into its original layout, and be hardened where necessary. However, most trails are far from ideal and require your help to control erosion.

Photosynthesis

Sunlight and photosynthesis, along with water, are the enemies of your trail section. Together, they convert dirt and water into…weeds. No sooner do you clear the trail corridor than weeds rush toward the sunligh.

Trees

A "blowdown" is a tree or part of a tree that blocks a trail section, preventing unobstructed, safe pedestrian passage. safely remove hazardous or obstructive trees to allow hikers to pass. You will undoubtedly have to remove many blowdowns during your tenure as an overseer..

Weather

Weather is both your friend and your enemy. Pleasant weather and moderate temperatures make for a fine worktrip. Of course, weather—blizzards, ice storms, and nor’easters or derecho storms—probably caused you to go out on the worktrip, anyway. Besides, weather weathers those nice painted blazes, forcing you to go out and add or refresh the blazes on your trail section.

Your Friends

You will find that you have many friends in the people and resources of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. We not only wish you success but work hard to help you achieve the success and personal satisfaction you deserve. Some of the ways we support you include:

Worktrip Advertising

The Forecast section of the Potomac Appalachian and the Calendar on the Club Website are your greatest resources for recruiting people to help you on your trail. You can advertise your worktrips using these resources.

PATC Trail Crews

PATC sponsors a number of trail crews that can help you with major trail projects. Crews tackle large trail tasks, such as building new tread and major trail rehabilitation projects. Most of the crews work in a specific regional trail district, but two—the Cadillac Crew and the Acme Treadway Company—are “roaming” crews.

Overnight Accommodations

If your trail section is remote or difficult to access, you can use a Shenandoah National Park Maintenance Hut, PATC Trail Center, Shelter, or cabin to support your worktrip.

Benefits—Fellowship

There is also the social aspect of active Club membership. Groups, Chapters, and Sections in the PATC organize and lead hikes, backpacking trips, cross-country skiing events, and mountain climbing expeditions as well as informal dinners and other get-togethers.

Have Fun!

Minimum Obligations

Even if you have one mile to look after, it's a good safety practice to have at least one other person along on any work trip. Let someone know where you are working.

Every trail is different, but most can be maintained using the following sample schedule. The sample schedule will give you an idea of the type of work that needs to be done, and the general time of year when it needs to be completed, or could be completed.


Sample Worktrip Schedule

The number of worktrips needed depends upon the amount of annual plant growth along the trail. For basic trail maintenance, generally four trips per year are enough. If you have more than one mile to look after, recruit at least one other person per mile to help to keep the workload light and fun.

Late winter or early spring
(or as soon as the snow melts)
Clear blowdowns and clean out drainage structures
Mid-June Cut annual growth, repaint blazes that need it
August Cut annual growth, repaint blazes that need it
After leaf-fall Clean out drainage structures

Monthly Maintenance

We have, through years of experience, identified these tasks on a month-by-month basis.

February–March
  • Clear deadfalls and clean out waterbars
  • Clean out the waterbars as the spring rains are beginning.
April–May
  • Check your paint blazes and refresh them
  • Trees have not leafed out, ground cover is minimal, and poison ivy and nettles are not yet a problem
  • Trim back any vegetation that might obscure blazes during the coming season
  • Check erosion and build waterbars and checkdams as needed
June–July
  • Weed your trail
  • Some trail sections may need to be weeded three or four times during the growing season
August
  • Check for erosion problems
  • Plan your tasks to correct erosion problems you find
September–October
  • Check erosion
  • Clean or build waterbars and checkdams as needed.