Clean As A Whistle

By Posted on Dec 02 2009 | By

VOLUNTEER: a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.

As with any dictionary definition, the word is accurately described but leaves us with an image that’s dry as day old toast.

take part…enterprise…undertake…task.


Now, paint a word picture of a mountain trail volunteer: A forest lover who blissfully wanders along an assigned wooded path on a glorious early December afternoon, removing any fallen branches or unruly undergrowth that may slow a passing hiker.

Ahhhh…is that a volunteer or just a lucky guy?  Actually, both.

Intersection of AT & Upper Thornton River Trails

Intersection of AT & Upper Thornton River Trails

Yesterday, I performed one of my more pleasant tasks. I cleared my section of a blue-blazed path, the Upper Thornton River Trail, located in the North District of the Shenandoah National Park. I get to perform this assignment several times a year. And they don’t charge me for the privilege.

The history of the Eastern Seaboard trail systems dates to 1927 when a group of ardent outdoorsmen conceived and created the renowned Appalachian Trail, a 2,175 mile foot path extending from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Today, the gift these trail pioneers gave us is enjoyed by everyone who seeks the beauty, exercise and solace of a walk in the woods. A better antidote to the hectic stress of Twenty-First Century America is hard to find.

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Maintenance of the Appalachian Trail, more commonly know as the AT, is divided among thirty volunteer organizations extending its entire length. In Virginia and Maryland the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is responsible for 240 miles of the white-blazed AT and over 700 miles of side trails. The section I maintain, a blue-blazed side trail, is a short, steep accent that connects Skyline Drive with the AT, which runs the ridge of Knob Mountain.

In addition to my trail work, I am fortunate to assist with a civil war cabin restoration project, also sponsored by the PATC. If you are looking for an enjoyable outlet for your volunteer urges, consider joining the over 6,000-member volunteer-based organization. 

Your reward will be the natural highs you’ll experience in preserving our valued mountain hiking trails and its shelter & cabin system.


Categories : HAGARTY TALES