Friday, December 16, 2016

AT Museum Volunteer Newsletter - December 2016

December 2016
Brought to you by Nathaniel "Angry Bird" Shank, Appalachian Trail Museum Manager.

Thank you everyone for the warm welcome that I have been given as I take on this new challenge at the museum! This year has been blessing after blessing and I am excited to take on this new adventure. I can only hope that you all are as excited as I am.

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to meet me, click on: MEET NATHANIEL SHANK, A. T. MUSEUM MANAGER

My pack and Angry Bird hanging out for the ride

Special Openings and Closing for Season
     After closing the museum for the season we still managed to open our doors to a few hikers and groups. Our approximate visitor attendance for the month of November was 44 including one thru hiker! 

'present' found in the docent desk
It's not that cold!


Volunteer Recognition Dinner
On November 20th, the Volunteer Recognition Dinner was held at the Ironmaster's Mansion. At the dinner we discussed this seasons success, new ideas for exhibits at the museum, the historical route of the AT and shared stories from this years docents and volunteers. 

For more information on the dinner, click on: Volunteer Recognition Dinner

Here are some more photos from the dinner:
JACK ADAMS received the Presidents Award
ED RIGGS received the Volunteer Of The Year
TOM JOHNSON (P.A.T.C.)  talks about the Historical Route of the Appalachian Trail.

Exhibit Committees 
     In January/February we at the museum would like to have a meeting or two about the expansion of the exhibits on the second floor. If you would like to be involved with the creating of exhibits or have some great ideas or even just want to sit in on a meeting, please send an email to

My favorite artifact on display
My second favorite artifact on display

Become A Hiker Card 

                                                             All A.T. Section & Thru Hikers 
     As a part of the new children's mini walk of the Trail, we are creating cards for children to pick up as they enter the basement. The cards will contain a picture of a thru or section hiker and information about their hike. These cards will be available at the entrance to the children’s mini-hike exhibit for children to pick up and BECOME YOU as they take a mini-walk of the A.T.  

For the Become A Hiker Form send me an email at

If you have not yet completed the entire A.T., pass this on to someone who has and invite them to submit a form & photo(s). We’d love to feature children hikers as well.

(To be considered for the 2017 museum season, forms & photo(s) must be returned by January 15.  We will  begin creating 2017 hiker cards with the first 10 forms returned.)


Exploring New Trails
     Approximately 70 miles of shared-use trails exist throughout the Michaux State Forest and the immediate surrounding area. According to the Michaux regulations horses and mountain bikes may be ridden on nearly all state forest roads and trails except the Appalachian Trail, Rocky Knob Trail, Beaver Trail and Buck Ridge Trail. 

Maps can be found at: Michaux State Forest

Blueberry Trail one mile south of museum along 233

Blueberry Trail is definitely an appropriate name for this route! Too bad I was late for the season :(

Angry Bird Trail Stories
     While on the Appalachian Trail I had the privilege of meeting Baltimore Jack along with Bob Peoples at the Kincora Hostel in Hampton, Tennessee. After some humorous conversation about a can of "opossum meat" that had gone missing, and Bob Peoples' cats and a raccoon in which Bob had named, Baltimore Jack told me a story of when he was hiking along the trail and came across another hiker who was hiking with his cat. After Jack had hiked passed the fellow hiker and his cat companion he decided to leave cans of "cat trail magic" at the shelters. Well, on one of these town runs that he had been purchasing trail magic for this cat, another shopper happened to oversee Jack packing away the cans of food. Jack described to me the joy he had on his face as he resupplied his pack. Then the overseeing good Samaritan (most likely showing dread on his face) handed Jack a twenty dollar bill saying, "nobody has to live like that." Not knowing how to explain his situation without sounding crazy Jack reluctantly accepted the twenty dollars. His words to me where, "how do you explain that you are leaving trail magic for a cat to a person who is probably unfamiliar with the trail without sounding completely insane?" 

Climbing the peak of Germany:

Ascending the Austrian side of Zugspitze

The pass crossing into Germany

Zugspitze at last!


Things Coming Down The Trail
January/February - Exhibit Committee Meeting
March 25th - Opening Day

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

AT Museum Volunteer Newsletter - November 2016

November 2016
Brought to you by Joe Harold, Appalachian Trail Museum Manager and Nathaniel Shank, new Appalachian Trail Museum Manager

Another successful season (actually our most successful) has come to an end.  We had a record number of visitors, topping 10,000 for the first time.  We also had a record amount of donations received at the Museum and our sales at our little gift shop were the best they have ever been.  We anticipate next year being just as busy and successful.  We hope you all continue to give your time as without you, the Museum doesn't exist.  

This is my (Joe's) last preparation of the Newsletter.  From now on, Nate will take on the responsibility of keeping you informed and interested.  I've had a great time.  

Thanks to all of you for your help.  It is certainly appreciated.

Early morning after closing for the season

Troop 248 Completes work project at the Museum 

On October 23rd Cub Scout Troop 248 from Zions View, PA spent the weekend in the Park and asked to do a service project at the Museum.  The grounds needed a little TLC before winter rolls in, so the scouts spent the day raking and doing a very nice clean up around the Museum.

The scouts made quick work of the leaves, sticks and chestnut casings that were littering the grounds and we are very appreciative of their hard work and service.  

Thanks Troop 248 for making the Museum look so good.  

Paint Party at the Museum 

The two upper floor renovations have been progressing well and we needed to get the third floor painted so the electrician can finish his work up there, so on Oct 29th, we called a paint party.  More than ten generous volunteers heeded the call, with Ron leading the crew and the work commenced.  
Mike and Roderick
Thom, Margy, Carolyn, Jen, (Ron) and Martha

Jim, (Jen), Mike, Carolyn, Martha and Ron

Jim, Jen, Carolyn, Ron and Margy
While a large group tackled the attic, another smaller group led by Howard, completed work on the mill race outside.  I haven't been around a long time, but I'm thinking that the race looks better than it ever has in recent history.  

Rich, Howard and Nate

Nate, Roderick, Howard and maybe Rich's butt.

Mill Race

The illusion is complete

Our zealous efforts had us running out of both primer and the top coat and Mike had to run to Home Depot for more primer, but we got the job done in short order.  

Evening shot.  All is quiet.
Much thanks goes to Ron, Carol, Margy, Howard, Nate, Jay, Mike, Martha, Thom, Carolyn, Rich, Jen, Jim and Roderick.   

Backpacks Through the Ages 

After trying to arrange a meeting with Dave Sherman since June to see the almost two dozen backpacks we have acquired from hikers over the years, we finally came together in early November to see what we had.  Dave, Gwen, Nate and I met at our storage unit in Carlisle and arranged all the packs we have in a few nice lines.  

Dave, Gwen and Nate discuss the possibilities
Each pack has a great story to tell and some of them will be a part of one of our new exhibits on the second floor of the Museum in the coming years.  Kelty seems to be a popular choice as almost half of them were that brand.

Keltys everywhere
Even with what we have, we are still looking for something to even out the pack exhibit.  External frame packs are well represented, but we are looking for packs from both sides of the timeline.  We are looking for a pack or two from the WWII era as well as an internal frame pack and an ultralight pack.  A highly desirable pack would be one like Warner Hall is wearing in the photo that was turned into the Springer Mountain Plaque in 1933 (May be a Trapper Nelson Pack).  If you have something that you can donate to the Museum with the possibility of it being used in our exhibit, let us know.  


Meet Nathaniel 

Nathaniel shows his homemade banjo that hiked the PCT with him
As a local of southern PA Nathaniel spent most of his childhood at the Shanks Feed Mill in Fairfield and graduated from Fairfield High. In 2012 Nathaniel graduated from Penn State University with a degree in forestry. Shortly after graduation he decided to thru hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia southbound. Along the trail he was unknowingly given the trail name Dress Shoes because he hiked from Maine to Pennsylvania in a pair of leather dress shoes, but the trail name that stuck was Angry Bird because of a gos hawk that struck him in the back of his head while hiking in Maine. After 110 days of hiking, $1,500 spent and 1,184 miles of trail behind him he stood on Springer Mountain. 

In 2013 he was hired by Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve as a forestry intern. During his internship he was in charge of planning and planting nearly 2,000 trees and shrubs within different blocks of the 600 plus acre preserve. He then became an environmental educator and continues to be involved with their programs and events.

In 2014 Nathaniel then decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada northbound. He was also given a promotion to manager of the cider operation at the Oyler's Organic Farm. 

Then when 2015 rolled around he decided to do a shorter hike across the Swiss Alps. Hiking more than 300km on the green trail of the Via Alpina he went from Saint-Gingolph France to the peak of Germany (Zugspitze). After this hike he has continued his involvement at the Oyler's Farm and Strawberry Hill and has been assisting with the men's ministry at Liberty Worship Center in Fairfield, PA. 

My Next Adventure 

As you all know, I'm moving on at the end of this year and I have a huge adventure planned.  I have really enjoyed having a job literally ON the trail, but having that constant reminder of how far the trail goes in each direction and interacting with the hikers all the time, has brought my wanderlust to a boil.  

I think I have intended to complete the trial for a while now.  Up until this year, it was still just the nebulous idea of a dreamer.  As things moved along in my life, I saw a window, where my bride, Lisa, and I can take some time off and take a hike.  

So that is what we are going to do.  Next April, Lisa (LoGear) and I (EarthTone) will be flying down to Atlanta (using the miles we earned paying for a wedding) and start our Quest of Pamola.  If you didn't know, Pamola is a god of thunder and protector of Katahdin.  He has the body of a man, the head of a moose and the wings and talons of an eagle. We hope to walk from Georgia to Maine and if found worthy by Pamola, summit his mountain.  

We are in no hurry, as we have the time to do this at our own pace.  We are starting late in the month to avoid the crowds and will probably be doing a bit of cleanup as we go along behind the larger bubbles.  It is a Long Distance Hike and that can mean whatever you want.  I have set several goals (being a Thru-Hiker is a secondary goal of less importance) that I hope to meet along the way.  Each will add to our adventure and give us more stories to tell.  The further we go, the more stories.  

Being someone who likes to share my journeys, I have set up several sites where I will possibly be posting our progress and my thoughts as we move up the Trail. I know that it is hard to walk all day, do your camp chores, then find time to write and post and signal can be sporadic at certain places, but if I am posting, then these are the possible places I will be posting.

1. Facebook Like Page "Adventures of EarthTone and LoGear". This will probably be my go-to, as near as daily as possible, easy place to post. If you use Facebook and Like this page, you will see my updates in your feed.
2. I may also post to my personal Facebook Page. If you are my friend (or following), then you will see it.
3. Trailjournals website: I hope to keep this up-to-date with a nice mileage accumulation and maybe a picture or two, but it is a unwieldy to use with a phone out on the trail, so updates may come late and in chunks. Eventually, it will be updated with all the data as a record of the hike. My other hikes are all documented here.
4. Our Blog: The Adventures of EarthTone and LoGear - I started this Blog about seven years ago and have more or less added to it as things happened in my life and I had the desire to write about them. If you dig down into it, you will see its theme change from time to time. Evolving into what it is now. This is my personal blog. I invite you in to check it out. Eventually this too will contain a complete rendition of the hike. I will probably update this more on a weekly schedule if I can.
5. Instagram: earthtone923. From time to time I might post a photo. Not my go to app, but who knows.
6. SnapChat: earthtone923. I followed a few hikers on this for the 2016 season. It is kinda cool, but can get annoying at times. I might do a few short videos from time to time when I get the inkling
7. YouTube: I don't plan on posting many videos, but you never know. I don't plan on being a filmmaker out there, so anything I post will probably be pretty raw and in need of editing.
Hopefully I will keep at least one or two of these going during the hike.
People are always asking "why are you doing this hike".  Some can answer quickly, some need to think about it a while.  I have thought about it for a long time and here is my latest response:
I want to be an outsider
To watch the dawn break in the forest
To feel the midday sun on my neck as I move North
To see a sunset each day
To walk among the falling rain and feel a stiff breeze chill me
To be with the beasts of the forest and talk with the people who walk with me
To live life to its fullest each day that I hike
So come along with LoGear and I, virtually or in person.  All are welcome to our Tramily. (Trail+Family=Tramily)

Things Coming Down the Trail

November 20th, 2016 - Volunteer Recognition Dinner
March 25th, 2017 - Museum opens for its eighth season

For those wanting to see me not wearing hiking clothes:

And a few more to part with:
Four Managers, all in a row.

Jeff and Ed place the last grate onto the ramp.  Job just about done.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

AT Museum Volunteer Newsletter - October 2016

October 2016
Brought to you by Joe Harold, Appalachian Trail Museum Manager

Our last busy weekend is happening now and hopefully lots of visitors are getting to see our exhibits.  The grounds are looking good and before long, the old grist mill will be going to sleep for a while.  

Thanks to all of you for your help.  It is certainly appreciated.


Troop 551 Comes to Work at the Museum 

Back in September, Barry Flicker, our steadfast groundskeeper, brought 22 Boy Scouts and 13 adults for a weekend at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  Along with camping and hiking, the boys came to the Museum to do a service project. 

As the ramp work had continued, we had moved a lot of dirt around on the North side of the building.  The scouts came in and helped spread it all out.  They also moved a lot of rocks closer to the building where we will reconstruct the old mill race and also moved all the construction debris to the back of the building.  The scouts capped it all off by planting a tree and staining the benches at the front of the building.  

The troop had started out Saturday morning on a 5.3 mile guided hike led by Forest Ranger Todd Ottinger, Michaux State Forest Ranger,  and  culminated at the AT Museum where the troop had lunch and a training session on “leave no trace” as presented by Ms. Marian Orlousky, Northern Resource Management Coordinator for the AT Trail Conservancy. 

The Troop accomplished many goals for advancement on their hike with Ranger Ottinger from Woodrow Road to the Museum. They identified plants, trees, wildlife, and completed the morning with Ms. Orlousky’s informational training session about the proper way to safe-guard the trail along with the “ leave no trace lesson” and history of the trail.  The scouts received a badge for the completion of this training.

Mr. Ed Riggs then spoke to the Troop and guided them on a tour of the Museum. After the tour, the Troop made short work of the task at hand as they skillfully completed the tasks we had set out for them.

The difference was night and day for anyone who has been keeping track.  That whole area is really coming together with the ramp work finishing up with Jack and his crew, the plantings that are going in supervised by Howard and now this troop's work. It is all starting to look like a finished product.

We still have some work to do, but Troop 551 really helped bring it together.

The Search Has Ended

After several months of interviews and ten serious applicants, the A.T. Museum Hiring Committee consisting of Larry Luxenberg, Gwen Loose and Margy Schmidt have selected and offered my job as manager to Nathaniel Shank.  He has graciously accepted. 

Nathaniel is from nearby Fairfield, PA and currently works as a Naturalist at the Strawberry Hill Preserve and as a Cider Room manager in Biglerville.  Nathaniel has also completed traverses of the Pacific Crest Trail and the A.T.  

I have started the process of overwhelming Nathaniel with all the duties and responsibilities I have to pass on.  I'm pretty sure his head is spinning and I have only just begun.  He is a quick study though and is rapidly coming up to speed.

Please welcome Nathaniel and help him to be as successful as I have been.  He can't do it without you.

Next month we will learn a little more about Nathaniel as he writes his first article for this Newsletter.  

Ramp Update 

Just a few more pictures of the ramp as it nears completion.

The Scouts made quick work of the piles of dirt and slag
Some more trees go in
Brick work almost done
Just one section left (it has since been completed)

Things Coming Down the Trail

October 15th and 16th, 2016 - Fall Furnace Fest
October 30th, 2016 - Museum closes for the season
October 31st, 2016 - Road Scholar Hike
November 20th, 2016 - Volunteer Recognition Dinner

Thursday, September 15, 2016

AT Museum Volunteer Newsletter - September 2016

September 2016
Brought to you by Joe Harold, Appalachian Trail Museum Manager

We are starting to get some nights that cool a bit more than the height of summer and the mornings are really refreshing at the Museum. Our season is winding down, but we still have some busy days to prepare for as we head towards October and the end of our seventh season.

Thanks to all of you for your help.  It is certainly appreciated.


Renovations Progress 

Ron and his crew and Jack and his have been busy all this season.  The basement is getting the finishing touches of track lighting for the Trail Walk and the second and third floor are moving along very nicely towards their next manifestation.  The ramp is very near completion and the trees are going up all around it, thanks to Howard and his crew, to blend it into the environment.  Needless to say, we truly appreciate all the hard work that everyone has donated to our cause and we can't wait for the day when we open the second floor as the main floor and have all our collections up in the resource library.  

Check out these recent pictures of the progress all around the Museum.

Figuring out the track lighting in the basement
Ramp progress
The "bridge"
Moving some dirt
Ed pounding a stake
End ramp and retaining wall. Ready for gravel and bricks
Second floor restroom layout.  The stud walls are actually already up.  Need a new photo.
Chestnut inspects the duct work. (Greg and Ron assist)
Third floor ceiling complete. Ready for some paint.

Stay tuned as the transformation continues.


THRU Makes Top Five List 

The Museum's intrepid traveling author, Richard Judy, just returned from a hike through the 100 mile wilderness, capped off with a summit of The Greatest Mountain (Katahdin) and he passed on this link to an interesting website. His book, THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story, made a list of the top five travel books ever written for women. You can check out the list here.

Have you read THRU yet?  We know you would enjoy it.

Happy Hiking and as Richard always says, "Stay vertical and keep walkin'".


Old Guide Books and the Tales They Tell 

Some recent artifact donations have given me some "wayback" pleasure lately.  I love maps and old guide books and love checking them out when someone donates interesting historic items.  Two items that I really enjoyed were donated by Douglas Harris.  The first one was the Guide to Paths in the Blue Ridge, published by the PATC and dated 1941.  I found it interesting that we are basically concerned about the same things when it comes to Trail Etiquette.  

Here is an excerpt from that chapter.
"This subject would seem a matter upon which comment should be totally unnecessary.  Rules of ordinary courtesy and consideration for others would seem an all-sufficient guide.  Unfortunately, of late, there have been increasing occurrences which have seriously threatened the continuance of the goodwill of those over whose lands the route passes."
In 1941, the trail passed through 50% of private land.  There was a real threat that a landowner would get fed up with bad behavior and remove permission to cross.

"Every traveler on The Appalachian Trail should realize that he is an emissary of the Conference, that his conduct and method of procedure will be beneficial or detrimental to those who follow."

I like this one:
"Again, recognize the sensibilities of those you come in contact with on the matter of too abbreviated clothing."
It continues:
"A word might be said as to the matter of beards.  It is somewhat unfortunate for the impression created that many hikers consider a trail trip as an opportunity to grow a beard which has little except its originality for commendation."
"In short, there is no problem presently more pressing or serious in the keeping open for public use of these Trail systems than these unnecessary abuses of privilege.  Particularly wanton have been the abuses experienced at lean-tos and public campsites...  These problems can't be overemphasized.  If trails and shelters are to remain available, those who make use of them must be worthy of them."
Looking at the maps that are included in the book was also super fun.  It is very interesting to see that back in 1941, the trail crossed the Susquehanna one mountain south of Duncannon.  Well, it didn't actually cross.  To get from the bottom of North Mountain (now called Blue Mountain on both sides of the river) on the Western side of the river at Overview, to the Eastern side, you had to take a bus down to Enola, then a trolley would take you across the river (toll 5 cents) and then up the other side to Linglestown Road, where you would continue your hike.  The whole trip was about 10 miles.  

An interesting side note, more of a disclaimer, followed the transportation instructions:
"The Pennsylvania Railroad bridge crosses the river app. 1 m. north of Overview.  It is used locally although there is no footway; persons crossing the bridge are trespassers and liable to arrest for violation of law.  This bridge is no part of The Appalachian Trail."
Something I found fascinating was looking back in history to the different routes the trail took across Cumberland Valley and through our own area.  Using another map from 1974-84 that Carolyn "Freckles" Banjak donated, I was able to track three distinct routes across the valley.  The three images below are a graphic presentation of the re-routes over the years.

1941 - After running along North (Blue) Mountain, the trail crosses the valley on roads to rise back up at Center Point Knob.

1984 - Running through Duncannon now and up Cove Mountain.  Still a lot of road walking before Center Point Knob
2016 - The Trail as it runs today.  Now going through Boiling Springs
and hardly any road walking as it follows the small ridge (Stoney Ridge) and field edges.
I have known for awhile that the trail had run a little different around Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  The old maps confirmed it.  Heading Trail South, after coming down Piney Mountain, the trail crossed Mountain Creek right at the Park boundary and ran up to Pine Grove Rd., where it led to Old Shippensburg Road, continuing on towards Toms Run, past a long gone one hundred year old cabin that hikers could use called the Farm House, before heading towards the CCC camp.  

Here are the remnants of the bridge that used to cross Mountain Creek.
One of the other artifacts was a pamphlet from 1949 (the year after Earl Shaffer's Thru Hike), titled Suggestions For Appalachian Trail Users.  

I found this passage interesting, under the title of Use of the Appalachian Trail:
"The Appalachian Trail is intended for use generally by those who find pleasure in woods walking.  The desire to walk and the physical ability to make the trip undertaken are the only requisites...   
The Appalachian Trail was originated as a trail which for all practical purposes should be endless.  It in fact affords a route where one may spend vacation periods or the lesser time of weekends for practically a lifetime, yet always find some new terrain or area for exploration or further travel.  This condition, however, does not imply that the Trail is maintained for use only to travel from one terminus to the other as a through trip.  Such expeditions are somewhat in the nature of "stunts"... 
The availability of the Trail for one- or two-day trips should not be overlooked."

Appalachian Odyssey completes our Sunday Public Program Schedule 

Jeff Ryan, author of Appalachian Odyssey, came by the Museum at the end of August and presented a very good program on his new book.  He had a lot of great photos and stories and read a page or two from his writings.  It was a great way to finish the program season and we had a great turnout.  Next season, we hope to have many interesting topics to present.  If you have a topic you want to see or even present, let us know.

Jeff enthrals the crowd.

Things Coming Down the Trail

September 19th, 2016 - Road Scholar Hike
October 10th, 2016 - Road Scholar Hike
October 15th and 16th, 2016 - Fall Furnace Fest
October 30th, 2016 - Museum closes for the season
October 31st, 2016 - Road Scholar Hike
November 20th, 2016 - Volunteer Recognition Dinner