On the 18th , four scouts and four adults planned to hike 20 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Wind Gap to Lehigh Gap, PA.
At 6am we left the Legion parking lot for our 1 hour drive to meet Walt, one of our past Scoutmasters. After moving the cars around to have a return ride when done hiking, we started our hike around 8am.
The first hour and a half was a heavy breathing up hill hike. The last time we hiked this section as a troop was 2006. We than named it the “Got Rocks Tour”. It is impossible to take any step without stepping on at least 3 or 4 rocks each time. So for today, the next 9 miles was like playing Hop Scotch.
Lunch was spent at one of the Trails Lean-too, 4.6 miles into our hike. With about an hour’s rest, we were on our way. Now traveling along the top of the mountain we had several great views. For another 4 miles we zigzagged across the mountain top to our evening camp site.
Around 5 pm we arrived at our camping spot. Seven of us slept in hammocks covered by rain-flys and Walt slept in a modified tent/leantoo. The boys started a small campfire and dinner (MRE’s) were served. At sunset, the overcast moved in and a light mist continued through the night, When we woke at 6am, we were in the clouds.
At 8am we were on our way. We hiked through the day mostly on the clouds. We passed through an area that a forest fire devastated several years ago and is just now recovering. Passing Little Gap was a two mile uphill challenge that separated the men from the boys!
For an unknown reason there was a four mile detour along the trail that extended our hike to 24 miles. The second days total miles now became 15 miles.
We had a good group of scouts and adults on this trip. Everything fell into place and everyone did their share. We had a good pace going for most of the trip.
The last 2 miles was VERY SLOW GOING, to say the least. Watching each step over the boulders and rocks as we crossed over the top of the cliffs and down the mountain.
Our scouts should be very proud of their accomplishments; this section is considered one of the most challenging portions of the AT.
It was an exhausting trip, but most enjoyable. We completed 15 miles on the second day in 8 hours. Considering the harsh terrain we had to travel, that was amazing!
Anderson's efforts helped spark renewed interest in the trail, and Avery (leading the charge since Perkins’ death in 1932) was able to bring other states on board. Upon taking over the ATC, Avery adopted the more practical goal of building a simple hiking trail. He and MacKaye clashed over the ATC's response to a major commercial development along the trail's path; MacKaye left the organization, while Avery was willing to simply reroute the trail. Avery reigned as Chairman of the ATC from 1932 to 1952 (he died that same year).
Avery became the first to walk the trail end-to-end, though not as a thru-hike, in 1936. In August 1937, the trail was completed to Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine, and the ATC shifted its focus toward protecting the trail lands and mapping the trail for hikers.
In 1948, Earl Shaffer of York, Pennsylvania, brought a great deal of attention to the project by completing the first documented thru-hike. Later Shaffer also completed the first north-to-south thru-hike, making him the first to do so in each direction. In 1998 Mr. Shaffer, nearly 80 years old, again hiked the entirety of the trail, making him the oldest person ever to complete a thru-hike.
In 1994, a story appeared in the Appalachian Trailway News describing a 121-day Maine to Georgia thru-hike in 1936 by six Boy Scouts from the Bronx. Although the story has been accepted by some members of ALDHA, a great deal of doubt has also been expressed and this earlier thru-hike has never been verified. Shaffer's 1948 journey is still generally recognized as the first A.T. thru-hike.
In the 1960s, the ATC made progress toward protecting the trail from development, thanks to efforts of politicians and officials. The National Trails System Act of 1968 designated the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail as the first national scenic trails and paved the way for a series of National Scenic Trails within the National Park and National Forest systems. Trail volunteers worked with the National Park Service to map a permanent route for the trail, and by 1971 a permanent route had been marked (though minor changes continue to this day). By the close of the 20th century, the Park Service had completed the purchase of all but a few miles of the trail's span.
Troop 174 meets every Friday, during the school year, 7:30 - 9:00pm, American Legion on Ball Park Rd. Dingmans Ferry, PA.