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The Blaze

Page history last edited by Pat Hensley 2 months, 1 week ago


Newsletter of the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club

Winter 2020 


Newsletter in .pdf form



A new trail bridge on the AT south of the Beech Grove Trail was installed as an Eagle Scout project, Dec. 5,  2020. This new trail bridge, replacing a deteriorated 3-log bridge, was an Eagle Scout project for Jeremiah Webb (middle), who is pictured here with Ron Bobko (left), who designed the bridge, and Doug Levin (right), both of MRATC.





This has been a quiet time for most MRATC recreational activities due to the ongoing pandemic. We have had no potlucks, and our only club business meeting has been via ZOOM. There has been some online guidance from the ATC regional office. We have had no regular group hikes, as the hike leaders in general have not felt comfortable with groups on the trail and carpooling, especially as numbers of Covid cases have again been increasing. However, one group, the Friday Hikers, were active through the fall, but as of mid- November have also discontinued advertised group hikes. Club members, however, often hike on their own or with a few well known friends. When it seems safe to resume group hikes they will be posted on our website and facebook page, and information will be sent in the Sunday club email.


For information on club hiking, contact mtrogersatc@gmail.com.




From a trails perspective this quarter was similar to the last, small groups of 2 or 3 and blowdowns though we did have a couple activities of note. Right before the end of the Ridge runner season the maintenance group joined Moxie the Ridgerunner for two sessions of fire ring cleanup and consolidation north of the Grayson Highlands Park boundary. Kathryn Herndon from the ATC joined us for one of the trips and so would a couple members of the forest service if they hadn't taken a wrong turn in the High Country. If it can happen to them it can happen to anyone.


On December 5th an Eagle Scout project came to fruition after Covid related delays, but the trail now has a new span just south of the Beech Grove/AT intersection improving that creek crossing dramatically .


Thanks and congratulations to Jeremiah Webb for his hard work and attention to detail.




Covid-19 and the ban on carpooling forced cancellation of the group activities of the Natural Resources Committee this season. Several of the members continued the rare plant monitoring work as independent study. We turned in reports on beaked dodder (Cuscata rostrata) in three locations and great Indian plantain (Arnoglossom muelenbergii) in two separate spots. We also monitored Blue Ridge St. Johnswort, shrubby fivefingers (Sibbaldiopsis tridentata) and Gray’s lily.


Our group is also closely monitoring the changes to the rare plants adjacent to Elk Garden parking after the area was, once again, mowed, after what we thought was an agreement not to mow. The dodder and great Indian plantain at that site were severely impacted, along with many other wildflowers that thrived there previously. The new weedy succession further threatens these natives.


We continued monitoring the phenological changes of both red and sugar maple, pin cherry, dogwood, red spruce, buckeye, and white snakeroot.


Hopefully, the 2021 season will bring positive changes all around!




The Mt Rogers Appalachian Trail Club currently has 185 members. This is compared to 188 members at this time last year. We have continued to have some new members and a few old members have not renewed or are deceased. Of our members, the majority are life members (102). Life memberships are $100, whereas annual memberships are $10, with annual family memberships $15. 51 of the members on our list are families, either couples or families with children living in the household.


Annual memberships are good through March 1 of each year, at about the time of our annual meeting. Membership reminders are sent out to annual members with the Winter edition of the Blaze, and again to those who haven’t renewed, with the Spring edition. Members who do not renew by late Spring are dropped from the active list (often other reminders are sent first). So, with this issue of the Blaze a membership reminder form is included if you are an annual member. The form can be printed or cut off (depending on if you receive the Blaze by email or post) and mailed to us (address on the form). We look forward to hearing from you.




The season of COVID limited the activities we could have been involved with; it also tempered our availability for volunteer participation. However, we still managed to have a few members that achieved volunteer time benchmarks. The following is a list of those that had those achievements in the 2019-2020 season.


Kathleen Ziglar – 15 hours – ATC Pin
Joe Hagar – 20.5 Hours – ATC Pin
Drew Gallacher – 28.25 Hours – ATC Pin
Becky White – 124.25 Hours – ATC Patch
Robert Hagen – 139.5 Hours – ATC Patch
Mary Davis – 542.25 Hours – ATC Cap
Ron Bobko – 1181.00 Hours – ATC Vest
Forest Service Awards
Felicia Mitchell – 50 Hour FS Patch
John Walker – 50 Hour FS Patch
Becky White – 100 Hour Bar
Edie Bobko – 200 Hour Bar
Janet Gibbons – 300 Hour Bar
Mary Davis – 500 Hour Bar
Gerry Davis – 600 Hour Bar
Jim Warden – 700 Hour Bar

Congratulations to everyone and thank you for the privilege of your time.




Construction of the new Trail Center is expected to be completed by late December. (See construction photo from late November.)


Because of COVID and because winter is not when hikers and other potential visitors would be looking for information, or when trail-related workshops could be held at the Center, it may not officially open until sometime in the spring. The ATC hired Emily Mayo, formerly with the Friends of Southwest Virginia at the Southwest VA Cultural Center in Abingdon) as the Trail Center Supervisor.


An early fall crosscut saw task was to remove a blowdown near the Scales - with Doug Levin and Robert Hagen following guidelines to wear masks to keep social distance while cutting.



One of the challenges for the chainsaw and sawyers was a blowdown nearly three feet wide that fell across the AT just south of Dickey Gap. Shown cutting is our Ridgerunner, Moxie Niedenthal, and close by is our Trail Supervisor, Doug Levin.


Photo of Scouts who participated in the bridge building project along with MRATC Supervisor Doug Levin (far right)


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