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The Blaze

Page history last edited by Pat Hensley 1 month, 1 week ago


Newsletter of the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club

Fall 2020 


Newsletter in .pdf form


Eastern tiger swallowtail (male) on great Indian plantain, one of the rare plants that the Natural Resources Committee monitors. This plant is severely threatened at Elk Garden due to mowing by the highway department and general overuse of the area.




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 online. 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. However, one group, the Friday Hikers, has been active with hikes most Fridays attended by 5-6 persons.

For information on club hiking, contact mtrogersatc@gmail.com. For information on Friday hikes contact jaf@centurylink.net.



After a long Covid related break, trail maintenance began again in early July as we focused to clear the trail of winter and spring blowdowns of all shapes and sizes. All work is done in keeping with a Covid Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) prepared by the Forest Service in cooperation with ATC and member clubs. The JHA, acknowledged by all volunteers, requires distancing, disallows carpooling, tool sharing and caps our group size to 4. All this limits what type of projects are currently practical and our pool of people participating in group work days is markedly smaller than in a normal year. We rely very much on Moxie, the ATC employed Ridge Runner, to be our eyes in relation to shelters and privies. Maintenance of those features are off limits to us for now and trash pickup should only be performed with the appropriate protective gear and a grabber if at all possible. Thanks to all our section monitors and other folks who send informal reports. They are most appreciated.



Members of the Natural Resources Committee have been monitoring rare plants independently or in small groups. The numbers of both beaked dodder (Cuscuta rostrata) and great Indian plantain (Arnoglossum muehlenbergii) have been negatively impacted at Elk Garden by mowing and overuse. The ATC and USFS plan to address that issue by working with VDOT and placing signs to keep the mowers away. A long range plan to move the parking area is also under consideration. Gray’s lilies are also threatened by lily leaf spot disease. The plants we monitor on Whitetop have been tagged by a college intern who is studying the outbreak. If you see a Gray’s lily, do not touch, because that’s how the fungal disease spreads. We’ve also monitored Blue Ridge St. Johnswort and the thousands of shrubby fivefingers (Sibbaldiopsis tridentata) on Whitetop. We found a very large patch of great Indian plantain beyond a guardrail that the mowers can’t reach and masses of beaked dodder along the Whitetop Road. We turned in phenology reports on various plants. Many thanks to the following monitors: Jim Warden, Sharon Trumbley, Felicia Mitchell, and Anne Maio. If you’re interested in mountain flora and would like to join us, email Carol Broderson at mtrogersatc@gmail.com



As of 8/27/20 the Mt Rogers Appalachian Trail Club has 185 members. During the past 3 months we have had 3 new members and 4 renewals, some being family memberships and some lifetime members. Annual memberships are $10 per year for individuals and $15 per year for families. Lifetime memberships are $100.

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the club has not been actively recruiting as we usually do at festivals, trail days, and other events. As of our Annual Meeting at the end of February, we had 191 members. We have had some members who haven’t renewed their memberships and some have passed away. We welcome new members. Membership entitles one to receive our weekly email, quarterly newsletter, and the right to vote at our annual meeting at the end of February each year. If a member does volunteer trail maintenance she or he is eligible to receive a patch, and eventually a hat and vest for hours worked. A membership form can be printed and mailed in from our website, www.mratc.org.



Harold Croxton, former MRATC Treasurer and Trail Supervisor, celebrated his 100th birthday on August 29th. Eleanor Grasselli, who served as MRATC President and Secretary, turned 90 this summer.

Congratulations to you both!



The completion date for the Trail Center is now scheduled for the end of October. As of late August, roofing was in progress. (See photo.) Interior work will begin in early September.


Once AT maintaining clubs were cleared to resume work in mid-June, we faced catch-up on overgrown sections of the trail. This jungle was on High Point Ridge, between Dickey Gap and Trimpi Shelter.


"Gargoyle" Blowdown: One of the challenging blowdowns Doug Levin cut in August was on the ridge north of Damascus. Anne Maio and anyone hiking on that trail section can now get through without banging their heads.



Damascus Trail Center - Construction as of 8/30/2020


Friday Hikers - recent hike on AT heading south toward S. Holston River


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