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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 

Spring 2024


MRATC Spring 2024 Newsletter.docx.pdf



   MRATC members and friends have enjoyed many good hikes this winter, including both club-sponsored hikes and Friday hikes. Participants ranged from 4-12. Mike Pivirotto led 2 great hikes, one in early December from Back Bone Rock to Damascus on the Back Bone Rock trail and the AT, and the other on New Years Day at Hungry Mother Park on the Lake, CCC and Molly’s Knob trails. The uphill hike to Molly’s Knob was definitely worth it for the great views. We had hoped to have a winter hike in Grayson Highlands State Park led by Steve Mason, but the weather, trail, and road conditions caused us to cancel it twice. We did enjoy another couple of Hungry Mother Park hikes though, the first a Clyburn Ridge loop hike lead by Heidi Dixon-White, and the second on the lake trail during which Skunk Cabbage (our earliest Spring wildflower) was spotted. This hike was lead by Felicia Mitchell and the Friday hikers joined us. Lastly, we had a great winter hike, during which it snowed off and on, on the Brumley and Hidden Valley Lake Trails, lead by Jim Warden. On February 10th we had our Annual Meeting and Celebration. It was held at Smyth Chapel in Emory and was well attended by 60 plus members and friends. We ate delicious barbeque cooked by Frank White and Emily Mayo, had a short meeting to elect or re-elect some board members and coordinators and hand out awards for trailwork, and listened to terrific music provided by Adam Bolt. The planning committee of Heidi Dixon-White, Gloria Surber, Frank White, Emily Mayo and Sharon Trumbley enjoyed our time making this event happen: planning, writing invitations, setting up, making and providing food with the help of Board members, and even cleaning up with lots of help from friends. Participants were enthusiastic. We hope getting to know each other better and seeing some of the things we enjoy as a club will encourage all to be more involved in trail work and recreational and rare plant/wildflower hikes.




   While winter is generally the off-season for maintenance, the crew has already been out on the trail sporadically as the weather allows, trying to address the many trees which came down during the winter and the January snowstorm in particular.  It's been a few years since they have been asked to carry this much extra weight, and it shows. As quickly as we removed them, we heard of new ones, sometimes in the same area we had just cleared. This type of work is normally the focus of our early season attempt to clear our section of trail as the first batch of thru hikers arrive in southwest Virginia.  We will do our best not to disappoint them.





The Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club currently has 211 members, including Life, Annual (divided into individual and family memberships) and Public Relations memberships. This is a little more than usual, although there are 17 memberships that haven’t been renewed, mostly from inactive members, but some from folks who are monitoring sections. If you aren’t sure if your membership is up to date, please get in touch with me through our mratcinfo@gmail.comaddress. I will soon send out final reminders to all annual members who haven’t renewed this year. The good news is that during the last3 months we’ve had 8 new members, some of whom are hiking with us or volunteering at the trail center. More than half of our members (125) are Life members, and we also have a large number of Public Relations members (27). We have gifted a membership to Adam Bolt, who provided outstanding music at our recent Annual Meeting. As a reminder, Memberships can be renewed (and new memberships obtained) by going to our website, www.mratc.org, and printing off the membership form and mailing it to Mt Rogers Appalachian Trail Club, PO Box 789, Damascus, VA, 24236, or online using Paypal. Annual memberships are $10 for individuals and $15 for families, and Lifetime Memberships are $100.




The club’s special Annual Meeting and Celebration in February was a great outreach effort, providing the chance for older and newer members and guests to become better acquainted. Some club members may only do one kind of activity with the club. A good first step toward trying out other club activities is getting to know more club members. Attracting new people requires paying special attention to club publicity. A committee of nine club members met in January to identify ways to attract new people to try club hikes, trail maintenance and rare plant monitoring activities, as well as other volunteer opportunities at the Trail Center or taking part in community events. There may be local residents and visitors looking for hikes, outdoor learning experiences and perhaps also special projects where they can make a difference. Information resources people might be expected to use to learn about MRATC include: Facebook and Instagram, town event listings, attractive business cards, festivals and Trail Center events. People also often get information through friends, so if you are reading this as a club member, please remember to talk to friends about club activities they might enjoy – and bring them out to participate. The committee is expanding club publicity through the Virginia Highlands Festival, the Town of Damascus event listings, an ad in the Trail Days brochure, distributing MRATC brochures at the Barter Theatre’s “Grandma Gatewood “play in the spring, and holding community hikes on the first weekend of every month, with participants meeting at the Trail Center. These hikes will be listed on Facebook, in the regular Activity Schedule, quarterly newsletter and Sunday club emails, as well as at the Trail Center.  Current club members, as well as community members and visitors, are welcome to come.


SATURDAY, MARCH 30th HIKE SPECIAL NOTICE:  6-7 mile hike on the AT and possibly other trails in the Dickey Gap area.  Details TBA.  Bring fluids and lunch, and dress for the weather.  Let hike leader, Frank White, know if you hope to participate by emailing mtrogersatc@gmail.com


THANK YOU to these generous local businesses who   contributed door prizes for the MRATC Annual Meeting.     Please patronize their establishments if you have the chance!


The Girl and the Raven

Wolf Hills Coffee

Food City


Sweetbay Brewing

Town of Damascus & the Trail Center

Adventure Damascus & Sun Dog Outfitter

Damascus Outfitters

Marion Outdoors

Appalachian Heritage Distillery

The Barter Theatre

Surber & Son Hardware

Abingdon Vineyards

Trailhead Designs 


MRATC information is now available via Twitter (www.twitter.com/@Mt_rogersATC) and Instagram: (www.instagram.com/mountrogersATClub).  Look for us under Mt. Rogers Appalachian Trail Club. 


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