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The Blaze

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Saved by Pat Hensley
on March 8, 2020 at 7:26:31 am


Newsletter of the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club

Spring 2020 


Newsletter in .pdf form



The MRATC 60th anniversary cake was cut by four of the five Steering Committee Coordinators:
L-R: Gerry Davis, RPC Representative, Doug Levin, Trails Coordinator, Carol Broderson, Natural Resources Coordinator, Sharon Trumbley, Club Recreational Activities Coordinator.



Winter 2020 activities started out with a well attended New Year’s Day hike and potluck at Judith Foster’s home. Since that time many Friday hikes have been cancelled due to bad weather. Saturday hikes have been attended by 5-8 regulars on the AT; Straight Mtn, Bear Tree and Yancey trails; the Barrens in Russell county with a pretty spectacular waterfall; the Rowland Creek area; and Rocky Fork State Park in Tn, where we hiked partially in the snow on hillsides and by lovely creeks. There are several planned hikes in March on the AT, Alleghany Access New River State Park, and in Grayson Highlands State Park. Hopefully Friday’s weather will start cooperating also, so that late winter and early springtime hikes can be enjoyed by all.


Our Annual Meeting is to be held February 29 at St John’s Lutheran church, where we will also celebrate the MRATC’s 60th birthday. The supper is potluck, but the club will supply drinks, paper products, eating utensils, and cake.



The Mt Rogers Appalachian Trail club currently has 190 members. About one third of these are family memberships, although only 3 include children. During the past year we’ve had 26 new members:

Ashley and Steven Ahn

JoLynn Drew
Robert Hagen
Bob Hardee

Sara Haxby

Daniel Howe

Diane Johnson

Kecia and Randy Jones

Sheila Matteson
Lori B Pennington

Steven Rodgers

Judith Seay

Jeri Ward

Jenn Watson

Nancy and Kenneth Watson

Linda White

Ed Wright

Morris, Kimberly

Courtney, & Jeremiah Yule

Brian Zier

Kathleen Ziglar 

Renewals for annual members are due on March 1. If you receive a membership form with your Blaze, it means you need to renew.



The winter months have been quiet though we're planning another bridge project for the beginning of our 2020 work season. A three log bridge a little south of the Saunders switchbacks will be replaced in March if all goes as planned. The existing structure has no handrails, is slick when it gets wet and dangerous when it gets icy. The style of the new bridge will be very similar to the one installed just south of Dickey Gap in November and will have posts and handrails only on the downhill side to allow hikers to continue to easily access the water source from the uphill side. We will install the new structure with help from a group of students visiting from TN-Chattanooga. Schedule updates will be posted soon via the weekly e-mail.


Regarding the Comers Falls bridge, we will meet with our agency partners very soon to discuss demolition of the existing bridge, which was condemned by the Forest Service in the fall. We are hopeful that the condemned bridge will be removed and that section of trail can be reopened in the not too distant future. Stay tuned for updates.


If anyone is interested in adopting a section to monitor this year, please send an e-mail to mratcinfo@gmail.com. We can never have too many sets of eyes monitoring the trail. If you prefer not to monitor a specific section but would like to report an issue you find on the trail please use the same address. The more detail you are able to provide the better and photos are helpful.



The Natural Resources Committee is kicking off the 2020 season with four wildflower explorations. On March 18 we’ll look for the first signs of spring along the New River at Alleghany Access, a canoeing camp near Mouth of Wilson with 5 miles of riverside trail.


One month later, on April 15, expect one of the best spring wildflower shows at the New River State Park near Fries. Trillium and Dutchmen’s breeches, along with many others, provide a spectacular show there.


On May 2, Jim Warden will lead us to a special spot on White Rock Mountain where we hope to see masses of fringed phacelia and blue eyed Mary.


On May 9 at the Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally, join MRATC’s annual wildflower hike from Whitetop to Elk Garden. We’ll survey many rare plants there.


On June 24, we’ll explore rare plants on the AT, between Massie Gap and Scales.


Look for details on any of these hikes in the club news a week prior to the outing, and email Carol Broderson mtrogersatc@gmail.com for more information.



Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club members celebrated our 60th anniversary as an AT maintaining club on February 29th at our Annual Meeting. The club was officially formed on February 29th, 1960, taking over AT maintenance from Rte. 16 to Damascus, formerly part of the Roanoke AT Club’s responsibility, by agreement with the ATC.

Since the club can only celebrate its birthday officially every four years on Leap Day, we remain a youthful club.


New Board members elected this year at the Annual Meeting are: Janet Gibbons, Marcia Pruner, Ron Bobko, Robert Hagen, and Gloria Surber, who was elected Treasurer, replacing Kathy Walker, who has been Treasurer for several terms. Edie Bobko, who was already on the Board, was elected Secretary, replacing Mary Davis, who will continue on the Board and also continue posting club information on Facebook and serving as Youth Group Coordinator.


Members attending the Annual Meeting voted to revise the club’s 2020 bylaws by changing the wording of club officers, President and Vice President, to the names of the Steering Committee Coordinators (Trails, Natural Resources, Outreach, Club Recreational Activities, and RPC Representative. That is the leadership structure the club has been trying out for the past two years. The Board evaluated the trial and determined it works well to cover the many different responsibilities of our club.



Regional Partnership Committee (RPC): The (spring 2020) Southern Partnership Committee meeting will be held at Hungry Mother State Park on 13-15 March. This is an opportunity for additional club members to attend this meeting and get a (big picture) view of the complexities involved in maintaining and protecting The Appalachian Trail. Issues likely to be discussed: 1. Safety on the trail including check in and check out procedures for members doing trail maintenance. 2. Sawyer training and general safety and training for volunteers during trail work-days. 3. Management of large visitor numbers in popular areas such as the Virginia highlands. 4. Safe food storage on the trail.

                                                                                                                                                                -   RPC representative: Gerald Davis


The AT Vista conference, originally scheduled for 2020, has been rescheduled for August 6-9, 2021 and will be held at the State University of NY at New Paltz.

2021 also marks the 100
th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail, counting from the date of Benton McKaye’s 1921 article urging the establishment of an Appalachian Trail.



The Appalachian Trail Backcountry Shelters, Lean-tos, and Huts, by Sarah Jones Decker
Photos and information about all AT shelters, including, of course, MRATC’s!
You can preorder a signed copy on Sarah Decker’s website
www.sarahjonesdecker.com or a regular copy from Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble (and soon, the ATC). The book will be available for shipping in April.


Wallberg Construction of Abingdon began work on the new Trail Center in Damascus with an official groundbreaking on February 4th. The projected completion date is early summer.



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