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The Blaze

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Saved by Pat Hensley
on September 22, 2021 at 6:10:46 am


Newsletter of the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club 

Summer 2021 

July, August, September


Newsletter in .pdf form




We have had 3 recreational hikes between June and August, with 4-7 folks hiking. The largest was on the Mt Roger’s trail to Elk Garden. Summer flowers were seen on all, and because all were in high locations (Whitetop, Mt Rogers, and Grayson Highlands) the temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than in Damascus and Abingdon. The Friday hikers have continued to hold hikes also. Both these groups have been fully vaccinated. It is up to the hike leader to decide if only vaccinated folks are welcome. The resurgence of Covid-19’s Delta variant has made many of us increase our vigilance in trying to escape infection. We have had no club potlucks, although some of us have gotten together and celebrated Donna Barkley’s finishing the AT with an outside supper and music.



With the arrival of summer and a temporary return to relative normalcy the weekly work crews were closer to normal in size, allowing us to gradually repair trail issues identified before the Covid pandemic began. There will always be more to do, but substantial progress was made this quarter.


In June, an Eagle Scout project came to fruition on our section. A 100' perennially wet and eroded stretch of trail about 3/4 mile south of Wise shelter was improved dramatically by Grayson Webb, the Eagle Scout to be, and a group of 10 scouts and 3 adults. The project was split into 2 days with the crew making camp north of Wise Shelter. Everyone got plenty dirty but had a great time and a long term issue has been addressed in a way that should be sustainable. Thanks to everyone involved with the planning and execution of this large project!


In mid July, the poster and plexiglass on the kiosk near Massie Gap was finally replaced after a long delay related to approval of the final design, Covid, lack of ink, availability of a sheet of Lexan (plexi material) and a convenient date. At long last, partners including the club, Jim the Ridgerunner, the Forest Service and Grayson Highlands staff all participated in the installation. Visitors admired the new map and information immediately.



The Mt Rogers Appalachian Trail Club currently has 193 members. This is just slightly less than the 200 we had 3 months ago. We’ve had 3 new members (one has been on 2 of our recreational hikes) and 11 renewals, some of whom have become life members. Due to dropping many members who have not renewed we are still a little less than we were. There have been very few outreach possibilities due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.


Reminders for annual members to renew will be emailed in early January. We have been discussing the need for members to be able to renew online and this is being explored.


A reminder: yearly memberships are $10, or $15 for families. Lifetime memberships are $100. More than half of our members are Lifetime members.



Currently, the ATC is not offering COVID guidelines to AT clubs for trail work and other club activities. It is up to the clubs. Those who joined MRATC’s Zoom meeting in mid-August generally agreed that for the remainder of this year’s regular group trail work season, until Thanksgiving, only vaccinated people should come out to do trail work in a group. Since people are asked to email mratcinfo@gmail.com in order to join a trail work project, if Doug does not know someone’s vaccination status, he can tell him/her about the club’s requirement. People who are not comfortable doing trail work in a group, even with others who are vaccinated, should not join group trail work until the COVID situation improves. For club recreational hikes, it is up to the leader whether to require participants to be vaccinated. Since those who want to participate in a hike are asked to email mtrogersatc@gmail.com, the leader can contact anyone whose vaccination status is unknown and explain any requirement. For activities such as festivals, community hikes, and group trail work projects with people from outside the club, club leaders will assess the COVID situation two or three weeks ahead and make a decision about whether the club will participate in the activity. We will review these protocols at our next club meeting (live or on Zoom), Nov. 10, then again at our winter meeting and make any adjustments we think we need to address the COVID situation at that time.



Due to Covid, most of our rare plant monitoring and phenology observations have been done individually or in small groups. Late summer bloomers are in the spotlight now, St. Johnswort, Roan Mountain rattlesnake root, and the elusive long stalk holly. Our mountains host several species of deciduous holly. These look nothing like the thorny leaved evergreen. We’ll be going out in September to look for the rare, long stalk version. To receive special notice of rare plant monitoring outings, email Carol mtrogersatc@gmail.com



Jerry Kyle, long-time Konnarock Crew Leader, will be starting a new position as ATC Regional Mgr. for MRATC, TEHCC and PATH in the late fall. Since the Virginia Regional Office covers a lot of trail miles, Regional Manager positions have been set up to provide better contact with the trail clubs. TEHCC was moved from under the Southern Regional Office to join MRATC and PATH. We’ll be looking for opportunities for more cooperation with the club to our north and the club to our south.



We learned this summer that Terry Kammer, a longtime member of the club, passed away from cancer in April 2021. Terry is best remembered for his dedication to trail work and his willingness to stay at Thomas Knob Shelter for a week with all our equipment while we were re-siding the shelter in 2011. He was also a willing Konnarock volunteer and helped repair Base Camp facilities during several spring camp cleanups. A tool cabinet will be installed in the Trail Center workshop building with a donation from Terry’s family.



Long-time Board member and former Trail Supervisor George Kilgore is turning 90 in late September. Way to go, George! Best wishes for a great birthday – and many more!

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