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The Blaze

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Saved by Pat Hensley
on March 16, 2022 at 11:16:27 am


Newsletter of the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club 

Spring 2022

April, May, June


Newsletter in .pdf form


The MOUNT ROGERS APPALACHIAN TRAIL CLUB, a member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy was organized February 29, 1960.  The club has maintenance responsibilities for 59.4 miles of the APPALACHIAN TRAIL in the Jefferson National Forest, Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Grayson Highlands State Park and additional trails in the area.
















Midwinter fun hike led by Jim Warden.  Pictured: Jim Warden (leader), Donna Barkley, Donna’s friend Frances and dog, Bella, Frank White, Heidi Dixon White, Felicia Mitchell, Maria Salgado, Sharon Trumbley, Steve Ferris, Anne Maio and Randy Goodman                    


                                   MRATC RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES REPORT:  Winter 2022 

The club has held 3 hikes and has 2 more scheduled in March.  The Friday hiking group has also been active, although weather has prevented several hikes.  On New Year’s Day, there was a lovely hike on the AT and Horse Trail to Brier Ridge, where great views hailed in the New Year.  A mid-January hike on the IMT and AT near Damascus beat the snow, which started later in the day.  A hike on the Straight Mountain, Yanceyand Beartree trails was held mid-February.  From 6 – 8 folks participated on these hikes.  Two more hikes are scheduled in March, in the New River Canoe State Park and on the AT andBackbone Rock trails.  Hopefully, we will start to see some very early Spring flowers. The highlight of the Friday hikes was from Settler’s Museum to Groseclose, with 8 inattendance, and skunk cabbage was sighted. The Annual Meeting and potluck is not being held at the end of February due to Covid, but the Annual Meeting will be viaZOOM, and hopefully we can plan a club outdoor social event during the Spring or Summer.




While we take a break from organized work projects over the winter months, monitors still actively check their sections when conditions allow. This is particularly important as we approach our spring work season, beginning in March, when all those observations provide structure to our group work.  We have a full slate of monitors but are always happy to have more eyes on the trail. If you are interested in monitoring a section of trail send an e-mail to mratcinfo@gmail.com.

In February a group of club members attended an online ATC training session to introduce the concept of Visitor Use Management or VUM.  In short, this endeavor seeks to identify current versus desired conditions and use of the trail.  A significant mismatch between what is happening on the ground and what is desired suggests an opportunity for change or at minimum a dialog with our partners to discuss that mismatch.



MRATC Membership Report:  2/24/22

There are currently about 200 members in the Mt Rogers Appalachian Trail Club.  More than half of these are Lifetime memberships (127), with only 42 annual memberships, and 30 PR members.  The reason I say “about” is because of family memberships.  In our records families have sometimes been counted just once, but if they have 2 email addresses partners are listed separately.  We had 23 new members in 2021 and so far have had 6 in 2022.  Since we haven’t held many outreach type events, this number is encouraging, in terms of monetary support and the possibility of more folks working on the trail. 

New memberships and renewals have now been made easier because they can be done online.  This became a reality in December, and since then at least 80-90 percent of memberships have been handled via PayPal.  


If we try to get an idea of how many folks are active club members (monitor a trail section, come out and help with trail work, lead or participate in a club hike) we come up with a smaller number, maybe 20-30.  Many of our members are no longer able to do trail work and hike, and some members join just to support a good cause.  Although we would love to have more active members, we are glad for all types of memberships.  

Annual members who haven’t renewed their membership this year (despite 2 email reminders) were taken off the list in March, and won’t receive further Sunday emails or Blazes. 



MRATC dues for annual-renewing members are due between Jan. 1 and March 1 each year.                            Now there is an option to pay online rather than sending in a check to the club’s PO Box.

Click this link: http://mratc.pbworks.com/w/page/130409625/Membership or go to the club’s website:  www.mratc.org and click “Membership – Join or Renew” in the Sidebar List on the right.

If any of your information has changed, fill in the online Member Information Form.



Recent weather seemed like spring, but we have a while to go to mountain wildflower season in early May. Lower down, the first early spring bulbs are coloring, and the very earliest wildflower - Bittercress - with its tiny white flower, is trying to take over your garden. Bittercress is a mustard family plant, like many garden vegetables. We’ll be monitoring the rare relative, Small Mountain Bittercress, at Elk Garden in May, and that is just one of our many rare plants. Please consider helping the Natural Resources Committee with rare plants. Send an email to mratcinfo@gmail.com to join us. And thanks to Anne Maio, Sharon Trumbley, Jim Warden, Felicia Mitchell, and Jennie Hauser for helping out.




Many community festivals and club and ATC meetings are planned for 2022.


The next MRATC club meeting will be April 13 at 7 p.m., at the Abingdon Library and via Zoom. We plan a club social event (to replace our traditional February Annual Meeting) this spring or summer. Details will be announced later.


April 23, 9-1, is the Earth Day festival in Abingdon. Volunteers are needed for two-hour shifts. To volunteer, please reply to: mtrogersatc@gmail.com, or contact Bunny Medeiros on the enclosed list of MRATC Board Members and Task Coordinators.


April 22-24 is an Earth Day festival in Damascus. Check www.visitdamascus.org.

The ATC is holding a three-day conference in Damascus for AT clubs in the Southern Region on April 22-24.  Club members are welcome to attend all or part of the conference. It’s an opportunity to meet members of other AT clubs and learn about the work of the ATC and USFS. More information will be sent out in MRATC Sunday emails in April.


The Blue Ridge Discovery Center will open the renovated Konnarock School May 7, during the Naturalist Rally, May 6-8: blueridgediscoverycenter.org.


Trail Days in Damascus will be Friday – Sunday, May 13-15. Our booth will be at the Trail Center this year. Club members are needed to staff the booth. (Email mtrogersatc@gmail.com to volunteer for a shift.) We expect to march in the parade, too!


The Damascus Trail Center expects to hold a grand opening in August or September. Prior to that, in May through July, the Center will be open Fridays through Mondays from 10 to 3. Volunteers will be needed to welcome visitors and answer questions. Sign up by emailing Emily at emayo@appalachiantrail.org. Special activities are planned for Saturdays during that time. MRATC will host activities on three of these Saturdays, beginning with National Trails Day on June 4.




AT Vista 2022, postponed from 2021 due to Covid, will be held at SUNY – New Paltz, Aug. 5-8, 2022. Online registration will open in mid-March: https://atvista2022.org


AT Vista 2023 will be held in Johnson City, TN at ETSU – Aug. 4-7, 2023. 


MRATC will lead several hikes on our section: Fox Creek to Massie Gap, Elk Garden to Massie Gap, Elk Garden to Summit Cut, Summit Cut to Straight Branch, Straight Branch to Damascus, High Country Loop (Massie, Scales, Pine Mtn. Tr., etc.), maybe The Channels. Also: Excursion to Damascus and Tour (Trail Center, Ride on the Creeper).  Most will be key-swap hikes, so several club leaders are needed for each hike. To volunteer, email: mtrogersatc@gmail.com. If you want, you can indicate which of the above hikes you would want to lead. This is not a commitment yet, but we are starting a list!


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