There and Back Again: From Thru-Hiker to Volunteer Leader
Appalachian Trail volunteer Moe Lemire is currently hiking the section of the A.T. he oversees and is sharing a little trail magic along the way.
On July 21, Moe, Orange and Rockland Appalachian Trail Chair, began his hike from the New Jersey-New York border to the east side of the Hudson River. His goal is to interact with current thru-hikers and day hikers to tell the Trail Conference story and share a little trail magic. Our maintainers through Orange and Rockland will be doing the same. Look for them out on the Trail in July! In the Summer 2017 Trail Walker, Moe, a.k.a. Storm, wrote about his connection to the A.T. and Trail Conference:
On Sept. 21, 2016, I reached the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at 1 p.m. I touched the Mount Katahdin sign and my hike was over. For 168 days I was heading to Maine and this mountain summit. Now I was there and my hike was over (except for the 5-mile walk back down the mountain). On the way down I was in a daze, a mix of emotions and thoughts, passing hikers I had seen on and off every day for more than five months. They were my family. Now with a quick hug, they were gone, heading back home. Sitting in the car on the way back to my home in the Catskills, I thought, now what? I needed to stay connected to the Trail, that I knew.
As volunteer chair of the 32 lean-tos in the Catskill Park, I knew the Trail Conference was the organization that maintained the A.T. from the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border through New York to Connecticut. I realized I needed to have a piece of the Trail to oversee and stay connected to that community. I soon took on the volunteer role of A.T. Chair for Orange and Rockland counties of New York.
I have the most awesome job of overseeing the Appalachian Trail for the Trail Conference from the N.J. border to the north end of the Bear Mountain Bridge. I have an awesome committee of volunteers who do their part in maintaining the Trail and watching the corridor boundary.
Trail Conference Makes Its Appalachian Trail Days Debut
During my thru-hike last year, I attended Appalachian Trail Days in Damascus, Va.—the largest A.T. event in the world. Past thru-hikers have a reunion, current hikers are inducted into their “class,” and every gear rep and who’s who of the A.T. community attends this festival. Last year I thought to myself, the Trail Conference needs to be here. The Trail Conference needs to share the important role it has played, and continues to play, in the history of the Appalachian Trail—as builders, maintainers, and protectors. What better way to tell that story than to attend Trail Days.
This year, on May 17, I started driving south with Catskill Program Coordinator Doug Senterman to set up a Trail Conference table in Damascus for the very first time. We arrived Thursday morning at 7 a.m. and set up our camp. It was so exciting to see hikers from the Class of 2017 run over to our table and say, “I’m from New York/New Jersey and I live right here!” pointing to the big map of the A.T. through the two states. To hear those hikers say, “Oh, you are the organization I can join to give back to the A.T. community when I finish my hike,” was incredibly rewarding. I could see the future generations of the Trail Conference standing before me.
On Sunday as we were packing up camp, this year’s class was doing the same in tent city, preparing to continue their journey. As they walked past us to head back onto the Trail, they waved and said, “See you in New York!” Mission accomplished: The 2017 hikers now not only know the Trail Conference exists, they are excited about the organization and our work.