From Thru-Hiker to Trail Builder: Matt "Logjam"

September 15, 2018
Matt Shannon
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


From Thru-Hiker to Trail Builder: Matt "Logjam"
Matt Shannon at the Bear Mountain Bridge on this thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Photo by Matt Shannon.


From his 2017 NOBO A.T. thru-hike to joining the Taconic Trail Crew this season, Matt AKA Logjam shares his experience of what the Trail means to him and the importance of giving back.

I enjoy hiking. There is a rhythm to the day, just as there is a rhythm to all things. A trail can take you many places. Along a cold misty forest, a scorched wind-ravaged ridgeline, or through the dust-clouded fields where the sound of the cicadas is the sound of the heat. You are a visitor given small vignettes of these places, pieces of the broader play happening upon the world’s stage. The sounds of a remote rocky river crossing; the smell of a sunset fire while the bats begin to dance; the taste of wild and tart bunches of blueberries and the purple seeded stains after—these are the joys hiking instills inside you. You become capable of recognizing the rhythm of the world within each day and become a part of it.

After I finished thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2017, I had no specific job lined up, nor a particular place to go back to. I just knew I wanted to continue being outdoors. Just within the small bubble that is the Appalachian Trail, there are a slew of opportunities waiting to be utilized. Each of the 14 states through which the A.T. passes has trail-building and maintenance teams, stewards, ridge runners, rangers, visitor attendants, and volunteer muscle across the board that keep the Trail thriving. This isn’t even including large-scale organizations such as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy or Appalachian Mountain Club, which also have multiple job opportunities for those with a passion for the outdoors. I soon applied to serve as an AmeriCorps member of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference—the nonprofit that cares for the 174 miles of the A.T. through N.Y. and N.J.—and joined one of their Conservation Corps trail crews from April through October. I happily accepted a position on the Taconic Crew, spending my days building trails and training volunteers in an effort to empower even more people to become stewards of the land. The experience has been incredibly fulfilling. It has kept me outside, kept me hiking, and kept me enjoying every small treasure nature has to offer.


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