I enjoy hearing from the folks who are intimately involved with upkeep and involvement along the mountains as is the case with "Merlot" (her trail name). She is one of a number of volunteers in charge of upkeep along the Appalachian Trail from Rockfish Gap to Reeds Gap nineteen miles south, and including Afton Mountain and Humpback Rock. No one loves nature and Virginia's mountains more than those who actually put sweat equity into making sure hiking trails are maintained for thru-hikers as well as day-trippers.
Merlot authors a blog, Rockfish to Reeds, that chronicles not only those who work on the trails but those who hike them.
So how did this pathway in the clouds all come to be? Merlot's post, "Appalachian Trail: The Roof of the East Coast," notes:
I suspect large numbers of the hiking public give little thought to the 'nitty gritty' of the trail, either how it was built (a common misconception is that it was an old 'Indian path') or the fact that 'somebody' needs to keep the trail in hiking condition and exactly who those 'somebodys' are. I was on the AT one day during weed season and weed whipping away with a swing blade when a group of hikers came by. One of them, a very nice lady, kindly asked me "How much is the government paying you to do this?" She was absolutely serious and sincere with that question and she was totally amazed when I answered "I am being paid nothing ..... you are on the Appalachian Trail which is maintained by volunteers!"Merlot's love of the mountains and the trail is evident in this post and especially in the last sentence: "As magnificent as the 'simple path' itself might be with all its wonders, its true 'heart' lies in every single volunteer maintainer who works so hard to keep the Appalachian Trail alive."
Volunteers are the heart of any organization, and the Appalachian Trail is no different. I've enjoyed those mountain trails for years and am especially appreciative of the work that goes into beating back brush and weeds that encroach these pathways through the forests. A tip of the cap to all the hard-working volunteers whose hours of labor often goes unheralded but who are appreciated.
Thanks, Merlot and fellow team members!
Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell