Maryland Outdoor Club
Fri, Apr 4 2008 - Spring is Here! (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Rachel Evans, KC Yi
Participants:Rachel Evans, KC Yi, John Meagher, Kevin Yue, Cynthia Hildenbrand, Erica Levy, Chuck Hildenbrand, Sandra Stabler, Carrie Graff, John C, Jen A, Nate Payer, Kimberly Hengbuoy, Boramy Hengbuoy, Maureen Wingfield, Lora Polowczuk, Bryan Frank

Write Up:
Maureen W. captured the spirit of the Blackburn Trail Center perfectly in this email:

Fifteen of us spent the weekend at the Blackburn Trail Center , which provided bunk bed accommodations and full use of the facilities, although primitive. The Center is located on a 150 acre wooded tract and right off the Appalachian Trail in Roundhill , Virginia.

Built in 1910, the Blackburn Trail Center was acquired by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) in 1979. The largest facility in the Club’s cabin system, Blackburn consists of the Main House, the Carriage House and the Hikers’ Hostel. Resident caretakers live on the premises during the hiking season. The Center is primarily designed to support long distance hikers, trail crews, Club planning meetings and training seminars. When not being used for official club activities, the Center is the perfect location for large group use.

During our stay, we ate as a group for every meal and played board games and cards each night. On Saturday, during the day, some went hiking and some enjoyed the Center’s pass-thru visitors, including a group of Boy Scouts and thru-hikers. Thru-hiking is the process of hiking a long distance trail from end to end. The term is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail. An AT thru-hike, requires several months (at least 6), covering over 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine (passing thru 14 states, 8 national forests, two national parks, and crosses 15 major rivers). Thousands of hikers attempt to thru-hike the AT every year, although less than 20% complete the entire trail. Many people without time or interest in thru-hiking instead choose to section hike a trail, completing it piece by piece, often over many years. I read Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” while in college, which first piqued my interest in hiking. The book was about two section hikers and their comical adventures on the AT.

I met a couple of thru-hikers for the first time on the AT last Spring. Although smelly, these are the friendliest, most down-to-earth people I have ever met. It is interesting chatting with them and hearing about all their stories and adventures on the AT. Last Fall, my group would sometimes take a quick break at some of the trail shelters and read the log books. Each register has its own personality everything from sentences, to sketches, to pages and pages full of thought left by hundreds of hikers passing thru. It leaves behind a culture and language of the trail travelers. As I learned last year, the hikers don’t go by their real names, but “trail names” similar to truck drivers, I guess. There is also a special bond with many of the hikers, as it seems as though, everyone knows of someone, but always by a “trail name”. It’s very interesting and something that I don’t experience with my day to day life - very much worth the blisters and soreness I feel after a day hike or a long weekend backpack.

After this weekend staying at the Blackburn Center, I came to realize that this was a monumental place to the thru hikers and known as “the gold standard” on the AT. The caretakers told me that during the peak hiking season, they provide dinner for the thru hikers some type of hearty dish such as spaghetti or other pasta dish. I noticed the large triangle dinner bell hanging up with the cast iron pans up on the ceiling. There were also 3 large bench type tables in a row, where we all sat for dinner. Over the tables was a large bulletin board with pictures of hikers and newspaper clippings of adventures throughout the years. Many pictures showed hikers standing by the Mt. Katahdin sign the final destination of the AT in Maine . Now, that is what I call true satisfaction and unforgettable memories. I hope to have that one day.

KC and I would like to thank each and every one of you for making this an unforgettable weekend.

- Rachel

Photo Credits!: Kevin (#1-4)

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