Trail Journal
Volume 2020:04
Trail Ahead
Trail Connections has recently uploaded another portion of the Appalachian Trail to our site - the section from Kinsman Notch near Lost River Gorge to Franconia Notch where I-93/US Rte. 3 pass over the trail. Under normal circumstances, we’d be making that announcement with a lot of fanfare. Woohoo!

But of course, these aren’t normal times. Instead, we’ve added this section with a certain amount of trepidation. First, and most importantly, we don’t want to encourage anyone to use the trail while it is officially shut down. So, peruse the pages from home and make plans for future hikes. The trail will reopen sometime.

Second, we know that most of the businesses that we’ve listed are currently shut down. What we don’t know is when or whether they will reopen. Unfortunately, this pandemic may be the death knell for some of the businesses in our trail communities. We’ve decided to keep active the listings of businesses that we previously confirmed, and we’ll only remove those businesses if we’re able to determine they’ve been permanently shut down. However, this means that some businesses may be listed and still shut down when the trail reopens. We strongly encourage anyone using Trail Connections to call any businesses to make sure they’re open before walking there. If you happen to see a closed business listed on the site, please shoot us an email.

Finally, we recognize that the Covid-19 pandemic is going to significantly change our economic infrastructure for years to come. We plan on re-surveying Vermont and New Hampshire as soon as businesses have had a chance to get back on their feet. We suspect that we’ll begin that process a few months after the trail has reopened. What we don’t know at this point is whether we’ll be able to re-survey businesses during the fall of 2020 or if we’ll have to wait until the spring of 2021. Time will tell, and once we know better what our schedule for 2020 is going to be, we’ll tell you as well.
Leave No Trace
Principle of the Month Club
Be Considerate of Others

In this era of social distancing, it’s timely that this month’s principle of the month is to be considerate of others. There are many ways that this principle manifests itself. Here are some of the more important:

  • Keep your group size small. Some areas restrict the size of groups to ten or fewer. While it’s great to travel with your chums, too many people together impacts others.
  •  Keep your contact infrequent. Many hikers are seeking solitude. Be mindful that others need their space.
  • Keep your behavior unobtrusive. Conversations should be muted or away from camp, especially when others are trying to sleep.
  • Avoid hiking on weekends, holidays or during peak seasons if you can.
  • When buying hiking gear, choose colors that will blend in with nature. Dayglo orange is great for hunting season, but sticks out like a sore thumb the rest of the year.
  • Keep your pets under control and pick up after them.
  • Know the rights of way rules:
  1. Downhill hikers yield to uphill
  2. Hikers yield to equestrians
  3. Bikers yield to everybody.
Two Tents Corner
Appalachian Trail: closed until further notice!

Never before have those words been written. While there have been times that portions of the trail have been closed (Tropical Storm Irene comes to mind), never before has the entire trail been shut down. Unprecedented. But we live in unprecedented times.

Of course, it’s impossible to put up a physical barrier and restrict people’s access to the trail. In fact, if you live near the trail and want to get on a portion of that is readily accessible to a road crossing, it’s probably the best form of exercise you can do while maintaining social distancing from others.

However, if you have to travel any distance to get to the trail, or if you want to venture far into the woods, our very strong advice is don’t.

I’ve seen some who are justifying their hikes by saying that they’re avoiding common facilities (shelters, picnic tables, latrines, etc.) so as not to expose themselves to the virus. While your own personal safety is an important goal, it’s not why the trail has to be shut down.

There are three main reasons why the ATC and maintaining clubs have had to do so:

  • With stay-at-home orders in place, the volunteers who maintain the trail won’t be able to do so this year. Blowdowns from the past winter, as well as vegetation that will soon begin to grow, will make hiking the trail difficult.
  • More importantly, first responders should not have to called out to rescue injured hikers during this time when their resources are being stretched to the max. Anyone who has been involved with a hiker rescue knows that it takes dozens of people working in close proximity for several hours to bring a hiker to safety. All of these factors put those rescuers at risk at a time when we should be doing all we can to make their lives easier.
  • Most importantly, hikers coming from outside a community may help spread the virus to trail communities. Since by definition most trail communities are located in rural areas, their medical systems are likely to become overwhelmed dealing with patients in critical need. They don’t need to have those numbers artificially raised by having outsiders infect them even further.

As much as getting onto the trail might provide us with the psychological respite we desperately need, we all need to do our part and stay away from the trail until it’s deemed safe to return.

Stay home. Stay safe.
Trail Connections
Phone: (978) 530-6883.
P.O. Box 15, Hathorne, MA 01937