Trail Journal
Volume 2020:05
Trail Ahead
In last month’s Trail Journal, we reported that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy had taken the unprecedented step of closing the entire trail due to Covid-19. A month later, that closure still remains in effect. However, plans are being made to gradually reopen the trail.

But don’t expect things to get back to “normal” any time soon. From Mt. Greylock in Mass. to Mt. Washington in NH, here’s what we know:

  • Mt. Greylock Auto Road would normally reopen on May 14th, but will remain closed until further notice. Hiking trails are open, however all facilities (including shelters, privies, campground and Bascom Lodge are closed).
  • Green Mountain Club has decided to reopen the AT and Long Trail in Vermont on Memorial Day weekend, the traditional end of “mud season.” However, all shelters, privies and cabins will remain closed until further notice.
  • Dartmouth Outing Club has closed all of their facilities, including Ravine Lodge, affecting the AT from Hanover to Kinsman Notch.
  • While the White Mountain National Forest had previously closed trailheads, most have now been reopened except for Tuckerman, Huntington, Gulf of Slides and Rumney Rocks. However, all facilities maintained by Appalachian Mountain Club remain closed.
  • Furthermore, AMC has decided to keep the entire White Mountain hut system (from Lonesome Lake to Carter Notch) and Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins in Maine closed in 2020. These facilities will not reopen this year. AMC will not be running the hiker shuttle in 2020.

All of these closures mean that hiking in 2020 will present additional challenges. If you plan on hiking overnight, be aware that you’ll need to pitch a tent or string a hammock. Shelters will not be available. In addition, the closure of privies means that fecal matter either will have to be buried or carried out. Even though conditions have changed, it doesn’t mean that Leave No Trace principles should be forgotten.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the people who are involved in hiker rescues are often the EMT’s, fire fighters and other emergency volunteers and professionals who have been dealing with Covid-19. A hiker rescue requires a lot of people working closely together to get an injured hiker to safety. Plan your hikes accordingly. Day hikes are preferable to overnights. Avoid the deep woods. Stay local.

It looks like we’ll get some hiking in this year, but be smart and stay safe!
Leave No Trace
Principle of the Month Club
Dispose of Waste Properly

With most latrines now closed because of Covid-19 concerns, highlighting this Leave No Trace principle is particularly timely.

In the absence of a latrine, the most common method for disposing of human waste (and here we are talking about fecal matter) is to dig a cat hole.

The cat hole should be at least 200' from any trail, campsite or water source, and preferably will be in an elevated location so that water won't drain into it. Cat holes should also be dispersed, so don't use the same site twice.

Dig the cat hole at least 6-8" down and 4-6" in diameter using a garden trowel. Dark organic soil is the best place to dig.

Use toilet paper sparingly, and bury it in the cat hole. Do not burn it. Cover the cat hole once finished, and disguise it with natural materials (leaves, etc.)

Since many campsites have lots of visitors in a short period of time, the practicality of finding cat hole locations can be difficult and will become increasingly so over time.

An alternative to digging is to carry your human waste out, just as you'd pack out the rest of your waste. There are several products available to help you do this in a sanitary and safe manner. An online search of the term "wag bag" will provide you with several alternatives from both online and bricks-and-mortar outfitters.
Two Tents Corner
Let’s face it. The past couple of months have been tough. The country is in lockdown. Unemployment is soaring. For those of us who love hiking, there’s nothing like getting out on the trail for a couple of days to put the “real world” in perspective. And yet even hiking has been officially curtailed during the stay-at-home orders, and will be significantly impacted once trails have reopened.

Our motto at Trail Connections is to “explore beyond the trail.” We not only want you to go out and hike, we want you to venture into the communities along the trail as well. And yet, our message the past couple of months has been to stay home. But in doing so we realized that we could deliver another message: share with others your love of hiking. And from that sprung “Hiker of the Week.” We would ask hikers to share photos of themselves on the trail or in trail towns, and we would highlight one of those hikers every week.

And from this original concept, other permutations followed. One of Trail Connections’ missions is to support the work of the trail maintaining clubs. So, this week we have decided to designate a “Hiker of the Month” from the four hikers highlighted in April. And in recognition of that, we will donate $50 to that hiker’s favorite trail maintaining club. But in doing so, we also didn’t want to leave the other hikers “empty handed”, so we’ve decided to donate $25 to each of their clubs. That way, by simply sending in a couple of photos of themselves on the trail, hikers can support the folks who make their hiking experience possible.

To be considered for “Hiker of the Week,” simply send us a message on either our Instagram or Facebook pages or email them to us at info@trailconnections.com. Any entry we receive by Tuesday night will be considered for that week’s hiker.
Hiker of the Month
Chucky MacLean is a full time electrician who loves being outdoors. Growing up in northern Massachusetts, Chucky enjoyed going for hikes and finding hidden trails with his friends and family. On camping trips, he would wander off to find the tallest point in the woods from where he could see all of the great views.

Now, Chucky goes hiking whenever he gets the chance. This is mostly
in the White Mountains with his favorites being Mount Washington and Mount Chocorua. He loves the breeze and the smell of the mountain air and everything that comes with the breathtaking view at the top.

Chucky feels that hiking is how he can get away from a constantly changing technological world and that hiking gives him a sense of freedom. Hiking is not only a pastime for him, it's a passion.
Trail Connections
Phone: (978) 530-6883.
P.O. Box 15, Hathorne, MA 01937