Green Mountain Club: Hiking season starts this weekend

Will Wiquist, executive director
Dave Hardy, director of trail programs:
Hiking Season Starts This Weekend
Trail Work Expected to Focus on Irene Recovery
WATERBURY CENTER, Vt., May 25 – The Green Mountain Club welcomes the end to mud season starting this Memorial Day weekend.
As hiking trails on state land open and hiking on trails in the Green Mountain National Forest is no longer discouraged, the club looks forward to another great hiking season in Vermont. The 10,000-member founder and maintainer of the Long Trail also knows there is a lot of trail work to do, especially in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.
“We are ready to hit the trail!” said Will Wiquist, executive director of the Green Mountain Club.  “We thank those who decided to walk on a local rail trail or go for a bike ride during this mud season.  Every step that was not taken on muddy trails helps minimize damage to our hiking resources and helped assure those trails are in good condition for the future.”
While a lack of snowpack in many areas of the state this year did not cause some of the regular yearly drainage issues, many trails in Vermont were still very wet this year after a wet April, with some of the highest elevations receiving and retaining snow until recently. As trees have leafed out, they start to suck up the moisture and reduce the fragility of the treadway.
The Green Mountain Club relies on roughly 1,000 volunteers and 50 seasonal field staff and summit caretakers to complete its trail work.  The club’s work this summer will largely focus on repairing extensive damage to Vermont’s trails caused by Irene.  While both the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail are fully reopened, there are numerous detours around the damage.
The treadway of the Long Trail was washed away in Shrewsbury where a road walk has been marked for thru hikers to bypass the damage.  Meanwhile, the boardwalk at Thundering Falls was damaged and is being repaired; Appalachian Trail bridges on Routes 12 and 100 were washed away; and some roads to the trails have yet to be repaired.  That said, this damage pales in comparison to the damaged faced by so many Vermont communities.
The club is working with its partners including Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation; the U.S. Forest Service; and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to fix the damage while keeping up with the regular trail maintenance demands of the club’s management responsibilities on the Long Trail, Appalachian Trail and Kingdom Heritage Trail.
Last year, the club accepted responsibility for the entire Appalachian Trail in Vermont which collocates with the Long Trail to Killington then heads east (or “trail north”) to Norwich.  The club previously managed to Rt. 12 in Woodstock and Dartmouth Outing Club managed Rt. 12 into New Hampshire.
The club also opened the first section of the Kingdom Heritage Trail on the former Champion Lands.  This one mile section of trail off of the existing Gore Mountain Trail will eventually stretch roughly 14 miles from Rt. 114 in Avery’s Gore to Island Pond.  The club is partnering with Northwoods Stewardship Center to build the trail and the state of Vermont and Plum Creek Timber on corridor management.
Press Release

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