Letter: Misleading Impression of Appalachian Trail
To the Editor:
My colleagues at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and I conferred about the June 1 article about the graphic entries left at the register logbooks at hiker shelters, the fellow leaving them and the mistaken impression the story may have created about the Appalachian Trail. In addition to interviewing me and police, Valley News staff writer Jon Wolper interviewed two “trail angels” — community members who have provided places to stay for thru-hikers passing through the area — and quoted one as saying that they “usually” encounter about one hiker a year with “worrisome behavior” and that this recent situation of disturbing log entries and presence on the trail is “not unusual.”
This quote and Wolper’s article suggest that this sort of very unusual behavior is typical on the trail and that “worrisome” people may be regularly found traversing the Appalachian Trail. Neither of those are true. I speak not only as the Dartmouth Outing Club’s Appalachian Trail monitor coordinator but also as a corridor monitor for the Green Mountain Club and as a representative of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. These graphic entries and this fellow disturbing other hikers are highly unusual. In fact, it’s almost unheard of, which is why I and the organizations I represent, spread the word quickly through the trail community and local communities, and also notified the authorities.
I am confused as to why the Valley News chose to present this story in such a sensationalized way rather than use my words, which represent the words of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Dartmouth Outing Club and the Green Mountain Club. I said several times during the phone interview with Wolper that this was very unusual. I am confused about why the newspaper thought that painting such a dark picture of an isolated incident on the trail would benefit the community and its perception of the hundreds of thru-hikers who will soon be passing through West Hartford, Norwich and Hanover. I hope this letter will correct this unfortunate misrepresentation of the situation on the trail.
Appalachian Trail Monitor Coordinator
Dartmouth Outing Club