Become a Volunteer Ridgerunner ~ June 18 training

McAfee Chris and Edward 2012
NEW DATE for Training Day: June 18, 2016, 9 am – 2:30 pm
McAfee Chris and Edward 2012Perched high above the Catawba Valley, McAfee Knob is the most photographed place on the entire Appalachian Trail, and a beloved symbol of the natural beauty and opportunities for adventure that make our region so special.
But McAfee Knob is also a fragile place, in danger of being “loved to death”. In 2015 McAfee Knob was nationally designated as a Leave No Trace Hot Spot. The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) had long recognized a need for targeted stewardship and education along the heavily trafficked trail that connects McAfee Knob and nearby “crown jewels” Dragons Tooth and Tinker Cliffs. Rapidly increasing visitation has led to an increase in avoidable environmental impacts like litter, graffiti, trail erosion, and problematic bear behavior.
RATC created the McAfee Knob Task Force to focus on resource protection in the area, and a vibrant crew of 20 club members patrol the Trail as Volunteer Ridgerunners to help mitigate these problems with outreach and trail maintenance.
Volunteer Ridgerunners engage hikers in friendly conversations about the natural and cultural significance of this area and tips on best practices for enjoying the Trail safely and responsibly. They report on trail conditions and perform light trail maintenance to prevent small problems from getting worse–like dismantling illegal fire rings, packing out trash, and blocking social trails to discourage shortcutting.
In 2015, Ridgerunners contributed 627 volunteer hours, spoke with over 5,000 of the 9,028 visitors they saw, packedGroup photo 11.15 out 154 gallons of trash and dismantled 34 illegal fire rings! Their positive impact is visible on the Trail, but more education is needed. Already this spring Lamberts Meadow Shelter is closed because improper food storage led to problem bear activity, and there have been multiple emergency rescues of unprepared hikers.
Can you help?
Do you have what it takes to be a Volunteer Ridgerunner? You don’t have to be an athlete–many of the most important conversations and maintenance happens right in the parking lot or within the first mile. If you want to join this lively group of dedicated stewards, you must:
–> Join the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club ($15/year)
–> Join the McAfee Knob Task Force Meetup group (free)
–> Commit to volunteer at least one weekend day per month (Fri/Sat/Sun), April through November
–> Attend a Training Day
–> Join an Orientation Hike
The next Volunteer Ridgerunner Training Day is Saturday June 18, from 9 am-2:30 pm, at a facility in the Roanoke valley TBD. To sign up join the McAfeeKnob Task Force MeetUp group and RSVP, or email Kathryn Herndon at kherndon@appalachiantrail.org. Kathryn will email participants prior to the training with details about the location, agenda, and what to expect.

Orientation Hikes will be more frequent. New Ridgerunners can tag along with experienced Ridgerunners on a patrol or look for an organized group orientation hike on the meetup calendar.
If you love McAfee Knob and are ready to help protect it and share your knowledge with others, we’d love to have your help as a Volunteer Ridgerunner!

Read more ›

Posted in Leave No Trace, McAfee Knob/Triple Crown

What to do when a bear wants your food

What should you do when you are on the trail and a bear wants your food? Get a copy of the tips shown below from blackbear1the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries here.

To help yourself and others:

  • NEVER leave food in shelters or anywhere else near the trail. This is the cause of current bear problems – it is really a human problem more than a bear problem.
  • ALWAYS hang a bear bag or use a bear canister or other bear-proof storage system at night.Properly hung bear bag The bag itself should be at least 12 feet up in the air – so that a bear cannot reach it from the ground – and 6 feet out from the main tree trunk (see photo).

Generally black bears are naturally wary/fearful of people and prefer to avoid contact. However, bears that have been purposely fed or gotten a food reward from people may lose this wariness.  These bears may try to “scare” you into leaving your food or pack. They may pop their jaws or swat the ground with their front paws while blowing and snorting, and/or may lunge or bluff charge toward you in an attempt to get you to leave. These bluff charges rarely end in contact and should never be rewarded with food that is left unattended or thrown at the bear.  Should you encounter a bear displaying this behavior:

  • Do not run from a bear in any situation!
  • Remain calm and ready your bear spray (or other deterrent like rocks or sticks).
  • Stay together if you are in a group; you will appear larger and more intimidating if you stick together.
  • Act aggressively. Look the bear straight in the eyes and let it know you will fight. Shout! Make yourself look as big as possible. Stamp your feet. Threaten the bear with whatever is handy (stick, pole, bear spray). Throw rocks or sticks (never throw anything edible!). The more the bear persists, the more aggressive your response should be.
  • If a bear that is behaving in an aggressive/threatening manner is intent on making contact, your first line of defense is always your bear spray. Point the nozzle just above the bear’s head so that the spray falls into the bears eyes, nose and throat. When it is 20 to 30 feet away, give it a long blast. That should be enough to discourage it and send it in the other direction. (Be cautious of wind direction)
  • Once the bear has moved away, retreat to a safe location. Take your food/pack with you.  Do not run.  Stay alert in case the bear returns.
  • Notify your local Appalachian Trail contact, Sheriff’s Department or Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries about your encounter.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office at 540.904.4393

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 804.652.7921

 

 

Posted in bears, Leave No Trace, McAfee Knob/Triple Crown

Camping closures at Lamberts Meadow Shelter and Campsite

Lamberts Meadow Closure sign.1 5.16Lamberts Meadow Shelter and Campsite have been closed due to problem bear activity that was caused by people leaving food in and around the shelter. A total of 5 to 6 bears have been observed near the shelter looking for food. This is a location that had significant bear activity in 2015. Hikers staying Campbell’s Shelter have also reported recent bear activity, but it remains open.

If necessary, hikers may use a temporary designated campsite that has been established just south of Hay Rock (see map), and marked with a sign. No fires at the temporary site! Lamberts Meadow is the only reliable water source between Campbell Shelter and Tinker Creek near Daleville. Hikers camping near Hay Rock should bring sufficient water. Hay Rock is 5.4 miles north of Lamberts Meadow Shelter, and 4 miles south of US-220 in Daleville.

Lamberts Meadow Closure sign.2 5.16

Map showing closure and temporary alternate campsite at Hay Rock

Hikers must properly secure food at all times on the Appalachian Trail.

Never feed bears!

In an emergency, always call 911. To report problem bear activity, please contact the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office at 540.904.4393

 

Posted in bears, McAfee Knob/Triple Crown Tagged with: ,

Merv Brower memorial 11 am, April 20th in Salem, VA

 

MERV.1Our RATC family was deeply saddened by the loss of Mervin Brower on February 20, 2016.

To allow better travel conditions for his Canadian family members, Merv’s memorial service will be held Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 beginning at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 125 W. Main Street, Salem, VA.

Merv came to Salem, Virginia in 1991 as a General Electric engineer. His 40+ year career  with GE Canada, General Electric and TMEIC was studded with accomplishments: he received several patents in the steel industry, presented technical papers to the IEEE, taught and developed courses for steel and aluminum process industries, was an author of several technical papers, was a recipient of several management awards for individual creativity and achievement, was a lifetime senior member of IEEE, and travelled throughout North America and around the world serving customers.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Small area, big problems: Mountain Valley Pipeline and Jefferson National Forest

12 inch giles pipeline erosion

[summary of US Forest Service’s March 9, 2016 comments on developer’s final Resource Reports in October 2015]

Peters Mt. Symms Meadow 10.15The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline would be over 300 miles long, including about 5 miles in the Jefferson National Forest (JNF), where it would cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) on Peters Mountain (photo at left) and come close to the AT on Sinking Creek Mountain, Craig Creek Valley, and Brush Mountain. In March 2016 the US Forest Service delivered 32 pages of comments on the developer’s lengthy final Resource Reports. A Pittsburgh-based partnership led by the EQT Corporation proposes to cross mountain ridges, steep slopes, streams, rivers and valleys with a huge 42-inch pipeline full of fracked natural gas under high pressure. The gas is destined for overseas markets and other places east of Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

The Forest Service comments are pretty easy to summarize. If a student received these comments on a class project, the grade would be “Incomplete” or perhaps a generous D minus. A job applicant who received the comments on a work sample would not get an interview.

The developer’s latest report was clearly crafted to mislead reviewers by callously downplaying the project’s visual impacts, glossing over potentially catastrophic geologic issues, denying water quality and other environmental impacts, and simply ignoring clear requirements for crossing public lands with a private scheme. As Forest Service staff noted:

  • The entire section on Environmental Consequences on Jefferson National Forest Lands is “woefully inadequate” since it does not describe direct, indirect or cumulative effects of the pipeline.
  • “Significant materials, including viewshed analysis and maps, have been left out of this comprehensive package of ‘final’ Resource Reports. The proponent should re-review this entire package to ensure completeness.”
  • The product is so vague and inconsistent that it “leads reviewers to question the level of critical analysis which was dedicated to developing these ‘final’ products.”

Read more ›

Posted in Mountain Valley Pipeline Tagged with: ,

Help RATC during March 16th Roanoke Valley Gives!

RATC map

Poor Mtn 3-24-13 (16)The RATC Needs Your Help!
Foundation for Roanoke Valley is hosting a 24 hr only fundraiser for over a 100 local nonprofits in the Roanoke Valley on March 16th.

Ever hiked Macfee’s Knob or enjoyed other parts of the AT? A donation of as little as $10 from you could help deliver $10,000 to RATC to help us maintain our beautiful section of the AT!! Simply point,click and give. Be sure to schedule your donation on March 16th for the biggest impact. You can even schedule your donation ahead of time so you don’t forget!

Check out the direct link to our #rvgives page below @RVgives:

Want to know what your donation can go towards?
$25 – Helps outfit a volunteer ridgerunner
$50 – Helps construct a side trail connecting Catawba Valley to McAfee Knob
$100 – Helps refurbish a shelter on the AT
$250 – Buys materials to rebuild a damaged section of the AT.
‪#‎rvgives‬ ‪#‎RATC‬ ‪#‎AppalachianTrail‬

Posted in RATC News

Saturday March 19,2016: next training for volunteer ridgerunners – come and help!

3 ridgerunners.5.15
By Kathryn Herndon, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Roanoke office 
Last spring, the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) created a McAfee Knob Task Force to focus on resource 3 ridgerunners.5.15protection and management challenges around our region’s most beloved and iconic A.T. landmark, McAfee Knob. Rapidly increasing visitation has led to an increase in avoidable environmental impacts like litter, graffiti, trail erosion, and problematic bear behavior.
18 McAfee Knob Volunteer Ridgerunners help mitigate these problems with outreach and maintenance. Volunteer Ridgerunners engage hikers in friendly conversations to educate them about the natural and cultural significance of this area and tips on best-practices for enjoying the Trail safely and responsibly. They report on trail conditions and perform light trail maintenance to prevent small problems from getting worse–like dismantling illegal fire rings, packing out trash, and blocking social trails to discourage shortcutting. The group made a big difference last year, and hopes to grow this year by adding new volunteers.
Do you have what it takes to be a Volunteer Ridgerunner? You don’t have to be an athlete–many of the most important conversations and maintenance happens right in the parking lot or within the first mile. If you want to join this lively group of dedicated stewards, you must:
–> Join the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club ($15/year)
–> Commit to volunteer at least one weekend day per month (Fri/Sat/Sun), April through November
–> Attend a Training Day
–> Join an Orientation Hike

The next Volunteer Ridgerunner Training Day is Saturday March 19, from 9 am-2:30 pm at the Roanoke Regional Fire and Rescue Center, 1220 Kessler Mill Road, Salem, VA. There will also be a Training Day June 11. To sign up join the McAfee Knob Task Force MeetUp group and RSVP, or email Kathryn Herndon at kherndon@appalachiantrail.org. Kathryn will email participants prior to the training with details about the agenda and what to expect.

Orientation Hikes will be more frequent. There will be several hikes in March and April, appearing soon on the MeetUp page.
If you love McAfee Knob and are ready to help protect it and share your knowledge with others, we’d love to have your help as a Volunteer Ridgerunner!
Posted in McAfee Knob/Triple Crown Tagged with:

Have fun outdoors – join the RATC community in 2016!

Angels Rest.2

While the latest snow melts, it is not too early to play outside with the Roanoke AppalacAngels Rest.2hian Trail Club. Founded by AT legend Myron Avery in 1932, RATC’s volunteers are the stewards for 16 shelters and over 120 miles of the AT between Lickskillet Hollow and Black Horse Gap.

 Come hike with us. Last year we led over 100 hikes – short and long, easy and strenuous, on and off the AT. See a full listing of hikes and sign up by joining our Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club MeetUp group, which already has over 1,000 members. Check the MeetUp calendar for upcoming hikes – we already have 14 scheduled in February!

Be a maintainer. Want to help maintain the Appalachian Trail or build new trails in our region?  This is work is a little slow right now, but contact our Trail Supervisor, Jim Webb, if you want to get involved.

Patrol Virginia’s Triple Crown. We started a new group in 2015, the McAfee Knob Task Force, whose 18 current members help the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Ridgerunners patrol not only the AT around McAfee Knob, but also Dragon’s Tooth and Tinker Cliffs. Last year we put in over 500 volunteer hours on the trail – counting over 9,000 visitors; engaging with more than 5,000 of them and hauling out 154 gallons of trash. And we were smiling, because we did this job on one of the most scenic parts of the entire AT. As one member signed always concluded her monthly reports: “Best.Job.Ever!”  Task force members must a) be a member of RATC; b) complete a Saturday training program (the next ones will be on March 19 and June 11, 2016) and c) go on patrol with a trained member of the task force before they go out on their own. Join the RATC’s McAfee Knob MeetUp group if you are interested in this option.

264251_199735326740749_3199989_nKeep up on the news by “Liking” our Facebook group – almost 850 people have already done it. Read more ›

Posted in RATC News Tagged with:

Store, memberships and donations all working again!

PayPal logoThanks to the heroic efforts of our webmaster, Jonathan Eagle, the convenient electronic aspects of our membership (JOIN), DONATION and STORE pages are all up and running again.

FOR MEMBERSHIPS, you can join or renew on our JOIN page.

FOR DONATIONS, please use the DONATIONS page.

FOR ITEMS IN THE STORE (hats, t-shirts, etc), there is our Store page.

Of course you can always join, donate or buy items in the store by using this address:

Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club
P.O. Box 12282
Roanoke, Virginia  24024-2282

If you have questions, just let us know at RoanokeATC@gmail.com.

Posted in Store Tagged with:

Paypal function on memberships, donations, store is temporarily down – but Post Office still works!

USPS LOGOAs of January 13, 2016, our PayPal link is temporarily in a funk. While our webmaster works to solve the problem, you can still JOIN, DONATE or BUY in the store through the old-fashioned method of sending a check and your order to us at this address:

Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club
P.O. Box 12282
Roanoke, Virginia  24024-2282

FOR MEMBERSHIPS, you can still see all the prices on our JOIN page, and you can still use our printable Pay by Check form to do it.

FOR DONATIONS, please use the same address for your check and let us know if the check is a memorial gift for a particular person.

FOR ITEMS IN THE STORE (hats, t-shirts, etc), you can see the prices on our Store page. Just let us know what you are buying and send your check to the address above.

Sorry for the inconvenience! We will let you know when the PayPal link is restored. If you have questions, just let us know at RoanokeATC@gmail.com.

Posted in Store Tagged with: