A.T. Physical Exam
Four-Year Study to Assess A.T. Health

A hefty $1.15 million grant from NASA was recently awarded to examine the Appalachian Trail’s entire ecosystem. University of Rhode Island Professor Yeqiao Wang estimates the project will take four years as he uses a combination of satellite imagery and on-the-ground field observation to monitor the trail’s ecological health. Three primary vital signs will be examined: climate change, forest health, and landscape dynamics, which include development, fire, and pesticide use. He will also look at bird habitats, water quality, and recreation use patterns. He will then compare his findings with satellite images of the past three decades to figure out how the trail’s ecology has changed and predict its future direction. Over 250,000 acres of protected land surround the 2,175-mile trail. “For the first time, land agencies will have seamless data of the entire Appalachian Trail,” says Wang. “With a clear picture of the Appalachian Mountain’s environmental health, I hope they use it to make informed decisions.”
—Jedd Ferris

By the Numbers: A.T.
1937 — Year the A.T. was completed
2,000 — Rare, threatened, or endangered plant
and animal species living along the A.T. corridor
124’ — Lowest trail elevation (by Bear Mountain, N.Y.)
6,625’ — Highest trail elevation (Clingman’s Dome, Tenn.)
200,000 — Volunteer hours it takes to maintain the trail every year

Hit Trail Days Running
A new race has been added to the annual festivities at Trail Days—the massive hiker festival that takes over the tiny town of Damascus, Va., from May 14-16. In addition to the hiker parade and water gun wars, you can now earn your trip to the deep-fried Oreo booth by running the Trail Days Half Marathon on Saturday, May 15. The rugged 13.1-mile run will start and finish downtown in front of Mount Rogers Outfitters and venture into the wild woods of Jefferson National Forest. traildays.us

A.T.’s New Midpoint Museum
Set to open on National Trails Day, June 5, the Appalachain Trail museum is located at the halfway point in Pennsylvania’s Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Initial exhibits will honor the trail’s first continuous thru-hiker, Earl Shaffer, as well as other early hikers including Grandma Gatewood, Gene Espy, and Ed Garvey. atmuseum.org

Three Pack Essentials (that you never thought to pack)
Umbrella: Rain gear can be heavy and hot. An ultralight umbrella gives you protection from the rain and sun for a fraction of the weight. Check out the eight-ounce GoLite Dome.
Baby wipes: At the end of each day, a “baby wipe bath” of all your dirty bits will keep you fresh and relatively stink free. And they can double as toilet paper to save weight.
Diapers: After crossing a creek or torrential down pour, fold the diapers inside out and stick one or two in each of your shoes. Leave them in overnight, and in the morning, you should have soaked diapers and dry footbeds.