Carlisle is the county seat of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, as well as home to Dickinson College. Carlisle also neighbors the town of Boiling Springs, where the Mid-Atlantic ATC Office resides. Folks who are familiar with this area of the Appalachian Trail may remember it as a walk through the “Valley” surrounded by farm fields and cows. The 17 mile stretch of the trail is maintained by the CVATC.
The valley trail includes a long section located in the floodplain of the Conodoguinet Creek. This means soft alluvial, silty soils which compact and turn into deep, sticky mud after heavy rains. CVATC has spent many work trips turnpiking and hauling shale stone in this area to harden the treadway. I can’t even begin to quantify all of the buckets of shale stone that have been hauled over the years. It’s hard on the back and our small club struggles to find younger people to help out with the heavy lifting and hauling of shale, bucket by bucket, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow.
Enter Dave Webster, the coach of the Dickinson College Lacrosse team. Dave has coached lacrosse at Dickinson College for 15 years. His dedication and enthusiasm is contagious and gains him respect and admiration from his team. Many years ago, at least 12 or more, Dave approached CVATC, offering to bring his team out for an activity day on the Appalachian Trail with the club. He leads his teams with true dedication and felt it would be a good way to give back to the community, as well as a valuable team building exercise. Did I mention that we were talking about over 30 – 40 players.
Imagine the work that can be accomplished in an afternoon when you have that many strong young men willing to lift, shovel, pick, cut and of course, schlep shale, lots of it! Hauling shale has become a rite of passage for team members. We’ve been told that this fun fall tradition is something that all of the players look forward to. Dave has a wonderful relationship with his team and the spirit and competitiveness under his direction is amazing. The team is enthusiastic and the work that gets done in an afternoon is awesome.
Of course, all of this activity takes quite a bit of organizing. Craig Dunn, our club Trailmaster and work trip leader, has faithfully stepped up to organize these trips every year. Starting weeks before the event, he walks the trail, plans the activities, assures materials are available, rounds up extra tools, recruits club members for additional help and carries it off year after year.
The relationship with the Dickinson College Lacrosse Team has become a tradition which we look forward to. It provides the Lacrosse team with an opportunity to get off campus and experience the AT, which is located practically in their back yard. It provides our club with anywhere from 35 to 45 students to do trail work, which would take our small club a year to complete. Over the years, besides hauling shale, the team has helped with other trail maintenance activities including cleaning drainage ditches and water bars, constructing steps, trimming brush and others. We’ve only had to skip one year, due to a hurricane which flooded and closed the trail temporarily.
We thank Coach Dave Webster for the opportunity to share in the enthusiasm he instills in his players and we hope in turn, the team is introduced to a valuable resource that they may return to in the future. We hope this tradition will continue for many years to come.