Celebration to Mark 60th Anniversary of First Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike



Harrisburg, Pa. -- Hikers from all over Pennsylvania will gather Saturday, August 2 for a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of Earl Shaffer’s pioneering Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike and to help preserve the Earl Shaffer Shelter. The three-sided primitive shelter is the last remaining one built by Earl that is intact and still being used by overnight hikers.

                The shelter is being preserved by the Appalachian Trail Museum Society and will be the featured artifact in its collection. The ceremony is being held in conjunction with the club maintaining the shelter, the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club. Also sponsoring the event is the Earl Shaffer Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving his writings, poems and songs. The Smithsonian Institution holds some of the Shaffer artifacts and is scheduled to feature them in an exhibit in 2009.

                The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the shelter site along the Appalachian Trail, three miles north of the crossing of Route 225. The ceremony will include reminiscences about Earl, a native and lifelong resident of York County, and speakers representing the Appalachian Trail Museum Society, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Keystone Trails Association, the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association.

                Participants should park by 8:45 a.m. at the Dauphin County Agriculture and Natural Resource Center on Route 225 (about 15 miles north of Harrisburg) just north of the junction with Route 325 East (Clarks Valley Rd.), on right (east) side of the road. 3B's Ice Cream on left side.  For information on the center go to http://www.dauphincd.org/general/location.html.From there carpools will be available to the A.T. crossing for the three mile walk into the shelter. Some shorter trails in may also be available.

                After the shelter is dismantled, volunteers will be needed to carry out the parts of the shelter for eventual reconstruction as part of the A.T. Museum.  The rain date is Sunday, August 3. Volunteers should bring water, lunch and work gloves if available and practice “Leave No Trace” principles. For additional information contact Larry Luxenberg at 845-634-0581 or hikerll@yahoo.com or Jeff Buehler at ATHikerJB@aol.com.

The museum society will also be honoring Earl in a symposium at The Gathering at Concord College, Athens, W.Va., on Columbus Day Weekend. The program will feature a presentation by Earl’s brother, John, and his 1998 hiking partner, David Donaldson.

The shelter, which was built by Earl about 1960, is the last remaining intact shelter that Earl built himself and one of the oldest and smallest remaining on the trail. Not only was Earl a three-time thru hiker, but he also served as corresponding secretary of the Appalachian Trail Conference, a founder of the Susquehanna A.T. Club and the Keystone Trails Association, and relocated a large stretch of the A.T. on both sides of the Susquehanna River as well as building many trail shelters. As a man of varied interest, Earl also wrote many poems, songs and essays as well as “Walking With Spring,” the lyrical account of his 1948 hike.

The shelter project was the culmination of a two year effort involving many organizations and the National Park Service to determine what was the most appropriate way to preserve and protect this important trail object. The A.T. Museum Society is pursuing a home at Pine Grove Furnace State Park near the mid-point of the A.T. in Pennsylvania. If that is successful, the Shaffer Shelter will be reconstructed only a short distance from where Earl grew up and lived most of his life.


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