Friday, October 24, 2008

Getting to Know your Monitor Coordinators - Mike Manes

Mike Manes, Monitor Coordinator,
and Kieu Manes, Corridor Monitor,
AMC Delaware Valley

1. How did you become (and what inspired you to become) the Monitor Coordinator for AMC-DV?

In May of 2003 we were both retired and were looking to do something both volunteer and constructive with our favorite pastime, hiking, and particularly hiking off trails. Having done volunteer trail maintenance we tried several different approaches, but once we tried corridor monitoring, our decision was final. It was the most fun part of trail maintenance. We decided to devote more time to corridor monitoring than to conventional maintenance.

2. What are your responsibilities in that position?

When we started corridor monitoring considerable lengths of our boundary had not been monitored for 20 plus years. The job was to reestablish the boundary, locate and possibly resolve encroachment problems.

Actually I believe the biggest part of the job is coordinating efforts and documenting results. Also to try to interest other members of AMC-DV in both conventional trail maintenance and corridor monitoring.

Sometimes I think our main responsibility is to find every loose rock on the side of the mountain that the AT travels on. (Our conventional maintainers take care of the trail itself.) Sometimes we look for good pointed rocks, get them to the conventional maintainers so that they can be placed in an inconvenient spot for thru hikers.

3. What are some of the unique challenges to doing corridor monitoring/boundary maintenance in your club’s section?

Rocks, rocks and more rocks. We do not have the rockiest area of the trail, or even the rockiest in Pennsylvania. The majority of our boundary is on a steep slope, trees do not grow well, and rocks tend to roll. Part or our problem is that trees that were suppose to be witnesses are all small, and often disappear. Many of our yellow boundary marks are on rocks. Often these rocks may be covered by snow or leaves.

4. How long have you volunteered for A.T. and in what capacity (ies)?

On this subject we have different answers for Kieu and Mike. Kieu started trail maintenance with AMC-DV somewhere about 1988 or 89. Mike met Kieu on a hike in January 1993, and started dating almost immediately. In late March or early April of 1993 Kieu convinced Mike that if he hikes, he should also perform trail maintenance. Checking the schedule for that weekend, we volunteered for trail maintenance starting at Little Gap, Pennsylvania. This was not only Mike’s first contact with trail maintenance, but also his first activity with AMC-DV. We continued working on the same area until we both retired in May of 2003, and decided to do more trail work.

5. What do (or did) you do in your professional life?

Kieu (Kieutien) – She was born in Vietnam, and was trained as a teacher. After her first marriage she moved to Pennsylvania and started raising her son. A few years later she returned to school and became a computer programmer, and worked in the computer field as both a programmer and an instructor before retiring.

Mike – Has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and worked for the US Navy (Civil Service) for over 35 years as a Mechanical, Electronic, Environmental, and/or Civil Engineer. In his first 14 years for the Navy Mike worked in navigational R&D. Navigational work included some work on GPS, and gave Mike an understanding of various coordinate systems, such as State Planar systems that are used in surveying.

Having the kind of background we have corridor monitoring is a natural. For this job a good mathematical background, and the requirement to objectively record all you observe is essential.

6. What inspires you (over all) to do volunteer work on the Trail? What keeps you coming back to boundary work?

Most trail maintainers will give you the argument that if you take you should return. This is only a sub-reason for us. The main reason is it is fun.

7. What do (or would) you say to a volunteer interested to giving A.T. boundary work a try?

We try to entice them with nice words about the work. If they like bushwhacking, then this is ideal. If they like to work with map and compass, or GPS, then this is an excellent application.

We try to encourage new volunteers from the hikers who are basically looking for something they have not done. Those with a science, math or mechanical background appear to be the most likely prospects.

8. What do you like (and/or dislike) the most about volunteering?

What we both like and dislike is dealing with other people. So far with corridor monitoring we have been lucky with the people we had to be in contact with. We like being together, and have found friends that we enjoy being in the woods with. We do not enjoy being in a large group, and corridor monitoring does not lend itself to large groups.

Mike & Kieu:

From the gals in the Boundary Program - Thanks for all your hard work on the boundary! We look forward to working with you again!

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