Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gene Espy's new book "The Trail of My Life"

It's been awhile since I posted to the boundary blog and there have most certainly been some major changes in my professional A.T. Corridor duties, but rest assured, nothing has changed with regard to my passion for the boundary and continuing to try to help and support the dedicated volunteers that carry on doing this largely thankless, but incredibly essential task to help preserve and protect the integrity of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and its surrounding NPS corridor lands.

On a more uplifting note though, I wanted to pass along a personal recommendation for Gene Espy's new autobiography entitled "The Trail of My Life." For those of you who perhaps may have never heard of Gene Espy, he was the second person ever to thru hike the Appalachian Trail from GA to ME back in 1951.  Earl of course went before him and when they corresponded later in life, they referred to each other as "Crazy One" and "Crazy Two."   Over the past 4 years of doing my job out on the A.T. boundary, my crew and I certainly heard our share of that word as well.  My favorite reference though by far to the places where we went to work and what we did was by a certain NPS colleague (who will remain anonymous) who called it "a forced death march!"  A tad bit extreme I think!

As I read "The Trail of my Life," I couldn't help but think that back then many of the overgrown and unmaintained sections of the A.T. that Gene encountered on his thru hike and had to bushwhack through to refind the Trail probably looked a lot like numerous sections along the surveyed A.T. Corridor boundaries today that likewise have often gone without any maintenance since the original survey was completed 10, 15, to 20+ years ago. Just like Gene looking for the next white blaze to get him back on the Trail, I'm sure many of you have experienced similar challenges in trying to locate the next yellow boundary blaze, whether trying to navigate through an inpenetrable stand of spruce/fir in the backcountry of ME or NH or even worse, a 10 ft. high, tick infested tangle of invasive exotics battling each other to reach the sunlight on the line in places like CT or PA.

I'd like to think if Gene lived a bit closer to a section of the A.T. where the A.T. Corridor lands exist between VA & ME, I might just be able to recruit him to help out on the boundary. I suspect he might just be a natural when it came to having an educational, little chat with a Trail neighbor unknowingly behaving as an A.T. Violator.

I heard a great quote recently saying that if a picture's worth a thousand words, then a map is worth a million. But in the case of Gene Espy and the remarkable life he's lead, I offer you instead a YouTube video made by my friend Weathercarrot to honor him at the 2008 ALDHA gathering.

For more more on Gene Espy's or to order a copy of his new book, go to

There's also a nice write up about him on the new National Scenic Trails Blog at:

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