Show Your Love for Shenandoah - Service Day, April 22, 2023

The second annual Show Your Love for Shenandoah Day was on Saturday, April 22 and Charlottesville PATC had a strong presence for this service day.  Marit Anderson and Mark Perschel headed up the group of eleven volunteers including Margaret Helber, Vicky Lee, Rebecca Smith, Susanna Williams, Mike Hammer, Barbara Martin, Peggy Byrd, and two others from Shenandoah National Park Trust (Tracey Hill and Tori Lev). We met up at Skyland Visitor Conference Center at 9 am for light breakfast snacks and coffee followed by speeches from the Shenandoah National Park Trust, Shenandoah National Park Superintendent-Pat Kenney, and from SNP/Appalachian Conservation Corps volunteer coordinator-Leah Cawthorn. Tools, PPE, lunches, and other gear were collected and the teams of over 125 volunteers dispersed to their work sites. Charlottesville PATC carpooled north to Jewell Hollow Overlook and we proceeded to the Appalachian Trail to begin our project of re-establishing waterbars.  Mark gave a demonstration on how to do the maintenance and we got into groups of 2-3 people. We began the work using pick mattocks, McLeods, shovels and buckets.  The skies were beginning to look dark as the forecast had predicted, but we were able to complete eight waterbars before the rain began around noon.  Fortunately we made it back to our cars before the downpour. Marit and Mark gathered tools and equipment, and we all said our good-byes.  Despite not finishing the entire project, we were happy with what was accomplished and that we could do our small part on Earth Day 2023! We hope to finish the rest of the waterbars in the near future.

photos and submission by Marit Anderson


Map and Compass Sessions led by Tony Alimenti -February & March 2023


As a result of various PATC and other member comments, requests, and interest, the Charlottesville chapter of the PATC conducted a number of beginner/introductory Map and Compass usage sessions.

As the idea/request was to start at a beginner level training.  It was decided to hold a progressive learning type experience.  Starting with some indoor sessions to expose and develop familiarity with maps and compasses.  We would then proceed to a “controlled” outdoor setting so as to further practice and utilize the skills presented in the indoor session.  The intention of the last phase was to culminate the experience with an “on the trail” experience using the concepts learned in the classroom and initial outdoor session.

We began the Indoor sessions using a local library meeting room to introduce everyone to map and compass characteristics, reading and usage basics.  Due to the popularity and expressed interest we needed to hold 3 sessions.  Some of the reason for holding 3 sessions beyond the huge interest, were meeting room size limitations, and instructor to “student” ratios so as to ensure a valuable experience.   (a note of thanks to JMRL for meeting room availability and usage).  Holding multiple sessions enabled us to get as many folks insight to and more one on one, hands on experience in order to ensure a good explanation of the basic skills before outdoor practice. We ended up having 28 people sign and show up for these indoor sessions.

The first phase of the outdoor sessions was held at Albemarle County’s Mint Springs Valley Park.  Two sessions were held to accommodate attendee availability.  In this session we practiced the basic map and compass skills covered in the indoor session.  Despite cold and windy weather, 12 people were able to make these first phase outdoor sessions.

For the second outdoor phase session we were going to take the skills learned and execute them on an out and back AT hike, starting from Reids Gap to Bee Mountain.

Our initial attempt to run this session was prevented due to weather conditions.  Mother Nature tried to challenge us again on the second March 12th attempt.  The predicted snow forced VDOT to close the Blue Ridge parkway.  However, Reids Gap drive was open and we had access to our previously designated parking spot. The weather forecast reduced our group to three who ventured out into the wintery wonderland.  Cheri, Susanna and Mathew braved the cold and minimal visibility to exercise and practice what was previously presented.  Our first activity prior to commencing the hike, we took Long/Lat readings of where we parked, as well as got bearings (direction of travel and back bearings) to/from Piney and Bee mountain.  We noted our location with respect to roads and mountains we could see. Once we had our info recorded, we hiked to Maupin Field shelter then on to Bee Mountain.  Along the way we noted and ID’d map legend info with respect to trail/road/mountain/legend symbols.  We reviewed switch backs, ridge lines and other features ID’ng them on the map as we traveled.  Where we couldn’t see distant land features, we estimated location and direction using the map, compass, parked car data we collected at the start as well as reading the land and comparing the land characteristics to the map contour lines and land feature layout.  Once on Bee Mtn we took our back bearings and checked them against our initial map/compass bearings (accounting for declination etc.).  We had a quick snack and rest, but headed back as the temperature didn’t allow for extended lounging.  Once we got back to the cars, we said our goodbyes commenting on how the day turned out to be an enjoyable and picturesque hike (less than an inch of snow), all the while obtaining and exercising some map and compass skills.  All in all, the session feedback was that these were useful, enjoyable and appreciated. There has been some additional requests for all 3 phases of the sessions, and the Charlottesville PATC will happily look to accommodating those requests.

submitted by Tony Alimenti- leader of the Map and Compass Sessions


Shenandoah National Park - Clearing the Appalachian Trail -Feb. 1-8, 2023

 PATC Charlottesville members are getting out to clear the trails in Shenandoah National Park after the big wind event in December.  Skyline Drive was closed until early February, but now it is open and folks are helping remove the many blowdowns, leaners, and branches everywhere.  The focus has been the Appalachian Trail.  The club section from Rockfish Gap to McCormick Gap is clear, from Jarman Gap to Sawmill Run is clear, and now from Turk Gap to Crimora Lake Overlook is open.  Volunteers this week included Iva Gillet, Kathy Thornton, Mark Perschel, and Marit Anderson.  One trail at a time!

submitted by Marit Anderson


January 2023 Work Trips Clearing Skyline Drive

 A big storm in December of 2022 closed Shenandoah National Park due to all of the blowdowns on the entire Skyline Drive.  Starting in January of 2023 PATC members from the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter and the Charlottesville Chapter organized work trips together to help SNP crews clear the roadway.  The tasks included chainsawing, pulling blowdowns next to the road, and putting branches in chippers. Following are a few photos from the work trips led by Jim Fye on January 5 and led by Marit Anderson and Mark Perschel on January 11. There were 12 members from SSVC and Charlottesville PATC on the first trip and 6 members on the second trip.  More trips are being planned and the park is slowly opening segments of the park, but there is still much work to be done! Many thanks to all of the volunteers.

Submitted by Marit Anderson including all photos


Trail Maintenance on the Appalachian Trail from Rip Rap Parking Lot - SNP - 9/4/22


Thank you to the twelve volunteers who came out to do trail work on their Labor Day holiday weekend. The task for the day was vegetation cutback on the Appalachian Trail from the Rip Rap parking lot in southern Shenandoah National Park.  The section was recently adopted by Linda Beights and Lisa Swales, so trail maintenance leader, Marit Anderson, had set up the event to help them out. The group met at 8:30 am for the briefing, tool and helmet hand-out, and walked 1.5 miles to begin the work.  Snack break with cookies was midway through the morning.  At noon we finished up and hiked back to the parking lot finishing up around 1 pm.  Much gratitude to the eager volunteers including Tad Hardee, Noelle Daly, Josh Heath, Kathy Thornton, Michael Seth, Brenda Stephens, Mike Hammer, Barbara Martin, and Erwina Maria Winiger (who found us on Meet Up and stopped by to assist us while on her South America/North America travel van tour😊).  Labor Day, which to many means the end of summer, is a holiday that really celebrates the social and economic achievements of American workers. This group did some good work on the AT today!

submitted by Marit Anderson