Sunday, April 15, 2012

Under the green canopy: Hiking the Appalachian Trail the the Berkshires

Presented to the Club on Monday evening, March 12, 2012 by Richard L. Floyd

When I told Harold* my title for tonight’s paper he suggested it might be about a wedding! A great guess, but no, the paper is actually about my experiences of hiking on the Appalachian Trail in the Berkshires. “Under the Green Canopy” refers to the lush green foliage overhead when you are on the trail. The AT is also sometimes called the “Green Tunnel” by thru-hikers.

I first encountered the Appalachian Trail over fifty years ago in western New Jersey as a Boy Scout at camp No-Be-Bo-Sco. The camp, which is still going strong, sits alongside Kittatinny Ridge, near the Delaware Water Gap.

I went to camp there for several summers and we scouts hiked sections of the nearby AT. The trail skirts the opposite shore of Sand Pond. I have many memories of that lake; I came to camp as a beginner and learned to swim there, eventually earning my lifesaving merit badge, and when I was fourteen swam the Mile Swim there. I didn’t appreciate that the nearby trail was so special.

It was as a Boy Scout that I first learned to love hiking and camping. I know that when one thinks of New Jersey it does not conjure up pictures of beautiful forests and hills, but that is just what that part of northwestern New Jersey is like. If you don’t believe me you can visit. The camp is private, but years ago it ceded hundreds of acres to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Park and one can hike the trails there, including a portion of the AT.

Eventually one of the Scout leaders at camp must have told me that the trail went all the way from Georgia to Maine, and that some people hiked the whole thing in one season. From then on it was a dream of mine to thru-hike the trail, a dream I long deferred and have finally abandoned now that I’ve reached the age where one likes to sleep in one’s own bed.