Sunday, July 21, 2013

AT Museum Visit

The Furnace of Pine Grove
A couple of weeks ago, I was reading through my daily AT news and I saw an advertisement for the job of the AT Museum Manager in Pine Grove Furnace, PA.

I figured this might be interesting, so I updated my resume and created a quick cover letter and sent it off.

Within an hour or two I had a response from the president of the AT Museum Society and a few hours later we had a nice conversation.

The manager job is basically organizing  and training all the volunteers and making sure all the maintenance and upkeep of the building are taken care of.  It also involves some fund raising efforts and other odds and ends.

As Larry, the president said, it is a lot of work for very little pay.  I wasn't immediately thrown off by this statement, but I wanted to look into the whole thing some more.

Last week I took a little trip up there and met the current manager, Howard, and learned a little more about the job. Howard showed me all around the place and told me of the grand plans that are awaiting the museum as it expands and grows.

Old Grist Mill, now the AT Museum
I also had an ulterior motive for going up to Pine Grove Furnace that day.  Jennifer Pharr Davis was going to be there to take a little hike and talk about her new book and other experiences.  She is kind of an AT hero for me.  When my interest in the AT started approaching its current level of intensity, her husband's blog, as she made her record breaking thru-hike, was one of the first I read.

I have also read her first book which chronicles her first thru-hike as a young woman fresh out of college.

My plan was to spend a few hours talking to Howard, then take the hike with Jennifer and her family and then head to Pittsburgh for my sister's annual wine party/niece's birthday party.

Even though I drove through rain all the way up to PA, the day wasn't too bad.  It was warm and humid, which is always expected in PA in July, but the rain was mostly holding off as the day wore on.

Around 3:30pm I looked over and saw Jennifer and her beautiful eight month old daughter Charley.  Charley can always be found facing outward in a baby backpack carrier.  She evidently likes to be checking everything out and truly gets excited when a hike starts.

I introduced myself and before long eight of us were heading south down the trail for a quick walk to the Halfway Marker.  This marker is an elaborate thing that marks the midway point of the trail.  Thru hikers that reach this point are halfway done.  They also have halfway to go.  It must be a bittersweet experience to reach this point.  Sweet to be half way done, bitter that you still have just as many miles left as you have hiked.
Me, Jennifer and Charley
The marker isn't really at the midway point for this year's trail.  Every year, all during the year, trail maintainers are working on the trail.  Re-routes of the trail make the total distance change and since I have been keeping track, it has continued to grow.  This marker is from a few years ago when the total length was 2,181 miles.  This year it is officially listed as 2,185.9, so the actual midway point is somewhere further south from where we were headed.

The hike was billed as a four mile hike, two out and two back.  Upon further review, we figured it was more like seven miles, 3.5 each way.  No worries.  We just planned to hike for a while and if it got too late, we would just turn around and head back.  Jennifer was scheduled to speak at 7:00pm and a decently large crowd was expected.

Off we went.  Jennifer is a fast hiker (even being the only one carrying any weight) and even though she said she wouldn't be going fast, we continuously pulled ahead of the others.  Janine, another hiker and I stayed pretty much with Jennifer and Charley most of the way and would stop every  once and awhile to admire some foliage and wait for the others to catch up.

Before long, we crossed a road and were thinking of heading back.  Larry mentioned that it was probably only about 3/4 of a mile to the marker, so we all decided to hike on.  Before too long we made it to the marker, took some pictures and started back.

Waiting for the others at the marker
The hiking group at the halfway marker
Brew, Charley and Jennifer
Jennifer wanted to get back in time to feed Charley and prepare for her talk, so she said she was going to hike fast.  Janine and I took on the challenge of trying to keep up with her on the way back.

I have to admit, I actually had to stop talking for a bit and concentrate on keeping up with her.  She is super fast.

We made it back with about 10 minutes to spare and I was able to buy a signed copy of her new book.  It was truly a pleasure meeting Jennifer, Brew and especially Charley.  She is such a happy baby and seems to be at her happiest when she is on the trail and leading a hike.

I headed out from the park around 7:00pm as Jennifer was introduced by Larry and made my way to Pittsburgh.

I arrived around 10:30 pm to a party that was still going strong.  It had been a truly eventful day.

The job seems interesting and I am still working my way becoming the next manager of the AT Museum.  I have been looking for ways to become involved with the trail on a regular basis and this seems like the perfect fit for now.

When Lisa and I were planning our hike of this spring/summer, I would tell people that I would be looking for my next job while out on the trail.  Perhaps, I have found it...

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