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Re: AT extentions: my .02c



Jim, 
    I think I can answer some of your questions.  I recently spoke with 
Mike Leonard, the Alabama Trails Association's Govermental Relations 
Chair about the trail into Alabama.  He referred me to an original 1925 
map by Benton Mackaye (which I am trying to locate) that called for the AT to 
run from Cohutta Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Washington in New 
Hampshire.  Spur trails are apparently indicated on this map to run from 
Mount Washington north to central Maine, as well as south from Cohutta 
Mountain into east-central Alabama.  It would be interesting to find out 
how the original northern 'spur' trail ended up being an actual part of 
the AT.  Nonetheless, it did so thankfully.  The southern spur trail was not 
pursued until Spring, 1990, when Mike began speaking with Margaret 
Drummond, who I believe was the chair of the ATC at that time.  Mike even 
presented a seminar on the proposed southern section at a 1993 ATC 
meeting in Dahlonega, Georgia.  The southern 'spur' of the AT is the 
only section included on the original 1925 map that, prior to this time, 
hadn't even been addressed.
     When completed (by the Alabama Trails Association and the Georgia 
Pinhoti Trail Conference) the spur will include 130 miles in Alabama and 100 
miles in Georgia.  The Pinhoti will, however, never actually link to the 
AT itself, but rather link to the Benton Mackaye Trail which currently 
runs from the AT NW of Springer to the Ocoee river.  The BM trail, when 
completed, is expected to run from the AT NW of Springer to the Great Smoky 
Mountains (approximately 150 miles).
     Only 2 miles of the trail corridor remain to be purchased in 
Alabama, which has to date preserved over 8,000 Acres not included in 
the Talladega National Forest, where most of the Pinhoti lies.  This 
Spring, 60+ miles of the trail in Georgia (in the Armuchee division of the 
Chattahoochee National Forest) will be contracted out for Pinhoti trail 
construction.
     Whether this trail remains the Pinhoti, or becomes a part of the AT 
will ultimately be up to the ATC.  In my opinion, the original northern 
'spur' became part of the AT for whatever reasons, and so should the 
southern end.  The ATC is very aware of our extension, and we will respect 
their decision. Now, some of your other questions:

On Thu, 7 Mar 1996, Jim Owen wrote:
  
> What about transportation to the trailhead?  I'm not sure Birmingham or
> the surrounding area are set up to handle the influx of thruhikers.

Birmingham, with a metropolitan population of approx. 1 million people, 
has an international airport, served by most cities via Atlanta.  The 
Southern terminus of the Pinhoti would lie about 10-15 miles SE of 
Talladega, AL, which is about 40 miles east of Birmingham.  It is pretty 
much the same setup as Springer, with bus services running as far as Talladega.
Many ATA members live in the vicinity and I'm sure shuttling wouldn't 
be a problem.  Hitching or walking would be the other options.

> Same kind of question about the shelters - are there any?  And who
> will do the maintenance on the Trail in Alabama?

There are probably less than 6 shelters on the 100 miles of Pinhoti as it 
stands now.  The Alabama Trails Association, the Forestry Service, and 
numerous hiking clubs currently do all of the maintenance, and will 
probably do so in the future.  The Georgia Pinhoti Trail Conference will 
be responsible for the trail in Georgia.
 
> The geographers I know can't even agree on where the Appalachians begin
> and end.  There are at least 3 different definitions and the Gaspe is not one
> of the most favored.  I'm not sure about Alabama - I haven't asked.

Some residents of Florida claim that the Appalachian chain runs as far as 
north-central Florida.  In Alabama, the physiographic province of the 
Blue Ridge is recognized by the Nature Conservancy as a unique feature 
to eastern AL, one of the reasons they claim that AL is the 4th most 
biodiverse state in the country.  (Not related to the AT, but to my 
profession instead--6 new plant species known to man were recently 
discovered in nearby Bibb County, AL.)

So, I hope I have answered some of your questions.  Who knows, maybe by 
the year 2000, our spur will become reality, and with God's help will 
indeed become AT.

Jay Hudson
ATA member
ATA homepage = http://www.auburn.edu/~hudsojt
 

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