On Saturday, October 14, the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community (HVATC) held their fourth annual Trail Day. Co-hosted by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Parks Conservation Association, the event took place at Native Landscapes & Garden Center at 991 Route 22 in Pawling. The event included a guided tour of the trail, a boardwalk maintenance project, an outdoor yoga class, and a fall foliage hike. More than 100 visitors took part in the event, which served to raise awareness and celebrate the Appalachian Trail and the Harlem Valley community.
Some visitors opted to partake in a two hour guided hike from Native Landscapes to Dover Oak, while others assisted Appalachian Trail Conservancy Co-Chair Stancy DuHamel with a boardwalk maintenance project. Volunteers helped to control the local Phragmites population by stamping down the invasive plant species with boards to allow other native vegetation to flourish. Guests enjoyed a yoga class on the boardwalk as well as fresh pressed apple cider and refreshments provided by Roseann’s Kitchen food truck. “I think it’s very important that people come up here, especially from the city, because you get to experience the outdoors,” said Reino Hornson, who traveled from Brooklyn to attend HVATC Trail Day. “They do a lot of great trail work here.”
In addition to the outdoor activities, guests had an opportunity to speak with exhibitors from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the NY/NJ Trail Conference, the National Parks Conservation Association, as well as participants from the Warrior Expeditions Warrior Hike. “We enjoy bringing people together,” said Stancy DuHamel. “This is such an amazing community; we have so many resources to support the hiking community, and we want to do more of that.” Representatives were on hand to raise awareness about their organizations and the importance of volunteer participation in trail maintenance programs. “We maintain more than 2,100 miles of trails in New York and New Jersey, all with volunteers,” said Geoff Hamilton, a Conservation Corps Manager for the NY/NJ Trail Conference.
Trail Day concluded with an appreciation ceremony recognizing the contributions of several volunteers by the HVATC. Jane Geisler, who was recently named Dutchess County Senior Citizen of the Year, was commended for being a trail volunteer for more than 40 years, greeting hikers on Saturdays as they arrived to walk the trail by Metro North. The National Parks Conservation Association presented the Sean Gobin Award honoring an individual who encourages military veterans to find purpose through community service in the National Parks and along the Appalachian Trail. The award was presented to Vu Nguyen, a U.S. Navy veteran who is the City Impact Manager for The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping veterans find purpose as they readjust to civilian life. Mr. Nguyen and his team of volunteers were recognized for their efforts of trail maintenance and repair across the Appalachian Trail and numerous National Parks. The Howard Purmut Award was also presented. This citation honors the contributions made by a person who promotes travel to the Appalachian Trail via public transportation. The award was given to Roger Osorio in recognition of his “Train to Trail” program, which inspires city youth to use Metro North transportation to come to the Appalachian Trail stop in Pawling.
HVATC Trail Day served to reinforce the beauty of the scenic trail and the sense of community that helps to maintain it. The event demonstrated how many people truly benefit from access to the Appalachian Trail, with residents, visitors, local businesses, volunteers, and hikers all able to share in the natural splendor. “Trail Day is all about making people aware of the great trail system that we have here in Pawling. It’s important to get out and breathe this fresh air,” said Pete Muroski, owner of Native Landscapes.