One of the many draws of Pawling is the close proximity to the Appalachian Trail and the natural beauty that accompanies the area. This convenient location brings an abundance of hikers to the area, including many who are passing through as they make the 2,190-mile trek from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mountain Katahdin in Maine.
Over the past year, local photographers Jane Haslam and Justin Goodhart have undertaken an ambitious artistic endeavor. Beginning last July, the pair set out to photograph as many thru-hikers as possible, capturing a small part of their journey with exquisite digital pictures.
The project officially began on last year’s Trail Magic Day, held at Native Landscapes and Garden Center on July 14. The event is a yearly celebration of the Appalachian Trail community, and thru-hikers are invited to take a rest from their journey and enjoy a meal with local AT supporters.
In total, Haslam and Goodhart photographed the portraits of approximately fifty hikers, many of which had colorful monikers, or “trail names,” given to them by fellow travelers. All the portraits were taken on Pawling’s section of the AT, and serve as a literal snapshot of the portion of their adventure that brought them to Pawling.
“We see it as our type of ‘Trail Magic,” explains Goodhart. “Trail Magic is a tradition on the trail of people and communities providing help to the hikers. Drinks, snacks, rides, a place to sleep, a shower, all kinds of things. We provide free professional portraits as a service to the hikers and as a memory of their time on the trail. If we can, we’ve also provided some food or drinks, rides to town, and pointers to local hiker-friendly spots.”
“I just love that Pawling is an Appalachian Trail community and became fascinated with the regular procession of hikers who use the Village and its amenities,” adds Haslam. “From my random conversations it just seemed natural to start to document those who pass through. Since then there have been so many fascinating people and interesting stories that I'm just pleased that our humble efforts have generated so much interest.”
The exhibit of their portraits, entitled “Hikers,” had its opening reception on April 13 at the Land Gallery in the Village of Pawling. In addition, photographs from the collection have also been placed on display at Pawling Town Hall.
With the arrival of warmer weather, Pawling has also seen the arrival of thru-hikers. This year, Haslam and Goodhart plan on duplicating last year’s project, but this time making it even bigger and better. For the 2019 portrait project, the photographers hope to include more than 100 different hiker portraits, including some from other locations including Warwick, NY, and Dalton, MA. The first thru-hiker portrait was taken in Pawling on June 1, and the pair already report that they have photographed over thirty hikers.
For more information on the Hikers exhibit, visit LandGalleryOnline.com online. Trail Magic Day will be held on Saturday, July 13, at Native Landscapes and Garden Center, 991 Route 22 in Pawling, and is sponsored by the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community.