Appalachian Trail Magic Yields Photo Exhibit

Heather Palecek

Photographer and trail magician Heather Palecek (above) will meet visitors at an opening reception for an exhibit of her Appalachian Trail thru-hiker portraits in Warwick, Saturday, August 9.

A young man who is hiking the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) with Bell’s Palsy, which he got through a tick bite while on the trail; a 60-year-old woman who states, “You have to push yourself to grow”; a man who is thru-hiking for the second time in his life and says, “The trail calls you back. You start thinking about it. You start missing it.”

These are some of the people you may meet in an exhibit of Appalachian Trail thru-hiker portraits, “Tales of the Trail,” by photographer Heather Palecek (pictured above), of Manning, NJ. The exhibit will debut this weekend in Warwick, NY, and everyone is invited to attend the opening reception on Saturday, August 9 from 7-9 pm at the Love Life Tattoo & Art Studio in Warwick, NY at 10 South Street, Warwick. The exhibit is the featured event in this year’s edition of the annual Warwick Appalachian Trail Community Day, sponsored by the Town of Warwick Appalachian Trail Community Committee and the NY-NJ Trail Conference.

Each year, the Warwick A.T. Community Committee  sponsors activities such as hikes, informational programs, and trail maintenance work trips for local residents. Many local artists and musicians find inspiration hiking the A.T.  and this year’s event brings art to the forefront of the annual event.

Tales of the Trails

Palecek, a photography teacher and outdoors enthusiast–High Point State Park is a favorite destination– gave herself a summer project: spend two weeks on the Trail at locations in Vernon, NJ and Warwick, NY, dispensing “trail magic” to thru-hikers. She offered them snacks, water, cell phone recharging, and other supplies. In return, the hikers posed for photographic portraits told her their stories. The exhibit is the culmination of her summer project. She calls it a “collaboration” with the 80 hikers who were her subjects. Twenty are featured in the exhibit.

“As many [thru-hikers] told me of hiking the trail, their faith in humanity has been restored, and I am finding that mine has been too,” she says.

“Tales of the Trail” is a photo-documentary of portraits of thru-hikers, accompanied by stories of their life and from their long hike spanning 2,185 miles from Georgia to Maine. At the exhibit you can expect to see an array of portraits in various sizes mounted on natural wood in the huge studio space provided at Love Life. Each image will be accompanied by a short story, quote, or synopsis of the thru-hiker’s meeting with Heather.

I used to think of the Appalachian Trail as a place,” Heather writes in her artist’s statement. ” But after working on this project I realize it’s much more than that – it’s a living thing. The trail isn’t a long path that connects state to state, community to community… It’s a community and a being in itself – It’s very own entity.”

Make it a day in the country

Before the photo exhibit, enjoy a short hike on the Appalachian Trail along the Pochuck Boardwalk (click to download a free PDF map) in Vernon, NJ or to the Greenwood Lake Vista from 17A (click to read hike details). Then head into Warwick for a stroll around town, before having dinner at one of the many great restaurants or pubs. 

After dinner, head over to Love Life Tattoo & Art Studio  to see the exhibition “Tales of the Trail”, meet the artist, and speak with representatives from the NY-NJ Trail Conference.  Love Life opened in June, 2014 at a prime location on South Street in the heart of the Village of Warwick, NY. This will be their first of many art exhibitions. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be available to all attendees. “Tales of the Trails” will be on view through August 24.

About the Appalachian Trail in Our Region

The first section of the A.T. opened in Warwick in 1931, six years before the official opening of the entire Appalachian Trail. The Town has been welcoming hikers ever since and was named an A.T. Community™ in 2012.

The Town of Warwick is centrally located on the A.T. between High Point in New Jersey to the west and the Bear Mountain Bridge in New York to the east with easy road access to this entire 65-mile section. The Village of Greenwood Lake in Warwick, with many hiker amenities, can be accessed directly from the A.T. using the Village Vista Trail. The Pochuck, Wawayanda and Wildcat Shelters on the A.T. are easily accessed from Warwick and can be used in planning section hikes (no reservations or permits required).

With ample road access and parking within and in the immediate vicinity of Warwick, A.T. hikes of all ability levels can be accommodated. The Wallkill River National Wildlife Reserve, the Pochuck Boardwalk and suspension bridge, the “Stairway to Heaven” at Wawayanda Mountain, spectacular views of the Warwick Valley and Greenwood Lake, and Fitzgerald Falls are all within Warwick or just a few minutes away in neighboring towns. A little further within a 45-minute drive is the beautiful Delaware Water Gap, the clear and clean waters of the upper Delaware River, the NY-NJ Trail Conference’s spectacular  Bear Mountain A.T. rehabilitation project featuring over 1,000 hand-hewn granite steps, and the Bear Mountain Bridge which carries the A.T. across the Hudson River built in 1924.

The NY-NJ Trail Conference maintains and manages the Appalachian Trail from the Delaware Water Gap to Connecticut.


About Trail Walker

Since 1920, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has partnered with parks to create, protect, and promote a network of more than 2,100 miles of public trails in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. The Trail Conference organizes volunteer service projects that keep these trails open, safe, and enjoyable for the public. We publish maps and books that guide public use of these trails. The Trail Conference is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 clubs with a combined membership of 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people.
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2 Responses to Appalachian Trail Magic Yields Photo Exhibit

  1. Jim Flynn says:

    Beautiful trails over Greenwood Lake,Pockuk, and Wayayanda….

  2. I’m looking forward to the exhibit, an interesting way to learn about thru-hikers and the reasons they hike.

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