By Bob Fuller, member of the Long Distance Trails Crew
Every July, for the last 15 years, the Ralph’s Peak Hikers Cabin Volunteers Club (RPH) has put on a BIG cabin maintenance-AT trail restoration-campout-BBQ weekend, with all meals provided Friday through Sunday for the volunteers. Work opportunities are offered for all skill levels. The event has developed a widespread reputation; this year, in addition to RPH members and passing AT thru-hikers, volunteers came from around the Northeast –New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, in some cases from many hours away.
This year our Long Distance Trails Crew participated in the event for the first time and assisted in the building of 17 new enormous (four-foot wide) stone steps on a steep, eroded section of the Appalachian Trail just north of Stormville Mountain Road in Dutchess County, NY. RPH had already obtained large boulders donated by a nearby construction site, split some of the rocks, and built a beautiful massive crib wall at the bottom of the slope. Our crew worked with RPH members and other trail volunteers to design and install the steps above the wall.
It was a large project with roughly a 15’ rise in a 40’ run requiring approximately 20 steps. 17 of those steps were installed this weekend and RPH will finish the work this season. It is a beautiful stairway but, even more important, it was a wonderful weekend.
Not only did our crew get to meet the many dedicated RPH volunteers, we met other like-minded hikers from throughout the area, all gathered together to enjoy each other’s company and to contribute to the trails. The food was amazing and lunch was even delivered directly to our work site each day. We all left with a feeling of great accomplishment, new friends, and the desire to return again next year for more of the same.