By Bob Fuller, Crew Leader, Long Distance Trails Crew
This June, while working on our Appalachian Trail relocation project on the southwest shoulder of Bear Mountain, the Long Distance Trails Crew (LDTC) had the distinct pleasure of meeting Tom Panek, a blind long-distance trails runner, along with his guides Benedicte Uguen and Nick Speranza.
Tom is the president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a nonprofit organization based in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., that provides guide dogs to people with vision loss and service dogs for children with autism. When we met him, Tom was on a trial run of the Appalachian Trail, preparing to accompany his good friend and ultra-running superstar Scott Jurek through Bear Mountain. Just a few weeks later, Scott became the record-holder for fastest thru-hike of the A.T.
The LDTC took Tom and his guides for a tour of the nearly completed lower section of the relocation, explaining the purpose and design of the new trail, as well as the construction techniques (crib walls, steps) and tools (rock bars, hammers, high line) used to construct it. It was thrilling for them and the crew to see and feel the new trail in a whole new way.
If you’d like to join the Long Distance Trails Crew for an outing, they’re on the trails many weekends throughout the season, including this weekend, July 17-19. No experience is necessary; the crew provides on-the-job training and guarantees a fun and rewarding day for volunteers at any skill level. Contact Crew Chief Chris Reyling at 914-953-4900, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Crew Leader Bob Fuller at 732-952-2162, email@example.com for more information.