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Add to Calendar 10/12/2018 12:00 PM 10/15/2018 10:00 AM America/New_York 37th Annual ALDHA Gathering The 37th Annual ALDHA Gathering of long-distance hikers, friends and A.T. dreamers will convene the weekend AFTER Columbus Day, Oct. 12-15 Shippensburg, Pa.

gathering camping @ burd run

Early arrivals set up at Burd Run, adjacent to the athletic field.

The 2018 ALDHA Gathering

The 37th annual Gathering of long-distance hikers, friends and A.T. dreamers2018 Gathering Newsletter will convene the weekend AFTER Columbus Day, Oct. 12-14, 2018, at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pa. It will be the third time the Gathering will be held at the college that's conveniently off of Interstate 81 in southern Pennsylvania. The A.T. is less than 15 miles away.

All workshop sessions and the evening presentations will be held in the CUB, the Ceddia Union Building. Camping will be right on campus, near a parking lot with plenty of room for all vehicles. In addition to portable johns, there is a full-service restroom with running water near the camping area that includes a covered pavilion with several picnic tables. Showers will be available in a nearby gymnasium that's within walking distance of the CUB and campsite. Finally, all-you-can eat meals will be offered at reasonable cost in a dining hall across from the CUB.


There is a $20 fee to attend the Gathering. Sign up in advance to be entered in the Early Bird Raffle for a chance to win some great raffle prizes and gear. All the forms you need are on this web page in the right rail: the Gathering registration form, the workshop/presenter form, the hiker fair exhibitor form, and the 2,000-miler recognition form.

Alternatively, you can register when you arrive. Registration will be open throughout the weekend, starting at noon on Friday. When you register or check in, you'll receive a Gathering program with details about the workshops scheduled throughout the weekend. Registration will be located in the roller rink outside on Friday afternoon, and immediately inside the main entrance to the CUB.


We have two excellent featured speakers for the 37th Gathering – both are prolific writers, Triple Crowners and longtime members of ALDHA, one a founding member.

Friday Night

At our opening night program we'll have our annual roll call of thru-hikers and long-distance hikers. We'll recognize the members of the class of 2018 and SOBO's of 2017 with a certificate and patch from ALDHA. 

Karen BergerAlso on Friday night, Karen Berger, from South Egremont, Mass., will play classical piano selections along with the photography of Bart Smith, from their 2014 book America’s Great Hiking Trails, which features the 11 National Scenic Trails. Her presentation, including commentary, highlights ALDHA ‘s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act which established the National Scenic Trails.  Karen has written 17 books, mostly on hiking and backpacking. These include Great Hiking Trails of the World and Hiking the Triple Crown, and various backpacking handbooks.

Saturday Night

Cindy RossOn Saturday night, Cindy Ross, from New Ringgold, Penn., will present on her new book, The World is our Classroom: How One Family Used Nature and Travel to Shape an Extraordinary Education, scheduled for publication in September.  Her seventh book, it explores the value of using nature and outdoor adventure as an integral part of the educational process. Her first book, A Woman’s Journey on the Appalachian Trail, still in print, is a seminal work on hiking the Appalachian Trail in the late 1970's. It features hand-written calligraphy text and ink and charcoal drawings.  She also produced a book on thru-hiking the PCT and completing the CDT, the latter with her husband, Todd Gladfelter, and their two young children at the time.  In addition to her seven books, she has published over 1,000 magazine articles, and established River House PA, a non-profit that involves veterans in rehabilitation hiking and paddling.

Ross was among a group of about 20 long-distance hikers, convened by Warren Doyle in 1982, to establish the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association and hold the official first Gathering in 1983.

Sunday Night

ALDHA assistant coordinator Ron Burger will lead a presentation on ALDHA members’ 2018 effort to hike 250 miles of all 11 NSTs, in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the National Trails System Act.


50th Anniversary

Wales, Portugal, Spain, Israel, The Balkans, Australia, New Zealand, Japan – trails in all these countries are represented in the Gathering program at Shippensburg University on Oct. 12-14. These presentations will complement the myriad of workshops on the National Scenic Trails, as ALDHA celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the National Trails System Act, which established the National Scenic Trail System. We have presentations on thru or section hikes of nine of the 11 National Scenic Trails (still looking for presentations on the Ice Age and North Country trails), as well as presentations on the ALDHA NST HIKES effort in 2018, led by Assistant Coordinator Ron Burger, in which ALDHA members hiked about 250 miles of each NST this summer.

We also have the usual complement of how-to workshops and trail-related presentations, such as the famous rivalry between Myron Avery and Benton MacKaye, bikepacking Mexico to Canada, hiking with disabilities, ultralight backpacking, and wildflowers along the AT.

That adds up to 48 workshops so far. Still thinking about presenting? There’s still time, but not much – deadline for proposing workshops is Sept. 15. Complete the online form using the link at the upper right hand column of this page.  

A few of the presentations/workshops scheduled so far:

  • International AT
  • Smiles, not miles
  • Thru-hiking the Colorado Trail
  • Discover the Sheltowee Trace
  • Health & Wellness
  • Three Trails in Australia
  • Hiking in Portugal
  • Hiking in the Balkans
  • Eastern Continental Trail
  • Many Routes of the Camino
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Pacific Crest Trail
  • Continental Divide Trail
  • Pacific Northwest Trail
  • Bike-packing the Arizona Trail & Wild West Ramblings
  • ATC Panel on Current Topics

Contact the Gathering program coordinators at with any questions.

Enjoy the last vestiges of summer, have a great early fall, and see you at Shippensburg!

-Jim Niedbalski and Shelly Huskey, Gathering program coordinators


'I Hiked ALDHA Way' 

I Hiked ALDHA WayIf you've recently completed the A.T., please be sure to let us know at the registration table so we can recognize you during our Friday night program and present your certificate. See details about the "I Hiked ALDHA Way" patch and certificate on this page of the website. You must be at the Gathering to receive your patch and certificate, and there's a form at upper right you can fill out online to let us know you're coming to take part in this ceremony.

      Hiker Fair

Backpacking Gear

Here you'll find ALDHA Central (the registration desk, ALDHA Store, lost and found, etc.), the A.T. Museum exhibit, the Spirit Table, exhibits from various trail clubs, vendors, and authors, the photo contest, and the apple contest. Vendors and exhibitors should register online using the form in the right hand column to set up a table at the fair.


Raffle TicketsIn addition to the pre-registration Early Bird Raffle mentioned above, we will be conducting a raffle throughout the weekend. Tickets will be available in ALDHA Central.

Prior to the Saturday evening program we will draw the winning tickets and give out $250 worth of prizes from the ALDHA Store to the winners. We'll award one prize of $25 in merchandise, three prizes of $50 in merchandise, and one prize of $75 in merchandise.

All proceeds will go to help defray Gathering costs, and to a trail project if there are excess funds. This will be a fun way to help support the Gathering and other ALDHA projects.

Hiker Bake-Off Contest

Little Debbie

Friday night at the Gathering has become even sweeter. Bring a homemade baked good to ALDHA Central Friday afternoon/evening to share during the Friday night reception after the opening. An REI gift certificate will be awarded to the winning entry.

Apple Contest

Sue SpringBack by popular demand is the Apple Contest. Bring your sweet, gigantic, or miniature apples when you register, or to ALDHA Central on Saturday morning. Please provide your name, contact info, and the state the apples came from. Judging will be Saturday afternoon and the winners will be announced at the Saturday evening program. Prizes will be awarded.

Photo Contest

KatahdinSubmit your photos for the Earl Shaffer Memorial Photo Contest at the registration table no later than 3 p.m. on Saturday. We are also requesting a digital copy of your photos (thumb-drive would be preferred) so we can display the winners on the screen when they are announced on Saturday evening. 

Prizes will be awarded in five categories:

1) Beauty and grandeur of the Appalachian Trail.

2) Beauty and grandeur of another trail.

3) Wildlife/flora along the trail.

4) Humor of the trail.

5) The trail community (i.e., maintainers, trail angels, etc.)

You may submit up to five 8-by-10 (or smaller) photos, unframed please. ALDHA will announce the winners at the Saturday night program, and publish the winning photos in an upcoming edition of The Long Distance Hiker. Be sure to come by ALDHA Central to view the submitted photos.


VoteA number of positions on the ALDHA board will be up for election at this year's Gathering, and new members will be needed to fill the roles of those who wish to step down. Elections will be held Sunday morning at the business meeting. Please contact the coordinator if you are interested in serving on the board. 

We encourage all Gathering attendees to join us for the Sunday morning general meeting. It's a great way to see who the leaders of our organization are and to learn more about ALDHA.

Monday work trips

Work TripOn Monday, we’ll have our usual work trips – a Corridor Boundary Maintenance trip with Ryan Seltzer, ATC Corridor Stewardship Coordinator, and  the Mountain Club of Maryland in the Boiling Springs area, and trail maintenance with the Potomac  AT Club on the nearby Tuscarora Trail.

Breakfast will be provided, and you will receive a work trip patch to thank you for your hard work. You can sign up at ALDHA Central throughout the weekend.



Friday evening, the cafeteria will be open to students and the general public.  ALDHA will be selling meals tickets for Saturday breakfast lunch and dinner, and Sunday breakfast and lunch. You'll be able to purchase a meals package for all 5 meals at a reduced rate of $41 online, along with your gathering fee. Also, The town of Shippensburgh has many area restaurants. 

Where to stay

Of course, camping is FREE on the athletic field near the CUB. 

Also, Jim Sample has arranged a group rate for ALDHA at the Courtyard Marriott ($99 per night) which is only 0.5 mile away. Check-in at 3:00 PM and check-out at 12:00 PM. If you don't want to rough it, you can book your room on the Courtyard/ALDHA page.  If you prefer to phone in your reservation, the number is 717-477-0680. Be sure to mention the "ALDHA group reservation" rate. To be eligible for the rate,  rooms need to be booked by 9/25.


Annual meeting 

We encourage all Gathering attendees to join us for the Sunday morning annual meeting. This is a great way to see who the leaders of our organization are and to learn more about ALDHA. It's rewarding to be more involved in this great organization, so come and see how you can serve.

Group photo 

The group photo will be taken immediately after the annual meeting.


Service animals will be allowed at all events. Dogs must be on a leash at all times, and any gifts dropped on the ground must be cleaned up immediately.

ADA accessibility

The facility is ADA accessible, however it is likely that the restrooms in the camping area will not be. The education center's restrooms will be open while programs are going on, but the buildings will be locked at night.


Not allowed on campus or in the camping area, but reasonable alcohol consumption will be allowed at the bonfire.


We probably don't need to even mention this, but please be respectful of our hosts at the facility, the townspeople and your fellow Gathering attendees. And please let the workshop presenters, Board members, and event volunteers know that you appreciate their hard work.


We're always looking for volunteers to help with activities and contests at the Gathering. If you're interested in volunteering, email Jim Niedbalski at

Gathering Registration Form

GatheringSign up for the Gathering, and join/renew in ALDHA all in one swoop, by following this link to the Events page.

Workshop Presenters Form

Jark TarlinWould you like to put on a workshop at this year's Gathering about a trail you've hiked, or a trail-related subject you feel strongly about? Fill out this online form and send it electronically to the Gathering coordinator.

Hiker Fair Exhibitors Form

Backpacking GearIf your trail club or hiker-related cause or business would like to set up a table at our Gathering Hiker Fair, fill out this digital form and send it to us electronically.

Trail Completion Signup Form

I HIked ALDHA WayClick here to fill out an online form if you have finished the A.T. this past year and plan to attend the Gathering. On Friday night, we'll call you up on stage to present a special "I Hiked ALDHA Way" patch and certificate from ALDHA, to congratulate you before your peers.

Gathering History

The first Gathering was held before ALDHA was even officially created. In the fall of 1982, Warren Doyle gathered together long-distance hikers and friends of the trail for a weekend retreat in southern West Virginia, and it was during that time of fellowship and renewal in the community of the Appalachian Trail that the seed of an idea for ALDHA was planted.

Six months later, at a meeting in Harpers Ferry on March 5, 1983, attendees voted to formally establish an organization of hikers, maintainers, friends of the trail and folks who dream of someday hiking the A.T., and they christened their newborn group the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association.

ALDHA has held an annual Gathering ever since, with locations varying from north to south to accommodate our ever-growing membership.

The Gathering Song

Walkin' Jim Stoltz

At the 2000 Gathering in Pipestem, W.Va., Walkin' Jim Stoltz was asked if he would compose a song for ALDHA to help mark the 20th Gathering the following year. He readily agreed, then admitted later that it proved to be a lot harder than he thought it would be. When he stood up to perform it that next year at the 2001 Gathering in Hanover, N.H., we think he hit it out of the park.

A few years later, he sat down and recorded it for Weathercarrot's video documentary on the 25th anniversary of ALDHA. Click the link below to listen. Feel free to download it, too. After his untimely passing in 2010, Jim's former wife gave ALDHA the rights to it, and we offer it to you all in hopes that it'll stir fond memories of the Gathering and that you'll always remember Walkin' Jim.

"To the Gathering Again"

by Walkin' Jim Stoltz, 2001

Link To Past Programs

Past Gathering Programs

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