Hiker Awareness, Safety, and Trail Education

The HASTE program uses ALDHA’s experience, passion, and expertise to develop and present educational programs, workshops, and information to dreamers, day hikers, section hikers, thru-hikers, and friends of the trail.  Programs are to be presented to both community groups, youth organizations, and hikers at trail events. 

ALDHA's original Search And Rescue team in search for any remains of Geraldine "Inchworm" Largay

The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association Search and Rescue team began at the 2013 ALDHA Gathering in response to the disappearance of northbound Appalachian Trail hiker Geraldine "Inchworm" Largay in Maine. Both this incident and the murder of Meredith Emerson on the A.T. in 2008 have greatly affected our hiking community. Untrained hikers and concerned citizens who showed up to aid in both of these searches were turned away. At times this resulted in frustration and misplaced anger toward those conducting searches.

Mike "Wing-Heart" Wingeart, former ALDHA coordinator, organized a group of members to help the Maine Wardens Service in the Largay search. Conceptually, a group of experienced hikers would provide a perspective not present with "non-hikers." The following spring, after the primary search was abandoned and after the snow melted, ALDHA was permitted to search for her remains…without success. Two years after her disappearance, a second excursion was planned in an attempt to locate any trace of her or her equipment. This mission was canceled when a surveyor working near the A.T. found her off-trail campsite.

At the 2014 Gathering in Williamstown, Mass., "Wing-Heart" presented an update of ALDHA SAR activities that included the concept of having ALDHA members receive formal training by local SAR groups. At the time, no one involved with ALDHA SAR had been through formal SAR training or certification. Ken "Nimbus" Bunning took up the challenge and became the first ALDHA member to become fully certified.

During the 2016 Trail Days in Damascus, Va., the reins of the SAR program were passed to "Nimbus," who has subsequently worked to develop a cohesive foundation for the program. Efforts have focused on establishing formal relations with the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The concept, mission statement, operating manual, membership guidelines, equipment requirements, web page and ALDHA SAR Advisory Council have also been developed and documented. We will continue to work closely to formalize relations with our trail partners; however, with the basic SAR foundation in place our efforts to recruit and develop qualified members will increase. 

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Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association - ALDHA

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