Thursday, July 23, 2015

Roland Tester
U.S. Government Teacher 
Daniel Boone High School, Gray, Tennessee
2015 TTEC Cohort

July 14, 2015

The weekend (April 10-11) that I spent at the Amicalola State Park and the Len Foote Hike Inn as a member of the Southern Regional Appalachian Trail Cohort was a wonderful experience.  The TTEC program and agenda was well-planned and well-executed, from beginning to end. I arrived at the Amicalola Park Lodge on a rather rainy and dreary Friday morning.  We expected a wet trek to the Hike Inn, but by the time we finished the morning agenda at the Lodge, the rain had moved on; with the exception of one episode that would scarcely classify as a drizzle, we had a very pleasant jaunt to our lodgings. The Len Foote Hike Inn is inaccessible to vehicles: the only egress is a 4-5 mile trail from the State Park, which makes for an invigorating walk, with a most welcome destination at the end.

I cannot express how impressed I was with the Len Foote Hike Inn, and the thought and engineering that went into it’s design and operation; the construction of all the buildings on stilts to minimize the impact on the terrain and the fauna, solar panels on the roofs of the buildings, windows and other openings placed specifically to both heat and cool, composting toilets, a red worm farm to assist with composting, no trash cans (what you packed in, you packed out), propane/solar heated water, very Spartan (but very welcome and comfortable) sleeping quarters, wonderful outdoor areas, spectacular vistas, good and plentiful food (I always enjoy eating good food and drinking good coffee that I neither have to make, nor pay for!) and above all, a restful and reflective atmosphere conducive to relaxation and deep thinking.  My only regret of my stay at the Hike Inn was that it was so brief; I could have gladly stayed for a week.

I suppose that if I were to make connections between the vision and operation of the Len Foote Hike Inn, and the greater vision of how we treat our Earth and ourselves, it would be to Be Mindful: Think about your actions, and their consequences; think about your impact on your environment, and think about the impact that your neighborhood, your city, your county, your State has on the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat; and how ultimately, the way we affect our environment returns to us, good or bad.  Live as Simply as you can.

There must always be Quiet Places where we may enjoy a respite from the rattle and hum and buzz and constant rush of the 21st Century; and there must always be Wild Places where humans can remember that we are a part of Nature, and not separate and detached from it. This is why I believe that the Appalachian Trail is a National Treasure so important to us.

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