Monday, August 10, 2015

Exploring the AT in our Backyard

Barbara Lindtner
Seven Generations Charter School
Emmaus, PA
2015 TTEC Cohort

July 15, 2015

After a few exciting days at the Front Royal workshop, it was obvious we had to explore some of the AT in our backyard in PA.  If we meant to design curriculum and take students out, we would have to hike it ourselves.

We wanted an area that could accommodate 3rd, 5th and middle school students.  And be a reasonable bus ride from the school in Emmaus Pa.   Using the maps Karen gave us, we scoped out our first hike-- the Allentown Shelter, along PA Section #4, Port Clinton to PA route 309.  It was accessible to parking (important for a school bus) and seemed like a gentle easy hike.

Once there, it was so impressive to see the amount of healthy understory—native plants, trees, and scrubs were growing in abundance.  One of the children hiking with us was a student of mine.  He was also impressed, and shared my amazement at how different the landscape and forest was from the preserve we hiked at near our school.  We arrived at the shelter to find a Boy Scout Troop setting up camp. The shelter was clean, empty and had some trail magic waiting for a through hiker. We sat down to have some lunch, adding some treats next to the Pringles can that sat perched inside.

Within minutes, a through hiker sauntered up and set his pack down.  We exchanged hellos and directed him to the trail magic and shelter book.  He grabbed the book and a treat, and climbed on a ledge around the corner from the shelter opening.  We learned that he started in Georgia in March, that it was very cold, and he was travelling with a large group, some in front and others behind. After lunch, we hiked back to the cars and talked about plans for our next hike.  An easy hike, 4.7 miles and gentle for all grades.  Several weeks later, two of us hiked on Section #1 Delaware Water Gap to Wind Gap.  We found a small parking lot on PA 191, and hiked in, past the Kirkridge Shelter and several lookouts to Totts Gap.  The hike was a little bit more difficult due to the rocks, but nothing our students couldn’t handle.  Due to time, we turned around and hiked back to check out the shelter. The shelter was clean and bigger than the Allentown shelter, with a privy and water. We hiked back to the cars and talked about how this would fit with our curriculum and how we envisioned it working with the different grade levels.  What strikes me is just how easy it is to get out on the trail.  Can’t wait to explore more!

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