AMC Trails Staff Retreat

Here in the AMC Trails Department we work hard - but that doesn't mean that we can't have a good time! This week the AMC Trails Department staff from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania came together in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts for two days of work and fun. We don't get to see each other very often, since the distances between the White Mountains, the Berkshires, Boston, and the Mid-Atlantic Highlands are a bit daunting.

On Monday we all arrived at the new Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Kellogg Conservation Center in South Egremont, MA. This was our home for the two day retreat, and what a place it is! The Kellogg Conservation Center is a 1744 farmhouse that has been maintained to a high historical standard, with almost 100 acres of intact farmland. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy was given this property as a gift from a very generous patron named Mary-Margaret Kellogg, and they were nice enough to let the AMC Trails Department use the house for our gathering.

The Appalachian Trail runs right through the Kellogg Conservation Center property, so we all strapped on our snowshoes and walked out the back door and onto the AT. We hiked to the top of Jug End, which is the northern terminus of what we call the Massachusetts Plateau. The snow was unbroken and the slope steep, but Hawk Methany (Shelter Supervisor in the White Mountains) lead us gracefully to the top, pointing out the numerous feline tracks in the snow. Bobcat, perhaps?

Once reaching the top of Jug End, we had a sprawling view of the Housatonic River Valley to the east and the Taconic Mountain Range of New York to the west. The Berkshires is characterized but it's strong pastoral roots and fertile farmland, as well as a line of mountain chains that frame the western part of the county. This hike gave us a chance to see the patchwork of history and culture that make up this area.

After a night of dinner at a local restaurant and a few rounds of the board game Taboo, the AMC Trails Department got down to business on Tuesday. We spent the day working on book edits for the new edition of AMC's Complete Guide to Trail Building and Maintenance and planning some visioning goals for the year 2015. After a packed day of brain bending, it was time for folks to return to their home bases and continue the great work that the Trails Department does. The Berkshires is about 5 1/2 hours from the White Mountains, 2 hours from Boston, and 4 hours from the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Office in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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