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Well, happy April Fool’s Day to everyone! Watch out for those strange jokes and pranks that generally show up on this day every year. If you have people in your life with strange ideas of humor, you will probably get got before the bell strikes midnight.
This week I want to tell you about something going on in the hiking world that could have an effect on us here in Coosa County. In case you are not aware, Coosa County is the home for the southernmost mountain over 1,000 feet in the Appalachian Mountain Range, for the southern terminus of the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail, for Tower #250 on the National Historic Tower Sites, and for connectors to the Eastern Continental Trail, the Great Eastern Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
Coosa County is also the home of one of the most renowned long distance hikers in history – Nimblewill Nomad, aka M.B. Eberhart and just Sunny! ALL of this is found on Flagg Mountain just outside of Weogufka in the northwest corner of our very own Coosa County.
Most people have at least heard of the Appalachian Trail that runs from Georgia to Maine and has more than 38,000 people attempt to hike it every year. Yes, 38,000! People walk north to south, south to north, in parts, and as a whole.
Not all of the people who start the trail ever finish it – in fact, only a small number can ever claim the title of completing the Appalachian Trail! Like our own Nimblewill, some people have actually accomplished it several times, but they are very few and far between. But, it is THE challenge that all hikers dream of attempting.
Every so often, the idea comes up to bring the Appalachian Trail into Alabama, and that has started up again in the last year or so. There is a relatively small group of people who seem to think this was the original plan for the AT, but factual evidence of this is difficult to find.
In the last few years, we have also started gaining recognition of the Pinhoti Trail as a “training” or “cool down” trail to the AT. We are gaining more and more hikers coming to Flagg, but some of them are also here to connect to the other trails listed above in paragraph two.
While that small group of proponents have some loud voices, those of us who do not support bringing the Appalachian Trail to Alabama have many voices in the national hiking communities, to include the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, who governs the AT along with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. The ATC is NOT in favor of moving the Appalachian Trail into Alabama, and they, along with the U.S. Congress, would have to approve such a move.
I don’t understand why the people in favor of this feel the way they do. They claim it will be a huge economical boost to Alabama in the form of tourism and hospitality businesses. Even the Alabama Department of Conservation and National Resources AND the Alabama State Parks have signed on to support the idea.
While hiking does bring tourism and some revenue, it does not bring “huge” amounts. Some hikers come off the trail every night or so to stay in a hotel, get a bath and good meal and to resupply. But many go days or weeks camping along the trail.
Are these people looking for the recognition the AT in Alabama would bring? We already have the Pinhoti Trail that is gaining momentum and popularity as it becomes better known.
The plan is to bring the southern terminus of the AT to Mt. Cheaha since it is the highest mountain in Alabama. The Pinhoti already goes through Cheaha State Park as it runs from Flagg Mountain to meet the Benton Mackaye and Appalachian trails on Springer Mountain in Georgia.
So back to those 38,000 people who register to hike the Appalachian Trail every year – the wear and tear that has been caused over the last 97 years is becoming more and more evident with the trail being down to hard ground, rocks and roots. Do we really want that for Alabama? And, how will they get the land to build the trails?
The process of eminent domain is already part of the discussion. Most of the land for the Pinhoti Trail is on land already owned by the state or federal governments as protected land, on land that has been purchased by the Conservation Fund and/or Alabama Trails Association, or along roads – it has NOT been taken under eminent domain.
The Pinhoti Trail was established to provide a LINK to the Appalachian Trail, not be part of it. Alabama needs to support the future of the Pinhoti Trail and the other established trails we have. Alabama can be known as the Home of the Pinhoti Trail and the CONNECTION to all the other trails.
If you would like to learn more about the Pinhoti, the Appalachian, or any of the other trails just Google them. Read the articles by and about Mike Leonard for the Pinhoti. Support Coosa County and urge your commissioners, state legislators and U.S. legislators to also support the Pinhoti as it is.
Even something as small as a gas station, general store, RV park, etc. built in the areas of the Pinhoti would also enrich the lives of our current residents and people who visit to fish on our lakes or hunt in our woods.
#CONNECTDONTCOMBINE; #DONTATMYPT; #FLAGGMOUNTAIN