by Ardeana Hamlin
of The Weekly Staff
ORONO, Maine — When retired University of Maine forestry professor Dave Field of Hampden addresses his audience at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Buchanan Alumni House, 160 College Ave., on the UMaine campus, he will bring with him more than 50 years of service as a member of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. He also is a recent inductee into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame honoring his MATC service. He took the lead in relocating part of the more than 200 miles of the Maine AT during the 1970s and 1980s. He also has maintained a 6-mile section of the Maine AT in the western part of the state for 54 years. His topic will be “Finding the Trail: How the Appalachian Trail Came to Maine.”
Field also is the author of “Along Maine’s Appalachian Trail.” He will sign copies of his book after his talk.
The event is free and open to the public.
“My older brother got me into this when I was 14,” Field said of his long affiliation with the MATC. In 1955, when he and his brother, who grew up in Phillips, were hiking trails in the Bigelow Mountain area, they came across a vast swath of devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Carol the year before.
“We grew up with axes and bucksaws so we decided to start clearing the debris,” Field said. When he and his brother reached the summit of Bigelow Mountain, they left a note, at a spot on the mountain where hikers could leave messages for others, stating what they had done.
In some ways, that was beginning of the rest of Field’s life. The message he and his brother left led to his joining the Appalachian Trail Club.
“Somewhere along the way, I made the decision that [involvement with] the trail was going to be my contribution to the world,” he said.
His illustrated talk will focus on how the AT came to be, give a quick tour of the trail from Georgia to Maine, and a walk through Maine using historic and recent photos to show how the trail has changed over the years. He also will include material on work done by the ATC.
“One of the major efforts of the MATC is footpath hardening, such as laying 767 rock steps up Whitecap Mountain, just east of Kokadjo,” he said. That trail maintenance work also includes adding iron railings and rock water bars to channel water off to the side of the trail.
Field said his talk is designed to raise awareness of the Maine Appalachian Club. Currently, the club has 600-700 members. “We exist for no reason other than [to do the work] to take care of the trails. But it really is fun,” he said.