I had a chance to interview Marge Fish who is currently the Green Mountain Club(GMC) Manchester Section’s President and a member of the Board of Directors. Marge’s passion for the position she holds with the GMC started as a child while hiking in the Catskills, and finds the most rewarding part of her job is working on growing the Manchester section in Vermont.
To inspire a passion for hiking in your family, you may want to check out one of these family-friendly trails in the U.S.
Hiking the trails allows Marge to refill her personal well and she wants future generations to be able to enjoy the trails as she has. One of the things she loves most about being involved with the trails is to excite others about the pleasures of hiking, backcountry camping, and doing trail work. If you’re looking for a non-toxic high, then this may be for you!
She shared some of the resources offered by the Green Mountain Club for hikers and backpackers, along with some personal insights she has gathered from years of hiking and working on the trails.
For additional outdoor recreation ideas in Stratton VT, click here.
What is The Green Mountain Club?
The mission of the Green Mountain Club is to make the Vermont mountains play a larger part in the life of the people by protecting and maintaining the Long Trail System and fostering, through education, the stewardship of Vermont’s hiking trails and mountains.
The Green Mountain Club has 14 regional sections. Each chapter along the trail is responsible for maintaining specific areas of the Long Trail, Appalachian Trail in Vermont, and Northeast Kingdom Trails.
For more than a century, the Green Mountain Club has relied on volunteers to help maintain the trails. Volunteerism is the backbone of the Green Mountain Club. If you want to volunteer your time and knowledge to support the club by serving on committees, assisting with membership mailings, blazing trail, or monitoring land boundaries, then check out these volunteer opportunities.
Green Mountain Club Resources for Hikers and Backpackers
The GMC offers current, detailed maps of the Long Trail and its side trails, trails in the Manchester area, of the VT Northeast Kingdom Trails, in the Killington-Pico-Mt. Ascutney area, and the trails in the Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield areas.
Additional resources include guidebooks, backpacking workshops, backcountry first aid training, how to do trail work, and much more. Check out the Green Mountain Club website for the listing of spring workshops, for more information about the club and what they do, and a calendar of group activities.
At the three high-use ponds (Stratton Pond, Griffith Lake, and Little Rock Pond) on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in southern Vermont, you will find caretakers who can answer questions. There is also the knowledgeable staff at the Hiker Center at the club headquarters in Waterbury Center, VT who can answer questions, give advice on appropriate trails for various abilities, what gear to carry, etc.
Best Advice for New Hikers
The biggest mistake that new hikers and backpackers make is not taking the appropriate safety gear for every hike whether it is long or short and overestimating their ability based on front country walking.
Essential equipment for hikers and backpackers, according to Marge, is to buy good guidebooks and maps for the areas that you want to hike. She says that most of what is online are not complete or detailed enough to be useful.
Also, she warns not to count on your phone for maps or GPS assistance or for getting you out of trouble. As she so eloquently reminds us that a phone cannot provide first aid, you cannot eat it or drink it or wear it when the weather changes! Besides, there is no place to charge a dead battery and service is not available in most areas of the backcountry.
Must-Have Essential Equipment for Every Hike
Whether you are planning a day hike or camping overnight, this is must-have equipment for every hike:
Fluids, water purifier, food, a map, a compass (for basic orientation), a headlamp, sturdy footwear, fire starter and waterproofed matches. Also, extra layers including a warm hat and gloves or mittens (even in the summer), a rain coat, a first aid kit, a whistle, and toilet paper.
Marge cautions one NOT to WEAR cotton! Cotton kills if it gets wet from sweat or rain! Keep reading to see Marge’s valuable backpacking list of equipment and supplies.
Fostering Stewardship of the Earth
Marge is encouraged by the number of young people that are working to conserve our natural resources and the environment. She believes it is important to foster their appreciation for nature early by getting them out on the trails and into nature.
Moreover, make the experience relevant and impressive enough for them to give up their need to be constantly, electronically connected so that they can appreciate the wonder and the beauty of the woods.
Marge promotes stewardship through education and volunteerism opportunities, and she continues to encourage families and working groups to take kids out on hikes. She knows that the best way to foster stewardship of the earth is through everyday activities like teaching ‘leave no trace’ by both examples and in casual conversations with hikers.
Future Projects for The Green Mountain Club
Over the next two years, the primary project for the GMC will be fundraising to replace the observation tower on the summit of Bromley. The summit offers amazing views, but the tower offers a spectacular four-state view!
Of course, trail maintenance will continue along the 10 miles of trails with routine trail work. The club will also be working on getting a young adventurer’s group going to start involving more young children. Also, the club will continue to work with three school groups on trail work, and getting two other groups started.
I asked Marge what she felt was the biggest challenge in maintaining the trails. She said, “overuse requiring increased trail hardening, people who wander off to the sides of the trails causing excessive erosion and plant damage, having enough volunteers for basic maintenance and enough money for the stuff that needs skilled trail work (rock work).”
Marge’s Backpacking List – This list can be adjusted for each trip depending on the season (how many layers to bring) and length of trip (how much food) and whether the gear is being shared.
Backpack equipment list – Includes stuff being worn:
1 short sleeve shirt, 1 lightweight long sleeve shirt, 1 heavyweight long sleeve shirt, 1 tank top, 2 pairs of underwear, 1 zip-off pants, 1 long john bottoms, 2 pairs hiking socks, 1 pair sleep socks (liners), 1 vest (optional – depends on season), 1 lightweight jacket or sweater, 1 heavyweight jacket (optional – depends on season), 1 peaked cap and 1 wool or fleece hat, 1 pair liner gloves and 1 pair mittens (depends on season), 1 rain jacket, 1 rain pants, and a lightweight ‘bug’ shirt. ****spray clothes with permethrin**** (for ticks which this area has)
Toiletries and Supplies:
knee braces, mini pads (if you use them), pills (if you take any), glasses, sunglasses, bug dope (seasonal), sunscreen (seasonal and depends on where the trip is), headnet, large bug netting, (seasonal), book or kindle, headlamp, spare batteries, cell phone and charger (optional), cash, (credit card, ATM card – only need for a longer trip), health insurance card, driver’s license, notepad and pen, citronella sticks, tent and a plastic bag for under floor, stove, fuel canister(s), matches, water bottle(s) / camel back, large water bags and cup for evening water collection/treatment, aquamira, filter paper and rubber bands, sawyer filter, repair equipment, sewing kit, first aid kit, toilet paper, shovel, paper towels, trail maps, guide book (copy appropriate pages), a road map for the area, cup and spoon, & white measuring cup, pocket knife, sleeping bag, thermorest, and a backpack.
Breakfast for _____days: – I usually bring breakfast bar type stuff
Lunch for ______days; – just as you would for day hiking
Supper for _____ days – preferably a ‘just add water’ meal – can be fancy and $$$$ from the gear store or something like instant mashed potatoes or instant couscous with parmesan cheese and some dehydrated veggies
Snacks for ______ days – lots, especially for the second day
Drinks (any tea or coffee or iced tea or lemonade or ???) for ________ days
Make plans to get out and enjoy nature near you today! It is only when we get people to fall in love with our earth again, that they will be advocates for preserving its magnificent wonder and extraordinary beauty.