HMN Jerry Hopkins has an affinity for the Shenandoah National Park. Spending time there since he was a kid, he currently makes frequent trips to his adopted stretch of trail in the Park to keep it welcoming by clearing brush and obstacles which might impede travelers.
On a recent beautiful sunny spring day, he generously shared some of the history, ecology, geology, and general fun facts about the Park he has learned over the years, with members of the current basic training class and a few other HMNs. The group parked near Skyland and slowly made its way up the Stony Man Trail and back along the Passamaquoddy Trail, with frequent stops for readings and discussions. These ranged from the impacts of fuel needs of surrounding iron ore furnaces in the 1800s, chestnut blight in the early 1900s, the woolly adelgid hemlock parasite introduced in the mid-1900s, current emerald ash borer threats, and acid rain impacts, to George Washington’s army subsisting on rock tripe at Valley Forge and synchronized lightning bugs creating too much human attention in another part of the Park.
As a bonus, the group was treated to the extensive wildflower expertise of HMN Betty Forrest who at 82 can still ably navigate 5 miles of trail. She spent three years as a Shenandoah National Park ranger and knows the local flora well. Golden ragwort abundantly lined the trails but was not yet in bloom. Wild phlox was in bloom at the Stony Man summit within view of a wind blown, icy, rock-lined puddle.
George Freeman Pollock featured prominently in Jerry’s discussions along the Passamaquoddy Trail. Relying heavily on his wife Addie’s wealth, George Pollock created and financed much of Skyland before it became the cornerstone of Shenandoah National Park. He oversaw the establishment of the Passamaquoddy Trail including its name. The Passamaquoddy Indians, who lived in northeastern North America, are named for the pollock fish important in their lives.
Jerry’s work with trail maintenance for the Park is through its contract with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. The club provides volunteer service to help keep up all the Park’s trails. The Park also partners with the Shenandoah National Park Association, a membership driven nonprofit organization which helps fund educational opportunities throughout the Park. There are many member benefits to joining!
Check out the website of the Shenandoah National Park for comprehensive coverage of everything it has to offer.
– Adrie Voors, Cohort II, April 2018
Top photo is of the group having lunch near Stony Man summit. Click on a photo below to see a slide show of the photos and find their captions. Photos taken by Adrie.