Some rookies are readier than others. Take Matt Allenbaugh, full-time Appalachian Trail ridgerunner only since April, for example.
Among many outdoor accomplishments in his background are hiking and backpacking on three continents and a 2005 A.T. thru-hike.
“My hiking partner and I did that in one of the ways the Conservancy is recommending these days,” Allenbaugh says. “We started at Harpers Ferry [West Virginia, the trail’s approximate mid-point], hiked south to Georgia; then we went to Maine and hiked the other half south.”
That 2,189-mile hike renders Allenbaugh’s new baliwick a relative walk in the park. He spends three or four days of each warm-weather week walking somewhere in the 28-mile A.T. section between Dragon’s Tooth and U.S. 220 in Daleville.
Primarily hiker safety and education, along with trail maintenance as he goes. And in all three contexts, he counts the area’s volunteers as “just incredible” help in his efforts.
“Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club members and others are doing a wonderful job with the heavily used spots like McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth—helping hikers, picking up trash, educating people. If it weren’t for them, I would have to spend nearly all my time at those two places.”
Lost hikers are another focus of his ridgerunner duties, a fact that takes him toward common-sense recommendations.
“People sometimes start late, don’t have a map or a light, and can end up going the wrong way,” he says. “It’s as simple as remembering to have the 10 essentials in your pack.” Primary among which are a map, water, extra food and a headlamp.
Another common-sense note: “Don’t be the first to drop trash or to fail to pick it up—people see that butt in the firepit and so they throw in some more.”
Allenbaugh grew up in Pennsylvania and has spent time in the west as a guide, and then eight years in North Carolina—mostly in Asheville.
Asked the inevitable question of comparison of his new home—he’s been in Roanoke for two years—to the old one, he compliments Roanoke on its friendliness and welcome, and feels our area is “about to pop” in the context of an outdoor draw.
He and his fiancé—Katherine Andrew, an outdoor guide with Roanoke Parks & Rec—are also pleased with Roanoke’s affordable housing, the greenways and the coming of Deschutes and Ballast Point breweries.
Allenbaugh’s education includes an undergraduate degree from West Virginia, and both an MS in environmental science and an MBA in sustainable business, both from Applachian State.
Wonder if there’s another MBA around here who has hiked the 35-mile Triple Crown loop in a single day?