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DOC's historic "AT in a Day" draws nearly a thousand to the trail

Approximately 900 Dartmouth students, alumni, and their family members and friends hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) on October 10 to celebrate the centennial of the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC). Though they weren't able to cover every inch of the 2,175 miles of trail (about 100 miles in North Carolina and southern Virginia were left untrodden), the turnout and enthusiasm for "AT in a Day" was remarkable. 

doc dcMembers of the Dartmouth Club of Washington, D.C., with family and friends, prepare to hike the Appalachian Trail near Boonsboro, Md. Section leader Wayne Bardsley '70 sits in the front row, middle, in the white cap and blue jacket. (photo courtesy Da'aga Hill Bowman '79)

"I was overwhelmed with joy when I finally started hiking on Saturday, knowing how many others were hiking with me," says Matt Dahlhausen '11, the director of the effort. "I feel humbled to be able to lead one of the celebrations for the DOC Centennial. The many trip reports and smiling people in the photos say something about how close the Dartmouth family is. One group even volunteered to do it again next year!"

doc dcStephen Gell '60, Tuck '61, (left) and Da'aga Hill Bowman '79 at Washington Monument State Park overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. Gell and Bowman are both members of the Dartmouth Club of Washington, D.C. (photo courtesy Da'aga Hill Bowman '79)

"The DOC's effort to hike the entire AT was extraordinary, and this thru-hike was the first of its kind," says Dave Startzell, executive director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the nonprofit organization with national responsibility for the AT. "We're pleased that the students stressed responsible hiking and the long-term goals of trail conservation. The DOC has helped maintain the AT since the trail's founding, and we congratulate them on their centennial."

doc dcNinety-one-year-old Henry Merrill '39 (green vest) followed the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail from Robinson Hall down Main and Lebanon streets to the Coop grocery store on October 10. "It's wonderful to be out here today," said Merrill, who hiked with Eric Ross '11 (far right); Mike Metcalf, Merrill's son-in-law (with sign); and Wendy Ostavsky, Merrill's niece.

Rory Gawler '05, general manager of the DOC, drove a van with 5 undergraduates down to Virginia on Friday, October 9, to cover some unclaimed miles. After stepping on the trail on a cool morning, Gawler says he felt "a very strong connection to Dartmouth and realized that for a thousand miles on either side of me my compatriots were all walking on the trail with me."

doc dcCrossing the 1777 Trail headed to West Mountain, NY. Left to right: Mark Winkler '79, Parent '08; Caroline Tippin '84; Viva Hardigg '84; Amanda Carye '07; Julia Lane '85; and Ed Carye, Parent '07. Winkler says that they "ensured the DOC painted this entire NY section Dartmouth green."

Poem by Peter Kingsley '74 (sent out prior to the hike)

Young Energetic Students Welcome Everyone to Cover the AT Now

In honor of the DOC's first hundred years

Of hiking and climbing and overcoming fears,

Some students decided to go for the gold,

To do something novel, amazing and bold.

The DOC realized that never before,

Despite the thru-hikers and guidebooks and more,

Had the AT been hiked in a single day

From Georgia to Maine, all the way.

For months and months they schemed and dreamed

To accomplish a goal that sometimes seemed

To them a nearly impossible task:

The AT in a day. "But how?" you might ask.

For Athena and Matt and all the rest,

This impossible mission was the ultimate test.

They enlisted the aid of their closest friends,

And of friends of friends of friends of friends.

A few miles of AT each person would hike,

On mountains, in valleys ­ wherever they like.

A logo for pictures to DOCument

And show the world where each person went.

To get enough hikers, they sent out the call

To students and families, alumni and all.

To those who signed up they sent a great thanks,

But as the big day came closer, the map still had blanks.

Now the time has come to act.

I know we can do it, and that's a fact!

We're scrambling to cover the last few sections,

We're setting up shuttles and giving directions.

A final plea by word of mouth

For the last few hikers to help us down south.

And all of those students going down in a van

Must believe in their hearts, "Yes we can! Yes we can!"

Last Updated: 10/19/09