Thursday, May 30, 2013

We need you to help us Find Our Way on the Continental Divide Trail

photo courtesy of Jack Haskel

The Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) became an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization less than a year ago in November 2012. We’re coming together to rally the outdoor community to generate seed funding to protect the current and future state of the CDT. Federal funds for land preservation are slowly being restricted due to sequestration and cuts to federal spending in general. The trail corridor and its preservation is falling through the cracks, and we are facing great capacity difficulties in maintaining what so many have worked so hard to build.  

From 1995 to early 2012, the primary supporter of the Continental Divide Trail was the Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA).  The CDTA ceased operations in January of 2012, leaving a large gap in trail stewardship, advocacy and support.  Passionate trail management professionals and volunteers have made it their mission to continue building and sustaining the CDT through this new organization, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC).

Why Now?

With your help we are the only ones who can preserve and protect this incredible resource.  We hope to rally a passionate body of supporters, connectors and outdoor enthusiasts to invest in the protection of our precious Continental Divide Trail.  CDTC has launched a campaign to directly support much needed map making, data collection, volunteer trail building and national advocacy efforts.   Please consider contributing, sharing or organizing a small event to help us reach our financial goal as this unique treasure belongs to you, to us and to all the generations to follow. 
Here is the link to our campaign:   Finding Our Way on the Continental Divide Trail

We Thank you, but most of all the Trail Thank's YOU!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Each and Every One of Us has a story that Connects Us to the Trail.


Last night, we heard from one of CDTC's Founding Board Member's Teresa Martinez.  She moved us with the following emotional and meaningful words and we wanted to share them with all of you.  Thank you for joining us in our movement, but let's keep dancing because we still have a long way to go.




Good Evening!

My name is Teresa Martinez and it is my extreme pleasure to welcome all of you tonight to the Official Launch of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, and the kick off of our Crowdfunding Campaign: Finding Our Way on the Continental Divide

Before I get too far along, I want to take this moment to thank and recognize some very important people here tonight with out whom, all of this would not be possible.

Our sponsors of tonight’s event: AC Golden Brewery, Great Harvest of Lakewood and Jim Hansman who is here tonight, Whole Foods of Governers Ranch, Cruz In, Deutsch Wines, Safeway, King Super, and the American Mountaineering Center Staff who have been just outstanding!

I also want to thank everyone who helped with stories, images, support, technical skills who helped get us here and ready for our countdown: Paul “Mags” Magnanti, Lawton “Disco” Grinter, Felicia “POD” Hermasillo, Jon Pierson, Jerry Brown, Kandler and Jessica Smith, Stephanie Friday-Allen, and David Dolton.


We have many partners here as well: The Trail Show, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Green Packin’, American Hiking Society, Leave No Trace, Bear Creek Survey, Wildlfire Pottery, Ula Equipment, Flagler Films, Erin Gallo, Tim Hogeboom, and two very special partners, the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado and Colorado Trail Foundation who have been instrumental in keeping the volunteer effort alive along the Continental Divide over the past year.

And Finally: An amazingly huge Thank you goes to our amazing planning team, Jenny Saylor, Eric Herbst, Grace Herbison, Chris Smith, Jerry and Helga Bell, Josh and Lisa Shusko, Dana Foulks, Leanna Joyner, Jenny Gomez, and John Hildreth, Bryan Martin, Don Owen, Kerry Shakarjian, and our event planner- Sue Gallo, and campaign Manager-Jonathon Stalls.

As you can see there are a lot of people who have helped get us here.  And I think this shows you that this is a “we” not a “me” venture, its an “us” not an “I” movement.

And this is why each and everyone of you is important, because each and everyone of you is here because you care about the Trail, and because you have been impacted by your adventures on the CDT, because through those adventures you have discovered a passion that made you decide to come here and share this moment with us.

This is the same passion that has fueled our team since January of 2012, when the Continental Divide Trail Alliance ceased operations and we knew we had to take action so that the important work and accomplishments achieved by the Trail Community up to that point...that the countless hours and efforts of dedicated staff, volunteers, supporters, ……lovers of the CDT, would not be forgotten or lost and this most noblest of work would continue.

And each and every one of us has story that has brought us here.    Each and every one of us has a moment in which we saw our future and our future included a commitment to the CDT.  A commitment to the Barbarian Utopia that Benton Mackeye the grandfather of all National Scenic Trails spoke of in 1914, almost 100 years ago,

He spoke of a place where we could strip ourselves of all of this stuff.. technology, lights, smart phones, noise,...and get to the heart of the matter and rediscover or reconnect to the most fundamental of things that make us whole human beings, travelling in nature at 3 mph, with just the bare essentials on our backs, and learning to and having to rely and trust in humanity to provide our community of  support, and our basic needs.

Because when we experience this, we are all transformed and we are all reawakened to what is really important in life- experiencing the world around us, in a place that is like no other place on our planet and where we can connect to people who we otherwise might never experience.  A place where we discover kindred spirits out of strangers who become our family, and our sanity, in a world often inexplicably crazy and unpredictable.

We are transformed by the simplicity of good food, clean water, fresh air and amazing company all in the backdrop of amazing landscapes ....while walking in the footsteps of a history that in the very moment we place our feet on that same hollowed ground,  it becomes a part of our history, becomes a piece of us, and we become a piece of eachother.

When I was 18 years old, I was introduced to the Appalachian Trail.  It was my first weekend attending Virginia Tech and I went to an Outing Club meeting where I learned that the group was one of only two college groups that had official responsibility for maintenance of the A.T.  I had no idea what the A.T. was, but I thought it was cool to be one of only two college groups that maintained it. That weekend there was scheduled maintenance trip along the Trail from Bland County to Va 621, or Laurel Creek.  So we gathered our tools, paint for blazing, and we drove 1.5 hours to the trailhead where we would begin work. We got there and then we began walking.  As we were painting blazes, I asked theTrail Supervisor: "So what do the white blazes mean again?". And he said, "well if you head south you will end up in Georgia and if you head north , you'll end up in Maine, all you have to do is follow the white blazes, its the Appalachian Trail.  Volunteers are responsible for it, and now you are as a member of this club and you are officially an A.T. Maintainer!"

And in that moment, in that instant my whole world changed. My whole world became bigger and bolder than I ever imagined, because in that moment I went from a 18 year old college freshman, to someone who was a part of an amazing legacy that started in 1921, a history that led me to embark upon my own unconventional career, my own long distance journey, and one in which has beautifully, magically, led me here in this moment with you today.

Because in that moment I fell in love.  I fell in love and began a relationship with not only the A.T., but the entire national trails system.  In 1991, I went from a volunteer, to a member of Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s professional staff at the age of 21 , I hadn’t even graduated from Virginia Tech yet, but there I was,  one of the first assistant regional reps along the A.T., and only 1 of 5 field professionals.  While at ATC, I was lucky enough to have mentors who ranged from volunteers who had testified in Congress in 1968 on behalf of the National Trails System Act, to professional's like Don Owen who is in this room tonight, and the newest member of CDTC's board, who wrote the book on how to protect the A.T., and ultimately became the standard for all of our national trail protection efforts.

And miraculously, they were people willing to teach me everything they knew. And along the way, they instilled in me many fundamentals. The three most important of which were:

The importance of the volunteer- That our role was to always put the volunteer first, and that our job was to work ourselves out of one, because we had trained our volunteers so well, they no longer needed us.

The Second and equally important was that its about the Trail- what was in the best interest of the Trail, and nothing else. We had to always put the Trail first.

And Third, that volunteering along our national trails, is one of the truest forms of citizenship we could demonstrate- by engaging in the stewardship of our public lands, we engaged in the stewardship of the very foundations of what makes our country so unique and special- it is true democracy in action.

And these are the very same idals that we are focused on for the CDT and that are the foundations of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.

And, the CDT needs us, I know this because I answered its call in 2007, and that call was so strong, that it was the only thing that could ever inspire me to leave my beloved AT Community after 15 years of commitment to its management.  And it is calling us again, because it needs all of us now more than ever. It needs us to care, to support, to engage.

It has called each and every one of us in this moment, to come together on its behalf to continue to nurture each other, as much as the Trail itself. To build a community, a family, that will always be there to keep the Trail in the heart, minds, and souls of all of us who care about this amazing resource.

Because the lifeblood of the CDT, like every other national Trail or Trail like the Colorado Trail, isn’t its landscape, but rather how we interact with the landscape and turn that experience into stewardship...into action....into passion....into commitment..... and into a force to be reckoned with and,

it gives us the courage to fight on its behalf to ensure that our experiences with the CDT, the very ones that brought us here today,  in this moment, are there for every generation who follows in our foot steps and that their experience isn’t just as good as ours, ...but better.

I would like to think that 80 years from now, a young 18 year old student steps foot onto the CDT for the first time, and in that moment her world will expand beyond her wildest dreams, ....in that moment her world will change forever,  and in that moment she is going to see her future...It will be a future, that is tied to the past.....and  a past that starts - right here , right now, on May 21, 2013, and of which inspires her to spend the next 25 years, or more, committed to not only the CDT, but the entire National Trail System, and in that moment......she is going to fall in love, and that love will give her the courage to embark upon a journey that introduces her to life lessons, shared with  amazing people, while in landscapes that bring her tears, and inspires her to fight so that it doesn’t fall on her watch either……

Thank you for coming tonight, for joining us, for sharing in this amazing moment, for being a part of the Trail’s history.... and its future, and most importantly,.....for helping us find our way along the Continental Divide.

It's official!!!! We are here!

On May 21, 2013, CDTC Celebrated its Official Organizational Kick-Off and the Launch of our Indiegogo Campaign. It was an amazing night and it was a successful night.  In just 2 hours we raised $1,700, and already in our first 24 hours, we have raised over $3,700.  Only $32,300 more to go!  Here is our campaign link: "Finding our way on the Continental Divide".

Here are some of the images from last nights event:


We want to thank everyone who showed up last night and over the past 24 hours to contribute to our campaign. And, while we have made significant progress toward our $35,000 goal, we still need you to help us by sharing and supporting our campaign.  Remember we need each and everyone of you!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Our Founding Principles


Happy New Year. Yes, its a little bit late, and we realize its been a while since we have posted on our blog and we do apologize.  It hasn’t been because nothing has been happening, but rather, because so much has been happening that it been hard to put thoughts to the keyboard.   

In fact, since our last post, we became an official  501 (c) (3) organization, we hosted a Visioning Session with 12 members of our advisory committee, we refined our mission, values, and vision statements, and we have produced a 2013 CDNST Calendar.  In addition we began to formally engage with our agency partners and develop our CDT Community.  Even more important is we are working on our strategy for our Advocacy efforts as part of the Partnership for the National Trail System Annual Hike the Hill event in February, and finalizing our 2013 work plan.  And, we promise more posts to come on these wonderful happenings around CDTC's growth and development. But this post is specifically to recognize the contributions of a great partner and friend to the entire National Trail System, Pamela Underhill.

In the most current Appalachian Trail Journey’s Magazine (January –February 2013), the "Overlook" section reflected on the retirement of Pamela Underhill, Superintendent of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office (ATPO).  Pamela worked for the ATPO for 33 years (37 years total for the National Park Service). During her tenure, she oversaw the development of consistent trail wide management direction for the A.T., the acquisition of hundreds of land parcels that protected the A.T. Corridor, and helped establish an extremely successful Cooperative Management System that is not only the cornerstone for the success of the efforts to manage, protect and promote the A.T., but THE model for how a private-public partnership should operate on behalf of a National Scenic Trail.  It also happens to be how the culture of the A.T. Community has operated for over 90 years. 

While reading this article, it was a reminder of Pamela’s amazing leadership and fundamental philosophy. And, we found ourselves recognizing the same principles as the foundations on which we formed and have been growing CDTC to cultivate the same culture and community for the CDNST that exists around the A.T. 

These are the principles under which Pamela Underhill led with and inspires us to employ on behalf of all units of the National Trail System and on behalf of all the people who love them.

(Excerpt from AT Journeys Magazine, January- February2013)
Pamela Underhill's Factors for Cooperative Management:

Ensure Mutual Respect: Practice the Golden Rule. You must be a good partner in order to have good partners.

      Instill a Sense of Ownership: people should feel that they are a part of something great- something that makes the world a better place- something they expect to pass on to their children and grandchildren.

      Communicate: Communication has to be ongoing and constant.

      Nurture: Partnerships require investments of time, effort and nurturing.

      Recognize Limitations: Take the good with the bad. There are times when volunteers and partners might do work that is [at a different pace], of [different] standard, or a slightly different direction than agency professionals.  But there are times when they do more, do it better, or head in a better direction that the agency would on its own.

Use Each other’s Strengths: We’ve had repeated success in dealing with both external and internal threat issues by presenting a unified front using different tactics but with the shared and targeted goal: [The Trail.]

      Grow Personal Relationships: Partnerships are about relationships, and relationships are about people.

      Remember the Resource: Get together with your partners out on the Trail. A common focus will result in decisions and actions with the best interest of the resource in mind.

Leverage: Leveraging combined federal, private, and other public resources can accomplish an exponential number of projects and programs that otherwise would be prohibitively expensive or bureaucratically complex.

Believe in Consensus Building: You have to believe you can make it work and that it’s worth the extra time and effort it takes to achieve consensus.

Satisfaction and Fun: People need to derive a sense of satisfaction from their participation in the partnership. And, people can take on a lot if they get to have fun at least part of the time.

As reported in the AT Journeys, in her retirement announcement, and at her retirement dinner, of which CDTC attended, Pamela said “I feel plain lucky that I got to be part of this extraordinary era of protection for the Trail. The A.T. seems to have this uncanny ability to attract just the right people when it needs them. I like to think that I was one of the group of ”right” people who came along when land conservation was the name of the game- the A.T. needed its ‘body’ secured- and we got to do that.  I’m grateful also to have found a place in the Appalachian Trail community…the most wonderful people dwell in Appalachian Trail land”

Truer words could not have written.  What is even more amazing is that Pamela’s influence spans not only on the A.T. and ATC, but here on the CDT too, where we are now embarking upon a journey to protect the ‘body’ of the CDT.  In the same way the A.T. calls us to action, the CDT is also calling all of us to be the “right” people at the time it needs us most, so that we may successfully complete land conservation efforts to protect the CDT corridor.  The result and test of our work will be the continued interest and participation in volunteer stewardship to build and maintain this Trail for generations to come and recognition that not only do the most wonderful people dwell in Appalachian Trail land, they dwell in Continental Divide Trail land too!  

To Pamela, we can only say Thank You for all you have done on behalf of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and for sharing your wisdom and passion for the A.T. and inspiring generations to follow the path you unselfishly and righteously helped design, build and yourself walk.  But, there is something we can DO to show you how much you have impacted us with your work. And, to that end,  we promise to work with the same passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to continue your great legacy of leadership and bringing wonderful people together to do more great things on behalf of not only the CDT, but our entire National Trails System. Thanks again Pamela- we couldn't be here without you!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fall Forward!

The last few months have been a whirlwind for us here at CDTC.  We submitted our 501 (c) (3) application, launched our facebook page, did volunteer work trips, have been working on various aspects of the new organization, and most recently attended the National Scenic Trails Training Workshop. Its been tremendous the support we continue to receive for our endeavor, especially within and from our brethren in other National Scenic Trails, and it reminds us of how much we love what we're doing.

While at the week long National Scenic Trails Workshop, we joined the staffs of all national scenic trails and our agency leaders to discuss the issues facing our community and start formulating strategies to resolving and addressing them.  We discussed everything from the changing social landscape of our world and how we craft our message to engage more people than ever before, to how are we going to address the many land protection needs facing all of our Trails.  Its an exciting time, but it is alot of work. Its strikes us that we are in a critical moment in the lifetime of our National Trails System, and it requires even more dedication than ever before.

And we know, it's not easy work, but it is noble work, and it is inspiring to know we are apart of a larger community that loves the national scenic trails and is committed to helping the american and international public alike, discover them and fall in love with them as much as we have.  Its an exciting time for sure, but its also a very challenging time too.  With the climate in "Washington"we have a challenge of ensuring legislative support remains high and that includes providing adequate funding for the Trail System as a whole, including funding for the CDNST. With more and more people using our lands, we have the challenge of finding ways that we may all co-exist along and on the CDNST, and find ways we can meet the needs of the Trail and the many needs of many publics.  We have the challenge of launching a new non profit in a time when funding is competitive and we have to find a way to share our compelling mission with new audiences and engage them in a way we never have before. But we also know all of these issues are important and that we are up to the challenge.  And, while we may not have all the answers, we have no doubt that if we involve as many of you as possible, we'll find them.

We are wrapping up our week of training here and as always we have shared our learned lessons as much as learning the lessons learned by others.  All of this is part of our process and its great to be reminded how inspiring it is to be apart of this community and we hope you continue to help us along the way, after all, its your community too!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Have you completed the Continental Divide Trail?


CDT Completion Certificate

Section hikers/riders and thru hikers/riders who complete the CDNST can report their journey to the Continental Divide Trail Coalition by filling out the Continental Divide Trail Completion Form.  CDT thru-hikers/riders who report their adventure along the CDNST will be added to our roster of thru hikers/riders and will receive a certificate of recognition and a CDNST Patch.  Also, each year’s thru hiker roster is published in the March?april newsletter. In order to be included in the magazine, regardless of the year of completion, applications must be sent to CDTC by December 31st of the current year.
RECOGNITION POLICY
  • We give equal recognition to thru hikers/riders and section- hikers/riders.
  • In the event of a trail closure or a safety hazard ( such as washed out bridge, a forest fire, or an impending storm on an exposed ridge) of the “official route” hikers may take alternate routes ( including by vehicle) and still receive official recognition.
  • In the event users took any number of alternate routes available, users will still receive official recognition, as is the motto: hiker your own hike!
  • We operate on the honor system.
  • We recognize users regardless of sequence, direction, speed, or whether they carry a pack, or any variation of their hike.
TO APPLY:
Complete Official CDTC Completion Certificate Form and include $5.00 for shipping and handling of patch and certificate.CDT Completion Form