The eighth class of Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame honorees recognized by the Appalachian Trail Museum Society will be inducted on May 4 during the annual Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame banquet at the Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs. The 2018 inductees are William Kemsley, Jr. of Taos, New Mexico; the late Elizabeth Levers of New York, New York; the late George Masa of Asheville, North Carolina; and Robert Peoples of Hampton, Tennessee.
There was no one publication that spoke to the needs of backpackers until Bill Kemsley started Backpacker Magazine in 1973. At Backpacker, he published numerous articles and editorials on the Appalachian Trail.
He lobbied, held meetings and testified before various hearings in Washington to pass HR 8803 in 1978, providing $90 million for land acquisitions to permanently preserve the Appalachian Trail.
He later co-founded the American Hiking Society. As the national voice for America’s hikers, the American Hiking Society promotes and protects foot trails, their surrounding natural areas, and the hiking experience.
Among Kemsley’s publications are The Backpacker and Hikers Handbook, The Whole Hikers Handbook, and Backpacking Equipment.
Over several decades, Kemsley has provided leadership, inspiration, service and achievement to both the Appalachian Trail and the hiking community.
Elizabeth Levers was known as the “Mother of the Appalachian Trail” in New York. She was known for her key activity in the early land acquisition planning for the trail in New York, as well as setting the standard for Appalachian Trail management for that region.
Levers was a non-nonsense woman who devoted her energies to the trail seven days a week after her retirement from an administrative post at Columbia University.
Her disgust at over the trashed conditions of Harriman Park shelters inspired the creation of Litter Day in 1965.
Among her many trail-related roles, Levers served as president of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and director of the Appalachian Trail Conference (now Conservancy).
George Masa was a photographer in Asheville, North Carolina in the early 20th century, and his nature scenes were instrumental in garnering support for the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Masa immigrated from Japan to the United States in 1914. He laid out much of the route for the trail on land that was eventually incorporated into the park.
Masa was a founder and early leader of the Carolina Mountain Club and was famously responsible for the club’s motto of “more walk, less talk.” His photos of Mount Oglethorpe contributed to its selection as the initial southern terminus of the trail.
Though Masa did not live to see the creation of the park and completion of the Appalachian Trail, he is remembered in the naming of Masa Knob.
After retiring from the U.S. Air Force in 1988, Bob Peoples decided to devote his life to hiking trails. He initially helped to maintain the Long Trail in Vermont, a portion of which is also the Appalachian Trail.
Then, in 1994, Peoples and his late wife Pat purchased a cabin adjacent to the Appalachian Trail near Hampton, Tennessee and founded the legendary Kincora Hostel. Thousands of Appalachian Trail section and thru-hikers have received Bob’s gracious hospitality there.
Each year, immediately after the Trail Days festival in Damascus, Virginia, Peoples leads the Hard Core crew, comprised of the current year’s class of thru-hikers. For a couple of weeks, Peoples and his crew take on the most difficult and challenging trail maintenance tasks on the Appalachian Trail, before they resume their adventure on the trail.
Peoples is perhaps the Appalachian Trail’s greatest living ambassador, inspiring young people who have experienced the trail to give back afterwards.
Seven classes have previously been elected to the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame. The Charter Class, elected in 2011, comprised Myron Avery, Gene Espy, Ed Garvey, Benton MacKaye, Arthur Perkins, and Earl Shaffer.
2012 class: Emma Gatewood, David A. Richie, J. Frank Schairer, Jean Stephenson and William Adams Welch.
2013 class: Ruth Blackburn, David Field, David Sherman, David Startzell, and Everett Stone.
2014 class: A. Rufus Morgan, Charles R. Rinaldi, Clarence S. Stein, and Pamela Underhill.
2015 class: Nestell K. Anderson, Margaret C. Drummond, Stanley A. Murray, and Raymond H. Torrey.
2016 class: Maurice J. Forrester, Jr., Horace Kephart, Larry Luxenberg, and Henry Arch Nichols were inducted.
2017 class: Harlean James, Charles Parry, Mildred Norman Ryder, and Matilda Wood.
Hall Of Fame Banquet
A 6:00 p.m. reception will precede the dinner, which begins at 7:00 p.m. The cost of the reception and dinner is $40 for museum members and $50 for others.
Click here for complete information on the Hall of Fame Banquet. Tickets may be purchased either online or directly from the Appalachian Trail Museum by sending a check to: Appalachian Trail Museum, 1120 Pine Grove Road, Gardners, PA 17324.
Questions about the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Banquet may be sent to [email protected].
The Hall of Fame Banquet will be the kickoff of the Museum’s Hall of Fame Weekend. Questions about the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Banquet may be sent to [email protected]. Click here for lodging options during the Hall of Fame Weekend.