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"AT in a Day": Dartmouth students and alumni attempt to hike entire Appalachian Trail on Oct. 10

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 10/02/09 • Media Contact: Steve Smith (603) 646-3661

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at in a day
To document this event, the DOC has asked hikers to photograph their group with this logo and e-mail it back to Dartmouth. (logo by Eric Ross '11)

10/10/09 update: From Georgia to Maine, students and alumni are hitting the trail today. Many started at 7 a.m. or earlier. "I'm glad I finally get to hike," said Matt Dahlhausen '11, who has been planning the event for over a year. (See two photos from today below.)

10/09/09 update: As of this morning, hikers have registered for 97 percent of the trail, and only 75 more miles need to be covered. A group of 20 Dartmouth Outing Club students will be departing at noon today to drive to southern Virginia, where they will hike about 200 miles tomorrow. Those interested in helping may contact The effort was featured on Vermont Public Radio this morning.

To celebrate the centennial of the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC), more than 200 Dartmouth alumni and students are attempting, through point-to-point segments, to hike the entire length of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail (AT) in 24 hours. The hike begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, October 10. The feat has never been completed by an organization.

Matt Dahlhausen, Class of 2011, and Athena Aicher, Class of 2011, are organizing the effort, which began in earnest this spring. “We’re 74 percent there,” reports Dahlhausen, who notes that the biggest gaps are south of Roanoke, Va. "North of Roanoke we've covered 98 percent of the trail,” he says.

Among the hikers is 91-year-old Henry Merrill, Class of 1939, an accomplished skier who served as ski-race chairman of the DOC’s Winter Carnival in 1939. As a student Merrill met his wife of 69 years, Mary Lois Igleheart, at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. “I’m glad to help out,” says Merrill of Greensboro, Vt., who still unloads firewood from his pickup truck. “I still think about my time with the outing club—skiing, clearing trails, working at Moosilauke.”

Merrill will hike a section of the AT that goes through Hanover, part of the 75 miles of the AT in Vermont and New Hampshire that the DOC has maintained since the founding of the trail in the 1920s.

at in a day
(l to r) Eric Ross '11, Wendy Otavsky (Merrill's niece), Henry Merrill '39, and Mike Metcalf (Merrill's son-in-low) hiked the AT from Robinson Hall down Main and Lebanon Streets to the Coop grocery store on Oct. 10. "It's wonderful to be out here today," said Merrill. (photo by Steve Smith)

In a letter sent yesterday to registered participants, the students wrote: "Hikers planning long hikes should consider starting early in the morning to complete their hike before midnight. Hikers should be prepared for sun, rain, cold, and possibly snow in northern New Hampshire and Maine."

AT in a day
Matt Dahlhausen '11 and Athena Aicher '11, the student directors of "AT in a Day," on September 14 in Robinson Hall. (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Members of the Dartmouth Cross-Country Ski team are hiking portions of the "100-Mile Wilderness” in Maine, one of the longest and most remote sections on the AT, at the suggestion of their teammate Alice Bradley, Class of 2011. Bradley is co-chair of the DOC Centennial committee. The Dartmouth Ski Team was founded by the outing club and it continues to operate within the organization.

Joe Bachman, Class of 1991 and a former DOC president, is flying from New Hampshire to North Carolina to hike a section he used to maintain after he graduated from Dartmouth.

Leslie Jennings Rowley, Class of 1996, who is 7 and a half months pregnant, plans to hike with friends and her 2-year-old along the Delaware Water Gap. “It’s a great reason to get out on the trail,” says Rowley.

In communications to alumni, Dahlhausen and Aicher have encouraged hikers to re-connect with the trail community long-term by joining their local Appalachian Trail club. "Stewardship of the environment is a crucial part of the DOC," says Rory Gawler '05, DOC general manager. The outing club is also asking alumni to carry a special “AT in a Day” logo  and send in photos of themselves at different sections of the hike along with stories from their day.

“We’re really pleased with the response,” says Dahlhausen, who recalls bringing up the idea to classmates after a stay in a cabin in the White Mountains. “I thought it was a crazy idea, but everyone took it seriously.”

at in a day
Students and alumni gathered outside of Dartmouth's Robinson Hall on Oct. 10 to hike the 75 miles of AT in Vermont and New Hampshire that the DOC maintains. (photo by Steve Smith)

The DOC was founded by student Fred Harris, Class of 1911, on December 14, 1909. It is the oldest collegiate outing club in the nation, and, with 3,000 members, one of the largest.

On September 24, Congressman Paul Hodes, Class of 1972, (D-NH) introduced a resolution to the House Committee on Education and Labor congratulating the DOC "for 100 years of service to the United States and its wilderness."

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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Last Updated: 1/5/10