“The Appalachian Trail community of hikers and volunteers is profoundly saddened by the horrific attack Saturday morning on two hikers as they took their ‘journey of a lifetime’ along this beloved footpath,” says Suzanne Dixon, president of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC).
She continued, “The Appalachian Trail is a safe environment, a refuge that welcomes more than three million users a year. Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, the trail is not absolutely safe from evil.”
“The ATC extends its deepest condolences to the family of Ronald Sanchez and prays for the fullest possible recovery of the hospitalized woman. Those feelings extend to all hikers and volunteers who are scarred in some way by this attack on a place they cherish and care for every day,” she concluded.
The ATC — a private nonprofit, the members of which conceived and blazed the A.T. in the 1920s and 1930s — manages and conserves the 250,000 acres of public lands that comprise the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. It undertakes this in cooperation with the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service, 14 states from Maine to Georgia, and 31 affiliated local clubs. The clubs are home to most of the 6,000 volunteers who maintain the footpath and its facilities through about 250,000 hours of work annually.
The attacks took place on Forest Service lands in southwest Virginia, the current location of the main “bubble” of about 3,000 persons attempting to hike all the way from Georgia to Maine this season. The southern end of the Trail is about 550 miles from the scene of the assaults. The Trail became a unit of the National Park System in 1968.
Ramble On: A History of Hiking