The Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame inducted its first class of honorees last Friday night, with trail founder Benton MacKaye and trail builder Myron H. Avery leading the inaugural group of six inductees.
Rounding out the list are Earl Shaffer, the first person to report an end-to-end thru-hike of the trail; Gene Espy, the second person to thru-hike the trail; Arthur Perkins, the first person to begin making MacKaye's dream a reality; and Ed Garvey, a trail maintainer and hiker whose seminal book on his 1970 northbound hike helped popularize thru-hiking in the 1970s.
Of the six, only Espy is still alive and in Boiling Springs, PA to receive the award in person, traveling up from his native Georgia to not only attend the ceremony but also to make his first visit to the Appalachian Trail Museum.
"The hike (in 1951) meant a lot to me but my appreciation goes to all the maintainers over these years and the people of the A.T. museum who made this award possible," a brief and humble Espy said as he received his award.
The induction banquet took place at Allenberry Resort, a few miles from the A.T. Museum in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, where the Hall of Fame will be housed.
Each inductee was presented with a beautifully handcarved walking stick made by John Bodet, aka "Bodacious," that will serve as the Hall of Fame's rendition of an Oscar statuette. Each honoree or his representative received a stick engraved with the person's name. And one additional walking stick was created with all of their names engraved -- that stick will be housed in the Museum.
To read more about the ceremony, as well as short biographies on each of the inductees, please click here.