Can retracing the path of one of the world’s most revered prophets help sow the seeds of peace and economic prosperity for communities in the Middle East? This is the question that Harvard professor William Ury sought to answer when, in 2004, he established the Abraham Path Initiative. Abraham was the exemplar of hospitality and preached kindness to strangers. The story of Abraham, or Ibrahim, is one of the most well known and revered by followers of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Indeed, it is through Abraham that these followers trace their ancestry and from the stories of his travels through the Middle East that many continue to find inspiration today. For Ury, these stories provided a particular kind of inspiration that saw the potential for finding common ground, and common ancestry, in the face of conflicts that have sought to tear the region apart. Thus was born the Abraham Path.
The Byrne family has farmed in the Wicklow hills, along the Wicklow Way, for five generations. As a teen Sean helped out just down the road at a guest-house catering to hunters and fishermen on the beautiful Lough Dan. He also worked for his neighbors, the Guinness family, on their estate on the sublime Lough Tay. This farm boy gradually developed a gracious ease in working with people of all walks of life, a strong sense of the traditions of rural hospitality, deep knowledge of the land and the region, and a guiding commitment to preservation of the mountain uplands and way of life. Photo above of Sean and Theresa Byrne.
By Sam Demas
With fabulous ski terrain and a great climate, Winthrop, WA on the east slope of the North Cascades, became a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts in the 1970’s. Attracted by the consistent snow cover, great climate, and stunning natural beauty, young people began to move into the area. So did people representing big alpine ski resorts, with ambitions to create a destination alpine ski resort and to profit from an attendant real estate boom. One could view the modern history of the Methow Valley as a tale of big alpine ski interests vs. environmentalists, with x-country ski enthusiasts, or “soft path” recreationists, as the “middle-path” saviors. While that’s part of it, it oversimplifies the story by painting a black and white picture of conflict and reaction. Instead, it seems that the values and visions of Methow Valley residents — old and new — gradually cohered and prevailed through a parallel effort to create a recreation hub and economic driver without turning Methow Valley into another Aspen.
High Hut Trail Guide Excerpts
Notes kindly compiled by Leyton Jump, Manager of High Hut, Mt. Tahoma Trails Association
The Mt. Tahoma Trails Association operates and manages for public use a year-round hut-to-hut trail system adjacent to the slopes of Mt. Rainier, offering trail users of differing skill levels and economic backgrounds a safe and inspirational backcountry experience. MTTA leadership maintains a functional working partnership with all stakeholders (MTTA members, trail users, volunteers, and our host land owners) based on mutual trust and honesty. Volunteers provide labor to achieve this mission.
Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (Penguin Books, New York, 2012). 433 pp., $18.00 paperback.
This elegantly written book by Robert Macfarlane is about “how people understand themselves using landscape.” Or put another way, how “we are shaped by the landscape through which we move.”
by Larry Anderson
The Long Trail “is a project that will be logically extended,” forester and conservationist Benton MacKaye prophesied in his pathbreaking October 1921 article, “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning,” which appeared in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects. “What the Green Mountains are to Vermont the Appalachians are to the eastern United States. What is suggested, therefore, is a ‘long trail’ over the full length of the Appalachian skyline.” When MacKaye first publicly broached his idea for the Appalachian Trail, he thus offered the then-uncompleted Long Trail as a model for his vision of “a series of recreational communities throughout the Appalachian chain of mountains from New England to Georgia, these to be connected by a walking trail.”
A father-daughter story
by Sam Demas
Joe Ryan built his huts to provide people an affordable backcountry journey to enjoy nature, to learn outdoor skills, and to benefit with health and healing. A generation later his vision is a reality — beyond what he had imagined — and continues to evolve in partnership with his daughter Kelly Ryan.
In response to several tragic deaths from exposure and subsequent concern for hiker safety, the the AMC started building huts and shelters in 1888 and celebrated the 125th anniversary it’s hut system in 2013. Carter Notch Hut, built in 1914, celebrated its Centennial last year.
After the first AMC hut, Madison Springs, proved popular with hikers, AMC member Harvey Newton Shepard, who had studied European hut systems, recommended:
….a few additional huts be constructed, with good paths thereto, so that uninteresting walk of three to seven days may be made without the encumbrance of the carrying of blankets or provisions…… this is the kind of public work in which the Club should engage.
Following are three informative tributes to Joe Dodge from the AMC Archives, Dartmouth College, and the Boston Globe (see editors note below). While Joe was not technically the founder, he was the dynamo that expanded, organized, and shaped the huts into a system, and who took the huts to a whole new levels of operational effectiveness and hospitality. For more on Joe, see William Lowell Putnam’s affectionate, informal biography Joe Dodge: “One New Hampshire Institution”
Frederick “Fritz” Allen Benedict, 1914 – 1995, founded the 10th Mountain Division Hut in the early 1980’s. It has grown into the largest hut system in the USA. His vision, energy and experience were key ingredients in this remarkable story. It is in part a tale of a young man’s formative dreams coming after a lifetime of preparation.
[Louis Dawson has lived and studied the history of 10th Mountain Division and their website includes a history of the hut system and a separate history of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division (about which many books have been written). The following notes are intended to supplement Mr. Dawson’s history.]