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Appalachian Trail through-hiker Earl Shaffer’s legend hikes on

York County native and William Penn Senior High School graduate Earl Shaffer is shown as far north and hikers can go on the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin in Maine. Also of interest: Promoting York High’s achievers: ‘Grab that and run with it’ and People mag features York native as a ‘Hero Among Us’ and York County high school grads teach lessons in achievement on national stage and All York High achievers from the start.

Earl Shaffer was the first person to through-hike the Appalachian Trail. He hiked it again 50 years later, in 1998. He was about 80 years old.
The late York County native has become a celebrity, and his fame lives on even after an exhibit at the Smithsonian observed his accomplishments:

– He was recently selected as a charter member of the new Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame at the new Appalachian Trail Museum at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Gardners, Adams County.
– The location for that museum, located in a 200-year-old grist mill, came at the suggestion of John Shaffer, Earl’s brother. Earl, who passed away in 2002, lived near the mill for many years. The site features the reconstructed Peters Mountain A.T. Shelter. Earl constructed six shelters on the trail in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Peter’s shelter was the last one that Earl built.
– An Earl Shaffer website touts his achievements. For example, it lists his papers at the Smithsonian. It tells how to order a postage stamp with his likeness. You can buy his journal from his 1998 hike, “Ode to the Appalachian Trail.” And you can purchase a CD of this poet, songwriter, singer’s performance: “Always in April.”
All this adds up to Earl Shaffer, a Renaissance man.
Point of contact
Boiling Springs, 25 miles from the city of York, is an easy point of contact with the Appalachian Trail, a possible destination point for this Fourth of July weekend.
That Cumberland County town was recently named an Appalachian Trail Community.
At that time, South Middleton’s supervisor Bryan Gembusia, commented on the designation:

“South Middleton Township takes great pride in its natural landscape and vast amount of protected mountains and forest. The Appalachian Trail is not only a historic resource, but also a tourist attraction as well as a means to promote exercise and natural beauty. The South Middleton Township Supervisors take great pride in the designation of Boiling Springs as an Appalachian Trail Community.”

Appalachian Trail facts:

The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials who were working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. The A.T. is 2,181 miles in length from Maine to Georgia, making it the longest, continuously marked footpath in the world. Volunteers typically donate more than 200,000 hours a year on trail-related work. About 2 to 3 million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year. The ATC is focused solely on preserving and managing the A.T. to ensure that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

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*Photo courtesy of Earl Shaffer Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.