By CHERYL VREELAND, LARAWAY SECTION PRESIDENT
We dedicated a new Long Trail shelter May 1, a day filled with fun and surprises. It was also sunny, warm, and without black flies!
Sixty-one people hiked on various routes to reach the new camp near Ritterbush Pond built by the Laraway Section. We planned to surprise long-time Laraway member Don Hill by dedicating the camp to him in honor of his devotion to the GMC and his many years of maintaining shelters and trails in northern Vermont.
Those who hiked through Devil's Gulch enjoyed various adventures, especially Don Hill's nephew in a walking cast. Other relatives and friends of Don hiked in secret and stayed hidden until the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Dave Hardy and his crew, Peter and Donna, carried in shelves and water pipe for the new shelter. Some of us started at 9:30 AM to pack in the food generously donated by the GMC.
We began a bit late (but who cared) with each person in the group introducing him/her self. Ben Rose, GMC executive director, spoke and presented certificates of appreciation on behalf of the GMC to Cheryl Vreeland, Laraway Section president; Gilbert Patnoe, chief architect and builder; and Bob Erickson, Laraway director.
It was then my turn to present Bob Erickson with a picture and one-half of the prize money for naming the camp overlook Devil's Perch. The other half of the prize money went to Scott Christiansen for the prize winning name Spruce Ledge Camp. In appreciation of his work on the shelter, the section also gave Scott a special picture: an autographed montage of photos of different phases of the project and a winter painting of the new camp by Laraway member Joey Beland.
It was my privilege to thank the many people who worked on the project, including members of other sections, at-large members, and non-GMC'ers. With this combined effort we completed the project in one season, and had fun in the process. On behalf of the Laraway Section, I presented gift certificates to Llyn Ellison, Gil Patnoe, Sue Swindell, Leo Leach, Sally Spear, and Len Carpenter.
We now called on Don Hill for the ribbon cutting. He was surprised and somewhat overwhelmed as his friends and relatives began to appear from their hiding places. We then presented Don with the plaque dedicating the shelter in his honor.
While we were preparing for Don to mount the plaque in the shelter, Deborah Brown read a poem. Scott gave Don a painting of the shelter donated by a Burlington Section member, and, to our surprise, he presented Gilbert and me with an engraved hammer (which Gil won't let me use!).
This shelter symbolizes how much time and effort volunteers give, not to be recognized or to receive awards, but to ensure the continuation of the Long Trail and its shelters.