Hundreds meet for Appalachian Trail Conservancy Conference

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WATERVILLE - Hundreds from across the country and the world met at Colby College with one common interest: the Appalachian Trail.

Over 800 hikers met in Waterville for the 41st Appalachian Trail (AT) Conservancy Conference.

"It was eye opening to me to see the masses of people who are concerned and care for the AT," said Sherri Langlais, conference co-chair.

Eight days full of trips and workshops attracted people from all over.

"I don't know what would have brought me to Maine but for the Appalachian Trail and this conference, so it's a great opportunity to see different parts of the country and meet different people," said Karen Balaban, a hike leader from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

"It's wonderful to meet people who also love to hike, because right away you have something in common, so it's like you already knew them," said Coby Pieterman, from Lynchburg, Virginia.

Some who have never been to Maine before are using this as as opportunity to explore.

"Learning new things, going out on the hikes seeing different parts of the state that are in the vicinity of Waterville, then I'll be leaving to go over to Acadia when I leave here," said Marianna Eberle, from Bel Air, Maryland.

The conference is also a way for trail clubs to recruit volunteers, helping maintain over 2,000 miles of trail from Maine to Georgia.

"It's a great way to learn from other trail clubs and again, we have people coming in and this is how they learn to volunteer. They care about the AT and what happens in the future," said Langlais.

The conference runs through Thursday, and there is still time to sign up for hikes and excursions. For more information head to www.ATC2017.org

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