Hundreds meet for Appalachian Trail Conservancy Conference


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

Kayla Fish

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Kayla joined the ABC 7 & FOX 22 news team in May of 2017. She got into journalism because she loves talking with people, and she's incredibly grateful to share the stories of Mainers throughout the region.

She got her start in broadcasting way back in middle school as a member of a morning announcements TV broadcast club, and her love for the news industry took off from there.

Kayla graduated from Penn State University in 2017 with degrees in broadcast journalism and Spanish. During her time as a student at Penn State, Kayla was an executive producer and reporter for the "Centre County Report", an Emmy award-winning student-run newscast. She studied abroad in Ronda, Spain and traveled to Panama with an international reporting class. Kayla kept busy in college, spending four years working as a student manager in the dining hall.

Kayla grew up in the village of Shawnee-on-Delaware, located in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, so transitioning into life in Vacationland was a piece of cake! A self-described winter fanatic, she loves all things snow related, including hitting the slopes on her snowboard. She also likes hiking, kayaking or doing anything outdoors. She loves meeting new people so if you see her around, be sure to stop and say hi!

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