The Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club (ODATC) is an organization of individuals and trail-related organizations who meet to recreate in the outdoors in various ways as well as act as stewards of a portion of the Appalachian Trail and the public lands it runs through. Our recreational endeavors focus on hiking in Virginia but includes biking, paddling and touring as well. While the majority of our events occur in Virginia our only true limits are what members wish to limit themselves to.
NEWS FLASH: Hikers Beware: Increased bear activity north and south of Paul Wolfe Shelter!
THE ODATC EXPERIENCE - CURRENT ISSUES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
David Blake, AT Hiker Missing/Endangered
The following is a reprint of an article appearing in the Marietta Daily Journal.
No new evidence at Kennesaw Mountain Park of Missing Marietta Man After Weeklong Search
by Jon Gargis Mar 16, 2018
Despite dozens of searchers scouring the area and exhaustive efforts from law enforcement agencies, a Marietta man missing since March 7 and last seen at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park has yet to be found.
Attempts to find 25-year-old David Blake — a 2011 graduate of Harrison High School and avid hiker, according to police and Blake’s Facebook page — began March 9 after he was reported missing.
Among the latest efforts was a search party Thursday that included 60 members of Cobb County’s Community Emergency Response Team, which investigated a wooded area not far from where his car had been found left in an overflow parking lot in the park.
“With the county, we organized a search because the family had search volunteers that really wanted to help,” said Chief Ranger Anthony Winegar with the National Park Service. “We organized a search of a couple of small areas over near Stilesboro Road and Barrett Parkway. Evidence early on in the search had pointed us in that direction.”
Thursday’s search by CERT members lasted eight hours, according to county spokesperson Ross Cavitt, who accompanied the searchers for a portion of that time to chronicle their efforts. He said the area for the search was chosen based on location data from Blake’s cell phone.
Thursday’s effort followed days of searches through various means, Winegar said, with some of the earliest on March 9 consisting of a Georgia State Patrol helicopter that searched from the air and a bloodhound from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office that searched from the ground.
A search team, including CERT members, searched areas of the park March 10, with successive efforts held earlier this week consisting of further searches, including cadaver dogs that found no indication of a decomposing body within the search area.
This week’s searches have turned over no further clues that may point to where Blake may have gone, Winegar added.
“At the end of that search (Thursday), we sat down with the family, and said, ‘This is all the evidence we have, including concrete, solid evidence, and Facebook tips and everything else. We have exhausted all of that,’” Winegar said. “We haven’t come up with anything new, any sign that he is here. He has left no evidence that he is here with the exception of the car.”
On-duty park personnel continued the search for Blake on Friday but were expected to go back to normal daily operations Saturday if no trace of him was found, Winegar said, unless credible information on his whereabouts are reported. But rangers will still look for signs that may point to Blake’s whereabouts amid their daily routine.
“We have a very good idea of where people go in this park, and where people seldom go, and we are concentrating on the places where people seldom go,” he said. “This place is so busy — my theory is that if he were here and he were hanging out somewhere near the busy places, he would have already been found. So we’re going to the places where we know people don’t go very much, and there aren’t that many of those.”
Blake is 6-feet-1-inches tall, weighs 155 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes, according to a missing persons flier posted online by his mother, Neill Holladay Blake. On her Facebook page Wednesday, she thanked those who had offered her and her family prayers and support, adding that they had received several tips on where Blake might be.
“We refuse to give up hope of finding him safe,” she wrote.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy Submits Comments Regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline
The following is a recent message from Suzanne Dixon, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Yesterday ATC submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in response to an open public comment period regarding FERC’s 1999 Natural Gas Policy Statement – note, we added your club to the comments, making a powerful statement. Today, we distributed the attached release which provides strong commentary about Mountain Valley Pipeline and outlines the major points we have made to FERC. Most importantly, our release points out that 30 clubs representing nearly 6,000 volunteers stand behind the commentary that FERC must be more responsive in considering special places like the Appalachian Trail.
I have attached the final comments and the release here. We also have posted both on our recently updated webpage regarding MVP, which I encourage you to check out: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/mvp
Stop Order for MVP
Many of you may have heard that last week a federal judge issued a stay of the MVP permit in West Virginia, delaying the pipeline developer’s timeline for months, or longer. The news has been a bright spot for ATC staff, our clubs and our partners who have been on the front lines as this action endorses what we’ve been saying all along – MVP is a damaging and inappropriate project.
The MVP site is the reason we need to stay strong and work together
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour the area where the pipeline will be located. The tour – with several ATC staff, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, former RATC president and long-time pipeline opponent Diana Christopulos, a representative from FERC, and representatives from MVP and its contractors – was, quite frankly, sickening. The damage this project has made to the A.T. and to the communities around Roanoke is undeniable – and we’ve yet to see the worst part when the gashes become wider and the pipeline is installed. Already, dozens of huge earthmovers have torn down broad swaths of trees on the steep mountainsides and bright yellow do-not-cross police tape is evident, a leftover of the public protests that included people sitting in trees. On our tour, we ran into several A.T. hikers who seemed confused and dismayed. While I could go on about my impressions of that tour, I will stop and let you know that ATC is committed to doing whatever we can in monitoring, mitigating and, perhaps, seeing this bad project fully stopped.
Legislation that could address some of the issues we are facing
Please know that we are also working with congressional leaders on the Pipeline Fairness and Transparency Act, and collaborating and communicating with our partners and allies. While not much legislation is passing in Congress, ATC has not given up. We hope you will continue to stand strong with us. Again, thank you for your earnest and timely support of this initiative and all you do for the Trail.