Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Being a Moderator of an Appalachian Trail Facebook Group

Okay - what does this have to do with hiking?

A lot, when you think about it. 

I am the founder of the Appalachian Trail Section Hikers group on Facebook. We just turned over 11,000 eager hikers that have joined. I have other great administrators of the group who tirelessly
work to make sure we keep it family-friendly and on our passion – hiking.
In this group, eager hikers share their hikes, pictures, gear questions, their hopes and dreams, their triumphs and trials.

But just recently my eyes have been opened to other facets of this group and its members.
For instance, a dying hiker is sharing his thoughts to all of us as he goes through what must be terrible agony for him and his family.

On the lighter side, I have seen several couples get engaged on the trail and one even said that the Facebook group got him together with his new bride-to-be. Wow.

Though I don’t always hear about it, there are hikers that have shared hikes and now have made new friends. Others have asked for help and gotten maybe more than they bargained for. But for the most part, hikers go out of their way to help. When hikers have been in need, their fellow hikers come running to the rescue. They are true hiker angels. I know. Several years ago when I lost my mom, hikers who didn’t even know me sent me personal messages, gave their phone numbers, prayed and stood by my side.  

Of course, not everything is rosy. As a moderator, I’ve had some issues to deal with. Like the passionate few who have forgotten the gentle guidelines of the group and become a bit too boisterous in speech and content for their own good. Or some that tear down others when they do not agree, which we do not tolerate. We all must respect each other, even if we disagree. And we avoid the hot button issues that can rile some and keep it focused on hiking and the AT. Which, after all, is why we are a part of the group. 

I am most humbled to be the head of a group that is passionate about each other and this trail we call the Appalachian Trail. Here is no greater call at this point in my life, and I am glad for those who have shared their lives, their hopes and dreams, and a part of themselves in the group.

Here’s to another year of great hiking. And I just want to say - to the gentle hiker soon to meet the Creator, here’s to some awesome hiking when you pass through Glory’s Gate. I hear the fruit trees are marvelous and the Great River clear as crystal. Say hello to my mom for me.

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