About a half-mile from the parking area, we found this granite marker. It stands, maybe three feet or so off the trail on the left side. It’s not hidden, but proudly out here for all hikers to see.
We all wondered what a personal, family, religious marker was doing on the A.T. and on Pisgah National Forest land. I looked at the website http://www.
As many hikers may or may not know, the Appalachian Trail goes through public land, such as forest and park land. And it’s the land manager, such as the Appalachian District of Pisgah National Forest in this case, who dictates the rules and regulations of their land. So that’s why A.T. hikers can’t walk with their dogs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for example.
As it turns out, its erection was a condition of the land exchange. The final location and design might be worth discussing, said Chief Ranger, Todd Remaley, of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail office in Harpers Ferry.
In other words, it’s not in violation of any rules. Pisgah National Forest must have approved this marker to buy or exchange the land from the family. Would this arrangement work in a national park? But wait, the Appalachian Trail is a national park.
It’s not only the religious nature of the marker that is in question. It’s also the personal family name, that the Moye family made sure was very obvious. I understand that Pisgah no longer names features like mountains or trails for people who’ve been an asset to the forest, but they didn’t seem to have problems with this.
In addition, when A.T. hikers from all over the world come to walk this section, they are not going to know the distinction between the A.T. and the land manager. Pisgah National Forest is not going to be on their radar; hikers will just know that they’re on the A.T.
A couple of days later, I took a Friends of the Smokies group to Elkmont in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We found the cemetery which dates back before the Elkmont community, back when settlers lived here year round.
Of course, the cemetery had religious symbols and personal names. It was a cemetery and a historical place, after all.
The Smokies preserves the cultural aspects of the park. This particular grave is of Alice Townsend, the last wife of Colonel Townsend who logged the Elkmont area.
No one, including me, questioned why personal religious symbols were here. This is historic.
But the Moye Family marker is just personal.