ANDOVER — Six young dedicated volunteers labored tirelessly in the backcountry during last week’s extreme heat to improve one of Maine’s most popular recreational assets — the Appalachian Trail.

The AT is one of the world’s longest and most used hiking trails. It extends along the Appalachian Mountain backbone, 2,174 miles, from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Maine’s Mount Katahdin

Each year hundreds of thousands of people from throughout the world undertake hiking certain sections of the trail. Some hikers, known as through hikers, traverse the entire trail in a matter of months.

Maine boasts 280-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail. Many believe the Maine section of the trail is the most beautiful.

The popularity of the AT brings with it the need for constant maintenance.

The Maine Appalachian Trail Club is entrusted with the responsibility of the upkeep.

During the summer months in Maine there are two volunteer work crews maintaining and upgrading the Maine AT at any time. The crews, mostly comprised of young dedicated volunteers, spend three weeks on a small section of trail.

On Monday, two MATC organized work groups were on the Maine AT, at Mt. Saddleback near Rangeley, and on the trail leading to Mt. Old Blue near South Arm in Andover.

“We have been placing 11 1,500-pound rock steps into the trail up Mt. Old Blue,” said Matt Coughlan, of Randolph, MATC leader of a six-member volunteer work group on Monday.

“What takes a hiker mere minutes to cross on the trail, like these steps,” Coughlan said, “will take our crew of volunteers three weeks.”

“Our volunteers love being outdoors, the work on the trail and come here to do this from all around the world,” Coughlan said.

The crew working on Mt. Old Blue on Monday came from California, Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, Virginia and Maine.

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