Jim Liptack joined ATC in 1977 at age 17, sending a note along with his dues payment asking how to get involved in trail work. He began volunteering with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Connecticut Chapter (AMC-Connecticut). There was plenty to do, especially as the Trail was relocated to a more permanent route on land acquired by the National Park Service to protect it.
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One of his early trail construction experiences was learning from and working alongside the AMC pro crew on a stone staircase. They installed the first log waterbar in the state, and Jim built his first rock step, which he can still point out. Dave Boone, the chapter’s A.T. Committee chair, says Jim is still the go-to guy for rock construction.
He has been involved in A.T. management since working on the chapter’s first local management plan. “Jim's thoughtful opinions and ideas have been a constant help to me in providing for the best management for the A.T. in Connecticut,” says Dave.
After thru-hiking both the Long Trail and the A.T. in 1979-80 and then completing his undergraduate degree, Jim returned to trail work. He was assigned a Trail maintenance section (which he still has) and became the overseer of trails in 2010. His goal is for the A.T. through Connecticut to be the best-maintained section of the entire Trail.
A high-school physics teacher, Jim strives to have a positive influence on the lives of young people. As a teenager, he helped start a BSA High Adventure Explorer Post in his school, and he is now an assistant scoutmaster. Jim chairs the AMC-Connecticut chapter’s youth program, working with Greenager crews and other groups. Currently, he is orienting Yale students who will have primary maintenance responsibility for a Trail section.
Jim says new volunteers always say how much fun they had on a project. “In today's selfie-centered world, people don't always realize what they are missing until they have given of themselves for the good of others,” Jim says. “The positive feeling you have at the end of the day and the knowledge that you have made a difference make it all worthwhile.”