March 2014 Volunteer of the Month
John Coffey

                                               Photo by Rick Canter

John Coffey has been working on PATC shelters for 13 years, but he has had a much longer association with the Appalachian Trail and the shelters located along its way.

John started his relationship with the AT during hiking trips with the Boy Scouts, spending many nights in and around the shelters along the Maryland and Pennsylvania sections of the AT. He is now the overseer for Crampton Gap Shelter near Gathland State Park, Md.—one of the shelters he stayed in as a youth.

John has been a major contributor of expertise and leadership in the construction of at least five shelters on the AT and the Tuscarora Trail. Along the way, he has worked on all of the shelters in the club’s charge either as a leader or worker.

On Dec. 22, a runaway fire caused $1,200 worth of damage to the Crampton Gap Shelter. With assistance from Maryland Department of Natural Resources, John led the effort to remove the damage, haul in new materials, and build and repair the shelter. To ensure success, John had to work during this bitterly cold winter, but not much gets in his way when there is such an urgent need. As of press time, John’s work at the Crampton Gap Shelter is nearing completion, and the shelter will once again keep backpackers safe and dry in 2014.

Working for Baltimore County Public Schools as a manager of one of their vehicle repair shops, John is a man of many talents. He is a mechanic by profession, but has training and experience in metal fabrication and general construction. He is
also a private pilot with years of experience, and an avid model airplane enthusiast with many models of his own construction that he flies regularly. John has lives just north of Baltimore with his wife and many pets.

Last, but not least, is John’s nearly complete goal of section hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. He has about 60 miles in Maine to finish and expects to reach his goal by this September.

PATC thanks John Coffey for his many contributions on our Appalachian Trail shelters.

—Rick Canter and Henry Horn

Know a PATC volunteer who goes “above and beyond”?
Nominate him or her (or them!) for Volunteer of the Month. Send nominations to Rick Canter at