More than two dozen outdoor organizations attended the first meeting of the New England Trail Conference (NETC) in 1916. These college outing clubs, hiking and conservation groups (AMC among them), Boy Scouts, and more shared the common goal of creating and maintaining “a system of connecting trails in New England.”
Further meetings and projects followed, including the establishment of an annual census of New England’s rapidly expanding trails: 1,072 miles of trail in 1920 grew to 2,697 by 1929. The group began publishing educational pamphlets, with early titles including “Standards of Trail Construction” (1921) and “Sign Painting” (1923). Then, in 1924, NETC released its first publication targeting the general hiker, “Going Light,” by AMC’s councillor of topography and exploration, Arthur Comey.
“Maximum comfort with minimum weight is our goal,” Comey wrote. Remarkably, he managed to break down his needs for a one-to two-week trip in a 10-pound pack, complete with an ax and extra matches for smokers, although modern-day standards, such as a stove and sleeping pad, were notably absent. Comey’s carefully crafted list, while not stripped of all nonessentials, calls to mind the ounce-cutting obsession of modern ultralight hikers.
Comey’s concluding remark should also ring true to that crowd: “Camping, and particularly camping on the hike, is an art.”
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For the latest advice on packing, check out AMC’s Mountain Skills Manual.