Contributions to the Appalachian Trail Museum
The Earl Shaffer Foundation was an early financial contributor and donor of Earl’s personal items to the Appalachian Trail Museum at Pine Grove Furnace, Pennsylvania. The Museum’s Earl Shaffer Exhibit includes a primitive trail shelter built by Earl that was rescued and reassembled by the Museum’s volunteers.
Contributions to the Smithsonian Institution
An extensive archive of Earl Shaffer’s papers, along with Earl’s boots, slide photographs, and the journal from his historic 1948 hike were donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. His journal can be viewed on-line at: https://transcription.si.edu/project/6734
From July 10 through October 10, 2009, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History displayed an exhibit titled “Earl Shaffer and the Appalachian Trail”. As a virtual exhibit, it is still available and viewable on-line at:
In 2014, the Appalachian Trail Museum published an authorized biography of Earl Shaffer titled, A Grip on the Mane of Life. The authors are David Donaldson, a Board Member and first President (after Earl) of the Earl Shaffer Foundation, and Maurice Forrester, an inductee into the Appalachian Trail Museum’s Hall of Fame. Foundation Board Members provided information and assistance in reviewing drafts of this definitive biography that is available from the Appalachian Trail Museum at https://www.atmuseum.org/
Publishing Earl’s Literary Legacy
Earl Shaffer considered his real calling in life to be that of a poet, and he wanted to be remembered as much for his poetry as for his hiking accomplishments. Making his unpublished works available to the public has been a major goal of the Earl Shaffer Foundation.
Earl’s widely-read account of his historic, 1948 hike, Walking with Spring, is published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and contains several of his poems. Earl wanted any profits from his book to benefit the Appalachian Trail, and gave the ATC the right to publish the book free of any royalties to him.
The Earl Shaffer Foundation has published two volumes of poetry composed by Earl during his 5 years of military service in the South Pacific during World War II as an Army Signal Corpsman. These volumes are titled, South of the Sunset and Before I Walked with Spring.
In 2002, shortly before his death, Earl’s account of his 1998 thru-hike was published by Westcliffe Publishers. This large-format book, containing both prose and poetry, was richly illustrated with photographer Bart Smith’s wilderness images of the Appalachian Trail. To keep this book available to the public, the Earl Shaffer Foundation published a new printing in 2007.
The Foundation also published a 1,000-copy, limited edition of Earl’s poetic account of his 1998 hike, written in classic ode format and illustrated with color photographs contributed by Foundation members and fellow hikers.
Most recently, in 2019, the Foundation published a richly-illustrated collection of Earl’s poems titled Not Too Distant Trails: Appalachian Trail poems, songs, meditations. It is available in print or e-book editions from Amazon.com.
In addition to the books mentioned above, the Foundation has published Earl's music, including both CDs and digital downloads of Earl singing his own songs, as well as the recorded presentation of slides of his 1948 thru-hike as presented to thousands of hikers and schoolchildren over the years, and a video biography of Earl's life created by Earl's younger brother John. All of these are available for purchase on our website.