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How It Began

The Genesis of the Katahdin Art Project

A collaboration between the Earl Shaffer Foundation, Bart Smith, and Image Pathways. Framed photograph of Mount Katahdin, with a copy of Earl's famous Katahdin poem. Signed by both Earl Shaffer and Bart Smith; limited copies available.

About the Katahdin Art Project

The Katahdin Art Project is a collaboration between Image Pathways and the Earl Shaffer Foundation.  It combines Earl Shaffer's poetry and Bart Smith's photography to create a moving and lasting tribute to Mt. Katahdin.  All proceeds minus costs of $150 per piece will be donated to the Earl Shaffer Foundation and the Appalachian Trail Museum with Plan A. Plan B gives you the opportunity to included a donation to the Trail Club of your choice.


All 5000 units will have Earls signature engraved under the poem. The 1,200 units that have Earl's personally hand written signature will be priced at $400.  The remaining 3,800 units will be priced at $250 per unit. Bart has personally signed and numbered all 5000 units of the Katahdin Art Project.

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The "Genesis"


Earl Shaffer the first person to hike the Appalachian Trail in one trek (thru-hike) was also a person who had little desire to accumulate money. Earl sought his brother John's help in setting up a nonprofit foundation to support the trail and related causes. He realized that he would be collecting book royalties on his not-yet released work Calling Me Back to the Hills.  Earl discussed with John different projects in need of support.  During Earl's final months in the spring of 2002, they established the Earl Shaffer Foundation.  It was at this time that renowned trail photographer Bart Smith conceived of the idea combining his awe-inspiring photograph of Katahdin with Earl's poetry to raise funds.   In what became The Katahdin Art Project, funds generated through sales would be distributed to the trail related causes Earl wished to support.  This work continues today. It is an honor for all of us to be part of this ongoing support for the following organization that were close to Earl’s heart:


1. Appalachian Trail Museum Society
2.  Local Appalachian Trail Hiking Clubs
3. Appalachian Trail Land Trust
5. Center for Appalachian Trail Studies
6. Penn State Forestry School

How They Met—Earl and Bart


The Katahdin Art Project originated on a blustery autumn afternoon along the Appalachian Trail on Webster Cliffs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Earl was hiking north up the trail and Bart, having flip-flopped, was hiking south down the trail. Wearing his iconic white pith helmet  (now in the Smithsonian Museum) Earl was easy to spot and the two men stopped for a rest.   The steep terrain provided a good excuse to sit and chat.  Bart was hoping to run into Earl after hearing so much about him from other northbounders.  Earl was heading into the homestretch of his 50th anniversary hike, but at the age of 79, the White Mountains and Maine were still formidable obstacles yet to be overcome. Bart carried a tripod on his backpack which led their conversation into photography.  Having photographed the Pacific Crest Trail for one of his books he was now  photographing  the Appalachian Trail. Bart Smith is the first person to hike and photograph all eleven National Scenic Trails. They were kindred spirits from the start. Earl carried a camera on his first two thru-hikes.  He mentioned he enjoyed photography but had left his camera at home to lessen his load. 


Jokingly, Earl stated that  a pencil and paper were lighter  allowing him to capture his thoughts and observations along the trail and to write poetry when the muse hit him.  As the two legends  parted for the first time, they couldn’t know at the time that their initial trailside chat would be the genesis of the coffee table book titled The Appalachian Trail: Calling Me Back To The Hills.  This book includes the narrative of Earl’s 50th anniversary hike along with poetry written throughout his life together with Bart’s photography taken along the Appalachian Trail.   

The foundation now directs funds from Earl's book royalties, CD sales, and various donations to The Appalachian Trail Museum and related trail & nature programs dear to Earl.   The art piece itself (available now) celebrates the magnificence of Mt Katahdin and raises funds for the Foundation.  The Katahdin Art Project is a collaboration between the Earl Shaffer Foundation and Image Pathways LLC, Bart Smith’s company. 


The Appalachian Trail Museum is now built and open! Located in Pennsylvania's Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the facility is the realization of Larry Luxemburg and the many supporters of the museum including early visionaries Earl Shaffer and Bart Smith. The Katahdin Art Project helped to provide some of the seed money to get the museum started. Thank you for your support.

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