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Updated: Oct 2, 2021

Friends, family, hikers and other admirers gathered at Ironmaster's Hostel in Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania, May 3-4, to celebrate the memory of Earl Shaffer, who passed away about this time one year ago. The weekend also marked the fifth anniversary of the start of Earl's incredible 50th anniversary thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, GA to Katahdin, Maine in 1998, which he accomplished at age 79.

On Saturday afternoon, participants enjoyed watching several video programs covering the history and lore of the Appalachian Trail, which of course included Earl's historic thru-hikes in 1948, 1965 and 1998. After a potluck dinner, the group gathered around a campfire and heard readings from Earl's poetry and personal recounts of time spent with Earl. To the crowd's delight, Takoma Tedd sang and played three songs which he recently set to music from Earl's poetry, including A Wanderer's Quest, Calling Me Back to the Hills, and Walking With Spring. Earl's nephew, Daniel Shaffer, Jr, sang a song which Earl wrote supporting Native American causes, and also led the group in singing another song by Earl entitled Keystone Pennsylvania.

On Sunday morning, the Earl Shaffer Foundation Board held its annual meeting. Afterwards, the Reverend Evan L. Shaffer, one of Earl's brothers, led an hour-long memorial service to complete the weekend.

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A memorial celebration honoring Earl Shaffer will be held May 3-4, 2003, along the Appalachian Trail at the Ironmaster's Mansion at Pine Grove Furnace State Park near Gardners, PA. Friends and family of Earl along with the many hikers who loved and admired him are all invited to attend. The schedule begins at 1 pm on Saturday, May 3, and concludes with a memorial service at 9 am on Sunday. There will be a potluck dinner followed by a campfire on Saturday night. A $5 day-use donation to the Ironmaster's Hostel is requested from everyone participating in events at the Mansion.

If you plan to attend, please email John Shaffer as soon as possible to help us anticipate the number of people participating. If you wish to camp overnight in the park, telephone 888-727-2757 in advance for reservations. General information about the park is available by calling 717-486-7174 or visiting the Park's website. Overnight cost of a campsite for up to 5 people is $12-14.

If you wish to stay overnight in the Hostel at Ironmaster's Mansion inside the park, make reservations in advance by calling 717-486-7575 or email Shawn, the Hostel Manager. A bunk costs $14 per night. Bring your own sheets and pillowcase (as sleeping bags are not allowed on the bunks). No smoking or pets are allowed inside the Hostel.

Here are Mapquest directions to reach Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

Memorial Celebration for Earl Shaffer May 3-4, 2003

Saturday, May 3

1 pm.    Showing of "Wilderness Spirit," a colorful 1-1/2 hour documentary about Baxter State Park and Katahdin, which includes a segment of Earl climbing Katahdin in 1998

3 pm.    Showing of PBS documentary on the Virginia section of the Appalachian Trail, covering the trail's history from its origin through Earl's 1998 thru-hike. It features an interview with Benton MacKaye, clips of early trail construction, Myron Avery, Earl and many others. The film was dedicated to Earl.

4 pm.    Hikers' and family stories about meeting or hiking with Earl, and readings from Earl's poetry

6 pm.    Potluck Dinner

7 pm.    Video clips of Earl singing and playing the guitar and impromptu slide or video clips

8 pm.    Campfire with folk songs, sing-along, etc.

Sunday, May 4

7 am.    Potluck Breakfast

9 am.    Memorial Service conducted by Rev. Evan Shaffer, Earl's brother

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Updated: Oct 2, 2021

Earl V. Shaffer succumbed to cancer at approximately 2:45pm on May 5, 2002, after a brief illness and hospitalization. He was 83 years old. David Donaldson ("The Spirit of '48"), his hiking partner from 1998, was at his bedside. Earl had last spoken with Dave the previous Saturday and they had talked about their times together on the anniversary hike. On Sunday Earl was no longer able to speak. On Tuesday I was able to question Earl and he answered by nodding his head either yes or no. On Thursday he was unable to communicate at all but was resting peacefully. I visited Saturday with the same results. David visited him on Sunday afternoon. Shortly after Dave arrived, Earl passed on, ending his journey. Earl finished his life as he finished his anniversary hike ... with one of his newest and closest friends by his side. Earl is being cremated according to his wishes and interred in the Shaffer family plot in the York, Pennsylvania area. Graveside services will be held for family and close friends, by invitation only. Later this summer, a memorial celebration of Earl's life will be held for his York area friends and members of the hiking community. Details of this public celebration will be announced here at a later date.

John Shaffer

for the family and the Earl Shaffer Foundation Inc.

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