Thursday, Mar 29, 2012
In addition to taking care of some last minute details for next week’s Battle of Shiloh 150th Anniversary observance, Park Superintendent Woody Harrell is putting the final touches on his plans for a 2,184 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail, which he and his wife Cynthia will begin two days following the end of the Shiloh sesquicentennial. “We’ve talked about doing a thru hike ‘when I retire’ for over 36 years now. There have been times when the thought of attempting such a grueling trip has been a tremendous incentive to postpone retirement and keep on working; but if we’re ever going to go it, now is the time,” Harrell said, noting when you prepare for 36 years to hike the A.T., there’s a good chance your training has already peaked, well before the start. “If we can average 12.6 miles per day, Cynthia and I will have just enough time to reach Mount Katahdin this year before its October 15th closing date. If we’re successful, of the 397 park units I’ve visited, this will be the longest time I’ve spent in any one park where I wasn’t on the payroll.”
This past Friday, March 23, 2012, the Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission, along with the Friends of the Siege and Battle of Corinth, and the Corinth Convention and Visitors Bureau, hosted a retirement reception for the Harrells at the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center. Woody was honored for his almost 22 years of service as Shiloh Superintendent (the longest such tenure in the park’s 117 year history) by the hosting organizations, as well as the Hardin County Tennessee Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Friends of Shiloh, the Tennessee River Museum, and the Natchez Trace Parkway. In a highlight of the evening, Sandy Williams, filling in for his ailing wife, Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission Chair Rosemary Williams, read from the Congressional Record a tribute to Supt. Harrell given on the Senate floor March 20th by Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran.
Looking back to his first NPS job at Moores Creek NMP in 1968, Harrell noted he was one of only a few current rangers who started their careers wearing a silver park ranger badge: “There have only been a few days in the forty years since when a day hasn’t been so enjoyable that I really couldn’t call it work.” Woody invites his friends and colleagues to follow along as he begins his new career as a “professional walker.” He and Cynthia will be chronicling their journey on www.trailjournals.com website. Their online journal will be listed under their A.T. trail names – the TROVERTS – with Woody being “N-Trovert” and Cynthia being “X-Trovert.”