Appalachian Trail Histories


"Gay Group Wants Bias Angle Known"
Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) - June 17, 1996
By RICHARD PRIOR News-Record Staff Writer

A homosexual advocacy group is not looking for "special treatment" in the investigation of two slain women hikers, but wants to make sure the public is aware that anti-lesbian bias may have motivated the killer, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, D.C., has gotten no response to a letter sent Friday to Attorney General Janet Reno, asking her to consider that the deaths of Lollie Winans and Julianne Williams may have been hate crimes, task force spokesman Tracey Conaty said Wednesday.

Searchers found the bodies of Winans and Williams, who were hiking together, June 1 near the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park. Both women's throats had been cut.

"We're not asking for any special treatment, but if the motivation is bias, we do want that revealed; we don't want that aspect ignored," Conaty said.

The organization was spurred to send the letter after reading statements in the media that anti-lesbian bias might have initially been ruled out.

"If that's the case, we want to know why," Conaty said. "We're not saying it was (a hate crime). We just have the responsibility to make sure that possibility's not ignored."

An FBI agent said Wednesday that investigators have "ruled out no motive" in the case.

According to The Associated Press, a Presbyterian minister in Burlington, Vt., identified Winans and Williams as lesbians. The Rev. Rebecca Strader, whose congregation reportedly welcomes homosexuals, was quoted in The Washington Blade, a newspaper that serves the gay and lesbian community.

Strader has an unlisted telephone number and has been unavailable for comment.

The women met through an outdoors organization and arranged their hiking trip several weeks ago.

"One of the important reasons for getting these crimes designated accurately is that we need to know the extent that they're happening," Conaty said. "People need to know the risk is out there.

"When they don't get talked about honestly, people are misled into believing they're not a problem."

At least one of the mothers of the latest victims learned of her daughter's lesbian lifestyle only after her death, news reports indicated.

Anti-lesbian bias has been blamed for at least one other killing along the Appalachian Trail, the AP has reported. Claudia Brenner reportedly survived five shots, but her companion, Rebecca Wight, died in a hail of gunfire in 1988 near Gettysburg, Pa. They were shot after reportedly performing a lesbian sex act alongside a stream.

They were shot several times by a man who observed the act. He is is now serving a life sentence for the attack. He reportedly lived in a cave near the scene of the shooting.

This court document reveals the unpublished opinions of Darrell David Rice's criminal history towards women. This case regards a woman named Yvonne Malbasha, who was cycling through the park in 1997. Rice tried to force her into his truck, and when she escaped he tried to strike her with his vehicle. Rice was found guilty of this case and felt he needed to "aggravate her".

Collection: Legislation
US Court of Appeals Darrell David Rice Appeal in 2001.pdf

The average for black bear population as of 2013. Since then, the population has been increasing quite rapidly. Expect these numbers to have increased.


2012 report of the Outdoor Recreation industry.


Basic Map of Baxter State Park Trails

Collection: Iconic Locations

Open letter written on 11/19/2014. Includes thru-hiker data and map of AT in BSP.

AT Ron Tipton Wendy Janssen letter 11 19 2014 scanned.pdf

Ricks is is an Appalachian storyteller.

Ray Hicks.jpg

Originating from South America, this invasive aquatic plant often ends up in freshwater locations because of its wide use in aquariums. It gives refuge to mosquito larvae and it can damage boats since it grows densely. Boats can be damaged by having their propellers tangled in this thick weed.


The Water Chestnut is an invasive plant that is native to Africa, Asia, and Europe. It arrived in the United States during the 19th Century, originally as a decorative plant. It grows in large "blankets" in freshwater and it can deplete the water's oxygen levels. The blankets also take up the space that other aquatic plants need to grow. Its seeds are sharp, and it is painful to step on them.

Notice that this image shows two dangers that this plant presents: the spines on its fruits can be seen clearly, and it is also evident that this plant has no trouble with growing into thick sheets.

Water Chestnut.jpg

This invasive plant has been introduced to many areas of the Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast. It is covered with fine "hairs" that create a fire-like pain on contact. While these hairs may look soft, clear, and harmless, do not be fooled: they are the bane of hikers on the trail. This is evidenced by "AT-AT Walker's" 2016 online journal entry in which he mentioned that they grow in patches so thick, whole stretches can be covered by it. The plant was originally found in the Western United States, but it can now be found in the Appalachian Trail area. This plant is a threat not only because of its stingers, but the thick bunches it grows in can also use up space and sunlight that native, less harmful plants need.