All Americans - and not just New Englanders - should take a note of pride in the volunteer work now under way throughout the State of Maine as scores of citizens give up their weekends and many a night to help restore and rebuild the Appalachian Trail. The 2,000-plus-mile trail winds through 14 states, two national parks, and some eight national forests as it traverses its path northward from Georgia toward the Canadian border. But the section through Maine is particularly remote and wild. Without the rebuilding project there is the danger that the trail could virtually disappear, as forests overgrow tenuous footpaths, and civilization (in the form of timber operations and other commercial activities) encroaches.

''We're trying to create the best hiking trail possible,'' is how one volunter describes the rebuilding effort.

For anyone who has ever crossed a mountain stream with or without a backpack - or just dreamed of doing so someday - no little amount of thanks is in order to the citizen-trailbuilders of Maine.

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