Lester Kenway ’75 lauded for ‘revolutionary’ work along Appalachian Trail

A profile in the Portland Press Herald celebrates Lester Kenway ’75 for his leading trail and conservation work in Maine and around the country.

Lester Kenway '75 works along the Appalachian Trail in Caratunk, Maine, alongside wife Elsa Sanborn and Craig Dickstein.

Lester Kenway ’75 constructs a handicapped-accessible privy along the Appalachian Trail in Caratunk, Maine, with wife Elsa Sanborn and Craig Dickstein. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)

Described as a legend along the Appalachian Trail, Kenway is responsible for many technical advances in trail building that can be found in the nation’s most beloved parks, including Maine’s Baxter State Park, at the AT’s northern end.

He developed a system using wire rope and hand winches, known as a Griphoists, to move heavy rocks on the plateau of Katahdin to rebuild damaged and eroded hiking trails.

His technique has been replicated in Yellowstone National Park and the Adirondack and Grand Teton mountains.

Kenway has dedicated his life to making the outdoors accessible. He was trail supervisor in Baxter from 1978 to 2000and, from 2001 to 2008 he was program coordinator for the Maine Conservation Corps.

Kenway has traveled as far as Nepal to study the stonework of trails in other parts of the world.

The trailblazing trail builder tells author Deidre Fleming that his motto is, “Do it well, do it once, do it to last.”

Kenway was an active member of the Bates Outing Club, and dozens of students in the Class of 2018 will hike along his trails later this month as part of the BOC’s Annual Entering Students Orientation Program, including two groups that will take on the summit of Katahdin.

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