It all started back in 2000 when Tom Candon and a friend decided they wanted to do an end-to-end hike of the Long Trail in sections. Candon’s friend suffered an off-trail injury and couldn’t complete the hike, so the Shelburne resident did several sections solo and others with his son.
In 2010, the Green Mountain Club (GMC) celebrated its 100th anniversary with an end-to-end hike, one that included a photogenic stuffed porcupine named Prickles. Candon decided this would be a great opportunity to finish the trail and hiked five sections with various members of the GMC staff, board of directors, and volunteers. Aside from the fact that Prickles was temporarily lost while Candon was hiking with Dave Hardy, the late director of trail programs, it was a great experience. By the time he was done, Candon had decided to volunteer to help the club. He has spent eight years on the board of trustees and currently serves as president.
In 2014, Candon retired from his position as deputy commissioner of banking for the state of Vermont, having served in the Dean, Douglas and Shumlin administrations.
“That job was quite interesting and exciting,” he said.
Although he considers himself retired, Candon works for the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the National Association of Credit Union Supervisors as part of an accreditation team which meets six times a year.
A native Vermonter, the 72-year-old Candon and his wife Mary have four children and eight grandchildren. He moved to Shelburne in 1980 when he took a job with what was then known as the Howard Bank. When the youngest of his four children headed off to college, Candon decided to look for ways to get more involved in the community. The Army veteran had seen the work being performed at hospitals when he served in Vietnam, and joined Shelburne Rescue.
“I saw what the medical professionals were doing,” he said “and I hoped I could play a part in my own community. Shelburne Rescue was very accommodating and it seemed like a good fit. Eighteen years later, I’m still doing it.”
Candon has been teaching CPR as part of the Hands to Honduras-Tela initiative. He also represents Saint Catherine’s Parish on the board of the Shelburne Food Shelf.
The Green Mountain Club is comprised of 14 sections with volunteers who help maintain the trails and shelters and clean the privies.
“We estimate that 200,000 people use the Long Trail each year,” Candon said. “It takes quite a bit of effort to make sure it remains in good shape. We’ve had many dedicated volunteers for years and would like to have a new generation of helpers.”
Candon noted that each section trains volunteers on how to clear trails, build water bars, use chainsaws, and maintain the privies and shelters.
“It takes an enormous effort,” he said, “but the club is always willing to train new people.”
Candon wants to spread the word about what the Long Trail means to Vermont.
“It’s an icon and people come from all over the world to hike it,” he said. “I would like to invite the new and diverse generation of Vermonters to join the thousands who have supported the GMC since it was founded 109 years ago.”
Candon himself is not through with hiking. He started his second end-to-end hike on the Long Trail on June 21.