President’s Letter January 2017
Greetings ALDHA-West Members,
I am excited as I write this letter, as 2017 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for our growing organization. Before I delve into this upcoming year, let’s first reflect on 2016 and all our accomplishments. As many of you are aware, in April of 2016, I left to thru-hike the Continental Divide Trail. While I was off having the time of my life, a vacuum in leadership existed that needed to be filled. Luckily for me and all of you, Vice President Elizabeth “Snorkel” Thomas stepped in for me in my absence and rallied the board to keep things going while I was away. Through the hard work of all involved, we once again successfully completed the task at hand. My biggest heartfelt thanks go out to “Snorkel” and the rest of our board during that time, personally, I want to say thank you to them for a job well done.
Some highlights of 2016 are as follows:
* We held our 3 Rucks in Idaho, Oregon, and Colorado between February and March. These events helped over 200 people prepare for the 2016 hiking season and also served as mini Gatherings in local areas for hikers to meet during the offseason. If you haven’t attended a Ruck in the past few years, I encourage you to do so. Having experienced hikers on hand is a great way for newcomers to the world of long distance hiking to gain helpful insight and feel welcomed when on trail.
* PCT Days in August celebrated its 10th anniversary and once again ALDHA-West was a headliner of the event working with Outdoor Viewfinder and PCTA to put on a great event celebrating the PCT. We benefited from the raffle and added over $2,000 to our bank account to help keep things running. Make sure to mark your calendar for August 18-20th for this year’s PCT Days in Cascade Locks.
* The Gathering at Camp Augusta in Nevada City was a huge success and one of the best Gatherings yet. Besides our usual fun and games, this year we had a new twist on “Hiker Olympics” with an obstacle course race wearing the infamous “Flextrek 37 Trillion Whipsnake.” You can learn more about the pack here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAtzN_ScKXY. Other highlights were the speaker line up which left us in awe, the induction of a new class of “Triple Crowners,” and the presentation of the “Martin Papendick Award” to the Andersons.
* Lastly one big shout out to TarpTent, who helped us out by sponsoring the Gathering's Saturday Night ALOHA-West Luau Out.
While 2016 found us as a bitterly divided Country with a very contentious election year, one thing it proved to me was how unifying hiking could be. In my time on the trail in 2016, I was met with warmth and kindness by all sorts of people and hikers with various views. One thing we all agreed on was how great taking a long walk in the woods can be. 2017 is looking like it could be an interesting time for public lands, with various people in Washington taking new roles and pushing an agenda to try to privatize public lands or turn the long-standing federal land over to States. Our trails and wild spaces need you now more than ever.
At the Gathering, we voted as an organization to adopt a new set of by-laws and change our status from a 501c7 to 501c3 non-profit organization. The paperwork has been completed and is being reviewed by the IRS, so hopefully in the next few weeks, we will officially be a 501c3. As part of our new direction, we are hoping to advocate more. Not just for hikers, but also for protecting the places hikers use, to ensure they are protected for future generations to hike and explore America’s long trails. I hope when we send out a “call to action” you will take the time to contact your Congressperson or Senator to let them know you care about these places and ask them to protect them.
2017 is not just about advocacy, all of us on the board are working hard behind the scenes to get ready for this year and our extensive lineup of events. I hope we will see you at these events this year and we would love your help volunteering if you have time. I think one of the most exciting events in 2017 will be hosting the Gathering in Colorado for the first time ever. After years of having our event on the West Coast we felt it was time to be more inclusive to our ever-growing member base in the Rockies. After voting for the change in 2015, we are happy to announce the Gathering will be held at Keystone Science School Sept 29-Oct 1, 2017. I can’t wait to be in Colorado this Fall to celebrate the end of hiking season with all of you, until then we are hosting four Rucks this year to be held in California, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado, along with PCT Days in August. Please visit our events calendar for more information on each event or to become a volunteer.
I hope you all enjoy this New Year and are busy this winter making this year’s hiking plans become a reality. Thank you, members, for your continued support this past year and make sure to thank your Board for their hard work going forward in 2017.
Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa