by Scot "SoFar" Forbes
September 29th-October 1, the annual ALDHA-West Gathering was held. This year, for the first time, the Gathering was held in Colorado. ALDHA-West took over the Keystone Science School in Keystone, CO for the event. It was one of the best-attended Gatherings in recent history, with over 120 lively participants. There was a wide variety of activities throughout the festive weekend. Friday evening was the usual social time with old friends reconnecting after the hiking season. The evening culminated with a live string duet performance by Joshua ‘Bobcat’ Stacy and his bandmate Jacob Martin.
Did POD really sing at the Gathering??
Saturday the main program got underway, with four presenters- starting with a presentation from our own Scott ‘Shroomer’ Williams and ‘Sym’ Blanchard about their adventures hiking long pieces of the island of Madagascar. They, along with their friends Francis Tapon and his wife Rejoice, explored the terrain and remote wilds of the island and encountered wildlife and interesting people along the way. It was a terrific journey.
Junaid ‘Speshul 47’ Dawud, shared the adventures of his Colorado 14ers hike. The hike was a feat not only in backpacking and all the navigation and logistics that come with such an endeavor, but also the mountaineering that truly challenged he and his friend throughout their trip.
Then, the Legendary Jean-Ella, who along with her partner Jule Wind, described their hike across the Pacific Northwest Trail in 1979. Complete with photos, the presentation reminded many in the audience of what we now take for granted with the amenities available today for backpacking.
Last up was Kristin Gates. She is a current resident of the remote Brooks Range in Alaska and has explored much of that vast territory. Her presentation entertained, informed, and touched on the important topic of how to maintain those and other wild spaces in our country.
Keynote speaker Kristin Gates
During the day, the classic ‘Hiker Olympics’ was held, with athletes competing in a wide variety of different backpacking-related events. This year’s overall winner was Craig “Skygzr” Gulley.
HIkers demonstrated a variety of skillsets during Hiker Olympics
After the content presentations, we had a ‘Rocky Mountain High’ themed chili dinner, complete with a cowboy costume contest. The night finished with the two big presentations: The Martin Papendick Award for outstanding trail angel of the year, and the Triple Crown Award for all those hikers who have completed the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. This year, the Martin Papendick Award went to the very worthy Dinsmores. Andrea and Jerry Dinsmore have been taking hikers in for 14 years, and it was a touching ceremony as they received the award.
The Triple Crown Award Ceremony gave the newly-minted Triple Crowners a chance to speak and reflect on their experiences. With emotions running high, there was much laughter, handshaking, backslapping and comradery as this group of great hikers came together to share and receive. Of the 40 hikers awarded the Triple Crown this year, 27 were in attendance.
2017 Tripe Crown Inductees
Sunday morning, the annual membership meeting was called to order - this is an important one – it is the only meeting of the year that the general membership meets to discuss organizational business and hold elections. The yearly recap showed the organization is doing well financially thanks to a series of very successful events such as the rucks. Elections for the offices of President, Secretary, and two at-large board positions took place. Whitney ‘Allgood’ LaRuffa won another term as President; Kate ‘Drop n’ Roll’ Hoch was elected Secretary; Craig ‘Skygzr’ Gulley and Jeff Kish were nominated and elected to the at-large spots on the board.
The last order of business was the final raffle, where many lucky participants took home some top-shelf gear. The lively weekend came to a close with an LNT exercise. Then, after many hugs, everyone scattered to their separate ways.