President: Whitney “Allgood” La Ruffa
Back in 1996 I left home at 18 to start my first thru-hike, the Appalachian Trail, that journey would set the tone for the rest of my life. After completing my hike and finding a dog along the way I worked as a Ridge runner on the AT in 1997 & 1998. After graduating college I moved to Oregon where I spent the next decade backpacking, skiing, fishing, and mountaineering. In 2008 my friend decided he wanted to thru-hike the PCT and asked me to do his trail support, little did I know but a few short months later I was to be thrown back into the trail community I had missed for so many years. After attending PCT days that fall we attended the ALDHA-West Gathering and once again in life I felt at
home with my peers, and ran into some old friends from the AT as a bonus.
Fast forward, I have now found a great life balance of maintaining a career as a lumber broker and being full blown hiker trash. I have had the great pleasure in the past few years to thru-hike the John Muir Trail, The Wonderland Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail-along with numerous trips in my home range of the Cascade Mountains. I have also launched a website dedicated to educating backpackers and long-distance hikers about the joys, ethics and experiences I have gained from hiking long trails with dogs over the past 17 years. I am now a proud brand ambassador for Ruffwear Dog Gear, TurbPUP, and Gossamer Gear. I truly look forward to working for ALDHA-West in the coming years.
Vice President: Katie "Salty" Gerber
Katie first fell in love with long trails while backpacking on the AT in 2009. She has since thru-hiked the PCT, the Colorado Trail, and the Oregon Desert Trail, among several shorter routes and trails. The more time she spent on long trails, the more she fell in love with the trail community and with finding ways to give back. She is honored and excited to serve as VP of ALDHA-W, to connect with other hikers, and to give her time and energy to a community and causes that she cares about deeply.
Katie has called many places home, but she currently (and for the foreseeable future) resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She feels fortunate to work with hikers and the outdoor community for a living. As a health and nutrition coach, Katie helps outdoor enthusiasts optimize their health and create strength, resilience, and endurance for their first (or next) big adventure. Katie is also a freelance writer for several backpacking publications as well as health and wellness websites. When she’s not out hiking or playing in the mountains, Katie can be found planning her next adventure, digging in the garden, experimenting in the kitchen, or snuggled up with her cat and a book.
Secretary: Kate “Drop-N-Roll” Hoch
Like many others, following a 2011 thru-hike of the PCT, Drop-N-Roll relocated from her lifelong home in Pennsylvania to Portland, OR, feeling the call of the west’s wilderness and the welcome of the long distance hiking community. She hiked the CDT in 2013, the Hayduke in 2016, and is currently working on a long term project to streak the 100 highest peaks of Oregon.
As secretary of ALDHA-West, Drop-N-Roll aims to bring efficiency and organization to the group’s operations. She is glad to be able to give back to the hiking community.
Treasurer: Naomi "The Punisher" Hudetz
When Naomi reached Manning Park at the end of her first thru hike, she knew her life was forever changed when she realized she was not ready for her hike to be over. She is now a Triple Crowner (PCT '09, CDT '12, AT '14). She is honored and excited to be a part of this dynamic hiking community. She lives in White Salmon, Washington, where she is probably thinking or talking about one of the many facets of long distance hiking.
Officer at Large: Amanda "Zuul" Jameson
Amanda "Zuul" Jameson learned about the long trails in 2013, and has centered her life around the outdoors and the greater hiking community since then. While she's hiked about 3300 miles over the course of the CT, the PCT, and half of the GET, she's more focused on giving back. She's raised thousands of dollars for charity over the course of her hikes, volunteered at the ADZPCTKO and the ALDHA-West Rockies Ruck, and spent a year traveling the country as a Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer. Her writing has appeared in Backpacker, Treeline Review, and Griots Republic, and she also maintains her own blog, Brown Girl on the NST, which strives to promote diversity in the outdoors by documenting her hikes with attention to her subject position as a black woman. In addition to her position on the ALDHA-West board, she's working for a non-profit that seeks to diversify the outdoors industry.
Officer at Large: Jeff "Siddhartha" Kish
Jeff’s first taste of long distance hiking came when he left behind a comfortable life in Portland, Oregon and hitched a ride to the Mexican border to thru-hike the PCT in 2012. Five months later, he stood in Manning Park. Hooked.
Upon returning to Portland, he decided to keep on living “outside,” bought an old van, and converted it into a stealth RV, where he split his time living between the city streets and the wild wide open spaces of the Pacific Northwest.
For most of the summer of 2013, Jeff parked in Cascade Locks, grilled tri-tip dinners and breakfast scrambles for every hiker who came through, and toted hikers all around Oregon and Washington in his big red home on wheels.
After a year of giving back to the trail that had given so much to him, it was time to get back to hiking. In 2014, Jeff found his way to Glacier National Park to begin a thru-hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail. Along the way, he shared his experiences with an international audience as a contributing editor at gearjunkie.com.
In 2015, Jeff was appointed to the United States Forest Service administered Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Advisory Committee. That fall he was honored to speak at the 20th Anniversary Gathering about his adventure on the PNT.
In 2016, Jeff accepted his dream job as Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association.
In addition to long distance hiking, Jeff enjoys mountaineering. Along his PCT thru-hike, he climbed 10 major adjacent summits. In the time since, he’s climbed most of the major volcanoes in the Northwest, including an untethered winter summit of Mount Rainier.
Jeff currently resides near the Pacific Northwest Trail, under the shadow of Mount Baker, in Bellingham, Washington with his partner and their son (in a real house!)
Officer at Large: Craig "Skygzr" Gulley
As the newest board member and the one with the least amount of actual long trail experience, I am thrilled to be able to serve the long-distance hiker community through Aldha-West. While my thru hike adventures have been limited to the two-week variety; Ozark Trail, Superior Hiking trail, TGO Challenge Scotland, Foothills Trail, Maah Daah Hey, Zion Traverse, etc. I have been hiking these types of trails for decades with almost 5,000 miles behind me. I have been a trail volunteer in Smoky Mountain National Park and worked with College kids on leadership team building in the Grand Canyon. I also have a degree in Astro-physics from University of Missouri-St.Louis.
I have admired for decades the toughness both mental and physical of the long trail thru hiker. I have followed along the trail, either via book, blog, or journal, the adventures of many in the long-distance hiking community. I hope to be able to represent and reach out to hikers like myself that may have thousands of miles of trail beneath their feet, but haven’t experienced a truly long trail, but still feel like they are part a community the cares and supports the hiker and bring them into the Aldha-West family. I believe that Aldha-West is the organization that first and foremost represents the hiker and is devoted to their needs. I am looking forward to my time on the board and I am eager to help in any way I can.
Officer at Large: Miguel "VirGo" Aguilar
Officer at Large: Elsye "chardonnay" Walker
Elsye ‘chardonnay’ Walker is a life explorer, wine loving, free spirited Girl Friday who works with/for (pretty much anyone) to get things done. Now that she’s completed her Triple Crown (PCT 15 CDT 17 AT 16/18); she’s excited to work with ALDHA West because apparently representation matters. She’s not a writer, photographer or ambassador; but she has a nice blog, ok Instagram and will tell you when she loves some gear.
An experienced woman that hasn’t been everywhere, but she’s been around a bit exploring the fringes (that’s where the truth is). She’s a Burner, cyclist, hiker, skier, hunter, veteran and a bunch of other things (not a fan of labels). It’s the excitement and exhilaration of trying something new that gets her moving (that and good wine). She’s looking forward to her time on the board learning new things, doing stuff, meeting awesome people and sharing it all with her fellow hikers!
Elsye holds a B.A./Masters in Community and Regional Planning from Iowa State University (Go Cyclones!!) Currently leaving San Diego to reside in Tahoe City (think snow)!
Special Appointed Positions by the Board
Gazette Publisher Editor: Bob “Beaker” Turner
Bob “Beaker” Turner has been hiking since his Boy Scout days some 50 years ago. He and his wife started hiking with their children when they were 7 & 9. As a family they thru hiked Oregon in the early 90′s. In 1997 he hiked the PCT from Mexico to Canada with his 15 year old daughter. He spent the ensuing years section hiking the rest of the PCT with his wife, Dragonfly. After retiring in 2010 they hiked the AT from Georgia to Maine. The ’13 season found them at Campo headed north to Donner Pass, where Dragonfly completed the last 1150 miles of the PCT.
Bob has served as ALDHAWest President, been a member of the Board, and acted as web editor. He enjoys introducing people to lightweight hiking, and is continually trying to refine his own style. It has always been the people he has met on the trails that have been the most rewarding part of his experiences.
Gazette Editor: Charles Baker
Charles was born and raised in North Central Texas - just west of Fort Worth. It was his mother who was instrumental in fostering his love of the outdoors. In his educational pursuits, he obtained a BS in Applied Economics and an MBA. His career had him hopping around the globe as a Supply Chain and Operations Consultant for CPG companies. He is now a retired, single grandfather with 10 grandchildren. While living in Augusta, GA, he decided to branch out from his traditional activity of distance running and looked into hiking. While studying the AT, he came across the ALDHA-West website and took them up on their invitation to the 2015 Gathering. Charles currently resides in Missouri and is looking forward to more time on the trail.