SSVC’s Annual Meeting was held on Friday, November 17 at the Weyers Cave Community Center. We had approximately 25 members attend the potluck dinner and meeting. We currently have $483 in our checking account. We will spend this money down and close out the account over the next year or so. All reimbursements will be made through PATC after the SSVC account is closed. A yearly review of activities was given. Lynn Cameron gave the Conservation Committee’s report on the status of the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area Proposal. Jeff Bolander gave a brief report on the status of the Chapter’s trail section. A vote was held on allowing leashed dogs on SSVC hikes at the discretion of the hike leader. The vote passed. Each hike leader will decide whether they want to allow dogs. Dogs must be on a 6’ or less leash and be compatible with other dogs. Only those hikes that state that dogs are allowed will allow dogs to join. A vote was also held on whether to post our hikes on Meet Up. The group voted not to post on Meet Up.
Several of our members received recognition by the Chapter at the Annual PATC meeting on November 14. They were: Honorary Life Member – James Fye; Hawksbill Award – John Kolp; Service Awards – Jana Newman, Lavern Beachy, Kate Hoffmeyer, Jim Todd, Russell Fitzgerald, Mike Waterman, Karen
Waterman, Jeff Bolander, Gary Flynn, Angela Lawrence, Howard Davis (Charlottesville member who opens his hikes to our chapter). Congratulations to all those who received awards. We also want to thank all the hike leaders and trail maintainers who volunteer for us.
In the absence of all members of the Nominating Committee, Malcolm Cameron presented the slate of officers for 2024-25. The new SSVC officers are:
President -- Pam Heinrich
Vice President -- Angela Lawrence
Secretary -- Jean Stephens
Treasurer -- Nancy Hall
The current incumbents will continue in other leadership roles:
Hike Leader Coordinator -- Jana Newman
Outreach Coordinator -- John Kolp
SSVC AT Trail Section -- Jeff Bolander
Conservation/Advocacy -- Lynn and Malcolm Cameron
After the meeting adjourned, Meg Moore of Harrisonburg shared her experiences on the Appalachian Trail. Meg did not complete a thru-hike but did hike a significant portion of the trail and had a lot of fun reminiscences and lessons learned from her “Life on the Trail”.
Chapter President, Jean Stephens proudly nominated James Fye for the Honorary Life Member Award. This award is typically given to a member who have contributed to the Club over a significant period, been involved with multiple areas of the Club and have shown outstanding volunteer performance.
James has been very active as a hike leader, trail maintainer and shelter maintainer. For many years he maintained the Boones Run Trail and Shelter on Massanutten Mountain. He worked with Paul Boisen on a major rock moving project on the Boones Run Trail to divert water off the trail. He also worked extremely hard to organize volunteers to open the Crawford Knob Trail two years ago for which he received nomination for the Myron Avery Award. He now maintains that trail on a regular basis. Not only does James work on his own trails, but he participates in Chapter work trips and trips offered in the North River Ranger District and Lee District of the George Washington National
Forest. He is also willing to lend a hand to anyone who needs help on their trail section. Earlier this year, he volunteered on many of the road cleanup days in Shenandoah National Park (SNP) to remove debris from the winter storms. He also participated this year in several work trips on the Appalachian Trail with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. James also assists with outreach and invasive species removal projects. He has helped both years of the Show Your Love for Shenandoah volunteer day with leading volunteers in trail maintenance projects. He helped man the PATC booth at the Elkton AT Trail Community Day celebration. He was among the PATC's group to lead a hike in SNP on National Public Lands Day. He has assisted with invasive species removal projects at both Mutton Hollow and Schairer Trail Center and with the Mile-a-Minute Pull in the George Washington National Forest. He has replaced a water heater and assisted other plumbing issues at several PATC-owned cabins. James has also served on the Nominating Committee for SSVC.
Many of our members seem to fade away as they age. James only seems to get stronger and work harder. James represents the spirit of volunteerism and is well deserving of the Honorary Life Member Award.
Our chapter's winner of the Hawksbill Award this year was John Kolp. The Hawksbill award recipient is a member who has shown outstanding volunteer performance over the last year. John has been a member of PATC for six years. During that time he has been a valued asset to our chapter. John has been a dedicated hike leader, participated in trail maintenance, and is our chapter’s Outreach Coordinator. He has managed all outreach tables that SSVC had this year, such as Earth Day Staunton and Riverfest. He is continually updating our table presentations to keep them fresh. As a hike leader, John has created a series of outstanding walkabouts through the City of Staunton to tell about Staunton history. These are great hikes for the winter months and they have had outstanding attendance from chapter members. This year, John also took on the task of chairperson for the Nominating Committee to search for new chapter leaders. It is thanks to John and members like him that SSVC remains an active and interesting part of the community.
SSVC Members Millie and James Davis won the Hawksbill Award for the Cabin District-SNP District. They were nominated by Glen Tsaparas, Cabin Supervisor. In the nomination, Glen stated the following about Millie and James:
Both Millie and James Davis have done an excellent job in maintaining the Calf Mountain Shelter in Shenandoah National Park. This facility receives extensive overnight use since it is the first shelter north of the south boundary. The shelter is remote and not easy to access, requiring a lengthy drive and walk to the shelter. They made numerous maintenance trips servicing the moldering privy and cleaning the tent pads and privy interior. Millie restained the shelter and participated in repainting the roof. They also maintain the lengthy access trail from the AT to the shelter. Both Millie and James are dedicated to keeping the facility in exceptional condition and are truly deserving of this recognition.
Larry Ragland has done outstanding work as a trail maintainer this year and much more. In addition to doing a great job of maintaining his remote trail in Ramseys Draft Wilderness, he has taken on a second trail - Falls Hollow Trail on Elliott Knob. Larry has joined in on several of our Shenandoah Mountain Trail Crew worktrips when we are using crosscut saws and rope pullers. He is a certified B level crosscut sawyer. Larry carries tools on all his hikes and works on many other trail in North River District. Larry excels at introducing friends and neighbors to trail work by inviting them to accompany him on a work day. This has brought positive attention to PATC's efforts in the Shenandoah Valley. In addition to all this, Larry is a musician who performs at local wineries, breweries and restaurants on weekends. He can often be seen wearing his PATC cap and letting the audience know about PATC. If trail maintainers are present, he thanks them for their trail work and sings their favorite song. He even performed at PATC's annual picnic in Vienna. He is an outstanding leader in his quiet way.
Howard Davis was the winner of the Hawksbill Award for the Charlottesville Chapter. Howard leads many hikes for the PATC and invites both the Charlottesville Chapter and SSVC members. Howard is a great story teller and avid bird watcher. It is great fun to take a hike with him! He also volunteered in the PATC group of leaders to lead a hike in SNP on National Public Lands Day. Howard maintains a section of the AT near Hightop in the southern district of Shenandoah National Park. On top of all the work on his trail, Howard volunteered to trim vegetation on the section south of his when that maintainer was out with an injury. Serving as a boy scout leader for many years, Howard is an expert camper and backpacker and has offered extended trips involving both of these. If you are considering trying out these types of adventures, Howard is the person to go with. Congratulations and thanks to Howard for all he does for both of our chapters and the PATC.
Shout out to Brian Denny for completing the requirements to become our newest hike leader. Brian and his wife Heather are active members in our chapter, joining on many of our hikes and helping out on maintaining the trails. Brian's choice of hikes to co-lead were High Knob Fired Tower and Fridley Gap. His last hike helped us celebrate Opt-Outside Day to wear off our Thanksgiving feast. Heather and Brian are joining together to offer a great waterfall hike in December. Be sure to check our schedule. We look forward to hiking with Brian on many future hikes.
Meet our leaders:
Pam's first hike with SSVC was to visit the site of Sexton Cabin on Jerrys Run Trail in 2015. She enjoyed hiking and learning from the group and wanted to become more involved. Pam leads hikes, maintains a section of the Appalachian Trail in the south district of Shenandoah National Park, and participates in outreach efforts. Serving as vice president, she assisted with emails, Facebook, website updates and other efforts to encourage others to join. Pam enjoys hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail, exploring Virginia and visiting national park sites. She gives credit to the many PATC friends for making her a more confident and stronger hiker and to her husband, Russell for going along with her spirit of adventure. When not hiking, Pam also enjoys cycling and riding her scooter.
Angela Lawrence became a member of PATC shortly after moving to the Valley in 2019. She completed hike leader training and began leading hikes in 2021. She also took over maintenance of Cliff Trail in 2021 until her move. After taking a cross-country trip to visit family and friends while hiking and exploring national parks this spring, Angela moved to Maryland for a short-term contract, but continues membership and involvement with the group and hopes to move back to the area soon.
When she's not hiking, she enjoys spending time with her 4 grandchildren, bicycling, camping, gardening and other outdoor activities. Her career is in public administration/town management.
Serving as our president for the past 4 years, Jean has been involved in many activities with PATC. Just to name a few, she leads many types of hikes, helps maintain a section of the AT in the south district of SNP, and organizes social outings such as our Family/Friends Day and Annual Meeting. Our chapter is one of the most active thanks to her leadership. Jean began participating when she moved back to Staunton to help her mother. Jean's parents, Bill and Doris True were founding members of our chapter over 35 years ago. Shenandoah Mountain Trail is a special place for Jean, and recently she added on the responsibility of leading maintenance for part of this trail. Jean also volunteers in Shenandoah National Park with invasive species control. Through her efforts to treat hemlock and ash trees, she has seen much of the park most of us never have. Jean is also known by many in the chapter as the wildflower expert and is often asked by many to help identify flowers seen on the trail.
Thank you for all you do for our chapter!
Nancy has faithfully served as our chapter's treasure for many years. We appreciated her continued help. Nancy enjoys joining us on hikes and work trips especially on our North River District trails. She prefers being on a more remote trail and often participated on our efforts to clear Crawford Knob trail. Nancy also likes to take extended trips such as hiking long sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. She likes searching out trails that provide a more wilderness adventure. We can't wait to hear where her next adventure will take her.
Jana serves as our hike leader coordinator. Every month, she emails our hike leaders and organizes our hike schedule. We appreciate her extra help each month. Here is what Jana said about herself and PATC:
I relocated from the hills of Colorado to the hills of Virginia late last year and immediately began an internet search for a local hiking club. I was thrilled to find the active and very welcoming PATC-SSVC. Sometimes I want
a challenge and other times - well,
I don’t. So I really enjoy the variety of skill level, duration, and variety of hikes that are offered. My favorite hike is the hike that I get to do.
John Kolp, originally from New Orleans, spent his entire working life in New York City, retiring to Staunton five years ago with his wife Cyndy. He survived that dense and intense place by frequently hiking on the 2,200 miles of marked and maintained trails that are within 100 miles of Manhattan. As an active member of the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Sierra Club, and the Catskill 3500 Club he either led or was a participant on hundreds of hikes. For the Sierra Club's National Outings Program, he organized canoe, bike, and Service trips in the East and explored the National Parks out West on more than a dozen backpack trips. Within weeks of moving to Staunton, he joined the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club and PATC's Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter to continue his happy healthy habit of active membership in hiking clubs!
Jeff Bolander and his son, Jon take care of our chapter’s section of the AT from Pinefield Gap to Ivy Creek Overlook in the south district of SNP. They began helping in November 2018 as one way for Jon to gain outdoor experience and developing his leadership. Together, they have kept check on this section, coordinated group workdays, and completed much work independently. Our section is fantastic thanks to their efforts. In addition to trail maintenance, Jon was actively involved in Boy Scouts and was awarded Scouting’s highest rank and promoted to Eagle Scout in 2020. Besides hiking and trail work, Jeff and Jon love other outdoor activities including kayaking and climbing. Jeff stated working on the AT together has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience, especially when they are thanked by fellow hikers for keeping the trail in great shape.
Lynn and Malcolm Cameron are PATC North River District Managers. They love working with their 43 dedicated trail maintainers and the Shenandoah Mountain Trail Crew. This year North River volunteers logged 4,950 hours. Together they accomplished a lot.
Conservation - Lynn is the Conservation Chair for SSVC and Malcolm is also heavily involved. Their main conservation activity is working toward passage of the Shenandoah Mountain Act, which will permanently protect 92,000 acres of some of the greatest biodiversity and most outstanding hiking trails in the GWNF. This bill was reintroduced by both of Virginia’s US Senators in July. We hope it will get folded into the farm bill.