In my opinion, Heinz was not only the instigation, but also the ideal leader and coordinator for the Harrison Hikers. There is a lot of responsibility and planning involved in this position and only a person who feels comfortable with this should tackle the job. Sometimes, however, things just fall into place as it was with Heinz and the Harrison Hikers. They were tailor-made for each other.
In the beginning, we all hiked together. As the group became bigger, more teams were formed to accommodate hikers who wanted to do more, less, or something a little different. And this is how The Troopers, guided by Joan and Allen Vogstad, and The Trekkers guided by Margaret Pillon, came about. Later on, Russ Spanton took on The Wanderers, the original group.
At this point in time, Trudy Hackel started The Walkers, a bit of a misnomer for this group since Trudy, even as I write, still guides weekly 7 to 8 kilometer hikes which, by no means are always level. While all these teams rarely met on the trails anymore, we kept taking advantage of doing things together, such as hiking vacations or annual dinners. It worked very well and there was a close bond between the teams.
Heinz loved to keep records of everything and for many years he used old Rolodex cards – which didn’t really roll so he kept them in boxes – to record distances, heights and other achievements. Later on, Russ Spanton and others did it by computer, but Heinz liked to do it the old-fashioned way. As a result of all the combined efforts, the Harrison Hikers were able to produce reports every year which were telling exactly how many kilometers, combined or individually, were achieved and hikers who reached certain milestones were awarded with certificates (issued by Arnold McCombs), hiking pins or trophies. Also, through combined efforts and contributions, the hikers produced an annual newsletter which contained those records. The last such newsletter, published at the end of 2007, reports that 2,766 hikes were done since the first hike in l989 and that, during the same time, 271,793 kilometers had been reported. It was in the same year when Joan Vogstad received her 11,000 kilometers pin, Allen Vogstad his 12,000 pin and Trucy Stoeckly, the all time star of the Harrison Hikers, was the proud receiver of a 13,000 kilometers pin!
As Ed Stenson, President of the HHS Recreation Commission wrote in a letter in March, 2007:
On behalf of the Harrison Hot Springs Recreation Commission and the Village of Harrison, I would like to congratulate the Harrison Hikers on 18 years of trekking. For the past 18 years this group has been what a community is truly about — people joining together to do something that is a joy to them all.
A special thank you must go to the individuals who organize and plan behind the scenes to assure that the hikes happen week in and week out. I know there are many people in this group and they all deserve a big thank you.
Congratulations on 18 years of hiking and hopefully the Harrison Hikers will continue to trek for many more.”
It was a Wednesday in February, 2008 when Heinz celebrated his 91st birthday and many of the hikers made the effort to come to our house to sing “Happy Birthday” and have a toast to Heinz. He was a happy leader and it was a moment to remember.
See Ruth Altendorf’s previous Harrison Happenings column.