By Robert (Bob) J. Weggel
“Good trails are good,” shares American Hiking Society volunteer and supporter, Robert (Bob) Weggel. “Thank you, AHS, for the opportunity to help to create and maintain them. Your week-long Volunteer Vacations have treated me to the lush forests of Spruce Knob, West Virginia, the desert of Hells Canyon, Arizona, the ridges of Mt. Katahdin, Maine, the slopes of Colorado’s Maroon Bells, and the thrill of blasting ledge near Crater Lake, Wyoming.”
Best of all have been half a dozen sessions in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of South-Central Colorado, with the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. The highlight one year was a dawn visit by a dozen mountain-goat moms and kids so close to my tent as to tempt reaching out to pet them. Each mid-week “rest day” was an opportunity to summit a nearby fourteener: Crestone Needle, Blanca Peak, and Challenger and Kit Carson Peaks. Mountains of such beauty and grandeur thrill me to the core; it’s very satisfying to help to protect them. My specialty is rockwork, as pictured below:
Sparking my love of adventure were James Ramsey Ullman’s The White Tower, Richard Haliburton’s New Worlds to Conquer, and biographies of George Leigh-Mallory and Edmund Hillary. Nurturing my love of the outdoors were summer camping trips with my parents in Michigan, and scrambles in the Alps while in France and Germany from age 10 to 14.
Sierra Club White-Mountain outings in the late 60s to mid-70s triggered my love of peak-bagging. Most memorable were overnighting atop Long’s Peak in 1970 and, in September and October of 1975, fulfilling a life dream to experience the Himalayas: Kangtega, Thamserku, Ama Dablam—and Chomolungma (Mt. Everest) from atop 18,200’ Kala Patar. In 2004 was a bluebird day of 22 miles, 6,500 feet of elevation gain, on Mount Whitney. Since then, acclimatization for Volunteer Vacations in the Rockies has taken me—from age 63 through 74—up another 40 of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners.
The beauty, grandeur, and imperiled status of Nature have inspired me to endow several “Opportunity Funds”; the latest is for the American Hiking Society. It gives me great satisfaction to help to protect wild areas in perpetuity. I look to the AHS to make each trail so good that no one will stray from it, furthering the fragmentation of wildlife habitat.