Patty McLaughlin has been a member of American Hiking Society since 2006 and has participated in 5 different Volunteer Vacations trips!  We at American Hiking love staying in touch and connecting with members to see why trails and the American Hiking Society are so important to them.

Q: What is your favorite AHS memory?
A: My favorite AHS memory would be meeting the AHS staff (and seeing Libby Wile again since our 2013 VV together) at National Trails Day 2015 at Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary.

Q: What is your favorite part about AHS?
A: My favorite part about AHS is the Volunteer Vacations as they afford me the opportunity to visit wild places I would not be able to visit on my own. On a broader realm, my favorite part about AHS is that they are working hard to protect all the hiking trails and land that we enjoy to explore.

Q: What do you feel you gain as a Volunteer Vacations volunteer?
A: As a VV volunteer, I feel I gain the opportunity to venture into the wilderness where I otherwise wouldn’t be able to safely as a single female.  I also gain the sense of accomplishment and giving back to the earth. It’s a great feeling, after a week doing trail work, to look back on the trail and observe the result of all your hard work, and to know that others can enjoy hiking the improved trail for years to come.

Q: What experiences growing up or in your adult life sparked your passion for hiking?
A: I believe my parents sparked my passion for hiking (camping, love and respect of nature, and sense of community service) at an early age. My parents grew up on farms. They took my three older brothers and myself tent camping at Maryland State Parks when I was three years old. I remember hiking to Cunningham Falls. When I was five years old my parents bought an acre of land in WV and that’s where we have spent vacations and weekends ever since. I participated in Girl Scouts from Elementary School through Junior High School (Brownies through Cadets), so I continued to camp and hike. The sense of community service was shown to us through my parents’ years of devotion to assisting, in numerous roles, with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Q:  What is your favorite Volunteer Vacations memory? 100_1299
A: I have favorite memories from all three Volunteer Vacations I’ve participated in so far. In general, all the nice people I’ve met and friends I’ve made. Specifically, the trip to Crater Lake during the 2008 North Umpqua National Scenic River VV; building new section of Iron Goat/Kelley Creek Connector Trail, hiking the Icicle Gorge Loop Trail and a short trek on the Pacific Crest Trail during the 2013 Mt. Baker/ Snoqualmie N.F. VV; and paddling everyday on the numerous lakes and receiving a surprise Birthday cake with ice cream during the 2013 Boundary Waters Canoe Area VV.

Q: What is your favorite trail or park to hike in?
A: I’ve never thought about choosing one particular trail or park as a favorite, as all of my hikes and visits to parks have been enjoyable in their own special way. I do enjoy trails that lead to waterfalls or spectacular panoramic views. I would like to return someday to Glacier N.P. and the National Parks in Southern Utah.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give to other hikers?
A: The best piece of advice I would give to other hikers is to take time to explore and enjoy the natural world as your’e hiking the trail to your destination.