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October 2016 Volunteer of the Month
Ron Stoltzfus joined PATC in 2012 and soon after showed up unexpectedly on a Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter worktrip in Ramseys Draft Wilderness. That day the work crew ran into some horrendous blowdowns that totally blocked the trail in the most remote part of the Wilderness.
Ron demonstrated a “can do” attitude from Day One, tackling these complex blowdowns with only a 13” Corona. SSVC soon realized Ron would be a strong contributor to our trail work efforts in the proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area in the George Washington National Forest.
Ron’s strong work ethic and dependability became particularly evident during the extensive cleanup on Shenandoah Mountain Trail after the 2012 derecho. Despite his busy work schedule, he always found time to join our work trips.
After helping others maintain their adopted trails for a year, Ron decided to adopt the 6-mile Buck Mountain Trail, which runs through the heart of the Little River Roadless Area, the largest Inventoried Roadless Area on National Forest land in the Eastern United States.
Buck Mountain Trail lies with the 12,500’acre Little River Wilderness portion of the proposed 90,000-acre Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area. This is one of the most remote trails east of the Mississippi.
This is not a trail for slackers. It is a 12-mile hike with 2,000 ft. elevation gain and three river crossings just to check it out. It was overgrown when Ron signed up with the North River Ranger District to be its maintainer, but after 3 years and a lot of help from fellow chapter members, Ron has Buck Mountain Trail in first class condition.
Ron uses hand tools in the spirit of the Wilderness Act, though the area has not yet been legislatively protected. He uses Coronas, shears, loppers, and hand clippers to clear the way. He has even installed waterbars on the steep sections to prevent erosion. In addition to all the work Ron has has done on Buck Mountain Trail, he continues to help other SSVC members maintain their adopted trails on Shenandoah Mountain and serves as a hike leader.
What prompted Ron to get started with trail work as he nears retirement age? He had a goal to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim with his son. New to hiking, Ron knew he needed to get in shape, so he joined PATC. Ron has successfully hiked the Grand Canyon several times now. He hikes mostly in the George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park and enjoys long hikes.
While he is not volunteering or hiking, Ron teaches accounting at York College. He lives in Harrisonburg with his wife Bonnie. Ron serves on the boards of the Virginia Wilderness Committee and Ten Thousand Villages. He is also a member of Parkview Mennonite Church.
Many groups have quiet people who don’t say much, but serve as the backbone and driving force behind our volunteer efforts. Ron is that person in our Shenandoah Mountain crew. We all enjoy working with this good-natured, humble man and value his contributions.
The thing that would make Ron happiest is if more hikers would use Buck Mountain Trail. He thinks it’s one of the best kept secrets in Virginia.
—Nominated by Lynn and Malcolm Cameron