October 2012 Volunteer of the Month
Andy Willgruber

                                                                                   Photo by Ken Moss

Nine years ago, PATC’s Corridor Management Committee needed a new overseer for the “bald” area on Little Calf Mountain. Charlottesville Chapter member Andy Willgruber expressed some interest, and after seeing the scope of the project—but before he could think about whether he wanted the job—he was handed the keys to the access gates.

The Little Calf Mountain overseer needed to have a unique mix of qualities: willingness to regularly spend hours cutting vegetation, access to a vehicle that could travel off-road, willingness to use that vehicle in overgrown areas, ability to use a chainsaw, and ability to handle a large power mower. Finding all those qualities in one volunteer was a great piece of luck for PATC.

Before even starting the rather formidable summit-clearing work, Andy first had to clear the impassable road leading to the summit so he could haul the field mower up. With help from fellow members of the Charlottesville Chapter, the work began.

Many work trips and hours of labor eventually resulted in a passable road. Only then could the main summit project begin. Many more hours of mowing, weeding, and hauling branches (and the mower!) finally resulted in success one fine September afternoon when Andy and crew could at last declare victory: the summit was clear. Hikers could get a spectacular, unobstructed view from Little Calf Mountain. The project has been so successful that it is part of the long-sought relocation of the Appalachian Trail leading up to Little Calf Mountain.

Although the Little Calf Mountain project is what Andy is best known for, he has played an important role in the renovation of PATC’s Dunlodge Cabin in Charlottesville by applying his HVAC, plumbing, and electrical skills to various tasks. Andy’s chainsaw skills, which have been essential at Calf Mountain, have likewise proven useful at Dunlodge.

In addition, Andy has pitched in to do trail work, including the AT relocations near Calf Mountain and Little Calf Mountain, and he recently became a Charlottesville Chapter hike leader. As if all these projects weren’t enough, Andy has done volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity. Plus, he runs his own HVAC, plumbing, and electrical business.

On a personal note, Andy has raised two wonderful daughters. In what remains of his spare time, Andy has honed his gardening and nature-photography skills. Andy also appreciates good music and has shared his love of the local music scene with others. Word has it that he’s a pretty good dancer, too.

—John Shannon