President: Whitney “Allgood” La Ruffa
Back in 1996 I left home at 18 to start my first thru-hike, the Appalachian Trail, that journey would set the tone for the rest of my life. After completing my hike and finding a dog along the way I worked as a Ridge runner on the AT in 1997 & 1998. After graduating college I moved to Oregon where I spent the next decade backpacking, skiing, fishing, and mountaineering. In 2008 my friend decided he wanted to thru-hike the PCT and asked me to do his trail support, little did I know but a few short months later I was to be thrown back into the trail community I had missed for so many years. After attending PCT days that fall we attended the ALDHA-West Gathering and once again in life I felt at
home with my peers, and ran into some old friends from the AT as a bonus.
Fast forward, I have now found a great life balance of maintaining a career as a lumber broker and being full blown hiker trash. I have had the great pleasure in the past few years to thru-hike the John Muir Trail, The Wonderland Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail-along with numerous trips in my home range of the Cascade Mountains. I have also launched a website dedicated to educating backpackers and long-distance hikers about the joys, ethics and experiences I have gained from hiking long trails with dogs over the past 17 years. I am now a proud brand ambassador for Ruffwear Dog Gear, TurbPUP, and Gossamer Gear. I truly look forward to working for ALDHA-West in the coming years.
Vice President: Liz “Snorkel’ Thomas
Liz “Snorkel’ Thomas is thrilled to be VP of ALDHA-W and to be part of this vibrant and fun longdistance hiking community. Liz’s voracious appetite powered her through the Triple Crown (AT-’08, PCT-’09, CDT-’10) and 12 other end-to-end thru-hikes, including the pioneering trip of the Chinook Trail with ALDHA-W President Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa.
In her time not walking, Liz attained a Master’s of Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where she was awarded the Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship for her research on the interplay between trail town communities, large scale conservation, and long distance trails—a project she is hoping to build on with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.
Liz has been featured in Backpacker Magazine for her urban thru-hike of Los Angeles, the Inman 300, and stories about her hikes have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo!News, and Gizmodo. She gives presentations about long distance hiking around the country, mostly to college outdoor clubs like the one where she first learned how to backpack. Liz is a proud brand ambassador for Altra Zero Drop shoes, Gossamer Gear, Probar, Vermont Darn Tough socks, Mountain Laurel Designs, Sawyer filters, and Montbell. When not hiking, Liz splits her time between Denver, CO and her parents’ couch in Sacramento, CA.
Secretary: Kate “Drop-N-Roll” Hoch
Like many others, following a 2011 thru-hike of the PCT, Drop-N-Roll relocated from her lifelong home in Pennsylvania to Portland, OR, feeling the call of the west’s wilderness and the welcome of the long distance hiking community. She hiked the CDT in 2013, the Hayduke in 2016, and is currently working on a long term project to streak the 100 highest peaks of Oregon.
As secretary of ALDHA-West, Drop-N-Roll aims to bring efficiency and organization to the group’s operations. She is glad to be able to give back to the hiking community.
Treasurer: Steven ‘Twinkle’ Shattuck
I, Steven ‘Twinkle’ Shattuck am a resident of Golden, Colorado. I spend most of my free time in the high country, climbing Colorado’s lofty summits. I’ve climbed all fifty-three ranked peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado, and will finish the list of the 100 highest peaks (often called ‘Centennials’) in Colorado in 2017. I enjoy winter summits, booting up couloirs and strapping the ski’s on for back country descents. When not nerding out with summit lists, I also enjoy trail running, mountain biking, ice climbing, and rafting.
But more than anything, I enjoy long distance hiking. The full immersion in your surroundings, and the connectedness you feel from the extended time in the wilderness is unmatched in any other outdoor pursuits. I love the simplicity and rhythm of living outdoors for months. Add in the sense of community I feel from the hikers around me, and it’s an unbeatable experience. I’ve hiked 90% of the triple crown, and have also hiked other trails such as the JMT, Colorado Trail, and the Long Trail. Lately, I’ve really enjoyed doing more trail less routes. Handy Andy and I recently pioneered the Beartooth High Route (BeHR), a nice loop through Montana’s highest mountain range. I especially love the desert and the high country. In all outdoor activities, and especially thru-hiking, I go ‘Ultralight’. This allows me to test my limits, and keeps me much more engaged, heightening my sense of awareness of my surroundings.
Through all of my outdoor pursuits, I’ve been fortunate to have a steady career in accounting, earning a master’s degree (I demand my friends call me Master Twinkle ;-) ), and obtaining my CPA license while working for a Big 4 firm for four years. I’m excited to be ALDHA-West’s treasurer, using my accounting expertise to help the organization maintain fiscal responsibility and continue to grow our outreach to a community that has given me more than I could ever give back."
Officer at Large: Felicia "Princess of Darkness" Hermosillo
Triple Crowner, Felicia “Princess of Darkness” Hermosillo earned her name through pranks, shenanigans, and ruthless behavior. She is one of four co-hosts of the world-famous podcast, The Trail Show, a master of pranks, and a self-proclaimed Mexabilly (Mexican – Hillbilly).
Officer at Large: Tim “Deadhead” Spillane
Originally from Point Pleasant, New Jersey, I spent the majority of my young life living between the East Coast and Central/Northern NM. This allowed me the best of both worlds, thick wooded forest trails along the Appalachians and high desert peaks of the Southwest and Colorado area. It wasn’t until my completion of the AT in 1988 that I fell in love with thru-hiking. Since then, I’ve hiked several of our National Scenic Trails and “peak bagged” a good portion of Colorado’s fourteeners and the White Mountain’s four-thousand footers.
When not traveling around the world with work, you can usually find me out hiking or maintaining trails on the Pacific Crest Trail. I am currently a Trail Steward for the Pacific Crest Trail Association. The section I am responsible for is from Harts Pass to Holman Pass in the beautiful Pasayten Wilderness of Northern Washington. In 2013, I moved from Pennsylvania to Mount Vernon, WA where I currently reside.
Officer at Large: Naomi “the Punisher” Hudetz
When Naomi reached Manning Park at the end of her first thru hike, she knew her life was forever changed when she realized she was not ready for her hike to be over. She is now a Triple Crowner (PCT ’09, CDT ’12, AT ’14). She is honored and excited to be a part of this dynamic hiking community. She lives in White Salmon, Washington, where she is probably thinking or talking about one of the many facets of long distance hiking.
Officer at Large: Christopher “Freefall” Sanderson
In January of 2000, Freefall met a former high school classmate, who was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and staying at Uncle Johnny’s in Erwin, Tennessee. She was hiking the AT southbound, and told him that he should do it too. Freefall listened! Later that year on June 5th, Freefall began his journey on the Appalachian Trail, and over the course of five months, fell in love with long distance hiking. In 2003, Freefall walked the Pacific Crest Trail northbound, finishing only 45-miles shy of the border due to weather – yep, he was bummed! In June of 2009, Freefall took off for yet another hike, walking the Continental Divide Trail southbound, and completed it in November. Finally, in September of 2011, Freefall walked his last 45-miles of the PCT, and was awarded his Triple Crown at the ALDHA-West Gathering in Wenatchee, Washington that same month.
Freefall is active in the PCT community. For seven years, he was the Presentation Coordinator at Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kickoff (ADZPCTKO), and currently is on the Board of Directors with that organization. Freefall is also a Lifetime Member of the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), and a trail maintainer with the Mt. Hood Chapter of the PCTA. In September of 2012, Freefall was elected to the Board of Directors of ALDHA-West, and currently coordinates the programs and schedule for the Gathering. Freefall lives in Portland, Oregon, and owns a general contracting business called Builder By Bike.
Officer at Large: Joe “Tatu Joe” Kisner
Triple Crowner, Joe “Tatu Joe” Kisner has hiked the PCT 3 times [05', 07', 08'], AT 10′, and CDT 13′. He has also completed the Florida, Colorado, and John Muir Trails several times, as well as several smaller trails. In the off season, it is not uncommon to find him section hiking along the PCT in Southern California or doing trail work with the local Ultra Marathon Organizations. Most of his friends are trail related, and he rarely misses an ADZPCTKO. Joe looks forward to hiking the rest of the National Scenic Trails as well as repeating the Triple Crown again. Joe lives in Huntington Beach California, where he surfs and works as a Stone Mason.
Special Appointed Positions by the Board
Gazette Publisher Editor: Bob “Beaker” Turner
Bob “Beaker” Turner has been hiking since his Boy Scout days some 50 years ago. He and his wife started hiking with their children when they were 7 & 9. As a family they thru hiked Oregon in the early 90′s. In 1997 he hiked the PCT from Mexico to Canada with his 15 year old daughter. He spent the ensuing years section hiking the rest of the PCT with his wife, Dragonfly. After retiring in 2010 they hiked the AT from Georgia to Maine. The ’13 season found them at Campo headed north to Donner Pass, where Dragonfly completed the last 1150 miles of the PCT.
Bob has served as ALDHAWest President, been a member of the Board, and acted as web editor. He enjoys introducing people to lightweight hiking, and is continually trying to refine his own style. It has always been the people he has met on the trails that have been the most rewarding part of his experiences.
Gazette Editor: Charles Baker
Charles was born and raised in North Central Texas - just west of Fort Worth. It was his mother who was instrumental in fostering his love of the outdoors. In his educational pursuits, he obtained a BS in Applied Economics and an MBA. His career had him hopping around the globe as a Supply Chain and Operations Consultant for CPG companies. He is now a retired, single grandfather with 10 grandchildren. While living in Augusta, GA, he decided to branch out from his traditional activity of distance running and looked into hiking. While studying the AT, he came across the ALDHA-West website and took them up on their invitation to the 2015 Gathering. Charles currently resides in Missouri and is looking forward to more time on the trail.