Our Hike Leaders
Friends is lucky to have friends like these. Our volunteer Hike Leaders and Shepherds make our annual Spring and Fall Hiking Programs possible. Their knowledge, dedication and love of the Gorge make every hike special. Here are profiles of some of our most involved volunteers.
Become a Hike Leader!
You too can lead hikes with Friends! Contact Outdoor Programs Coordinator Maegan Jossy at email@example.com or (503) 241-3762 x.103 to get involved.
Hike Leaders and Shepherds
Joan Amero moved to Oregon from Massachusetts in 1976, took up hiking, and hasn’t stopped since! Since retiring in 2009, Joan is thrilled to be able to hike three to four times a week. This winter most of her hikes were on the Washington side of the Gorge on Friends’ hikes or with the many friends she has made through the organization. When not hiking, Joan is volunteering for Portland Audubon and Nature Abounds, visiting family in Gloucester, MA, or taking wildlife photos in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone where she spends six to eight weeks each year.
Debbie is an avid advocate of hiking in and protecting our region’s special places. She grew up in Arizona and California but has lived in Portland for over 20 years. Debbie holds economics and MBA degrees from UCLA and currently edits books for accountants and economists, but her big passion is the outdoors, photography, and convincing Portlanders that they need to use and preserve the beauty at our doorstep. To that end, Debbie started a women’s hiking group a few years ago, now at over 200 members. They hike every week in the Gorge, Washington State, Mt Hood, or the coast. They also snowshoe and ride bikes.
Joan tries to hike with Friends and Oregon Wild every month. She serves as a Friends Hike Shepherd. In recent years, she led several hikes at Eagle Creek, with a focus on the Civilian Conservation Corps work in the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s. (She loves that period and especially the work relief the CCC provided to so many young men.) Joan also spends one week per year as a crew chief for a week-long volunteer project with the American Hiking Society in the San Juan Islands. She also camps for a second week with a crew from the Yosemite Association and work on trails in the Tuolumne Meadows vicinity at 8600 ft.!
James grew up in Missouri and started hiking, camping and canoeing in the Ozark Mountains at a young age. He began serious backpacking 25 years ago with a group that evolved out of his son’s Boy Scout Troop, and he has done at least one week-long trip in the western states mountains ever since—Olympic National Park, the Northern Cascades, the Wind River Range, the Tetons, and many more! In May 2007 James retired from his “Corporate Life,” he and his wife moved to NW Portland, and now cannot ever imagine living anywhere else! Friends was the first organization James found here, and he does 10 or more Friends hikes with them each year. James also bikes, snowshoes and skis cross-country.
Scott Cook is a 15-year Hood River resident and the author of one of the Gorge’s best hiking/exploring guidebooks, Curious Gorge. Scott likes to lead hikes that have a historic bent and on many of his outings Scott will provide materials like historic photos and how they relate to the Gorge area in question. If you like hiking, like history, and love the Gorge, then no doubt you’ll be both entertained and enlightened on an outing with Scott.
Margo is an avid hiker and tireless advocate for wilderness protection. Before "retiring" to Oregon with her husband 21 years ago, Margo lived in Connecticut and raised four children while pursuing a career in classical music: opera, recital, church and synagogue soloist. Her family’s summer vacations were backpacking expeditions all over the West. In Oregon, Margo has led Wilderness backpacking trips, serving 15 years as a Sierra Club leader. Margo has also served for eight years as Secretary of the Board of Directors of Hood River Valley Residents Committee, the primary land-use watchdog in Hood River County. She also serves on the President’s Council of the Wilderness Society, and leads and shepherds day hikes during their Council meetings. In addition, Margo served three years on the Hood River Wilderness Committee pushing for additional Mount Hood Wilderness, now incorporated in the 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Bill creating 26,000 new acres of Wilderness in the Gorge. Margo has also submitted extensive written and oral testimony in opposition to the proposed off-reservation Gorge casino.
Jane grew up in Minnesota, moving to Oregon in 1996, and her passion for hiking and other outdoor interests here has grown deeper every year. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and in Community Health. Some years after college she pursued a profession in Alternative Health and has been a Licensed Massage Therapist for over 20 years. Jane joined Friends of the Columbia Gorge in 2006, getting involved with the hike shepherd and leader program right away. The oldest of eight, she admits to having a bit of a mother hen tendency, so ensuring the well-being of and fun for other hikers seemed natural for her. Jane is also a volunteer hike leader for Trails Club of Oregon, Board Member and work-party volunteer for Trailkeepers of Oregon, and keeps involved in many opportunities related with her health profession.
Bev has been involved with the outdoors “forever.” Her family used to camp or hike every weekend when they first moved to Oregon as a way to learn about the beautiful Northwest. Later, living in Southern California, she became involved with the Sierra Club, leading hikes, biking trips, backpacking trips, car camps, ski trips, and she even co-led a National Backpack trip in the Sierras. Her love of the outdoors led her to return to the Northwest in 2006, settling in Camas. The view from her home is east into the Columbia Gorge, and she quickly learned about and joined Friends. Today she volunteers as a Friends Hike Shepherd in this region she’s fallen in love with all over again. Photography and wildflowers are special interest of hers.
Patricia has been a member of friends for five years, a shepherd for two. She has hiked most of the trails in the Gorge and loves the outdoors. Patricia’s father was a hike leader for the Adirondack Trails, and growing up in upstate New York, she and her three brothers hiked and camped in the White Mountains, Sherbourne Pass in Vermont, and many more. Patricia and her husband have been married 37 years, have a daughter, son-in-law, and a young granddaughter.
As a self-employed writer, Tina Lassen is lucky to be able to live anywhere in the country—and she chose Hood River. A native of the Midwest, Tina was hiking pretty much as soon as she could walk, trying to keep up with her family on summer vacations to the High Sierras. Now a Gorge resident for 10 years, she loves discovering new trails, spotting her first balsamroot bloom each spring and marveling at the Gorge from her kitchen window.
Brenda and John Morris
Brenda and John Morris moved to Portland from Alexandria, VA in 2003 after over 30 years in New England and Virginia. They have hiked extensively along the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine, the White and Green mountains, and have a special affection for the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. They are continuing their love for the outdoors in the Pacific Northwest and especially the Gorge, which they visit frequently. John volunteers as a Friends Hike Leader, and both serve as Hike Shepherds.
Marianne Nelson moved to Portland in the fall of 2006 after retiring as Executive Director of a small land trust in Illinois. Because she knew of the land conservation efforts of Friends of the Columbia Gorge, she joined and soon volunteered. Marianne was trained as a Friends Hike Shepherd in 2007 and has been helping lead Gorge hikes ever since. Marianne’s husband is a nature photographer, so she has a special interest in hikes where hikers can take time to really look at the wildflowers and other items of interest. Marianne was named Friends’ Volunteer of the Year 2009.
Scott has been hiking the Columbia Gorge for decades. After climbing every mountain and hiking every maintained trail in the Gorge, Scott went on a Friends’ hike led by the late Roy Stout, on which he was introduced to the off-trail routes in newly public land on the Washington side. Since then he has been working to open and maintain public access to great scenic places like Cape Horn. There are still places in the Gorge where Scott hasn’t been, but there are fewer every year. Scott and his wife, Ellen, have been hiking off-trail for almost 20 years, starting when they got lost on Cascade Head and actually enjoyed it. Since then Scott has become skilled with maps and GPS so they don’t get lost much anymore. He has maps and GPS tracks from more than 100 different trails and off-trail routes in the Pacific Northwest, the U.S., and Europe. If he keeps up with his homework he’ll have a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems from Portland State at the end of this term.
Scott is a “Transit-to-Trail” pioneer. For the last couple of years, Scott has been using Skamania Transit to hike in the Cape Horn area. He’s ridden the Skamania bus dozens of times to and from trailheads, in all seasons of the year.
For more information on Scott’s transit-to-trail hikes, including maps and distance charts, visit: http://www.scottadventure.com/Cape_Horn/capehorn.html
Delores was born in Chicago and came to Oregon after she graduated college in 1971. Delores had heard that Oregon was “God’s country” and when she first drove through the Gorge she knew why. It became a special place for her, and she wants future generations to experience something special too. Delores has a BS in Science Education and studied Wildlife Science for two years. She has volunteered for several animal and environmental organizations over the years. Today she also volunteers with the Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards and the City of Gresham (Bird Surveys). This is her fourth year volunteering with Friends as a Hike Leader and Shepherd, but she also helps on litter pick-ups, outreach, the Clausen Outdoor Education Program, and writes letters to newspapers and government officials.
Aubrey has been hiking in the Gorge for longer than he can remember! Now he has come full circle and carried his own sleeping children in backpacks over the same trails that he was once carried over. Some of his earliest memories: Wandering off-trail on Hamilton Mountain and getting much too close to the cliffs; hiking Eagle Creek with his parents holding him by a rope (leash-like!) around the waist; sliding down the fabulous dunes that were just east of The Dalles and have now been covered by ODOT to prevent their drifting onto I-84. His favorite hikes today were not open to the public just 10 years ago—evidence of how the National Scenic Area Act has changed the Gorge for the better! The son of Friends’ founder Nancy Russell, Aubrey also serves Friends’ board , and on the board of the Friends of the Columbia Gorge Land Trust .
Bob and Mary Ann Schmidt
Bob is retired ODOT bridge engineer. Mary Ann is the director of the Student Watershed Research Project at Portland State University and has been an environmental educator for over 20 years. Bob and Mary Ann been Friends hike shepherds for a number of years. They enjoy bird watching, photography, and checking out the wildflowers in the Gorge. Other hobbies include gardening, ocean fishing for salmon, kayaking, and playing in the Lambert Street String Band (a regular at Friends’ Summer Picnic!).
As an Oregon state-licensed guide and outfitter, Jason operates "Outdoor Viewfinder," in which he teaches outdoor photography classes and workshops ranging from single-day classes in an urban environment to multi-day treks in the wilderness. By special permit by the U.S. Forest Service, he is the only licensed photographer in the United States authorized to lead guided outings and workshops in the Mt. Hood National Forest and sections of the Columbia River Gorge. The use of a camera has enabled Jason to learn more about our surroundings and to develop a personal creative vision that depicts what he sees in a person, place, object, or a particular moment. His style of his work is depicted by the proper balance of colors, dramatic lighting, and the element of gesture in tandem with a keen sense of composition. Jason’s inspiration to work in photography is his love for the medium, sharing his knowledge and images with others, and the anticipation of making the next photograph. His educational experience includes a BFA in photography from Old Dominion University and workshops that include studying photography with Glen McClure, Richard Newman, Sam Abell, and Jay Maisel. If you would like to participate in a photography class, you may contact Jason by visiting his website.
A Gorge resident, Steven started hiking and backpacking as a Boy Scout growing up in Kansas. He progressed to the “big time” when he moved to Arizona in the 1970’s, exploring the Grand Canyon and other desert/canyon destinations, as well as taking a trhee-week raft trip down the Colorado River. After moving to Portland 30 years ago, Steven began hiking the region and was enthralled by the Columbia Gorge. Steven developed his own hiking system to explore the many National Scenic Area trails for their wildflowers, waterfalls and vistas. Steven has been a Friends member as well as Sierra Club, Columbia Riverkeeper and Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) for many years. He now lives in the Gorge outside Lyle, WA, and appreciating the drier geology, flora and fauna, and history. He enjoys sharing outdoor experiences and learning about all aspects of nature, including how humans can live in sustainable ways and conserve the natural resources we have been blessed with for future generations.