As a Payson Packer hiker whose picture appears on Page 40 in the "Summer Visitors Guide," I would like to correct what was said in the caption: "Dave Engleman of Payson helped found the community hiking club, the Payson Packers."
This is not true. A nice Payson woman named Rae Strunk, with six or seven other women, started the Payson Packer Hiking Club in the spring of 1981.
I took my first hike on Sept. 25, 1990 to a place on the Rim known as Pivot Rock. A few years later, Rae Strunk began to slow up and a hiker named John Craig began to lead the hikes.
In the spring of 1993, John moved to Phoenix. A week after he left, the Packers gathered near the Wells Fargo Bank. We were looking at each other, wondering where to hike. I suggested a nice hike up on the Rim and away we went, with me up front as leader. I extended that hike and began to extend the length of other hikes and, over the years, found more hikes. In recent years, other Packers found new hikes. Today, we make a different hike each week, all year long.
Twice in those early years, I had 50 people behind me. I decided to divide up the Packers into two groups. We now have four groups with different abilities.
Over the years, we extended our hiking area.
Some of us have climbed the summit of North Peak and more than once climbed to the summit of Four Peaks. There is Mount Pelee, Black Mountain, Bishop's Knoll and the mountains around Flagstaff. There were three trips to Capitol Reef National Park, where I was a ranger. There were Bryce and Zion Canyons and two or three trips into the Grand Canyon, including Havasupai. There were the Chiricahuas and old Fort Bowie and parks in California and trips into a few Arizona caves.
For all of us, those have been wonderful memories with nice, caring people of all ages. The oldest is now 82.
It's nice to have your picture in the paper and, as I point upward in that picture, I think of all those who moved on and all those who are yet to drop down on the Packers and become lifelong hikers. You are all leaders and thank you, Rae Strunk, for your early years of leadership.
Dave Engleman, Payson