Friendship blossoms over trail work and a crosscut saw

By Mick Mc Bride

I’ll be honest, when I started the PCTA Southern Oregon Rockers I went into it with eyes wide open, and I had no idea what to expect or if I would even like it.

I knew that we would improve the trail and feel good about that, but what really surprised me was just how much of a human kindness event these projects are; that complete strangers shivering together as they met for the first time in the early morning hours would be sitting trailside a few hours later eating lunch and laughing the way old friends do.

Angie Panter, Ann Smith and Linda Krawzyck. Photos by Mick Mc Bride.

You see, there is something about a stretch of dirt running from Mexico to Canada that builds love amongst us, and that is what inspires me to continue maintaining the PCT. This building of love and friendship born of hard work in the dirt happens all along the PCT. But here on the little portion of the PCT maintained by the Southern Oregon Rockers, we have a trio of special ladies who bonded over the hard work.

Angie Panter, Ann Smith and Linda Krawzyck all met as volunteers in southern Oregon in 2014. Angie and Linda met on the Southern Oregon Rockers second volunteer work project near Mount Ashland. We spent the day brushing a particularly tough overgrown section of trail. The work was hard, and as we worked the laughter was as real as it gets. At the end of the day I asked Angie and Linda if I could take a picture of them in the middle of the trail, and at that moment Linda looked Angie dead in the eye with a great big smile and asked, “We’re good friends now, right?”

Angie enthusiastically nodded her head and said, “Yeah, we are!”

Ann and Angie share another laugh.

Anyhow, Linda stood beside Angie, snaked her arm behind Angie’s back, and next thing I know the two of them are locked together facing me with about the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. I remember walking away from that moment thinking to myself that there just might be a lot more to this trail work than just work. I didn’t really know it yet, but that moment was the moment that the spirit of the Southern Oregon Rockers was born.

Ann met Angie and Linda at Big Bend Trail Skills College, a weekend-long training hosted by the PCTA. Ann and Angie took an intro to trail work course. I wasn’t in the class, but I’m sure the amount of laughter they generated dwarfed the amount of trail work that was accomplished — and to be clear, I mean that in a good way. Keep it safe, keep it fun, and that work will get done. That’s our Southern Oregon Rockers motto.

Linda said that she was thrilled to see Ann joining our ranks as she had already met her several times at REI, where Ann works as a sales associate. According to Linda, she remembered Ann as confident and a knowledgeable REI associate, so she looked for her in the store when shopping for gear for a specific purpose.

After the first day of training, as they sat and ate together, my attention was drawn to their laughter, which was louder and merrier than everyone else’s that night. You see, for these three ladies, laughter is medicine. That’s also true for everyone fortunate enough to be in the general area. Witnessing this comradery grow had me once again pondering on that notion that there just might be a whole lot more to this trail work than just trail work. I began to see the real reason trail work is important.

It didn’t take too long after that before all three wound up together on one of our work projects with other crew members. As you’ve probably guessed, the results were phenomenal. I watched them work hard, laugh harder and infect the other volunteers with their enthusiasm. I began to realize we had something special brewing.

Away from the trail Angie, Linda and Ann like to spend time camping together, shopping, eating out and restoring vintage crosscut saws for use on the trail. As to how they feel about each other, I think Angie sums it best: “ALWAYS laughing … I love everything these strong girls are capable of. I want them in my life forever. I love them both to bits!”

Friendship and teamwork get the job done.

Since those early days, not only have the three of them become special to one another, they have become an integral part of the Southern Oregon Rockers.

Angie has spent the past several years learning all things crosscut from crosscut guru David Rowe, culminating in her being named the Big Bend Trail Maintainer of the Year this year at Big Bend Trail Skills College. Angie is also known for bringing a level of enthusiasm and laughter to every work day that can’t be beat. It’s infectious and adored by us all.

Ann does a wonderful job of helping lead volunteers on work days. She makes them feel comfortable by teaching in an easy manner but more importantly gets them laughing. When we have Ann out with us, I know my day as the leader will be much easier and much more fun.

Linda, the Southern Oregon Rockers first volunteer, is now our first volunteer to become a trail steward herself after having trained this past spring in our new stewardship program. Next year she will be leading work crews on her own portion of the PCT somewhere between the Siskiyou Crest and Oregon Route 140. Linda has also been instrumental in my development as a leader as she is the one I count on to see things I missed and gently bring it to my attention.

Angie and Linda share the love.

I mentioned earlier that when I founded the Rockers, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I understood we would make the trail better, but beyond that, I had no idea what would happen. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Its safe to say that the Southern Oregon Rockers wouldn’t be who they are if these three ladies had not met and built their amazing friendship. They have infused the Rockers with an energy that makes us always strive to be better. The Southern Oregon Rockers are a PCT trail maintenance group built on friendships and a mission to create as many new friendships as possible along the way. We believe the trail work is important, but we believe the people doing the trail work and the relationships we build while laughing and working together are even more important.

Thank you, Linda, Ann and Angie for showing me the spirit of the Rockers, the “who” we are, and why it’s important that we stay the course.

Come laugh with us.


You can join the Rockers on a trail project, or find new friends in your area by going to our project schedule. 

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Winter 2018 Issue of the PCT Communicator magazine.