Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa is the current President of ALDHAWest.org, which hosts an annual gathering that brings together people who love long trails.
Allgood was a Boy Scout who found a passion for the Appalachian Trail as soon as he found out about it. For three years in high school he saved money washing dishes to pay for his AT thru hike in 1996, the year after he graduated.
Living in the Portland area, Allgood loves the Columbia Gorge, so we chat about the devastating Labor Day Weekend Eagle Creek Fire. Started by fireworks, the fire put many hikers in danger and wiped out some amazing swaths of wilderness areas. He talks about the future of the area and how it differs between wilderness and non wilderness areas.
Allgood also tells the history of the Chinook Trail, which starts at Silver Star Mountain in the Columbia Gorge, goes east to Merry Hill, crosses the Columbia River at Biggs Junction and heads west downriver to Angel’s Rest. The Chinook Trail became a National Recreation Trail in 1994. There has only been 30 of the 300 miles of trail completed on this route.
He decided to hike the trail with his hiking buddies and a map roughly marked by a Sharpie. On the Oregon side of the Gorge, they were able to connect some existing trails. When they reached the eastern side of Oregon, they were passing through farm lands mostly. The Eagle Creek fire put a hold on plans for further mapping and a guidebook.
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Rudy Giecek of Arlington is the host of the Cascade Hiker Podcast. (More about Rudy here.) You can find the entire archive of podcasts and support his work at his website. Or email him at email@example.com.