OCSJ Spotlight on:
By Vera C. Stek
Life has a way of interfering with fun — and often with pursuing a healthful lifestyle — as time spent working, family obligations and maintaining a house and yard, as well as all the other minutia that goes along with that, just seems to fly by.
But occasionally people get a wake-up call and realize that taking the time to go outside and get active is well worth the effort, for a multitude of reasons.
That’s what happened to Dan McHugh of Haddon Township. While he loved playing sports as a youngster, loved the great outdoors and had long intended to join the Outdoor Club, he just didn’t get around to it until about 2 years ago.
He’s made up for lost time, however, recently completing his second round of the complete 52.7 miles of the Batona Trail and has made an effort to participate in other hikes with plans to do more hiking and try biking and kayaking with the club soon.
Here’s his story:
Q. Tell us a little about yourself.
DAN: I grew up in Oaklyn and currently reside in Haddon Township with my wife Lucy. We have a daughter, Emma, who is a sophomore at Temple University.
I’ve worked for Conrail, which is a freight railroad, for 27 years. I hired as a brakeman, became a conductor and then an engineer and now work as a yardmaster. A yardmaster is responsible for all train movement into and out of the yard, and also includes classifying all inbound trains and building all outbound trains.
Managing train crews takes finesse and it can get stressful but there are light days also. I’ve got about 3-1/2 years left before I say goodbye to the railroad and retire.
Side note: My grandfather and Dad worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad and my brother Gerry worked on Conrail for years also.
Q. When and why did you join the Outdoor Club? What benefits you get from belonging?
DAN: I joined the outdoor club in January of 2017. My first hike with the club was in December of 2016 at Franklin Parker Preserve with Mike Engel. I had an epiphany that year while vacationing at Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
Get outside, man!
The club had been on my radar for a while and that first hike was an eye opener. I was kind of amazed at the pace but I felt so good afterwards!
Q. Have you always been active outdoors? What activities do you participate in?
DAN: I played a lot of sports as a kid and ran track and cross country in high school and I’ve tried to stay active running, walking and biking since. If the weather is bad or I’m short on time, I hop on the treadmill for an hour.
Q. Do you walk in any and all weather? Do you have any goals, such as hiking a certain number of miles?
DAN: I work full time plus overtime and with family commitments I’m limited on my hiking days. (I’ve got 1,251.5 total miles in this year, so far). I am interested in biking and kayaking with the club also, although I haven’t been yet.
Q. Your favorite places to hike?
DAN: I loved hiking in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, and did a couple amazing hikes in Acadia this summer. My favorite hikes with OCSJ are the Batona with Joe and Vera, the Wissahickon with Rich and the Philly hikes with Jerry. Looking forward to hiking in Ireland, hopefully next year. Would love to hike in Switzerland also!
Q. What piece of hiking equipment could you not do without?
DAN: A good pair of hiking boots and plenty of water, along with a trail map or GPS, if needed, are what I try to have.
Q. Have you had any safety issues or injuries to deal with?
DAN: I’ve been fortunate so far as far as injuries although I have plenty of aches and pains trying to keep up with Joe Hummel :)
Q. What other interests do you have?
DAN: I’m passionate about listening to music and seeing it performed live. I also love to read.
Q. What’s something about you that might surprise other people to know?
DAN: Before I hired on the railroad I worked as a waiter in Atlantic City and waited on — yup — Donald Trump. I have nothing bad to say about that either; he left me a nice tip :)
Q. Anything else you want to say about anything?
"I am restored in beauty.
I am restored in beauty.
I am restored in beauty.” — Navajo Prayer