OCSJ Spotlight on:
By Vera C. Stek
While relatively new to the Outdoor Club William (Bill) Tahirak has been enjoying the outdoors since his childhood in Mercer County.
“I guess I was born with the gene for the outdoors and my whole life has been centered on a variety of outdoor activities,” Bill said. “In my youth, I enjoyed
fly fishing, hiking, skiing, camping and biking. Later in life I enjoyed kayaking and visiting historical sites.”
Bill has found that challenging himself to hike more miles has improved his health and quality of life. He is a member of the Grand Mile Club this year, striving to complete 1,000 hiking miles in 2019, which he certainly is well on his way to succeeding at.
“My experience with the Outdoor Club has been a great experience providing cool hiking opportunities that are well organized and safe events to share and enjoy,” he said.
Here’s his story:
Q. Tell us a little about yourself.
BILL: I have resided in Mansfield Township in Northern Burlington County for over 40 years. I grew up in Hamilton Township in Mercer County for 24 years, married and lived in Bordentown a couple of years before moving to Mansfield. I am semi retired and work part time for NWL Transformers in Bordentown as a manufacturing project engineer. My wife and I have two daughters and two granddaughters who are active and like to hike, bike, ski and enjoying fishing with their grandpa.
Q. When and why did you join the Outdoor Club? What benefits you get from belonging?
BILL: I joined the OC in February 2019 based on my wife’s recommendation to join and a friend who is member who goes on hikes and is involved with the trail maintenance team. Taking their advice was a good decision; I have found a home with the Outdoor Club.
I started my membership in the spring participating in the club helping out in trail maintenance and this experience has enriched my understanding of the Pine Barrens rich history, unique ecology and environmental importance to our region. It also turned out to be just great fun working with the maintenance team.
My hikes turned out to be just as fun, providing challenging hiking and learning experience in so many ways that I was not expecting. The members have shared their outdoor experiences and I have enjoyed sharing my enthusiasm with people love the outdoors. This has increased my hiking experience and a new enthusiasm for these hikes. I really like the team spirit, the camaraderie and enjoyment that comes with every hiking event.
Q. What made you join the Grand Mile Club? Where do you walk most of your miles? Do you have other goals? Do you walk in any and all weather?
BILL: I have participated in wellness programs in the past and enjoyed the challenge competing against others in achieving distance goals. Encouraged by an OC friend I signed up for the GMC. My backyard backs up to the Kinkora Trail so it is convenient for me to walk on the trail where I like to rack up miles with friends or by myself. I rack up additional miles to achieve my goals on club hikes.
One of my other hiking goals is to section hike the Appalachian Trail.
Call me crazy but I do enjoy hiking in all types of weather, I like to hike in the dark, I like the peacefulness of the night. I also enjoy the challenge of different weather conditions and temperature changes.
Q. Your favorite places to hike?
BILL: My favorite areas to hike are in Northern New Jersey on the AT trail from the Delaware Water Gap to Stokes State Forest, Wanaque and Merrill Creek Reservoirs and lately the Pines Barrens. I also hike regularly Eastern Massachusetts near Concord and Maine’s mid-coast which includes Camden Hills, Acadia National Park.
My wife and I have vacationed in Eastern and Western Canada, hiking in Quebec, British Columbia’s Vancouver Island and the Canadian Rockies. I have also hiked the Swiss Alps, the Cascades Mountains, Mt. Rainier and Olympia peninsula in Washington State. I have hiked parts of Georgia, North and South Carolina, the Smokeys and areas of Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania.
Q. Any places on your bucket list?
BILL: I’d like to hike the Swiss Alps, Vancouver Island, BC, Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park where the tallest Canadian trees are, walking the AT doing section hiking by state and the parks of interior Maine. One additional goal is to visit and spend time at each of the Canadian provinces, especially British Columbia, Alberta, Northern Quebec and Newfoundland.
Q. What piece of hiking equipment could you not do without?
BILL: One is a cell phone for communication in case of a trail emergency and a GPS for checking my location and to get directions in cases of remote locations. Next is a good pair of walking shoes or boots suitable for the terrain. This is for comfort and to avoid blisters. These are all definitely important for safe enjoyable hikes.
Q. Have you had any safety issues or injuries to deal with?
BILL: Early this summer I was on a club hike and one of the members had classic heart related symptoms of the serious kind. We were in an area that didn’t have cell service so an emergency call to 911 was not an option. So we had the person rest and slowly walk back to our car which was what he suggested to do. Halfway back one of guys from the group walked back got his car to pick him up and he then took himself to a hospital. This was a scary moment for all!
Q. What other interests do you have?
BILL: Most of my interest has been related to the outdoors and nature. I recently was introduced to Geocaching, which has added more excitement to my outdoor experience. I enjoy spending time with my granddaughters who live in Massachusetts.
Q. What’s something about yourself that might surprise others to know?
BILL: I am the type of individual that has a never-ending desire to learn and am very social. I have severe asthma that sometimes presents a challenge to walk at a steady rate. I believe that my hiking aspiration to trek lots of miles has changed this and I am now in better heath. I have lost over 40 plus pounds walking the past couple of years which has helped me relieve stress and I believe has extended my life with a better quality of life. The OCSJ has inspired me to develop the quality of life that the feisty senior hiking leaders like Joe Hummel to keep moving into their 90s.