Outdoor Club of South Jersey Newsletter
OCSJ Spotlight on:
Ann Palaitis

By Vera C. Stek

Many are called but few complete one of the most grueling challenges hikers face in America: a thru-hike of the more than 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail. Only about 12,000 people have completed the distance from Georgia to Maine since it was completed in 1937, though countless others have finished the trail in sections or done just a few sections.
It’s like the Boston Marathon for runners or Mount Everest for climbers: the pinnacle of striving and achieving something extraordinary, surviving the elements and meeting every challenge Mother Nature has available.
Ann Palaitis of Medford completed her thru-hike in 1998, before there were apps that let you know if you went off the trail and how to get back on it, and before there was tech gear that eased the weight of backpacks by pounds. She has done many section hikes since then and enjoys a very active lifestyle with her long-time husband, John.
“Long ago, I read an article about following your own passion in life. I try to follow that advice and it has served me well,” Ann said. “Also, I want to express my gratitude to the OCSJ, its leaders and members for giving me the opportunity to explore the outdoors with adventurous liked-minded people.” 

Here’s her story: 

Q. First, tell us about yourself.

ANN: I grew up in South Philly and rarely saw a tree but I fell in love with the woods at age 10 when I went to summer camp in Burlington County and continued to go for many years. 
Now I live with my husband John of 50 years on Taunton Lake in Medford where the woods surround me. We have 2 children and four grandchildren who live in the area.
I have been retired for around 10 years and have time for lots of adventures near and far. In my working days I was an actuary and helped companies maintain the financial soundness of their pension plans. It was a very technical and analytic job and a big contrast to the outdoors.

Q. When and why did you join the Outdoor Club? What activities do you most often participate in? What benefits do you gain by belonging to the club?

ANN: I joined OCSJ in 1990 after going on a moonlight hike that I read about in a local newspaper. I enjoyed it so much that I did more hikes and joined the club. Over the years I have participated in every activity offered by the club and met so many wonderful, friendly people and many are now my good friends.  
The club expanded my horizons: I have done outdoor adventures that I never thought I could do, like hut-to-hut X-country skiing in British Columbia and completing the Batona Trail 50 miler in a day. I especially enjoy X-country skiing and John and I have led ski trips to Yellowstone National Park and West Virginia. These longer trips are a great way to get to know other club members with like interests.

Q. Tell us about your thru-hike of the AT. Why did you do it? Would you ever do it again?

ANN: The seeds of my thru-hike go back to 1972 when I was in Shenandoah NP and bought a book by Ed Garvey about his thru-hike. I read it in a day and decided I would thru-hike one day. But I had two toddlers and had never backpacked or even hiked long distances.  
But that decision guided me for the next 30 years to keep in shape and stay active. Then, in 1998, the stars aligned: children grown enough and financially able to take time off from work and there I was at Springer Mountain in Georgia!  
It took 6 months to reach Katahdin and every moment exceeded my expectations as I hiked thru cold and snow, spring flowers and then heat and humidity to fall colors. Hence, my trail name was Seasons!  
My spouse John joined me every few weeks and hiked about 1,000 miles of the AT, so he chose Halftime as his trail name. Off the trail, John would enjoy the easy life and when he returned to the trail, it was always tough to get his muscles going again.
I could go on and on about the experiences of the AT. Yes, there were scary moments related to strange people, moose and bear encounters, violent mountain storms and raging stream crossings! But also perfect days, magnificent vistas, great people and trail magic.  
Yes, I would do it again. In fact, I did do a section of each of the 14 states last year to celebrate my 20th anniversary of the thru-hike. Things have changed over the last 20 years! Most significantly, technology and smart phones make communication easier. For example, at a remote road crossing in North Carolina, a hiker called a food truck and another called an Uber driver to shuttle her to town.  

Q. Where else have you been hiking (or biking, kayaking or whatever else you do)? Do you plan active vacations? Any place on your bucket list? 

ANN: I enjoy organizing active trips, both short and long. I come up with ideas and plans and John moans and groans but he is a great sport and traveler.  I have done many trips with friends made through the club, including bike and barge trips in Europe and biking various rails-to-trails in the US.  
John and I hiked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago and also parts of caminos in France and Italy and we biked for 77 days across the US from Oregon to Virginia.  
We've climbed the highest points of 30 US states including the highest in the lower 48, Mt. Whitney in CA.  
I have spent many winters in Florida where I kayak; sometimes where there are alligators (which scares many folks) but they don't bother me (yet!, haha).  
The trip to Yellowstone NP in winter for snowshoeing and x-c skiing was an amazing experience, skiing near elk, bison, steaming hot pools and geysers.  
On my bucket list is hiking in New Zealand and seeing the Northern Lights, maybe in Norway.

Q. What’s a piece of equipment you couldn’t do without when you’re outdoors?

ANN: I generally like to travel light (like John Muir who only carried a loaf of bread as he hiked the Sierras). But items most likely in my pack would be water, sunscreen and extra clothes (as I am always chilly).

Q. What are some of your favorite hikes/bikes/kayaks in the Pine Barrens?

ANN: I enjoy the north end of the Batona Trail and the Pakim Pond area. I like the cranberry bog areas, especially when they are near harvest. Lately I have been on some club hikes in central NJ, like Cheesequake SP and it is neat to hike HILLS! 

Q. Do you feel that keeping active has affected your health and well being?

ANN: Being active probably saved my life! In 2007 while on a OCSJ backpack trip in Virginia I had a slight pain in my chest and felt out of breath on the climbs. I continued the 5-day trip but went to see the doctor after. Tests showed that I had 5 blocked arteries and quickly had a quintuple bypass!  
I don't know if I would have survived that backpack trip if I wasn't in good shape. Since then I have kept active and follow a low-fat vegetarian diet and am doing well for my age (70 +).  
I do yoga to keep flexible and I like to challenge myself so this year while in Florida I started swimming and did my first triathlon, not an Iron Man, just a mini, but it was fun.

Q. What other interests do you have?

ANN: My extended family, my kids, grandkids, sisters and cousins. We are close and have a lot of traditions that involve parties and entertaining.  Also, I like to follow the business and economic news and I volunteer to prepare income tax returns for low income through the AARP tax program. To keep the mind active I do the WSJ crossword puzzles and play mahjong.


Message From The President

I am humbled to have been elected president of the Outdoor Club of South Jersey. The prior presidents have done an outstanding job which I hope to continue of promoting the enjoyment of the pine barrens and more distant lands. Whether these club events are tramping through the pine barrens on moonlit Friday evenings, hiking with friends in daylight, cross-country skiing, kayaking pine barrens streams with our seasoned leaders or cycling either on the road or trails, I hope to encourage and increase this enjoyment of our great outdoors.
I say this to hopefully increase our membership and attract younger members to the wonders of our great nearby outdoors which are too often overlooked by our more sedentary Southern New Jersey residents. In short, the club leadership looks forward to continuing our goal of helping members experience the wonders of our outdoor environment.
 Joe Fabian  ( president@ocsj.org )
_ OCSJ Website

The OCSJ board is updating our website. We are still at the same address WWW.OCSJ.ORG .

Take a few minutes and review the Policy/Forms section. We have consolidated the OCSJ Constitution and By-Laws, club policies and forms into this section. In the coming months, these policies will be reviewed, consolidated and updated by the OCSJ board.

OCSJ Social Events

Thanks to John Kerney and the Social Committee for a great Fall Social Dinner. Check out the pictures on our website.

Our next Social Event is on January 5, 2020, We will travel on PATCO to Philadelphia and then walk 1.4 miles to the Philadelphia Art Museum. The museum opens at 10:00 am and admission is free.
Meet at the Collingswood PATCO station at 9:00 am for the trip to Philadelphia

For more information, contact John Kerney crewkern@live.com or 609-706-7264

Thanks to Mike Engel and the committee for their work on this contest. The results are displayed on the home page of our website: WWW.OCSJ.ORG.
Calendars containing the winning pictures will be printed this month. If you would like to purchase one, the details will be on our website. For more information, contact Mike Engel at ikemengel@hotmail.com

If you are planning to attend an event, do not forget to RSVP. This is important information for the leader. And of course, if your plans change, please cancel your RSVP. In the event of a cancellation, Meetup will automatically send you an email .
Leaders should review items under “For Leaders “on the OCSJ Website. They should also review the “Policy and Budget Page “Listed below & under “About Us” on the OCSJ Webpage. In particular, the Revised Group Activities Policy and the OCSJ Sign-in Waiver Policy.
Sign-in Sheets should be sent to appropriate Activity Chair or individuals designated by them – or Activities coordinator if the event involves more than 1 activity NO LATER THAN EACH CALENDAR QUARTER with few exceptions which are listed on website under “For Leaders”. 
The new printed Trekker is available quarterly at OCSJ board meetings and from Board Members and Leaders.  Or you can print the whole or any page of the Trekker by clicking on the links
OCSJ Participation Policy
1. OCSJ is a member organization. Membership funds pay for insurance and other Club overhead. However, prospective members and guests of OCSJ members may try one regular activity from each of our activity sections without joining. Thereafter they must join to be eligible for the hundreds of activities and events available every year.
2. Participants on trips which charge money must be members of OCSJ, except where the trip is a joint trip with another club and the participant is a member of that club. Members of OCSJ may bring guests on a day trip charging money. Participants on overnight trips charging money must always be an OCSJ member.

Any comments please Contact Joe Fabian ( president@ocsj.org )
Membership information is now available with the following links:
  • WWW.OCSJ.ORG click on the Join OCSJ button and enter your email address and password. 
  • Wild Apricot app - on you phone

OCSJ's mailing address is: 
 OCSJ, PO Box 46, Atco, NJ 08004 

Our annual membership rates are:
 Individual - $20 or Family - $25 
Membership Questions: contact Regina Coeby at membership@ocsj.org    
To receive up to date club information, we encourage everyone to go to our website and to join our Meetup groups.
Miles to Go Before We Rest
It takes an enormous amount of dedication and determination to commit to the OCSJ Mileage Clubs, but if you are a person who welcomes a challenge, enjoys group activities, and/or simply likes the outdoors, you should really consider joining one of our mileage clubs. If you are an OCSJ member, just contact any of the contacts below and join Us.
  • 500 Mile Club - Valerie Danzey (vdanzey1@verizon.net )
  • Grand Mile Club - Jon Peterson (jonpeterson66@gmail.com
  • Paddler's Mile Club - Erika Blank (powerofpink58@verizon.net)
  • Bicycle Mile Club - Neil Kornhauser (nkornhauser@gmail.com)

Like us on Facebook  
Outdoor Club of South Jersey
We are approaching 2000 Likes!
The next club meeting is on January 9th, 7:30 pm at the Cherry Hill Library.   All members and prospective members are welcome.  

The club is actively looking for members to become more involved with the operation of the club. 
The club needs people to serve on the board and aid in the processes that keep the club in operation. If you have interest, join us at a board meeting. See how the board and the club operates and see if you are suited for some position or if you would just like to help out from time to time.
OCSJ President  president@ocsj.org

M essage from the cycling chair:

Message from the cycling chair:

Trail riding has been great in the month of December for OCSJ. We conquered the 19-mile Penn Branch (Orange) Trail of Batsto, had a blast at the Atsion to Quaker Bridge Trails and had equal amount of fun riding the trails of Black Run and Camden County College. 

Something magical happens when you are deep in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey on a crisp day in the fall/winter. There is total silence from civilization; you only hear the wind rustling in the treetops, and sometimes if we are lucky we see and hear deer prancing around.   Riding on the twisting trails blanketed by soft pine needles is just a wonderful experience, thrilling and a lot of fun!  

We had towpath rides on the Delaware and Raritan canal trails starting from Bull’s Island to Washington Crossing and also to Frenchtown. These were rides for hybrids, gravel bikes and mountain bikes.

Monthly DIY Tip
When mountain biking in the Pine Barrens make sure you do not run out of water. There are no convenience stores in the woods. I always use my hydration backpack. Not only can I carry up to 100 ounces of water, I have storage in my backpack for extra gloves, skullcap/balaclava, food, tools, etc. When starting out in the cold I always begin with my thickest/warmest gloves. After a few miles I have the option of switching them out to a thinner pair, same for my headgear. I also have room to fold up my jacket and put it in my pack. One definitely builds up more heat on the trails than on the open roads so having this option makes the ride much more comfortable.

Thank you and see you on the road and trails!

Neil Kornhauser (cycling chairman)

**If you do not see rides that fit your pace or distance then it is time to step up and lead a ride yourself!


***We have well over 400 routes listed on our Ride With GPS Club Account (RWGPS) from 15 miles in length and above starting at many different locations. These routes can be downloaded to your mobile device or gps and all you have to do is follow the cues. If you are using a smartphone, then you will get voice turn-by-turn cues on all routes! If you are old school then you can print out a paper cue sheet!

More leaders = more rides! If you need help setting up RWGPS, have questions or if you are interested in leading, email Neil Kornhauser nkornhauser@gmail.com

Thank you and see you on the road and trails! 

Neil Kornhauser (cycling chairman)

Give Thanks/Give Back Trail Work Day
OCSJ trail workers thank Mother Nature for giving us this beautiful and special area of NJ to hike in with our annual trail work day.

Trail work continues even when its cold and dreary outside. The OCSJ trail crew will be working on these projects for January:
1. Filling another hole in the Batona Trail on the berm by Evans Bridge
2. Trimming the Batona between RT 679 and Martha Bridge
3. Trimming the Batona in Bass River SF between mile markers .5 and 3.
4. Planning a new footbridge by mile marker 38.5 in the Franklin Parker section
Please come out and assist the crew!! We have a great time while giving back to our Pinelands community and Camper Pat's hot chocolate is a delicious way to end a morning of trail work!

To volunteer, please contact Ro Mason at romason@comcast.net 609.271.2167
 Wissahickon Hike
Message from the New Hiking Chair:
Happy holidays! Work off those extra calories on a hike or two! A favorite club tradition is the New Year's Day hike in the pine barrens. 6 miles at a social pace, come make new friends in the new year! Sign up on meet up today, no limit!
Please remember if you sign up for a hike with a limit and cannot make it, please change your RSVP ASAP. That way anyone on the waiting list can enjoy the hike. No shows and last minute cancellations prevent waitlist folks from hiking.
Saturday, Dec 21: H oliday Hikes and Tailgate
2 hikes. 1st Hike meets at 9:30 am. 6-7 miles, moderate pace . Leaders Pat and Bob Burton, 609-472-8128. E-mail- camperpat@hotmail.com.
2nd Hike meets at 10:30 am 3-4 miles easy pace. Leader Janet Horton, 609-706-5691. E-mail, Janeth1@comcast.net.
TAILGATE. An OCSJ tradition. Hot soup and Holiday goodies for all. Bring something to share. Tailgate organizer, Christine Denneler , 609-351-2789. E-mail, cdenneler157@yahoo.com. Food will be served when all hikers have returned. Meet at Pakim Pond in the Brendan Byrne SF entrance off Rt 72. 1 mile SE of the 4 mile Circle. Check Meetup and ocsj.org for changes and cancellations.

Wednesday, Jan 1: News Year Day Hike
NEW YEARS DAY HIKE meets at 10am for a 6 miles moderate pace event. Nice views of the Mullica River. A great start to 2020! Bring lunch and beverage. Meet in field next to the Atsion Office off Rt 206 . Leaders Chris Denneler Pat and Bob Burton. Check meetup and ocsj.org for changes and cancellations.
Monthly Tip
A warm layer for winter hiking: Synthetics and down win here. Grab a warm sweater and synthetic jacket. Pack another warm layer like a down jacket into your backpack. Don’t forget a hat and gloves, and always water and a snack, you may not be as thirsty in the cold, but you still need to hydrate and eat! You burn more calories in cold weather so eat and drink up.

More leaders = more hikes! If you need help setting up a hike or have questions or if you are interested in leading, email Evelyn.

Thank you and see you on the trails.

If you would like to volunteer to lead a new hike, please contact Evelyn at sunsetwaterfall@aol.com    

If you would like to organize a trip or for backpacking information, contact Kevin at KDREVIK@AOL.CO M
M essage from the kayaking chair:

Cold weather guidelines for Paddlers are listed on the ocsj.org website under policies/forms Cold Weather Paddling Policy.pdf. While it may say guidelines, some items are strictly enforced.
  • Everyone must sign the sign-in sheets.
  • PFD’s must be worn when on the water.
  • Cold weather wet or dry suit must be worn. 
  • Footwear must be closed toe-no flip-flops.

Rules for minors are on the OCSJ website.

Leaders have final say on participation  based on safety  concerns. Examples would be  bringing small children or  pets. Some will ask about limits on trip size. This might be set by safety concerns or limited parking. If you have a question, please contact the leader first.
Enjoy the season but stay safe.

Happy Paddling

Frank Pearce, Kayaking Chairman

Suggestions for additional equipment:
-a PFD (life jacket) -- mandatory
-change of clothes

If you would like to organize a trip, contact Frank at
Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Trips

 The Winter Schedule
The Cross Country ski and Snowshoe trips are now on the OCSJ Website. For more information, please contact our Cross Country Ski-chair Eileen Greve egreve212@gmail.com 609-204-6451.
Check the site for more information:

Please note:
To confirm your place on the trip, you must contact the leader by phone or email. All payments are non-refundable without finding a replacement. 

Ro Mason is our Trail Representative. Every Tuesday, she will be organizing work days for the BATONA Trail. To volunteer, please contact Ro at romason@comcast.net

Volunteer Opportunities
The club is actively looking for members to become more involved with the operation. We have a new Volunteer Coordinator, Barbara Berman. If you would like to volunteer or desire more information, please contact Barbara at bberman96@gmail.com
The club needs people to serve on the board and aid in the processes that keep the club in operation. If you wonder how the club is organized and how it runs, or what leaders do, come on out to a monthly board meeting. (Second Thursday of every month at the Cherry Hill library at 7:30pm). It's your club and we welcome you to get involved.

Board of Trustrees - Interested in joining the OCSJ Board. Come out to a couple of meetings or contact the OCSJ President at president@ocsj.org
Publicity - We would like to have the OCSJ name appear in more places both in print and online. Contact Fran at franhorn@aol.com  if you have ideas and would like to help.
Party/Picnic Planning Committee -  If you would like to help with the 2019 Picnics, contact the OCSJ President at president@ocsj.org  
Website/Computer - We could use some help from people with computer or website experience.  Contact the OCSJ President at president@ocsj.org
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