New Hike Leader! Reid Vandewiele

Get to know one of our newest hike leaders, Reid Vandewiele:

Hometown? home·town / noun / the town where one was born or grew up, or the town of one’s present fixed residence. Therefore: Woodland Hills, UT; Eagle Creek, OR; Portland, OR–in chronological and strongly reverse-preferential order!

Years with the Mazamas? I heard about and attended my first Mazamas AYM pub night two and a half years ago. By total coincidence, it happened to be the night Matt Reeder (then the AYM chair) was presenting on his newly published book 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region.

Favorite trips that you’ve led with AYM? My first and still-favorite “leader”-ish role was assisting on an AYM Q (alpine) hike led by Toby Creelan; a summer summit of Mount McLoughlin.

What is one thing that you always bring on a hike that is not one of the 10 essentials? Five-finger hiking shoes. Best. shoes. ever.

Favorite Leader Treat? Surprises (surprise!) of the fruit or chocolate family.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up and why? A bear. I have no idea why. It’s on video. Now, I AM getting hairier as I get older, but assuming a life expectancy of >100 years the curve is not looking good...

What is one surprising thing about yourself that people don’t usually know about you? I have to dig a bit to answer this, most of the really interesting things about me many people already know. Um... I have a 2nd Dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do / Kyusho Jitsu / Hapkido mixed martial arts (though I haven’t practiced in years).

People should sign up for a trip with you if.... you like to get your heartbeat up when you’re hiking! I hope to lead some longer, faster, or higher hikes once 2019 gets rolling. If I don’t get an Enchantments permit this year you can bet I’m going to put together a thru-hike!


Mazama Women Make It Happen—In 1932

by Rick Craycraft

Long before Stacy Allison or Junko Takei set foot on top of Mount Everest, and even before Arlene Blum found her place on Annapurna, Mazama women were out there making a statement in the mountains. Yes, they were well represented on the original Mazama organizational climb in 1894, but not until 1932 did they separate themselves from the leadership of men.

A small item appeared in the July issue of the Mazama Bulletin that year. The bold-faced title of that announcement was Mt. Hood Climb—Girls Only. The climb was scheduled for July 10. The appeal for participants stated, “Girls, you are all urged to get out the old climbing togs and come on the first all-girl climb of the club.” They promised as well that “an ample breakfast will be served after which we will saunter up our old friend, Hood, minus the boyfriends.” The challenge was made complete by declaring, “Let’s show’em we can carry our own packs and have a big turn out.” The invitation listed Bea McNeil and Margaret Lynch as Leaders, and Edith Pierce as Rear Guard.

When the day came the weather did not cooperate and a subsequent article in the August Bulletin stated, “Of these three, two were to have been the leaders for the large party that was anticipated, while the third was to have been the rear guard it was said. So all three took turns at being leader, rear guard and “customer.”

Nevertheless, they persisted, and the three women, plus another, Karin Maki, returned two weeks later under fair skies and gained the summit and made history. There was mention of their landmark climb a few days later in the Oregonian, albeit buried at the end of a paragraph about the accomplishments of men. Still, the author was impressed enough to call their effort “daring.” In any case, these women, and many others, opened doors for our amazing Mazama women climbers of today.


Volunteer Spotlight: Rex Breunsbach

by Brian Goldman

Many of us in the Mazamas (more than 550!) have hiked quite a few miles with affable, self-effacing Rex Breunsbach. In less than a decade, he has led over 500 hikes, traveling over 7000 miles. He leads a popular Wednesday hike from the MMC that often fills quickly.

What made you decide to start hiking? 
I always liked walking around in cities when I was doing business, but I never hiked in the Gorge until 2010. I saw a brochure for the Trails Club and hiked to their lodge. They told me there was another group called the Mazamas that did more hiking. I was hooked after that. I wasn’t very good at first. I worked at a desk for 50 years. I practically had to crawl on my knees coming back from the Trails Club lodge my knees hurt so bad. I hiked some with Kate Evans and she said I should become a hike leader and join the committee. That got me into leading hikes.

Has your health changed since you started hiking? 
I lost 75 pounds, most of that before I started hiking, but hiking has allowed me to keep it off. My diet was just to eat less. The Jenny Craig diet really did help at first, especially with the portions.

Do you do any exercises to stay limber? 
I do some yoga, mild yoga, not fanatic stuff, probably not enough. It’s a good complement to hiking.

Do you have any favorite hikes? 
I think Larch Mountain is my favorite Gorge hike. Greenleaf Peak, too. One consequence of the Gorge fires is that it pushed people out to try other hikes like Greenleaf Peak.

Any good stories?
We were on Spyglass Ridge in the Smokies and on the way up there are some granite slabs that have some markings so helicopters can land. We went up there and sat on the ridge, similar to Angel’s Rest. As we sat there for lunch a young couple came up behind us and asked us if we came up by helicopter—as if we were too old and feeble to get up the hill.
Any hikes or outings that didn’t turn out as expected?
I’m such an optimist and they generally turn out well.

Ever got lost?
I’ve ended up bushwacking occasionally and it would have been better if I’d stayed on the trail. Sometimes a trail you can see on a GPS doesn’t exist.

Why do so many people show up for your hikes? 
Oh, you get a following and I have an email list that really got it going. I like to keep the group together and they appreciate that. After awhile, you get a core that likes to hike together. I enjoy the camaraderie. I like sending out a group photo afterward.

What equipment do you prefer? 
I like my Deuter pack for the Gorge, especially in the winter. I’ve moved to ultralight when backpacking.

Any favorite foods while hiking? 
Heath bars.

If someone’s never hiked before, how would you encourage them to start? 
Maybe start out with the Rambles - pick a hike that you’re comfortable with. Some people enjoy seeing flowers, others the birds, the trees - nature. Maybe some place like Latourell Falls, with lots of water and trees.

Any favorite places you’ve traveled? 
I thought it was the Alps but now I think it’s the Dolomites, especially in terms of rock formations and scenery. My favorite trek has been the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt.

You’re 76 now. Are you slowing down? 
Oh, yeah. I learned that if you go at a reasonable pace you can get anyplace. My proudest hike lead was getting 23 people on top of Mt. Washburn at 10,219 feet. A lot of them hadn’t done any strenuous hikes for a long time. If you have the time, you can get most anybody up these hills—just don’t run. In Patagonia, our hike leader started out really slowly but we all got on top and had a good time when we slowed down and enjoyed it rather than overheating ourselves. It’s better to go slowly than running and running, stopping and then starting.

Anything else? 
Hiking is my drug of choice.

Interested in hiking with Rex? Head over to Mazamas.org/calendar, click on the Leader filter, and type in Rex's name.


Ann Wendlandt: A conversation with a former editor of the Mazama Bulletin

Ann and Jim Wendlandt at the Mazama Lodge
circa 1953. Photo: Unknown. 
by Jonathan Barrett

When Jim Wendlandt recounted how he met his future wife, it always began, “I saw you sitting by the fireplace…” He and Ann, his wife of 65 years, met at the Mazama Lodge, raised their daughters at the Mazama Lodge on their regular visits, and welcomed guests to the Mazama Lodge as if it were their own home. Daughters Wendy and Nancy recall learning to ski on the slopes outside. The intervening years have obscured who their instructor was, but it is very possible it was Frank Kalec, the lessons costing only ten cents apiece. As the girls kicked about on their used skis, their parents took the shuttle bus up the hill to Timberline before carving their way back down for lunch, which they had to eat in the basement because it was not prepared in the lodge’s kitchen but brought from home. Ann Wendlandt’s life was deeply intertwined with that building for decades. I recently had the opportunity talk with her and listen to her narrate a series of vignettes that arced across a lifetime of experiences and relationships.

Ann Wendlandt at NcNeil Point in 1976.
Photo: Unknown. 
It was a blustery December day as I sat across from Ann Wendlandt at Jennings McCall, a retirement community in Forest Grove. Mostly I just listened to these stories, one folding over into the next. With the aid of her daughters, she wove an account that was both intricate and beautiful. It was punctuated from time to time with, “If you had only come last year, I would have remembered more.” I was stunned by how much she does remember at the age of 88 and how the life she described is peopled by the who’s who of Mazama history. For example Ann’s aunt Abigail Choate was married to Fred McNeil, after whom McNeil Point on Mt. Hood is named. As a matter of fact, it was likely Fred and Abby’s son Malcolm who introduced Ann to Jim at the lodge in 1952 when she was visiting as a guest and still a year away from becoming a member.

Our conversation zigged and zagged. Ann’s eyes, though only narrow slits as she wrestled with her inability to recall, were still bright. She peered intently at the yellow legal pad of names that had been drawn up before I arrived as a tool to jog her memory. Bob and Martha Platt. Vera Defoe. Nick Dodge. That last one drew out a clear line. She told me about the book that he wrote and that she edited for him, A Climber’s Guide to Oregon, which was published in 1968. Editing? Yes. Our conversation turns with the flexibility of a water-born otter. For a dozen years she edited the Mazama Bulletin. Articles were delivered to her by members who had authored them, and in her own home she worked on the layout. This was the late fifties and early sixties after all. Each month she drove the final copy to John Arbuthnot on Sandy Boulevard who was the printer. These details poured out clearly but then came to a dead end.

Ann Wendlandt accepting the Parker Cup in 1967.
Photo: Unknown.
We returned to the list again. Bill and Margaret Oberteuffer. Joe Leuthold. Jim Craig. Everett Darr. I asked her about the club. What was it like? How was it different than it is now? She smiled and stated simply that things got done because people made them happen. She cited as an example Don Onthank, “Mr. Mazama”. If you wanted a ride to the Mazama Lodge, you called Don; he would give you a lift. This was the spirit of the club, she recalled. The conversation rolled slickly into novel territory. She told me there were only two paid staff: the lodge caretaker and the cook. That was it. Guests and members signed up to do the dishes and care for the building. In that moment we were back at the beginning of our conversation, but covering new territory too.

I asked how the club has changed in the intervening seven decades. Without skipping a beat, she said, “Without staff you need the volunteers to step up to make things happen.” The portrait that she painted next surprised me. Once a month, there was a membership meeting where it was common to have a hundred people in attendance. Committees made reports about the goings-on and their events. Then, rudely, the grandfather clock in the corner of the alcove where we were chatting interrupted us as it tolled eleven times. The line of thinking was disrupted.
Ann Wendlandt in the foreground on the 1953
anniversary climb of Mt. Hood in 1953

The slippery otter that was this tete-a-tete rolled deftly over despite the turbulence of sound. She recalled Martha Platt who was the club president in 1954 and Bob Platt, her husband, who served in the same role seven years earlier. Their son, Bill, would eventually go on to marry Fred McNeil’s daughter, Judy. In a sense they were just a branch of Ann’s extended family. Then out of the fog of memory emerged Betty Parker, who served on the Executive Council in 1954, and Jack Grauer, who was Wendy’s Basic Climb School teacher when she was just a mere freshman in high school. Wendy chuckled as she told me that it was a bit scandalous at the time, as young as she was. The web of names kept coming and bits of storytelling for each one. I listened to Ann weave the narrative with the assistance of her daughters until, finally, it seemed we had come to the end at last.

Jonathan Barrett and Ann Wendlandt.
Photo: Wendy Wendlandt.
“I’m sorry. If you had just come a year earlier, I would have remembered more,” she said again. I wondered what there was to apologize for. I was stunned by her memories, thrilled by her life, and charmed by her presence. This woman, who is still a dues-paying member of the Girls Scouts of America and who belongs to a troop called the Elles Gantes, needs no excuses. An hour and a half after starting, we hugged in the hallway of Jennings McCall, and Wendy took our picture. Ann’s eyes shone brightly, and I, a guy who doesn’t smile much, couldn’t stop grinning as I walked away transformed by her storytelling. I got in my car still thinking about a young woman sitting by the fireplace, only twenty-two and totally unaware of how the Mazamas would one day become entwined with her life.