If you have been to a Trail Day, you’ve probably worked with Ron. Usually, after we’re all tired out and straggling back for Fratelli Pizza or Biff’s Bagel sandwiches, Ron and Brad are still building a giant retaining wall and need to be coaxed back to the lunch spot…
From the Flagstaff District:
“After donating 880 hours in a single season, long-time Coconino NF volunteer Ron Daufenbach has announced that he’s ready to hang up his Volunteer Hat… sortof. Instead of the 40+ hours per week he’d been donating to the Flagstaff Ranger District, Ron will volunteer for only a few hours a day. This is Ron’s idea of “retirement.”
Meet Ron Daufenbach: He’s a 75 year-old retiree who has been dedicating his time to maintaining and building trails on the Coconino NF. When he retired in 1994 from the phone company he became full-fledged Forest Service Volunteer, but he’s been a fixture on Flagstaff RD trails since 1987. He fixes steps, cleans and replaces waterbars and brushes-out the trails so they are usable by the public. Ron also helps plan and oversee the District’s weekly volunteer trail work events, managing up to 60 people from beginners to veterans. Regular trail goers often compliment Ron’s efforts and look forward to meeting him on the trail.
Ron is also a member of the district Trail Crew, and always matches efforts of his crew mates. Sean Murphy, Trails Coordinator for the Flagstaff RD says, “He’s such an inspiration. We’ll often see him with the trail crew out-working and out-hiking men and women less than half his age!”
His love affair with trails began in 1977 when Ron transferred to Flagstaff Arizona from the mid-west and began hiking the Flagstaff trails with his son. That year he saw the Radio Fire devastate the east side of Mount Elden impact several well-known trails. “When I saw what the fire did to the land and the trails, I knew I wanted to start taking care of things,” Ron said. “I feel my service makes me a part of the land and I get a sense of pride from the work I do.”
When he’s is not sharing the local history with hikers or carrying waterbars up the mountain, he will gather suitable downed branches and whittle hiking sticks. For the last ten years he has taken approximately twenty hand-made hiking sticks to the Mount Elden Trailhead on the Fourth of July, free for anyone who wants one. “I haven’t had to take any sticks back yet!”
Ron was recently nominated for the Lifetime Service Award. In the nomination letter submitted by the District’s Trail Crew Foreman, Michael Anderson, his crew mates describe him as the man who “brings to work every day a respect for the Forest Service mission, 110% effort, a great attitude, and a vast array of skills that make him an asset all aspects of project work.”