Valerie cooking a tasty meal for a Back Country Horseman (BCH) packing crew. Many OET members also belong to BCH.
I’ve reached an age that may identify me as an old-timer, especially since my husband, Glenn, and I joined OET in 1977. I heard about OET in 1974, when I completed a student project for a BLM trail study.
Early in 1978, Earl Flick, OET founder, invited me to attend the annual meeting. He and Les Bernard, another founding member, gave me a ride to the meeting in Albany. I remember feeling privileged that the two revered, white-haired gentlemen escorted me, a young member, to the annual meeting.
Through the 1980’s and 90’s, I was a very active OET member who served in several leadership roles. I attended many OET work parties, meetings, and rides throughout those years. I loved the people, the food, the horses, the camps, and every campfire. I remain proud of helping start a new chapter in the 90’s, then known as the Columbia Gorge (now the Mt. Hood Chapter).
My work placed me in a unique position that involved trail planning in the METRO Greenspaces program. I helped put trails on the map that include equine trail opportunities today. I represented equestrians on the Oregon Recreational Trails Advisory Council (ORTAC) from 1991 to 1999. Making recommendations about trails and trail issues to the State of Oregon Parks Commission provided me an opportunity to see trails in all parts of Oregon.
A new job took me from Sandy to Klamath Falls in 2002. No OET Chapter existed in Klamath Falls. I and others tried starting a new OET Chapter but found the High Desert Trail Riders a long established group that associated with the Back Country Horsemen of Oregon. It was a classic case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em.“ I had thought for some time that OET and BCH should coordinate and collaborate on more projects. With membership in both organizations, I learned more about collaborative possibilities. In 2006, my husband and I were honored to become Honorary Lifetime Members of OET.
Another move happened in 2007. This time, we ended up across the state line, in Alturas, California. I joined the local BCHC group, the High Country Unit, but remained an OET member. I’ve served in several leadership roles for the High Country Unit as I explored the Warner Mountains. Every once in a while, I’d load up my horse and head north to ride Oregon trails. Glenn and I now have our Alturas place up for sale with the intent to return to Oregon. Maybe the coast this time. Meanwhile, I sure like OET Trail Mail and the Riders Roundup!
Founder of the Mt. Hood Chapter (formerly known as the Columbia Gorge Chapter)
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