We are sad to report that long-time Caledon Hill volunteer, Charlie Atkinson, died on April 24, 2018. Many group hikers will remember his fast-paced hikes, but he also made a GPS track of the entire Caledon Hills section in use today.
Charlie completed the CHBTC Thanksgiving End-to-End in 2002, and he must have enjoyed it because he immediately started volunteering as a hike leader the following spring. The year after that he joined the CHBTC board taking on the role of Hike Coordinator, organizing leaders for around 100 hikes a year. The advertisement for Charlie’s hike for the ESCARPMENT LEGACY CAMPAIGN HIKE-ATHON in June 2005 reads: Charlie Atkinson, the new Hiking Director of the Caledon Hill BTC, will lead a 2 hour brisk, invigorating, hike. Join Charlie to drink in that oxygen and move those muscles.
In 2006 he stepped down as hike coordinator but kept up an active role and interest in leading hikes. He continued to lead hikes at CHBTC events, help on our Thanksgiving E2E weekends, and participate in trail maintenance. To many of us Charlie was the hike leader who led our long and fast hikes most Fridays, but this gentle man could slow down for a leisurely hike when appropriate (though not often).
Charlie had stepped down as hike coordinator to take up a new role – that of creating a complete record of our trail geography using a GPS (Global Positioning System). Previously trail geography was recorded by walking along the trail with a rolling wheel that measured the distance along the track but did not let the trail be drawn on a map. Charlie created a GPS record of the main trail and all the side trails, and also measured points of interest along the trail. These “points of interest” include all of the more than 200 structures (bridges, stiles, steps, boardwalks) that we have installed along the trail to make it safe. He created in an easy-to-update database; now, when a downed tree or other problem is reported, our sawyers can find the location without having to carry their chain-saws for miles. By 2008 Charlie had mapped all the trails and structures – CHBTC was the first club to achieve GPSing 100% of its trails. He continued to walk the entire trail each year to maintain and update this work. There is no doubt that the Trail Geography data will act as one of the long-lasting tributes to Charlie’s efforts on the behalf of the Club.
In 2010 CHBTC gave Charlie the Barry Westhouse Award and the Caledon Comment said: “Without lots of “Charlies” working in the background, there would be no trail, and the Club is truly indebted to Charlie for his long-term dedication and commitment to the club.”
Let’s remember Charlie on our next hike by “drinking in the oxygen while moving our muscles”.
Written By: Helen Billing