People in the Park

Marti is the Roving Reporter hiking and volunteering at Valdese Lakeside Park to get stories from regulars and first timers.

“The dock view of Table Rock and Hawksbill? That’s epic. Very impressed.”

Josh is a busy father of three boys who is visiting the park for the first time after dropping off one of his sons at swim practice with the club team Excel at the Valdese Pool.

“I’m gonna be honest with you — they’ve done a great job. Just having something nice close to home, that’s cool. Why isn’t more money spent this way.”

Josh Griffith

“I used to hike when I was young but gave it up when family and business life took over. Last year I retired, determined to hike again. I found the Wednesday 9:30 Group at VLP and love it. I made new friends and the conversation makes the trek enjoyable. I look forward to it very much.”

Tom McKinnon

“I’m traveling through the area for work, staying at Margaret’s Airbnb. She recommended this park so here I am. Beautiful park with nice sitting areas to sit and enjoy the lake.”

Sherri Thomas

“I’m an OCD numbers guy.”

John is the organizer of the 8:30am Friday Morning Miler as well as the Wednesday Morning 9:30 Group. He started the Wednesday group with 3-4 people, and now it’s anywhere from 6-12.

He works in leading the morning hikes when he’s not working evenings on the weekend or weekdays.

After first studying computer science and sitting at a desk for eight hours a day in his earlier career, John went back to school another two years for X-Ray Tech. Now he gets to be the first guy you see after the ER. He has to figure out how to make anybody comfortable no matter their condition.

Friday Morning Miler is a year-round group. Not just seasonal.

“It’s here for anybody that wants to show up. It’ll be slow enough that it won’t be a problem for anybody. We’ll adjust the pace for whoever’s here. I’ll never ask anybody to keep up. I’ll make sure that they can on this hike.”

We’re fortunate John decided to get a group of people to hike together. But before they had signage up or anything, he’d come on the developing trails and just get lost. “I decided to start learning my way around here.” He’s always liked trail hiking and had a good time with it.

“It’s more fun to be with somebody than be by yourself out here. I mean being out here by yourself has it’s advantages for meditation and quiet time. But it’s also fun to have somebody with you, for safety reasons if nothing else.”

John is working on a map where you can take it and figure out how far you want to go, and then where to go to get that distance. It’ll be shared here, in the Facebook group.

John Setzler, Hike Group Organizer/Leader, FVR Board Member