“Being involved in the trail care community is a natural outgrowth of our enjoyment of walking and backpacking in Penn’s Woods. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve come to a vista or a waterfall and I think, ‘How can anyone say there isn’t a God? So much beauty.’ ” – Ernie Werstler
Ernie Werstler and Jane Huston look forward to moving into their newly constructed home at Sycamore Springs in spring 2021. They will bring with them a lifetime of adventure and service.
Ernie, a retired school business manager, and Jane, a retired graphic designer, continue to share their experience and skills with local organizations.
They serve as trail maintainers with the Mid State Trail (MST) Association and Keystone Trails Association (KTA). Each spring and fall they spend a week maintaining the 7-mile stretch they oversee along the 327-mile MST. Pennsylvania’s longest, most remote and rugged trail, the MST stretches from the Great Eastern Trail in Maryland to the Crystal Hills Trail in New York State.
Jane and Ernie’s portion of the MST runs from the historic Hairy John State Forest Picnic Area just off Highway 45 to R. B. Winter State Park near Highway 192. Using chainsaws, brushwhackers and limb loppers, they trim limbs, remove fallen trees, cut back mountain laurel and wild blueberry bushes, and paint blazes, keeping the trail open and in good repair so that hikers can follow it easily and safely.
Jane says, “We have so many stories about bears and rattlesnakes; they really keep the adventure interesting!”
In addition, Jane and Ernie help with several annual KTA spring, summer and fall trail care weekends and with KTA’s Trail Challenge – a 25k/50k trail run. “KTA trail care weekends include daily trail assignments and nightly campfires where community and memories are built,” Jane adds.
KTA, a volunteer-directed public service organization, is a federation of membership organizations and individuals dedicated to providing, preserving, protecting and promoting recreational hiking trails and opportunities in Pennsylvania, and to representing and advocating the interests and concerns of the Pennsylvania hiking community.
“The Keystone Trails Association is an umbrella for hiking trails across the Commonwealth,” Ernie explains. “The association has an office in Mechanicsburg and interacts with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Harrisburg.”
Jane and Ernie also volunteer with Bunyaad Rugs, a fair trade rug company based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They help greet customers and sort and flip rugs for customers in the company’s showroom. Ernie has helped with Rug Events, scheduled around the United States and Canada.
They also offer informal leadership to the Ephrata Cloister Toastmasters Club, a group they have participated in as members for 22 years.
As they anticipate their move to New Holland, Ernie says, “I look forward to not worrying about yard maintenance, snow removal and what the next house project is going to be.”
Jane adds, “We look forward to connecting with new volunteer opportunities as well as exploring a brand new community—at Garden Spot and in New Holland.”