Outdoors Latest

Van Horns honored for hiking club legacy

Bill (far right) and Sharon (second from left) Van Horn stand with Santa Claus and NHC President Victor Treutel to receive their award. NHC photo Bill (far right) and Sharon (second from left) Van Horn stand with Santa Claus and NHC President Victor Treutel to receive their award. NHC photo

In recognition of the outsize impact that longtime members Bill and Sharon Van Horn have had on the organization, the Nantahala Hiking Club has created a new annual award in honor of their contributions. 

Since joining the club in 2002, the couple has contributed more than 20,000 hours to NHC and the Appalachian Trail — an extremely high number for a club whose recognition program stops at 2,000 hours, a marker the Van Horns surpassed a decade ago.

Together, the Van Horns have section-hiked the entire A.T., started and organized the annual Hiker Chow Down, started and led the Trail Ambassador Program and Visual Resource Inventory Initiative, helped Franklin earn designation as the first A.T. Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, been the face of the School Outreach Program for a decade, served as Trail Ambassadors and hike leaders and served on numerous club, ATC and U.S. Forest Service committees and task groups.

In addition, Bill has served as club president and a representative to the Regional Partnership Committee, as well as being a consistent part of NHC’s trail maintenance efforts.

The award created in their honor, “The Van Horn” will be given annually at a club member who has contributed greatly to the NHC and A.T.

In 2023, the NHC recorded more than 8,000 volunteer hours from over 100 people valued at more than $250,000. The club rebuilt the Rock Gap Shelter and Wesser Bald privy, established a corporate sponsorship program and logged over 5,400 hours in trail maintenance activities and 750 hours in hike leading and trail ambassador activities.

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