Chemeketans members on a 2013 outing to Mt. Rainier (Courtesy photo)

The Chemeketans, an outdoors club in Salem, has canceled its annual hiking trip exactly twice. 

In 1944, World War II was raging so the club skipped a year. But as it carried into 1945, members opted to venture out into the hills of the Pacific Northwest as they had every other year since 1928.

“When they came out and got back to civilization, they found out the war had ended,” said Chemeketans president Gregory Adelman. 

Adelman spoke about the club via cell phone Aug. 4 from the middle of an open field somewhere in the Mt. Rainer area where about 100 people set up tents and made camp at the 1986 Homestead. He’s leading this year’s excursion into the wilderness after the club saw its second cancellation last year due to Covid. 

The group is scheduled to be hiking the trails in the area for the next week but when they return to civilization this time, it won’t be reminiscent of the good news following the 1943 trip. The war against Covid is still raging on with virus cases increasing around the state. 

Still, the Chemeketans are hopeful to continue their year of scheduled activities with Covid restrictions in place and posted to their website. 

An outdoors club, the group offers winter sports, kayaking, trail maintenance and even litter patrol. 

An early Chemeketans outing to McKenzie Pass and Scott Lake in 1949 (Courtesy photo)

Anyone is free to join the club from anywhere around the state and has been for generations. Adelman got his start with the Chemeketans when his grandparents took him on the annual hiking trip as a child.

Longtime member Don Gallagher doesn’t get out on hikes much anymore but has turned his attention to helping to preserve the history of the longstanding club. 

Now, people can sign up online or call one of the board members to inquire about hikes and other outdoor activities but Gallagher said it hasn’t always been that way. 

Before cell phones and computers, interested recreators had to drive down Commercial Street and sign up on a piece of paper. 

“There was a sign-up sheet at Greenbaums, where Summit is now,” Gallagher said. “I had a friend who used to have to drive up from Albany to sign up.”

The club’s since gone high tech. It has a website a Facebook page and an Instagram account where members can post pictures of their outdoor activities. 

What the club needs now is volunteers.

“We’re looking for anyone interested in leadership positions,” Adelman said. “We’re always looking for hike leaders to coordinate hikes. We’re just a general outdoors group. We’re all about getting outside.” 

For more information on the Chemeketans visit https://www.chemeketans.org/.

Contact reporter Caitlyn May at [email protected].

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