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  1. #1
    Wild at Heart J5man's Avatar
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    Default Don "Hikerhead" Hoke has passed away

    Dear Hiking community, it hurts my heart to give this update. My dear friend Hikerhead passed away yesterday. He passed away peacefully at Roanoke Memorial hospital where he has been since Aug 15th. He had suffered 3 brain aneurysms over that time. Due to the Covid environment, the family will hold a graveside memorial for the immediate family only. He will be buried at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Roanoke, VA.
    Cards can be sent to his mother Rachael Hoke, 1008 Starmount Ave, Roanoke, VA 24019. Those of you who knew Don personally knew of his love for the AT and the community. I always say he taught me 99.9% of what I know about backpacking. During the 4 years I lived in Roanoke, he and I had many adventures. A hike with Don was not just a hike, it was a history lesson. He spent his entire life in Roanoke, and knew that part of VA like the back of his hand. Hiking with him was like having your own personal history teacher for the day. He also had a great sense of humor which many of you know. He and I spent many hours hanging out at The Corned Beef in Roanoke, drinking beer and telling stories....(most of them were true....). If you ever visit there, you can have a beer in his honor. He lived life with zest and truly embodied an adventurous soul. I will plan a memorial hike in Roanoke later this fall and will update this group if anyone would like to join. In the meantime, please pray for his family and keep adventure in your heart. RIP Hikerhead; you were a helluva friend and will be missed dearly.

  2. #2
    Registered User johnnybgood's Avatar
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    Well said Jeff. Don was a great guy as well as hiking partner. I looked forward to sitting around at the end of our hiking day drinking bourbon with coke and shooting the bull about whatever.
    RIP Don “Hikerhead”. Hike On !
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  3. #3

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    My memories of Don "Hikerhead" go back to when I first joined WhiteBlaze in 2005. It wasn't until 2007 that we met face-to-face.

    In June 2007, Don advertised on WhiteBlaze for a hiking partner to join him on a short weekend section hike in Shenandoah National Park. I responded, we met, set up our cars for a shuttle, and hiked for two days, spending the night at Gravel Spring Hut with 4 thruhikers. It’s somewhat risky to hike with someone you haven’t yet met but I figured what the heck, it’s only two days. And as it turned out, we meshed well. I could see from that first meeting that Don was an affable, easy-to-get-along-with guy and our interests as well as hiking paces were compatible.

    As a Roanoke native who embraced his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains, Don was also appreciative of other areas of scenic beauty, especially the entire Appalachian Trail corridor. In 2008, I joined him on a hike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. I also tagged on to a bike ride of the Great Allegheny Passage that he organized with other friends. Don also attended hiker gatherings such as Trail Days in Damascus, VA, ALDHA gatherings, and the Southern Ruck in the NC mountains. It was at one of the latter gatherings that Don introduced me to his new friend Jeff Edens aka J5Man who had recently moved to Roanoke and was just getting into backpacking.

    Don’s thoughtfulness was apparent on a day I received a phone call from him. “Guess where I am.” “No clue, aren’t you out hiking somewhere?” “I’m calling from the overlook on HighTop Mountain.” Don remembered that HighTop was on “my” section as a trail maintainer for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club in Shenandoah National Park.

    After I moved some distance away from the AT corridor, I didn’t see Don as often. But in February 2011, Don and Jeff organized a gathering of hiker friends in Roanoke, an event that included a group hike up to the fabled McAfee Knob and a pizza dinner afterwards. The seven hour drive for me was well worth it as I met several folks whom I had only previous “met” through cyberspace, e.g. JohnnyBGood, Hobbs, HikerMom, Jersey Dave, Kerosene, The Captain, Jen Sprout, and a few others. Nearly every Valentine’s Day, someone from that gathering brings it up as a joyful memory.

    In more recent years, Don spent time remodeling his new house, working on cars, and usually confining his outdoor recreation outings to the many areas closer to Roanoke. Don was also interested in and studied local history. By his own admission, he was not a sophisticated, highly educated guy but Don always displayed an active mind and an open mind, replete with curiosity about life and interested in learning new things.

    Don left us too soon. All who knew him will mourn his passing. If his departure from this world when barely 60 seems unfair, well it is. Perhaps it is a warning of our hubris thinking that we humans can explain and understand all the phenomena of life. May we be reminded of the mystery that still envelopes human existence, and may Don rest in peace. And may God comfort his family and friends.

  4. #4
    Wild at Heart J5man's Avatar
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    UPDATE: I will plan a Memorial hike in the Spring of 2021. This year has presented many obstacles and unforseen events, that I think a few months down the road will be a better time for everyone. God bless and stay safe.




    Quote Originally Posted by J5man View Post
    Dear Hiking community, it hurts my heart to give this update. My dear friend Hikerhead passed away yesterday. He passed away peacefully at Roanoke Memorial hospital where he has been since Aug 15th. He had suffered 3 brain aneurysms over that time. Due to the Covid environment, the family will hold a graveside memorial for the immediate family only. He will be buried at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Roanoke, VA.
    Cards can be sent to his mother Rachael Hoke, 1008 Starmount Ave, Roanoke, VA 24019. Those of you who knew Don personally knew of his love for the AT and the community. I always say he taught me 99.9% of what I know about backpacking. During the 4 years I lived in Roanoke, he and I had many adventures. A hike with Don was not just a hike, it was a history lesson. He spent his entire life in Roanoke, and knew that part of VA like the back of his hand. Hiking with him was like having your own personal history teacher for the day. He also had a great sense of humor which many of you know. He and I spent many hours hanging out at The Corned Beef in Roanoke, drinking beer and telling stories....(most of them were true....). If you ever visit there, you can have a beer in his honor. He lived life with zest and truly embodied an adventurous soul. I will plan a memorial hike in Roanoke later this fall and will update this group if anyone would like to join. In the meantime, please pray for his family and keep adventure in your heart. RIP Hikerhead; you were a helluva friend and will be missed dearly.

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