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Our Beginning


Patty (Faulkner) Hamre


        grew up in Anchorage and hiked and skied throughout Alaska, including the Brooks Range. The summer of 1990 Patty hiked alone in Colorado and waited for her husband Dave to complete a construction job.  Eager to find hiking companions in Anchorage, Patty hand wrote and copied a schedule of hikes (few used email in 1991) and invited her close friends, mostly moms of preschoolers, to join her. Patty had two preschool children, Kate and Peter.  

       The first hike on the list was Bird Ridge. Maureen Fossum planned to carry 15 month old  Erik in a backpack.  Patty suggested that Maureen would enjoy the hike more if she found a babysitter for Erik. Donna Basinger, a friend of Maureen's from the Kempton Hills Babysitting Coop, agreed to babysit  Erik on the first official Happy Hiker Hike. (Erik Fossum and Hope Basinger were playmates, thanks to the Kempton Hills Babysitting Coop.)

       It was a windy, damp day for the strenuous Bird Ridge hike and the group did not reach the peak.  Maureen decided that a babysitter was a good idea for the rest of the summer! Donna joined the group for the second hike on Patty's schedule. Both secured babysitters for future hiking days.

       The second hike on the schedule, and Donna's first hike, was Flattop.  The weather was ideal and most reached the top under Patty's gentle guidance. Patty named the group the HAPPY HIKERS. 

       In the fall of 1991 the women enrolled their preschoolers in WONDERFUL WEDNESDAYS at First United Methodist Church in downtown Anchorage. After saying goodbye to the children, they headed to a ski trail at Kincaid Park or a trailhead in the Chugach Mountains for a day of skiing or hiking 

       Suzan Kumar moved to Dallas in 1993 and the group met at Patty Hamre's home and presented her with a photo album of the  first 3 years of hikes. ‘The Happy Hikers’ Chronicles - Book 1’. 

       Gail Cellos and Sallie Ross joined the Happy Hikers in 1992.  During the winter of 1993 Bruce Kakel met Sallie Ross who was walking  her dog Molly) in the  Southpark neighborhood.  Sallie invited Bruce to ski with the Happy Hikers. In 1994 Sallie Ross asked Marty Richardson's daughter to babysit so she could hike. Many days Sallie left early in the morning and did not return until the evening.The length of the hikes intrigued Marty so she asked Sallie for a schedule. 

       Carol Sheridan joined the group the summer of 1995 after meeting Donna at Bible Study Fellowship. Carol takes photos of every hike. Each fall she shows her photos at a Pot Luck/Slide Show. Carol asked Peter Basinger to design a logo from a slide of the 1997 O'Malley Peak hike.  She used the logo on t-shirts and hats for the Happy Hikers. Carol is the official record keeper for the Happy Hikers. Her tiny spiral note pads are legendary. She records the participants (human and canine) on every hike, as well as the time we start, eat lunch, and finish. Carol collects addresses and phone numbers for a Happy Hiker directory twice a year. She then prints and distributes the directory. By 2010 Carol added GPS stats to her record keeping.  

         In 2003 the Ross Family moved to Houston. Sallie Ross requested a trip over Chilkoot Pass as a Farewell Celebration. Unfortunately, the Rosses missed the hike over the Pass but met the group in Skagway as the Happy Hikers road into town on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad.

        Gail & Harry Cellos moved to Mississippi  in 2011 after 27 years in Anchorage. A digital version of  ‘The Happy Hikers’ Chronicles’ (which chronicled her 20 years of happy hiking) was presented to Gail.

       Summer 2011 is our 21st summer to hike & bike in the mountains around Anchorage, Alaska. We no longer have preschoolers. Donna Basinger is the only original Happy Hiker still in Alaska and hiking each week.  Today many of our Happy Hikers are grandmothers with preschool grandchildren. Many  husbands are retired and join us. Some of the women have high school and college age children.  Some work part time and some work full time but most keep a day open for HAPPY HIKER hikes.


Original Happy Hikers Suzan Kumar, Therese Bowen,

Donna Basinger, Patty Hughes, Maureen Fossum, Patty Hamre

1991 Raven Glacier

1991 Flattop - Donna Basinger, Therese Bowen, Suzn Kumar, Patty Hughes, Maureen Fossum 


1994 Resurrection Trail - Brian Cellos, Peter Basinger, Donna Basinger, Suzie, Jeff Cellos, Marty Richardson, Julia Ricketts


1991 Erik Fossum & Hope Basinger play together on first Happy Hiker Hike

Click ‘Book 2’ for 20 years of Happy Hiking Photos