These days, serious backpackers are all about ultralite – a space blanket, some energy bars and a water bottle and they’re off. Ron was not about that. No matter how many times we ventured out, he would almost always have the heaviest pack. Ron always hiked for comfort, not for speed. Spam, Ron? You bring a can of apocalypse food into the woods? “It doesn’t go bad,” he would offer. “And it’s pretty good when you fry it.” So of course he would also bring a frying pan. And Cheese Whiz. And crackers. Camping stove. And a stovetop coffee percolator. And a very large lantern with fuel canister. Lots of rope. Knives. Hatchet. Pound of coffee. Several pounds of gorp. Lots of candy bars. Certainly a large bottle of Jack Daniels. And perhaps an extra water bottle full of Jameson’s (“By god, if we’re going to be out there for four days, we better be prepared.”) Sometimes, on the second or third day out, you would hear Ron coming by the clanking of various things that were by now tied to his pack frame to air out. And you were usually waiting to hear Ron coming. With a pack that weighed 50 pounds, he invariably arrived in camp about an hour after everyone else. At which point, he would plop down, curse the portion of his body that had betrayed him that day and announce he would help get dinner going after he rested up a bit.
From the official obituary for journalist Ron Taylor:
Known among his coworkers and friends for his contagious laugh, his easy smile and his quick, off-beat humor, Taylor was an avid hiker and camper. “He wasn’t the most athletic hiker that ever hit the trail, but he sure did like it,” said Post, one of his hiking partners. “He was intrepid.” Taylor regularly organized “camp-outs” at the Blue Ridge spread of former Journal reporter, Johnny Turner and his wife, Dianne, posting hilarious memos on the newspaper’s bulletin board inviting whomever wished to come.
Ron was a good journalist and a kind and funny man. He was also probably the worst hiker I ever knew. But I would never want to go on a group camping trip without him.
Ben Smith, a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter, commenting on Facebook about the death of Ron Taylor