Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch7 Part 13

Papa Panknin, the Popular Hiking Guide

Retired Major Panknin enjoyed being out in nature and helping revitalize old trails that had fallen by neglect into disrepair and marking them by following strict environmental guidelines. While reading over the pamphlet on how to prepare a route for the enjoyment of the hiking community, I was impressed by how carefully the details were described, such as the kind of paint to use, where to place the sign, which trees to use and which trees to avoid. I liked the rule: Better to have no sign at all than a sign confusing by its inaccuracy. His daughter Biene often accompanied him in the rewarding outdoor activity.

What Papa Panknin enjoyed the most was serving as a hiking guide for the frequent excursions through the forested hill country of the Velbert territory. Biene tells me that the participants were primarily women. That may have also been part of the reason why he enjoyed becoming a trailblazer for his club.

During his involvement in the SGV Velbert, he received plenty of praise and recognition for his invaluable contribution from participating hikers, the press and the local club president. In a newspaper clipping, I read how much his work was appreciated. “So we see Walter Panknin walking through the woods with a can of paint and a brush as an apostle of a great idea, of the concept of hiking in the automobile age, leading us back to Mother Nature, to the source of healing power. Walter Panknin selflessly serves this idea for others from person to person.”

10 thoughts on “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch7 Part 13

  1. What a great retirement project. Peter, I’m curious about which trees were inappropriate for trail markers. I wondered if it was trees like the sycamore or birch, where the bark would flake off and take the marker with it, was that the issue?


    • Some trees were very precious and perhaps also on the endangered list. I need to find out which ones they were. But they were not to be used for signage. I was impressed by the hiking club’s environmental concerns so many years ago.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “I liked the rule: Better to have no sign at all than a sign confusing by its inaccuracy.” The things you’ve described were a long time ago, and yet I still find plenty of confusing signs out there in the world. I also find lots of places without a sign where a sign would keep people from going the wrong way.


  3. As someone who loves following trails through the woods on Cape Cod, I am always grateful for well-marked trails (and annoyed by those with unclear markers). So bravo to Papa for his good works!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was good for him to find such a rewarding occupation and get all that praise. But, what about mother Panknin? She was sacrificing her health and her time for the family, while he was serving the community and maybe enjoyed himself as well. What praise did she get, I wonder.


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