FOCC volunteer Gordy McDermott

FOCC Volunteer Spotlight

Meet our woodpile Zen master Gordy MacDermott

We’re proud to announce that China Camp State Park has won the Pacific Sun’s “Best Trails in Marin” category every year since 2014. Why? We just so happen to have the self-named “Crazies,” otherwise known as one of the best volunteer trail maintenance teams around. These volunteers never hesitate to dive headfirst (often literally) into any project with gusto. And one of our deepest-diving, hardest-working “Crazies” is Gordy MacDermott. 

In Fall 2020, Gordy found out that China Camp’s trails and facilities were maintained by volunteers, and came on board to help. He has since dedicated himself to the trails crew because “it is so well organized, with a fun crew and something to look forward to every week,” he notes. “You leave a work day with a smile on your face.”

Gordy himself has inspired many smiles here at China Camp as he runs around seemingly doing everything: trail grading, painting, vegetation clearing, and maneuvering our Ditch Witch as smoothly as if he’s driving a BMW. 

Volunteer Gordy McDermott at the firewood pile at China Camp State Park
Volunteer Gordy MacDermott at the firewood pile at China Camp State Park

He’s a wood-splitting machine

Sure, he’s an Everyman. But Gordy’s true Zen is splitting wood. Fortunately, China Camp has plenty of splitting to keep him busy. Gordy goes to town on our wood piles as often as possible, sometimes five days a week when he’s got the time. 

“I love it,” says Gordy. I would pay the park to let me come and split wood every morning.”

As if pitching in as wood-splitting phenom wouldn’t be enough, Gordy has also contributed equipment to the park.

Backcountry trailblazer and world traveler 

Gordy is a life-long resident of Marin. He began his career as a contractor building fences, and then, in 1968, took a job as the first mechanic at Anchor Steam Brewery. At the time, the brewery was a fairly small San Francisco company, selling draft beer kegs to local outlets. Gordy stayed with Anchor Steam until 2016, when the company had mushroomed into an international brand owned by Sapporo Brewing. 

FOCC volunteer Gordy McDermott works on a project at China Camp's Ranger Station. Image by Joyce Abrams
FOCC volunteer Gordy McDermott works on a project at China Camp’s Ranger Station.

Gordy’s can-do spirit isn’t limited to helping out at China Camp. He has also been a backcountry volunteer for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), restoring trail segments from Mexico to the Oregon border. PCT volunteers must commit to 4-week-long shifts with grueling 8- to 10-hour workdays. It’s not surprising that our good-natured workhorse Gordy willingly hauls heavy equipment many miles through remote and difficult terrain. 

If you want to see Gordy smile, ask him about his favorite travel spot. As much as Gordy loves living in the Bay Area, he considers his “home base as a place to plan the next adventure.” Gordy was first inspired by wanderlust after his supervisor at Anchor Steam took him on a tour of breweries across Europe. Since then, Gordy has been all over the globe, from India to New Zealand, often focusing on places with scuba diving (like Fiji and Palau), and windsurfing (like the Maldives). 

While all that traveling sounds awesome, we are most grateful when Gordy settles in back at Marin and comes to Zen-out in our woodpile. Thank you, Gordy, for all you do for China Camp.


Photo credits: joyce abrams (all)