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Two weeks before thirty-five participants from HMWC CPAs & Business Advisors were scheduled to convene at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon for the 39th Annual HMWC Death March, lightning struck and set fire to the heavy pine forest near the edges of the Park. Fearing a real life encounter with Yogi Berra’s famous quote, “It’s déjà vu all over again,” managing partner, Steve Williams and Death March founder, Gerry Herter, both held their breath, recalling the havoc wrecked on last year’s ill-fated 38th Death March, by the devastating Big Sur Fire.

Fortunately, thanks to some rain, a drop in the record temperatures, the path of the fire moving into a less vegetated area, and heroic work by the firemen, this year’s Spruce Lake Fire near Crater Lake slowed to a halt before reaching the brink of the famous caldera, which was formed by the eruption and collapse of Mount Mazama almost 8,000 years ago.

The 39th Annual HMWC Death March hiking adventure proceeded and was completed with great success. Crater Lake did not disappoint as the setting for partners, employees, family, friends and clients of HMWC. The accounting firm, located in Tustin, encourages this type of team-building event to help with the firm’s goals of creating a work environment that fosters trust, initiative, loyalty, work/life balance and mutual employer/employee success.

This annual event is held at different locations each year and involves multi-day hiking adventures in areas of rugged natural beauty. The 2017 edition of the event was attended by 35 firm members, family, clients and friends of HMWC, and included a variety of hikes totaling 12 or more miles and boating on the Lake. Participants ranged from 4 to 75 years of age.

The “Death March” is so-named because of the physical rigors of the event. It was started in 1979 by Herter, former managing partner, who has attended all 39 Death March outings. According to Herter, the event is not only fun and physically challenging, but it helps bring everyone together on a more personal level. “With the intense demands placed on members of the accounting profession nowadays, the Death March provides an enjoyable opportunity for team building amidst some of the most spectacular scenery North America has to offer,” says Herter.