Monday, April 30, 2012

Hike 10 of 47 - WTA Volunteer Trail Work at Lost Lake

Hike 10 of 47 - Lost Lake Trail - volunteer trail work

The view from Lost Lake Trail

This past Saturday, April 28th,  Julie and I, along with 40 other like-minded individuals participated in a Washington Trail Association trail work event on the Lost Lake Trail in the Chuckanuts. If you aren't familiar with WTA and you love hiking in Washington, you should quickly familiarize yourself with them. It's a wonderful organization committed to providing accurate hiking info, trail reports, photos, and much more.

Although we only hiked about 3.5 miles in 6 hours, we worked hard shoveling, digging, clearing trails of duff and improving drainage.  It was a great was to spend a sunny Saturday!

This particular work party also happened to be sponsored by REI in Bellingham. All volunteers received a voucher for a T-shirt and a chance to win a pair of binoculars donated by REI.

The day started out with a brief meeting in which Arlon, the Crew Leader, reviewed the 3 rules of the day:

1) SAFETY FIRST! We all came dressed for safety; in semi-official Trail Geek fashion which consisted of long pants, long sleeved shirt, hiking boots and gloves.  I don't have any suspenders, but I think I'll get some because my pants kept slipping down, which is most definitely NOT a good look.  WTA provided snazzy green hard hats and instructions on how to use each piece of equipment. We also identified those in the group who had First Aid kits and when asked if anyone in the group had medical training, well.....Of course, being the medical professionals that Julie and I are, I offered up our services should anyone decide to have a baby during the work party. Safety first people, DO NOT go into labor on the trail!

Julie & Liz 

2) GET SOME WORK DONE. The various crew leaders explained the goals for the day and everyone. We would be working the length of the Lost Lake Trail, which was in desperate need for some drainage work. People could decided how far up the trail they wanted to go. Keep in mind, we were also carrying our day packs and the equipment. Oh, and Ms. Mammary Monkey came along to help, too.

3)  HAVE FUN!!   It was stressed that this day was to be fun and if someone wasn't having fun, then that situations would need to be rectified. I must say, it was tons of fun!
Brad, Julie, Kriss and I after much fiddling with the camera and me falling in the stinging nettles!

WTA is fabulous at encouraging people to work at their own pace, take breaks when needed and to look out for one another. I worked with equipment I had used in the past, such as a shovel and a hand saw. Some things that were new to me were the Pulaski,  Grub Hoe and McLeod, which I learned can easily leave someone with 6 sucking chest wounds if safety isn't #1. I developed a whole new respect for those who are carrying these tools for days on end out in the backcountry fighting forest fires.

 It felt good to get out there an use muscles that I don't use every day. I also learned a very important lesson:  a hard hat sitting at trails edge, usually means someone has discretely stepped off the trail to go potty, so do not pick up the "lost" hard hat and try to find its owner. After 5 volunteer days, WTA presents the volunteer with his/her very own WTA hardhat. I can't wait to get one!

We met Pete, who was our immediate Crew Leader. Pete was a pretty amazing guy. He's 82, a retired lawyer and has done well over 1,000 trial work volunteer days. He said he stopped counting long ago.  When we sat down to lunch, he shared some stories of his growing up years in Texas.  Lots to be learned by listening to folks like Pete.

Pete, Brad & Julie - lunch break

I worked with a gentleman named Kriss. It was fun to make new friends who share common interests. Julie worked with Brad, who was working on his 25th volunteer day. The four of us leap-frogged with each other all day, completing various projects all aimed at diverting water off the the trail. We cleared a fallen tree out of a drainage area, removed debris, dug a catch basin to allow water to flow into a culvert. Below is our big project of the day. It doesn't seem like much, but this area is about 25-30 feet long and was filled with a lot of stuff. Much time was spent swatting mosquito's and spraying ourselves with DEET. The annoying little suckers were surprisingly thick this day. I've never encountered many bugs at all up in this area.

My largest project of the day - clearing the drainage and digging a catch basin

There are lots of opportunities to get out and enjoy some fresh air. WTA has many Trail Work Parties scheduled throughout the state. There are single day trips, 3 day trips, Youth Trail Work Parties, Youth Vacations and even some Volunteer Vacations which last for one full week. Check out the schedule; there is bound to be something that interests you.  Some governmental agencies offer vouchers in exchange for trail work. Once you've worked 24 hours, the vouchers can be exchanged for a Discover Pass.

All in all, it was a great day! We hiked a little, met some great people, gave something back to the trails we so enjoy, worked hard, got some exercise and laughed a lot. If you want more information, check out the Common Questions.  As for me, I'm hooked on volunteer trail work!

If you enjoy the wonderful trails we have here in Washington, please consider joining WTA for a Volunteer Trial Party; you won't regret it.