Trails for Everyone Celebrating the volunteers that make our work possible
Dear volunteers, Thank you for being there when the hiking community needed you. 2020 has highlighted the importance of outdoor healing spaces and the overwhelming need for safe trails for everyone. Thanks to you, part of a team of more than 5,000 volunteers, those spaces were accessible in a year when we needed them most. This year you donned masks to build new trail, advocated for crucial funding for public lands, wrote trip reports detailing close-to-home adventures, and many more acts of service. We as WTA staff are so thankful for you. Our state’s hiking community is so thankful for you. Without your dedication and every single minute of your donated time, 2020 would not have felt as hopeful. This yearbook is a celebration of what we’ve accomplished together during a very challenging year. We’re so proud to share these stories (and brag about you). With gratitude, WTA Staff
Without volunteers, our vision of Trails For Everyone, Forever would not be possible. WTA has four strategic campaigns that focus on a different part of our trail system, from the backyard to the backcountry, and each campaign relies on volunteer support.
The Lost Trails Found campaign is working to save trails that are at risk of disappearing completely — preserving access to our stunning backcountry for generations to come. Our Trails Rebooted campaign is supporting our popular recreation areas by improving existing trails, championing the construction of new ones and helping hikers see the role they play in the future of trails. The Trail Next Door campaign is helping ensure that nature is always in reach by working in parks and urban neighborhoods and collaborating with partners to increase access to green spaces across Washington.
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that trails and access to the outdoors are a must-have. Unfortunately, outdoor spaces are not safe or accessible for everyone. With your help, we are going to change that through WTA’s fourth and final campaign: Trails for Everyone. Everyone deserves to have opportunities to have safe, welcoming and inclusive experiences on trail. Hiking guide correspondents, trail advocates, trail maintenance crews, office volunteers, app developers, trip reporters and ambassadors are crucial to the success of our campaigns. Thank you for giving your time and energy to WTA. 3
Washington Trails A Publication of Washington Trails Association • wta.org
Trip reporters share their adventures and excellent photos. Volunteer writers make the magazine great. Photos by dmkr and Holly Weiler.
Communications Volunteers Connect Hikers to Hikes Magazine Contributors WTA’s magazine inspires readers across Washington and beyond. But did you know that much of it is volunteer-written? From advice about gear to hike suggestions to photography tips, volunteers share their knowledge and personal stories with the rest of our hiking community every year, four times a year. 4
Hiking Guide and Map 1,410 of the hikes on our site feature content written by hiking guide correspondents. These volunteers are trained to research and write up hikes for our online Hiking Guide and Hike Finder Map. These volunteers provide turn-by-turn driving and hiking directions, and notes on the trail’s history and biology.
Rain gear: From high-tech to DIY
Refuge: Finding healing in nature
Solitude: How to find a trail less traveled
Hiking guide correspondents helped provide hiking options and information during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. The necessity for finding nature close to home during this time further emphasized the value of WTA’s Trails Next Door campaign, which works to ensure nature is always nearby. Our correspondents continue to provide important information to help hikers get outside responsibly.
The WTA Trailblazer app and close-to-home trip reports provide hikers with ideas of where to go and how to do it safely.
Trailblazer App Our Trailblazer app is 100% built and maintained by a volunteer team! They were responsible for developing every feature, including the â€œfind a hike near youâ€? function. This proved especially useful this year, when physical distancing was necessary. The feature helps you find a back-up hike nearby if the trailhead is full when you arrive.
Trip Reports Detailed or concise, these folks provide valuable information to those who follow them on trail, even if that trail is the neighborhood park. During the Stay Home order, they tapped into their creativity, filing reports for their backyard explorations and neighborhood walks. These delightful recaps brought joy to uncertain times, and helped inspire others to explore their neighborhoods with new eyes. The value of trip reports was even more evident when trails
reopened. The first round of trip reports from the backcountry was full of crucial conditions updates. These conditions reports not only provide a service to hikers; land managers also rely on them to stay informed about the status of the trails they manage. And this year we had excellent coverage despite a pandemic: 70% of hikes on our site have up-to-date conditions reports! Thanks to the excellent information provided in trip reports, hikers can head out informed and prepared. 5
Ambassadors Give Trails a Voice Working with our advocacy and communications teams, WTA Ambassadors represent the organization at critical coalition meetings, offer input on planning processes and perform outreach in their communities. Ambassadors play a critical role for WTA, maximizing our reach statewide and offering on-theground expertise when our staff can't be everywhere at once. A great example comes from the Teanaway, one of WTA’s Trails Rebooted signature places, where Eva Tyler started as a WTA ambassador in early 2020. She has been representing hikers’ interests in the Teanaway and surrounding landscapes while serving on
the East Cascades Recreation Partnership Recreation Forum. When 2020 got in the way of the group’s other plans, Eva rolled up her sleeves and volunteered to support improvements on the French Cabin Creek
dispersed camping area and recently has been scouting trails for WTA in the Teanaway Community Forest. WTA has 20 other active ambassadors doing similar work throughout the state!
Washington Trails Day (left and below) and Hiker Rally Day (above) are two of the many advocacy opportunities to volunteer for trails. We hope to resume more in-person volunteer opportunities in 2021. Photos taken in 2019.
Trail Advocates Take Action Attending public meetings, tabling at trailheads for Washington Trails Day, asking hikers to sign petitions, signing online Trail Action Network actions… WTA’s trail advocates volunteer their time in many different ways. Many of advocacy’s in-person volunteer opportunities were put on hold in 2020, but advocates spoke up for trails online! On Washington Trails Day this year, over 350 advocates shared stories with their lawmakers about why
hiking is so important to them. More than 3,000 advocates also took action to support WTA’s priorities during the state legislative session and showed strong support on the federal level for the historic Great American Outdoors Act! It passed thanks to these and other voices raised in support. Hiker Rally Day is an event that takes place every two years to provide hikers across Washington with an opportunity to connect directly with their state legislators to
discuss why our trails and public lands are so important for the heart, mind and body. The next Hiker Rally Day will be held virtually on Feb. 24, 2021, and will be a great way to volunteer and advocate for hikers. 7
WTA office volunteers
Office volunteer, Bill Corriston, helps fold and mail letters to WTA members.
Office Volunteers Help Keep WTA Running Some of our office volunteers have been volunteering with WTA for over 20 years, and all of them play a crucial role in supporting fundraising and membership efforts. On any given day, they can be seen wielding their glue sticks as they help to fold, stamp, and mail letters to our members. They help keep our database current, updating addresses to ensure members are getting 8
communications from WTA and not missing out on the most recent issue of Washington Trails magazine. They also fold and organize hundreds of T-shirts for our annual Hike-aThon fundraiser and our trail maintenance backcountry trips, assemble invitations for events, and assist with other projects. We cannot overstate how vital they are to keeping our work flowing smoothly.
Youth Ambassadors Lead Each year, a cohort of high school-age youth are assembled as the next generation of trail champions. These Youth Ambassadors advocate for trails, organize volunteer opportunities for their peers and build connections with each other and the broader trail community. The 2020 cohort is composed of 13 young leaders who were unphased by this yearâ€™s
challenges. They presented to 625 of their classmates about WTAâ€™s programs and joined us in Olympia to advocate on behalf of No Child Left Inside funding. When inperson events were paused this spring, they were able to quickly and smoothly pivot to virtual programming. Later, in the summer, several current Youth Ambassadors joined past program alumni to volunteer on three work parties.
Youth ambassadors improved trail drainage and tread while connecting with program alumni. Photos by Britt LĂŞ.
Volunteers on trail Volunteer at Heather Meadows. Photo by Karen Bean.
Trail Crews Make Trails Hikable Trail maintenance volunteers have accomplished an impressive amount of work in 2020. They carefully adapted to new safety protocols, then successfully performed over 300 day work parties and 60 backcountry trips. These work parties played a critical role in our Lost Trails Found and Trails Rebooted campaigns, with volunteer trail crews contributing over 6,000 hours of maintenance to Lost 10
The completed 55ft puncheon at Hyas Lake. Photo by Jay Tarife.
Trails Found and over 24,000 hours to Trails Rebooted. WTA volunteers also dedicated more than 1,000 hours to urban trails across the state through The Trail Next Door campaign. Following the massive success of the launch of our Trails Rebooted campaign last year, we continued focusing on popular frontcountry hot spots in 2020. One standout project was the Hyas Lake trail which feeds into the Pacific Crest Trail
(PCT) on Deception Pass in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. This highly popular access point to the PCT, and Marmot and Jade lakes, had multiple failing puncheons that needed to be repaired in order to allow stock users to access the PCT. Our crews, in partnership with Back Country Horsemen of Washington, helped to repair 70 feet of failing puncheon, which restored access to this vital feeder trail to the PCT and popular day-hiking destination.
Volunteers on trail
Volunteers learn how to code trail issues on their smartphones at an urban trail before heading to the mountains (left). Safety issues spotted on the Green River Trail, Mount St Helens (below).
Trail Scouts: A New Volunteer Opportunity Earlier this year, as we looked for ways to engage volunteers in our mission while safely social distancing, we realized it was a great time to expand trail scouting into a pilot program. A handful of intrepid volunteers signed up for the first trail scouting missions and tried out new techniques using georeferenced PDF maps and their smartphones to tag specific trail issues. Trail scout volunteers Sandy and James Watt and Thomas Calvery scouted trails in the Tatoosh
Wilderness to capture key information for a backcountry response team (BCRT) trip scheduled there later in the season. Using this information, WTA staff were able to virtually brief the BCRT crew leader using Google Earth and the photos those scouts captured. More scouting trainings followed on Zoom and another scout team surveyed trails in the Silver Star Scenic Area (Gifford Pinchot National Forest) and the northeastern corner of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
In addition to providing volunteers another way to support our mission, this pilot delivers easy to digest data directly to our crew leaders and land managers to increase our efficiency and cut down on guesswork. This season we ran three different scouting missions and invested over 300 hours out on trails â€”all of which will pay off when we plan next seasonâ€™s projects. 11
Volunteers on trail
Girl Scouts from the Young Adults Yearning for Adventure (YAYA Hikers) group celebrate after a fun day of building a new trail reroute at Gold Creek Park.
Youth Program Pivots In a typical year, 20% of WTA’s volunteers are under age 18… but 2020 is not a typical year! This year, 280 youth volunteered on trail, completing 2,800 hours of volunteer trail work despite a global pandemic. We deeply missed the accustomed summer experiences of camping and working together on our Youth Volunteer Vacations (which were canceled due to COVID). In August, we were able to resume small-group day work parties with community partners and finished the year strong with 22 total events, including 5 youth and families events open to the general public. Our ability to work with so many 12
Photos by Melissa Perozzo and Kaci Darsow
WTA’s first professional trail crew was born in October 2020. The Leadership and Inclusion Crew is a pilot program, which prioritizes leadership and technical skills development for folks under-represented in WTA leadership and the outdoor industry as a whole, such as Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ folks. By investing in continued skills development for emerging BIPOC and LGBTQ+ leaders, we hope to see an increase in the number of folks from these communities stepping into leadership roles both within and beyond WTA.
youth despite the pandemic is partially due to help from the Youth Program’s first-ever volunteer chief crew leader, Micki Kedzierski! Thanks to Micki’s generosity in stepping into this new role, we were able to double the capacity of several of our youth events in the Puget Sound region this fall. While some of the adjustments we’ve had to make to youth day work parties are hopefully temporary (we can’t wait to bring back candy breaks!), other adaptations have been such a success they will likely continue to be a part of youth program offerings going forward. Two examples are a Youth Volunteer Vacation reunion work party
Micki Kedzierski joins WTA’s Youth Program as our first-ever volunteer chief crew leader!
we hosted for past participants of a shared-identity trip, and a series of work parties for alumni of WTA’s Youth Ambassador program as described on page 9.
Communications and Advocacy Awards
WTA believes when people hike, they’ll be inspired to protect trails. That can mean sharing Leave No Trace best practices in a trip report, teaching new hikers about recreating responsibly, or speaking up for trails in Olympia. These awards are for the folks who go that extra mile to ensure our time on trail is the best it can be.
Outstanding trip reporters In 2020, 72 outstanding trip reporters wrote more than 1,850 reports to help hikers across the state. What makes a trip reporter outstanding? These folks include tips like snack recommendations, cheer on other hikers in comments, document changing conditions and recommend gear. They highlight trails that need maintenance and visit trails that haven’t had a trip report in years. They provide valuable information and support WTA’s philosophy that trails and our community should be welcoming to all.
Trip Reporter Name: thinkspace
Trip Reporter Name: ngie
Trip Reporter Name: GoatPackin
Hike Name: PCT -Harts Pass to Northern Terminus
Hike Name: Annette Lake
Hike Name: Charlia Lakes Way Trail
thinkspace always includes useful information and photos on conditions. Plus, he includes personal accomplishments, like bagging an fastest known time of this section of the PCT.
Always ready with a detailed recounting of their hike, ngie also includes photos of trail conditions and narrative about their on-trail decisionmaking. A great reminder of how many decisions go into a day outside.
This dad takes his kids on challenging backpacking trips, and includes good information about the trail, where they camped, what they ate, and stunning photos!
Advocacy Top Actions Each year, our advocate community speaks on a number of trail and public lands issues by taking online actions. Some involve signing a petition; others allow them to connect directly to their lawmakers. When the hiking community uses their voice in this way, it has the real power to create meaningful policy change. While thousands of people have taken action this year, a few have really stepped up their online presence. We have four advocates who’ve taken action 5 times this year: Roger Siddall Bill O’Brien Carrie Carriveau Vincent Capelli Our award for most engaged action taker this year goes to Norm Samuelson, who has taken a total of 7 actions in 2020! 13
Trail Maintenance Awards Trail work wouldn’t happen without volunteers. As a thank you, some awards are handed out on trail work parties (hard hats, vests, hand saws, fleece hats and stickers) and some milestones, like 250+ jackets and crosscut saw plaques, are celebrated at volunteer appreciation award ceremonies. In 2020, that celebration is taking place online!
500 • Crosscut Saw Club Bob Evans Terry Lamp Ken Miller
250 • Full Bench Club Carole Bianquis Edward Blodgett Meg Bushnell Cliff Cantor Jeroldine Halberg George Stites Bev Stoll Patrick Sullivan Mason White
Terry Lamp was instrumental in getting weekday work parties started at Larrabee State Park — most of his 500 days were spent there!
Above and Beyond Every year, we recognize volunteers who impact WTA in a big way. In other words, they went above and beyond in 2020. Get to know this year’s batch of superheroes.
Karen Bean Karen has never hesitated to jump in anytime a job needs to be done, whether it’s coming early to set up or putting photos together for office projects. Since becoming an ACL, she’s watched for work parties that don’t have enough help. This year, Karen volunteered to be a chief crew leader to fill gaps created by COVID. In the words of one volunteer, “Karen does a great job fostering positive relationships with new and returning volunteers.” She brings patience and humor to each work party, sometimes even in the form of switchback-themed cupcakes. Meg Bushnell Dedication and commitment come with a smile that can’t be beat. Beyond bringing these qualities to work parties, Meg has volunteered for scouting missions, equipment delivery, and even setting up a fundraising event for WTA. She connects deeply with those around her: “Meg is a very level and consistent leader and exhibits a warm and clear leadership style that lends itself to positive interactions with all volunteers.” This year, she stepped into the responsibilities of a volunteer chief crew leader. To all of these roles, she brings the best laugh ever. Zach Carter Zach Carter has steadily grown into his leadership role in Eastern Washington. His first work party was in 2013, and he earned his green hat in 2015. His level of involvement in Eastern Washington has deepened, and he joined our dedicated core of assistant crew leaders in 2018. Despite difficulties and uncertainties brought about by COVID-19, Zach stepped up to help our local trailwork community, including offering early pilots of new trailwork protocols and providing assistance with backcountry response trips. His assistance has allowed our projects to run at their fullest potential. 15
Jim Cavin Jim has been copy editing Washington Trails magazine since 1989. Jessi Loerch, our magazine editor, really appreciates the skill and knowledge that Jim brings to editing the mag. “Not only does his knowledge of hiking here help him provide useful edits, but he has an eye for easy-to-miss mistakes. In addition to his copy edits, he often leaves entertaining comments that are a highlight during the stress of magazine production.” Our magazine would not be as good without Jim’s longstanding and consistent support. Cherie Chandler Despite a hectic schedule of work, school and parenting, Cherie regularly shows up for work parties. Her two boys sometimes join her, and both recently earned their own hard hats! While the work party and homeschool schedule has been tight during the pandemic, she found the time to become an exemplary trail scout while attending all our workshops and multiple scouting missions as a test pilot for this new program. She is an ace. She also offers support in other ways like helping to develop more youth programming. There’s no other way to say it: Cherie is an all-around amazing human being and we’re so thankful that she shines some of her energy on our Southwest team. Bill Corriston Bill first volunteered on trail in the early 2000s, but when old injuries prevented him from continuing this type of work, he eagerly sought out other ways to stay involved and support WTA. Bill attended an open house when WTA first moved its offices to downtown Seattle, where he connected with the membership team and became a dedicated office volunteer. Eight years later, Bill still shows up at the office every week with enthusiasm and plays a crucial role stuffing envelopes and mailing letters to WTA’s members. He also helps keep our database current by updating members’ addresses as necessary. We’re lucky to have such a committed office volunteer who brings positive energy and good stories to share over coffee. 16
Evan Dericksen Evan is a Mapbox whiz who has been supporting the Hike Finder Map for years. This year, he dedicated time to two major projects that helped the hiking community. He’s who you can thank for having current wildfire closures on the Hike Finder Map this summer. In the fall, he produced new maps for some of Washington’s most popular trails. Evan is creative in his problem-solving. He has streamlined the map-making process, and improved the information hikers can use to plan their best hikes. Sam Nofziger As president of his high school’s hiking club, Sam organized 5 youth day work parties with WTA. One of these was our first youth event under COVID protocols. Despite limitations, he helped create 11 youth experiences and completed over 120 hours of trail work. Sam’s crews gained a reputation with land managers for being highly motivated and enthusiastic. They were often requested for projects — such as a day of rock work at Moss Lake Natural Area. Sam is now in his first year at George Fox University. Patrick Sullivan Patrick Sullivan has been involved with WTA for over 5 years. He’s an integral part of the Olympic region crew, but travels frequently to other areas of the state to step in when additional support is required. Last year, Patrick saw the need for additional volunteer chief crew leaders on the Olympic peninsula and identified ways to expand our work in Kitsap County. He’s worked tirelessly, providing much-needed capacity and opportunities that would not be possible without his support. Doris Wang Doris is supporting the work we’re doing on the Mountain Loop Highway as part of our Trails Rebooted campaign, and is an energetic amplifier of WTA’s messages on social media. She’s managed to fit a backcountry response team trip into her busy life and researches hikes in the Mountain Loop area to improve the information we provide in the Hiking Guide. She’s provided a positive voice in our online discussions of hiking etiquette and helps foster a supportive online community. We’re thrilled she has chosen to devote so much time to WTA. 17
Volunteers are the heart of WTA and have been since our beginning in 1966. But in a year like 2020, volunteers have been more important than ever â€”helping WTA be there for hikers and trails than when they needed us most. I hope this celebration of volunteer accomplishments was as inspiring for you as it was for me. I could not be more proud to work with and for WTA's community of trail champions.
Trails for Everyone, Forever. 18
Trails for everyone, forever
See what you helped WTA accomplish, even during a challenging year. Thank you for your time and dedication!