How to Prepare For A WTA Backcountry Trip
WTA's backcountry volunteer trips can be fun and rewarding, but they do require a little extra prep. Luckily, we've got you covered. Here's everything you need to be fully prepared for a volunteer vacation or a backcountry response trip with WTA.
Before you go - Training for your trip
Get into Your peak condition
Backcountry trips often have long hikes to the campsite or worksite, and involve working on trail maintenance multiple days in a row.
So it's a good idea to work on your flexibility and strength leading up to your backcountry trip. You might want to work on some endurance training, too. No need to stress too much though. Everyone works (and hikes!) at their own pace on WTA work parties.
- Training tips so you can move mountains today and feel good tomorrow
- Training Hikes: Try these to build endurance
- Alternately, filter through the hikes in our Hiking Guide to find the perfect trail near you to train on.
Even seasoned volunteers and experienced backpackers can benefit from training before summer kicks off. Photo by Anna Roth
Pack Everything You Need (And Some Things You Want)
It's most important that you're warm, dry, and well-fed on these trips, but sometimes a couple extra items in your pack go a long way towards making camp feel like home for a few days. We've got recommendations to make that happen, too.
We provide packing lists for you in your registration emails. Please check your gear at least four weeks in advance so that you can make any needed repairs or replacements.
Backcountry Response Teams
In The Field - Daily Schedules
Volunteer vacations and backcountry response teams have similar day-to-day structures with some key differences. Here's a schedule outline to give you an idea of what your trip will be like, plus testimonials from past volunteers about what their first backcountry trip with WTA was like.
Backcountry Response Teams
Meet the crew at the trailhead for introductions and a safety briefing. Pick up tools and begin the hike to camp. (Specific meeting time and location will be confirmed in advance by your crew leader).
Once we arrive at camp, we set up camp and eat lunch. If it's still early in the day, we may work on Day 1.
Around 4:00 or 5:00, we're back at camp to unwind, prepare our own dinners and eat together, then socialize before heading to our tents for the night.
Day 2 and Beyond
The crew usually wakes between 6 and 7:30 a.m., makes breakfast individually (but sitting together) and heads out to work until noon when we break for lunch.
After lunch, we continue trail work, stopping periodically for breaks. Depending on the project and the weather, work may end at different times each day, but usually no later than 5:00 p.m.
Depending on how long a hike out we have, we may work for a half day (until noon), or we may pack up camp and simply hike back to the trailhead. Your crew leader will have the specifics for this and will tell you on your trip.
Meet the crew at the trailhead at noon for introductions and a safety briefing, then hike to camp. (Specific meeting time and location will be confirmed in advance by your crew leader).
Once we arrive at camp, you'll set up your tent then assist in setting up the kitchen, wash station or digging a toilet location for the week. If it's still early in the day, we may work a bit on the project.
Around 4:00 or 5:00, we're back at camp to relax and prepare dinner together. We try to serve dinner by 6:00 p.m., then everyone helps clean up camp and socializes before heading to our tents for the night. Check out a sample menu for the week here.
Day 2 and Beyond
The crew usually wakes between 6 and 7:30 a.m.. We make and eat breakfast together, then you make your own lunch before heading out to work. We have lunch at the project site around noon.
After lunch, we continue working, stopping periodically for breaks. Depending on the project and the weather, work may end at different times each day, but usually no later than 3:30 p.m.
Depending on how long a hike out we have, we may work for a half day (until noon), or we may simply pack up camp and hike back to the trailhead. Your crew leader will have the specifics for this and will tell you on your trip.
Back at Home
Once you're home, kick back and write a trip report outlining what you accomplished on your trip. You'll get an email from the crew leader wrapping up the trip and sharing photos. If you have pictures you want to share with the crew (like this great one below), you can! Just look for the photos link in the summary report email.
Clean Your Gear
Gear can be pricey. Keep it in excellent condition so you can use it for years to come with our tips.
Write a Trip Report
Trip reports are a chance for you to brag about the work you and your crew did while informing hikers of what condition the trail is in.
Fill out our post-trip survey
We want to hear about your experience. When you get the summary email from your crew leader, you can tell us what you liked and what we can do better next time in the survey link there.