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10 Things WTA is Thankful For

Posted by Anna Roth at Nov 27, 2019 04:00 PM |

When Washington spins into winter, the dark days can be challenging to endure. Fewer hours of daylight make it hard to get outside, but we believe it's a good time to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for: pikas, toilets, and a community who cares about each other.

When Washington spins into winter, the dark days can be challenging to endure. Fewer hours of daylight make it hard to get outside, but we believe it's a good time to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for.

We live and work in a gorgeous state. Trails here lace the landscape, making it relatively easy to enjoy the physical, mental and emotional benefits of being outside. And many of those trails lead to breathtaking views, a reminder of how precious this place is. Our hiking community is an inspiration, too. We love reading your trip reports, hearing you speak up for trails, and meeting you on trail when you volunteer.

Plenty of other small delights make our jobs joyful. Here's a non-exhaustive list of things WTA staff named when asked what they were thankful for. 



These shy little fuzzballs can be the best part of a hike if you're lucky enough to spot one. We love hearing their squeaks whenever we hike through their territory and seeing photos of them in Northwest Exposure (our photo contest) or trip reports.

How could you not love this majestic little floof? Photo by Aaron Wilson.



If you like coffee, tea or hot chocolate on a hike, you're probably just as grateful as we are for thermoses to keep your beverage of choice warm. They're the absolute best on a cold winter hike. If you haven't tried it yet, sub out broth next time you go hiking this winter. You can thank us later. 

A thermos of coffee or soup takes a wintry hike to the next level. Photo by Erika Haugen-Goodman. 


Innovative toilets and wastewater treatment plants

Between promoting responsible backcountry waste disposal and reporting on how fully funding public lands could make the most of new disposal strategies, WTA staffers talk an awful lot about poop. So we're grateful our land manager partners are working to make toilets at backcountry sites more sustainable and that wastewater treatment plants offer nice hikes. It makes it much easier to talk about a (sometimes) crappy problem.

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Newly installed toilets in Gothic Basin will separate liquid waste from solid, increasing toilet capacity and allowing land managers more time between maintenance. Graphic courtesy Department of Natural Resources. 


Transit to Trailheads

For the last few years, services like Trailhead Direct and the WET (West End Transit) bus in the Gorge have been working to address the congestion at trailheads and offer increased access to trails. We hope to see more communities in Washington get on board next year. 

This hike that ECOSS took with King County staff at Cougar Mountain is just one of thousands of hikes that Trailhead Direct made possible in 2019. Photo courtesy King County.



As a nonprofit, WTA relies on the support of members to achieve our vision. Also key to our success are the organizations who help us accomplish our work on the ground. 

Partners like Back Country Horsemen of Washington help WTA crews reach worksites by packing our tools and gear in using their horses and mules. Bonus gratitude for getting to be around these hardworking animals when WTA and BCHW crews meet in the field. Photo by Jessica Potts. 


Teens, our new benevolent overlords

In case you missed it, teens are absolutely rockin' it. WTA's youth ambassadors has been going strong for 6 years. They've helped update the hiking guide, started an outdoor club at their school, even won conservation awards. They're visionary and hardworking, and we're grateful that they direct some of their energy to supporting WTA.

The 2019 youth ambassador cohort spent a weekend in November kayaking, slack-lining and team-building. Photo by Britt Lê. 


Small (and big) kindnesses

We see kindnesses everywhere in our community, from friends marking a notable milestone at trail work parties to trip reporters telling stories of meaningful hikes taken together.

Hikers love food, so often these kindnesses come in the form of snacks, but sometimes it's as simple as an uplifting comment on a trip report. And sometimes it's as big as hiking your friend's large dog 13+ miles out of the Glacier Peak wilderness. (The pup was fine after the hike, just tuckered out)

How many times have you wished for a litter to carry you out of the forest? Photo by Kristie Spallone. 


Local greenspaces

Having a place to go to clear your mind close to home is a big deal. WTA's Hiking Guide features a fair number of local parks. Trip reporters help expand it by reporting on their favorite local spot. Getting that local knowledge helps us remain a robust and reliable resource for hikers everywhere. 

Greenspaces like Boeing Creek Park (pictured here) can be just as restful and rejuvenating as hikes that head deep into the backcountry. Photo by Erika Haugen-Goodman. 



To be able to spend a day traveling to and from (and on) a trail is a blessing. Because it's not tangible, it's easy to overlook, but it's undeniable that spare time is a gift. We're grateful to have that.   

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Time to hike to a relaxing campsite like this is a gift. Photo by Alex Donaghy. 



Half our staff said they were grateful for trail mix with raisins, the other half said trail mix without raisins. This debate surfaces about once a year, so I'm gonna go ahead and say I'm thankful that raisins exist so we can keep the conversation going. 

Trail mix featuring raisins. Great for sparking spirited debate. Photo courtesy Flickr user Sarah R.