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2000 Work Parties and Counting

Posted by Susan Elderkin at May 05, 2011 02:20 PM |

Washington Trails Association crew leader Mike Owens recently celebrated his 2000th day working on trail. That's nearly five and a half years, for those of you doing the math.

A couple of weeks ago, I worked side-by-side with one of WTA's most illustrious crew leaders on a very special day - his 2000th work party. Two thousand work parties, you gasp! Who could possibly attain such a feat?

Mike Owens, that's who. And if you're from the greater Seattle area and have ever been out on a mid-week work party, odds are that you've met him. He crew leads Tuesday through Friday year-round on the west side of the Cascades

Mike was sporting a brand new red bandana the day of his 2000th work party. The bandana is his trademark, but usually it is blue. This red one was a small token of thanks and recognition for 2000 days on trail for WTA. For those of you doing the math, that's nearly five a half years spent digging drain dips, hauling rocks and swinging a pulaski. It's a staggering milestone for a remarkable person.

It was way back in 1998 that Mike first encountered with WTA's trail maintenance program. He had a desk job at the time and liked to go running. But once he started working on the trail, it "completely replaced running. I came out as often as I could. Finally, I took an early retirement so I could do this."

Mike Owens is WTA's gold standard for trail maintenance. His trail technique is second to none, and his light coaching and humor keeps volunteers coming back time and again. There's a sizable crowd of regulars, but folks new to trail work enjoy him just as much. As one recent volunteer expressed, "I especially appreciated that Mike took time, when realizing I was new, to discuss some of the details and ideas behind the drain design I was working on that day."

Is there another milestone in Mike Owens' future? Probably. "Sometimes I think I’m getting tired, then I think, what else in the world would I want to be doing?" Tomorrow, he'll pack up the Subaru with tools, hardhats, candy bars and soda pop and head out to greet another group of volunteers at the Snoquera Falls trail.

If you're interested in joining Mike Owens on an upcoming work party, sign up for a Tuesday through Friday on a trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Next week Mike is scheduled to be on the CCC Road Trail and the week of May 17th on the Boulder River trail.