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A Year of Joy in WTA Trip Reports

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Dec 31, 2017 09:08 AM |
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Trip reports bring us joy all year long. Here are some of our favorites from 2017.

All year long, we find joy reading your trip reports. Useful information, beautiful photos, tales of hikes gone perfectly, or tales of hikes gone hilariously sideways—trip reports are a powerful way for hikers to help hikers while also sharing the joy of hiking.

As 2017 is nearly over, we’ve been thinking back on the year and re-reading trip reports. We wish we could share all of the trip reports we’ve loved over the last year, but we’d still be here several months from now. (Trip reporters are prolific! This year, we were delighted when we passed a major milestone: 100,000 trip reports filed on So here is a small taste of the trip reports that brought us joy all year long.

The Skagit-Sauk Reach Trail. Photo by HeatherD.

HeatherD, a Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest Eagle Watcher volunteer, took a break from her station at a spotting scope to take a hike along the Skagit-Sauk Reach Trail on New Years Day. In several inches of snow, she and the rest of her group strolled to the river junction and watched bald eagles soaring on the thermals. If you’d like to see the eagles yourself, Eagle Watcher volunteers will be available the first few weekends of January. Check the website for details. 


New Year’s Day is an excellent time for a hike. Beginning the year with a hike is a treasured tradition for many. And many state parks will offer trips to help you get 2018 off to the right start. In 2017, we had 61 trip reports filed from hikes on Jan. 1. 

Snow Bowl Hut trail. Photo by Superstv.

Superstv had to find a backup plan for their New Year’s Day snowshoe trip when the road to Paradise was closed. After a bit of research, they found the trip up to Snow Bowl Hut, part of the Mount Tahoma system of huts. After the challenging snowshoe, they lucked out and were able to have the cozy hut all to themselves to warm up before heading back home. 


Wenatchee Guard Station. Photo by Holly Weiler. 

Holly Weiler was inspired to try a February trip to the Wenatchee Guard Station by another trip reporter. She stayed nice and cozy in the cabin while a snow storm raged outside. When the snow stopped falling, she ventured outside to enjoy the full moon and endless stars. She found such joy in the trip, she wrote her own trip report hoping it would inspire others to give it a try, too. 


Margaret's Way. Photo by Joe Hendricks. 

A big part of the joy of hiking come from the small details. Joe Hendricks admired many of those small details, including robins, squirrels, moss and tiny waterfalls on a hike on Margaret's Way. Joe likes to document his hikes with videos, and it's fun to see a snapshot of what a trail looks like. (We also appreciate the shoutout to the work we've done on Margaret's Way. Thanks, Joe.) 


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Duckabush River. Photo by Mark & Phil.

In April, some really dedicated volunteers ventured out on the Duckabush River. The volunteers for this Backcountry Response Team were prepared for wet weather and, indeed, everyone ended up pretty soggy. Even with all the rain, they managed to get a lot of work done, including clearing a lot of logs. We appreciate Mark & Phil’s cheerful report of the excellent work they helped with, even though it was in less than ideal conditions. Also, Mark and Phil are brothers who have been adventuring together for years. We love that they make the time to give back to trails. 


Darth Vader at Lenore Lake Caves. Photo by Darth Thaddeus.  

The force is strong with trip reporter Darth Thaddeus, and we’re always delighted to see their trip reports from anywhere in the galaxy. In May, they took Darth Vader to Lenore Lake Caves, where they captured a photo of him surveying the train. Most likely, he was watching out for rebels hiding the caves.


Snoqualmie Mountain. Photo by Lil' Mountain Goats.

The Lil' Mountain Goats live up to their names. The two trip reporters, ages 11 and 13, spend a lot of time climbing mountains, often in the snow. For this trip, they headed up Snoqualmie Mountain, which they had nearly to themselves. It wasn't any easy trip, but the views made for a great payoff. It's exciting to see young hikers really getting out there—and we appreciate the useful details they always include on conditions in all of their reports.

Yellow Aster Butte. Photo by Keiko Betcher. 

It makes up happy to see folks get out on a work party for the first time. In June, Keiko Betcher spent a day working on the trail to Yellow Aster Butte. We were particularly excited to see this trip report, because Keiko was our communications intern for the summer. She spent the summer with us, writing about the value of urban forests, the exciting news about new fisher babies and even adding to our hiking guide, amid many other projects.


Youth work party in the Pasayten. Photo by Jill Simmons. 

Jill Simmons, our executive director who joined WTA early in 2017, added a bit of a challenge to her hike in the Pasayten by packing in a watermelon. Why would she do that, you ask? Well, she was going to visit a youth crew who were doing a week of work in the backcountry. She knows how great fresh fruit tastes, so she hauled the burden with her to thank the crew who was working to replace failing bridges.

It was a hit. The work is part of our Lost Trails campaign, to preserve trails that are at risk of falling off the map. As an added bonus, Jill ran into Craig Romano, a prolific hiking guide volunteer and writer for Washington Trails magazine. 


Misery Mountain Loop. Photo by austineats.

Trip reporter austineats discovered that Misery Mountain Loop did not live up to its name at all. Instead of a miserable trip, they found a lovely backpacking location with flowers, views and plenty of chances for peakbagging, for those who are into that.

Work party at Bird Creek Meadows. Photo by Janice Van Cleve. 

This summer was a terrible one for fires. Many trails all around the state (and the country, really) were closed as the fires raged. Recovering trails from those fires is going to be challenging and take many years. With that in mind, Janice Van Cleve’s trip report from Bird Creek Meadows—which has been damaged by fire in earlier years and is still closed to hikers—was a bright spot in a smokey summer. 

Janice had a unique perspective, as she worked on the trail both before and after the fires. She was pleased to see that some of the structures crews had created earlier had survived the fires. It was dusty, ashy work, but we're so grateful for crews who are helping to restore the trail system.


Volunteers celebrate the official opening of the Pratt River connector. Photo by John SWIG Swigert. 

In late September, WTA and many partners celebrated a big milestone, with the opening of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road.

It was a project many years in the making, including a lot of work on trails. John SWIG Swigert wrote a trip report from a work party on the Pratt River Trail. Ribbon cutting ceremonies celebrated the official opening of the road, as well as the Pratt River connector. It’s exciting to have new hiking areas opening up so close to Seattle and other densely populated urban areas. 


Snow Lake Trail. Photo by Muledeer.

On Halloween, a witch and her witchy friend went hiking to Snow Lake. Trip reporter Muledeer reported a magical hike from the moment they landed their brooms at the trailhead. We cackled heartily at her amusing recounting of her spellbinding day on trail. (Muledeer did find some bad spell-work on the trail, with a few dogs allowed to disregard the reasonable-restriction for non-magical creatures rule. Here's a friendly reminder about leash or wand etiquette for dogs on trail—magical or not.)

Important note for all witches wizards and muggles: Snow Lake has high avalanche danger when snow is present. Don't venture out there unless you're fully confident in your avalanche knowledge. 


Sacagawea Heritage Trail. Photo by Cruiznbye. 

We’re always excited to see people out hiking, and it’s a joy when people find routes close to town. Trip reporter Cruiznbye took a hike along the Sacagawea Heritage Trail on a beautiful evening in November.

It’s nice to remember that a hike doesn’t have to mean driving hours to a remote location. Close-in trails offer hiking opportunities to many people, and that’s something we’re always thankful for. (If you'd like more suggestions for urban hikes, all over the state, check out this story.)


Hurricane Ridge. Photo by GoatPackin.

In December, trip reporter GoatPackin took a family trip to Hurricane Ridge. They took their kids snowshoeing for the first time, and judging by the photos, they had a great time. Yay for families getting out to enjoy the outdoors together and trying something new! (Wanna try snowshoeing? We have tips.)

Thank you all for your trip reports, all year long. We can't wait to see what adventures you find next year. May you go on many hikes—and come home safely to tell us about them. Happy New Year!