Family and Community: How Trails Help a WTA Volunteer Build Connections
WTA volunteer and member, Elizabeth Storm, shares how trail work on the Covel Creek trail connects her to childhood, family and community.
Trails connect us. In a literal sense, they get us from point A to point B. But trails are also conduits to memories of childhood and time spent with family. They foster community, bringing friends old and new together. And, trails are a way for us to give back, creating spaces for others to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of being among trees and fresh air.
For Elizabeth Storm, a WTA trail work volunteer and member, Covel Creek Trail is just that — a connection to her youth and family, and a means for building community through hard work on trail.
A CONNECTION TO CHILDHOOD & FAMILY
Elizabeth’s connection to nature started at a young age thanks in large part to her grandparents. She spent many summer days camping and hiking with her grandfather in the shadow of Mount Rainier — a place where they shared many great memories. So, when Elizabeth decided to try out her first WTA trail work party she chose one in Mount Rainier National Park. “As long as Mount Rainier is there, my grandpa is still with me.” After that first work party, an experience she’s happy to have shared with her father, Elizabeth was hooked and has now spent more than 260 days volunteering with WTA.
Like the work parties at Mount Rainier, Elizabeth was excited when she found that WTA was hosting a work party on the Covel Creek Trail because it held special ties to the memory of her grandfather. The Covel Creek Trail is located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest near the Cispus Learning Center. At 12 years old, with the encouragement of her grandfather, Elizabeth began attending Natural Resource Youth Camp at Cispus. Elizabeth was excited to go back as an adult to see the trail and camp she remembers so fondly. “It wasn’t just the trail for me, it was also going back to summer camp.”
NEW MEMORIES & COMMUNITY
When Elizabeth stepped foot on the Covel Creek trail the morning of the work party, she got goosebumps because she knew exactly where she was — her childhood memories came flooding back. She could see the location of the old bridge, now washed out, that they had used to cross the creek at camp. In her mind she traced the trail, pinpointing the location of Curtain Falls just ahead and then Angel Falls a bit farther along, her memories from camp acting like a map.
Revisiting the site of her childhood summer camp, however, wasn’t the only goal Elizabeth had that day. It was an opportunity to meet other members of the WTA community. “A lot of the people I worked with on the trail were from a different trail maintenance region. I had only heard about most of the crew, but had never worked with them before.” After sharing a day of fun work with fellow trail lovers, Elizabeth looks forward to bringing her husband here to not only show what she helped accomplish on trail, but to also share a part of her childhood and to make new memories.
Elizabeth’s grandfather taught her the importance of giving back to your community and the things you love, which is why she chooses to volunteer with WTA. She knows her grandfather would be proud of the work she’s done. Elizabeth is now taking the trail maintenance skills she’s learned as a volunteer assistant crew leader and crew leader at WTA and helping restore trails at Camp Robbinswold, a Girl Scout camp on Hood Canal, so that more young girls have the opportunity to fall in love with nature and hiking. Maybe one day these trails will hold the same special meaning to today’s Girl Scouts as the Covel Creek Trail does for Elizabeth.
In times of uncertainty and struggle, trails can be the solace we seek to clear our minds and reset. WTA is working hard to ensure trails are there when you need them. Interested in supporting this work? Join a trail work party (no experience needed!) or make a donation today.