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Playing in the Mud on National Trails Day

Posted by Andrew Engelson at Jun 09, 2008 12:47 PM |
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This past Saturday was National Trails Day, and many volunteers braved the drippy weather to help fix our state's trails.

We had crews out on the South Fork Skokomish in the Olympics, Heybrook Lookout off U.S. Highway 2, two trips at Mount Rainier National Park, and on a trail in Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Intrepid hikers also helped WTA and land managers scout trail conditions in Southwest Washington.

I personally had the pleasure of joining WTA crew leader Arlen Bogaard's work party on the Horseshoe Bend Trail off the Mount Baker Highway. Horseshoe Bend is a lovely early season trail that meanders along the North Fork Nooksack River. It's a great hike for families as there's minimal elevation gain. And there's much to see: the roaring blue-gray waters of the river, moss-cloaked maples and dense rain forest. We spotted a bald eagle perched above the river, plenty of dippers on the rocks and although we didn't see any bear, they're apparently abundant in the lowlands this time of year.

Our hardy band set to work building a series of steps (sort of a hybrid series of crib steps/turnpike) through a muddy patch of trail. The work went quickly: we set in logs for three large steps, and Marty, a volunteer from Anacortes, went to work drilling and spiking them together. We hauled gravel, and created some rock steps. Before you knew it, there was a trail structure where none had been before. Cool!


Building Turnpike

This work party was a two-day affair. At the Forest Service bunk house in Glacier, we rested and had hot showers--what luxury! For dinner, Arlen treated us to swimming rama (Thai chicken and tofu with spinach and peanut sauce--yum!) and we rested our tired bodies for another rewarding day of trail work.

The next day was spent improving the trail: brushing, improving the tread, and leveling the trail where it crossed a washout. The weather was better, and we encountered many hikers on the trail (one of the few in the area that isn't still under snow!). There were many thank yous and friendly words--it was a great way to get out the word about the fantastic work WTA and our volunteers do for trails.

Thanks to all who came out for National Trails Day! Your efforts are helping hikers enjoy places like Horsehoe Bend. If you've been meaning to volunteer on trail, you should resolve to do it this season. It's a heck of a lot fun. Play in the mud, build cool structures, use an assortment of nifty tools, and most importantly, have fun with fellow hikers who share your love of the outdoors and trails. Find out more about volunteering for trails here.

Photo: Building turnpike (and pondering if we can a rather hefty boulder for a step) on the Horseshoe Bend Trail in the Mount Baker Ranger District. Photo by Andrew Engelson.