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Preview: WTA's 2022 Volunteer Backcountry Trip Schedule

Posted by Anna Roth at Feb 04, 2022 12:00 PM |

It's only February, but Washingtonians know that the short, gray days mean it's primo planning season. Have you considered adding a WTA backcountry trip to your 2022 adventure schedule? You should. Here's why.

It's only February, but Washingtonians know that the short, gray days mean it's primo planning season. Have you considered adding a WTA backcountry trip to your 2022 adventure schedule?

Backcountry trips are multi-night volunteer work parties hosted by WTA in the spring and summer. Staying overnight and doing trail work allows volunteer crews to get more work done in parts of the state that don't get much maintenance, not to mention you're spending multiple days in gorgeous places. WTA offers three kinds of backcountry trips.

Four volunteers stand on a trail overshadowed by Mount Baker in the background on a sunny day.
Volunteers working on the Hannegan Pass trail during a 2021 backcountry trip. Get a load of that view! Photo by Karen Bean.

Volunteer vacations are fairly fancy. You get a comfy campsite selected by WTA and we fuel your hard work with gourmet meals. Volunteer vacations do have a fee associated with them which pays for the food we provide and the time required to pack it and your gear in.

Backcountry response team trips (BCRTs) let you spend 3 - 8 days camping and doing trail work. Your crew might stay in the same campsite for the duration of the trip, or move camp each day. These vary in difficulty and are self-sustained (meaning you pack your own food and gear).

Youth-specific volunteer vacations are for 14 - 18 year olds. Volunteering and learning trail maintenance skills with a group of other teens is a great way to spend spring break or a week of your summer vacation. These also have a fee associated with them because food is provided, but scholarships are available.

Some things Change...

Two Volunteer Vacations per person per launch
Thanks to an increase in staffing and streamlined processes, we're happy to announce that this year each person can register for two volunteer vacations per launch, as long as there is room.

Please remember though, these trips are unique opportunities to learn about trail work and spend time with other volunteers. In order to give as many people a chance to be outdoors learning the basics of trail work with a team, please do not register for a trip unless you are certain you can attend.

Vaccinations required to participate
Like our day work parties, all staff and volunteers participating in backcountry trips are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Submitting proof of vaccination is necessary prior to work party participation. We’ve put together a vaccine requirement FAQ page that outlines this process.

A Green Mountain BCRT crew enjoys a quiet morning breakfast before starting work in 2021.
A crew on the Green Mountain BCRT enjoys a quiet breakfast before beginning the workday. Photo by Xu Gao.

Some stay the same

We can't control fire (or weather)
Ongoing drought conditions and an increasingly unpredictable climate have extended wildfire season across the West, including Washington. We do our best to plan trips that take these and other environmental factors into account, and we have back-up plans in place in case locations or projects need to change. Safety is our number one priority, so even with careful planning, cancellations may still be necessary. We'll communicate any changes or cancellations to crews as early as possible.

Get on that waitlist
If the trip you are hoping to join is full, put yourself on a waitlist. We use registration timestamps and other criteria for moving volunteers off of the waitlist to fill a trip, and there's a good chance you'll get on the trip you're waitlisted for. Here's what we're weighing when making placement decisions for trips that have multiple people on the waitlist:

  • Does this crew have at least one Assistant Crew Leader with extensive volunteer vacation kitchen experience?
  • Does the crew need a sawyer? 
  • Has this person had the chance to do a volunteer vacation before? (We hold two spots on each volunteer vacation for newcomers.)
  • Has this volunteer already been on a trip this year? Is there someone else on the list who hasn't had the chance to go out yet?

Hiking to the volunteer vacation camp at Skyline. Photo by Karen K. Wang.
Hiking into camp on a volunteer vacation is pretty easy, since you get your gear packed in by Back Country Horsemen! Photo by Kae-lin Wang.

Important Dates For BCRTs and Adult Volunteer Vacations

  • Feb. 4 - Trip preview week: You'll be able to preview the 2022 backcountry trip schedule on Feb. 4. This gives you a week to review the schedule, find a few you want to do, and most importantly, fill out your forms and submit your proof of vaccination! These must be complete before you register for any trips.
  • Feb. 12 - First Registration: Registration for our volunteer vacations and BCRTs between March and June open at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12.
  • Apr. 29 - Second Registration: Registration for our volunteer vacations and BCRTs Between July and October open at 6 p.m. on Friday, Apr. 29. 

Youth Volunteer Vacations

WTA will be running Youth Volunteer Vacations in June and July utilizing our COVID safety protocols. The Priority Application period is April 1-17, with trip placement notifications on April 27. For more information, check out the Youth Volunteer Vacation page.


Tim Outside on Preview: WTA's 2022 Volunteer Backcountry Trip Schedule

Why is the world are vaccinations required to volunteer for an OUTDOOR work party? Can you please provide me the scientific eveidence that supports this policy? Also, since you seem to be very much pro Inclusion, how is that an inclusive policy. If you can provide any logic behind this I'd love to see it.

Posted by:

Tim Outside on Feb 19, 2022 04:29 PM

Washington Trails Association on Preview: WTA's 2022 Volunteer Backcountry Trip Schedule

Hi Tim,

Our vaccination requirement is in place to keep volunteers safe and meet requirements put in place by our land manager partners. You can read more about this on our FAQ page,which is linked in the blog above.

Posted by:

Washington Trails Association on Feb 22, 2022 10:02 AM

Tim Outside on Preview: WTA's 2022 Volunteer Backcountry Trip Schedule

I have heard and received a lot of shame for not being vaccinated, even though I have had covid and have natural immunity (scientifically proven) as well as being a healthy, active person with no comorbidities and therefore did not need to take on the risk of a EUA vaccine.

Shame on you for spewing nonsense like me being vaccinated protects other volunteers. There is literally ZERO evidence supporting that claim. On top of that, we have known for AGES now that covid doesn't spread outside. And yet you would keep an avid backpacker from giving back by volunteering on your work crews. Why no pushback on these mandates from your federal landowners?

I am officially done with WTA. You have lost my support. I am tired of being excluded because I didn't take a vaccine which doesn't stop the spread. Enough with all of this.

Posted by:

Tim Outside on Feb 22, 2022 01:00 PM

LW-1218 on Preview: WTA's 2022 Volunteer Backcountry Trip Schedule

I would like to thank you for making sure that vaccines are required to go out on the volunteer hikes. I read a comment that speaks against doing so. There are so many incorrect "facts" being spread by supposed "experts" who all believe their opinion and only their opinion is correct. Keep up the great work! Safety always comes first!!
I'll see you out on the trails!!

Posted by:

LW-1218 on Mar 01, 2022 03:52 PM

Tim Outside on Preview: WTA's 2022 Volunteer Backcountry Trip Schedule


Thanks for your comment. First, I never claimed to be an expert. Second, obviously you are one of those that thinks their opinion is the only right one. If not, then I guess we can all ignore what you said. Third, you stated no facts of your own.

Here are some actual facts (not my opinion). You can verify these yourself with very little effort.

FACT: The CDC has confirmed that ANYONE, regardless of vaccination status, can spread Covid.
FACT: The likelihood of spreading covid outside is less than 1% chance and likely less than 0.1% chance.

Posted by:

Tim Outside on Mar 01, 2022 07:01 PM

LW-1218 on Preview: WTA's 2022 Volunteer Backcountry Trip Schedule

Your comment is not what I was referring to. In fact, I had not read your comment until now. My comment was a simple thank you to WTA for doing their best to keep everyone safe.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I'm not shaming anyone.
Nothing has been known for "ages" about Covid, considering that it was just last year that everyone became concerned and mandates were set.
I believe you said you were finished with WTA. If so, why have you not unsubscribed from the emails? Doing so may help you with the feeling that you, personally, are being shamed.
Take care.

Posted by:

LW-1218 on Mar 04, 2022 05:52 PM

Shawn Aebi on Preview: WTA's 2022 Volunteer Backcountry Trip Schedule

Any idea when the 2023 BCRT Preview will be posted??

Posted by:

Shawn Aebi on Feb 01, 2023 06:25 PM