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The Glacier Basin Trail is Finished

Posted by Susan Elderkin at Aug 03, 2011 10:40 AM |
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Four hundred volunteers, 151 days of work parties, 17,450 hours of labor - and now a new Glacier Basin trail to transport hikers to Glacier Basin, one of the most popular hiking destinations in Mount Rainier National Park.

On the final day of July, a dozen hearty volunteers put the finishing touches on the new Glacier Basin trail. They installed a drain, cut the brush back one last time and pulled up the final grade stake on a new section of trail that has been four years in the making. Then they celebrated with a ribbon cutting and cake!

It has taken a monumental effort to get to this moment. Since 2008, WTA has fielded 121 one-day work parties and six Volunteer Vacations, with more than 400 different volunteers contributing 17,450 hours of labor. And that is just WTA's contribution; other groups have worked on this trail too.

The cumulative efforts of all of these fine people have made one of Mount Rainier National Park's most popular hiking destinations accessible once again. The trail was lost during a massive storm in November 2006, when a foot-and-half of rain flooded the Inter Fork of the White River. The trail that meandered along the river was decimated.

Instead of trying to rebuild a trail prone to flooding, the National Park Service decided the best option was to reroute it uphill. The trouble was, this route was difficult to penetrate - heavily forested, with lots of stream crossings and rocky avalanche chutes. But despite these obstacles, the Park Service and volunteers persevered. They moved tons of rock, unearthed enormous stumps, built bridges and rock walls, and created a beautiful new trail to Glacier Basin.

WTA owes a debt of gratitude to everyone who helped make the Glacier Basin trail a reality. Some folks came out once, while others returned again and again. And the trail needed every single one of them. A few notables include:Thank you, Glacier Basin volunteers! Photo by Lynn Kittridge.

  • Carol and Jim Miltimore - each gave 76 days to this project.
  • Lynn Kittridge - worked 57 days and became an assistant crew leader during her time as a volunteer on Glacier Basin. At some point or another each of her family members joined her on the trail.
  • Mike Hardy and Dave Harrington - both donated 32 days on the trail.
  • John Longsworth - our current district crew leader has likely spent the most time on the trail, after heading up volunteer crews for the last two seasons and working with Washington Conservation Corps the previous season.

So what was it like on the final day? After the ribbon cutting, the BBQ and the cake, Lynn Kittridge's words show what makes WTA's volunteer trail maintenance program so special and so effective: "It has truly been a life-changing experience. After four summers of my life dedicated to this project, I didn’t know how I would feel now that it is over. But I woke up today ready to go on to the next project – so I guess I’ll see WTA and the volunteers on Crystal Peak next weekend!"

>> Learn more about WTA's role on the new Glacier Basin trail
>> Hike it! Read the Hiking Guide entry (note that it is not updated to reflect the new trail)
>> Volunteer on trail with WTA