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Ready-Made Vacations: 5 Backcountry Trails That Need Your Help

Posted by Anna Roth at Feb 26, 2014 12:30 PM |
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If you're looking for a rewarding, challenging and fun vacation this summer and you love camping, take a look at these five WTA volunteer vacations. These are week-long work parties that connect hikers with much-needed trail maintenance projects in beautiful locations throughout Washington.

If you're looking for a rewarding, challenging and fun vacation this summer and you love camping, take a look at these five volunteer vacations. These are week-long work parties that connect hikers with much-needed trail maintenance projects in beautiful locations throughout Washington.

On a Volunteer Vacation, WTA provides you with a week of fine cooking, fun folks and a meaningful project—led by one of our skilled crew leaders. You'll accomplish some important trail work during the day, get to know your fellow volunteers over camp chores, and have plenty of time left over to sleep, eat, relax, hike and enjoy your wild surroundings.

So take a look at these five trips that have space remaining and join us this season on trail.

South Fork Skokomish at LeBar: Repair trails in a rainforest

July 12 - 19

From towering old-growth firs and Sitka spruce to the majestic Roosevelt elk, everything in the Olympic rainforest is big and vibrantly alive. Even the Skokomish River itself thunders and crashes, making an echoey tumult through the lush greenery that creates a wilderness experience many hikers won't soon forget.

Skokomish Volunteer Vacation photo
Enjoy the Olympic Peninsula's many diverse ecosystems on the Skokomish Volunteer Vacation. Photo credits: Waterfall - HalfCenturyHiker. River - katieb.Trees - Eric Jain

What's special about this trip:

While many people can only take a day or so to enjoy this area, you could spend an entire week here working on trail and soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells of the impressive Olympic rainforest.

Why the trail needs you:

Trails on the well-watered Olympic Peninsula require yearly attention. WTA's trip to Lebar offers the chance to work on puncheon (or bridge) construction, a popular task on any work party. Trails on the well-watered Olympic Peninsula require yearly attention.

>> Sign up for the South Fork Skokomish Volunteer Vacation on the schedule (scroll down to July).

West Fork Humptulips: Woodworking on the West Fork

July 12 - 19

A wide variety of ecosystems call the West Fork Humptulips River bottom home. From the ubiquitous groves of old-growth forest, to meadows teeming with critters, this region of the Olympic Peninsula is brimming with all manner of life. Because it skirts the edge of one of the largest roadless expanses of the national forest, the West Fork Humptulips offers one of the most all-encompassing wilderness experiences available in the state.

West Fork Humptulips VV
The Humptulips river bottom is home to a huge variety of life. Photo credits: Volunteer - William Jahncke. Humptulips River Valley - pacificogirl. Nurse log - gingerB85

What's special about this trip:

We promise an easy hike in with your gear transported for you to a shelter at Humptulips, so all you need is your day pack on the way in and out. Work crews on this trip will get the opportunity to practice their woodworking skills (no experience needed), while camping in one of the most diverse river valleys on the peninsula.

Why the trail needs you:

The location's singular name allegedly comes from a Native American phrase that means “hard to pole”— referring to its location near the shallow Humptulips River. The fact that it's shallow is lucky for hikers, since trails here cross the river multiple times, but all that water crossing the trail can wear it down, making it unpleasant, even unsafe, to hike on. That's why we'll be replacing decking on a failing puncheon just one mile from camp.

>> Sign up for the West Fork Humptulips Volunteer Vacation on the schedule (scroll down to July).

Cathedral Rock Trail: Sanctuary just off the PCT

August 9 - 16

This destination on the Pacific Crest Trail offers silence and solitude surprisingly close to the I-90 corridor. You'll be working in the shadow of the awesome spire of Cathedral Rock and camping at Squaw Lake, a popular day hike destination, where you’ll be able to take a dip or fish for trout at the end of your work day.

Cathedral Rock Trail VV
Cathedral Rock and the surrounding area provide a breathtaking respite via a trailhead just off I-90. Photo credits: Flowers - Kdarvill. Cathedral Rock and Peggy's Pond - Doug Diekema. Volunteer hiking - Sarah Rich

What's special about this trip:

On your day off, go explore Cathedral Rock up close or push on to Peggy’s Pond, a fairytale tarn set in the gorgeous Alpine Lake Wilderness.

Why the trail needs you:

Because this section of the Pacfic Crest Trail is relatively close to the Puget Sound metropolis, the trail gets plenty of use, and WTA is working to restore it after the early summer traffic has blown through. We'll be working on drainage, treadwork, repairing trail structures and brushing.

>> Sign up for the Cathedral Rock Volunteer Vacation on the schedule (scroll down to August).

Wild Sky Wilderness: Now with even more berries! (and fewer bugs)

August 30 - September 6

Trek along burbling Pass Creek, through magnificent stands of hemlock and Douglas fir on your hike in to this scenic backcountry camp location. Though the heavy brush might hint at heavy bugs, you can rest easy; this late in the season the bugs won't be a bother. Plus, you can stop and snack on handfuls of juicy huckleberries along the way to camp.

North Fork Skykomish VV
The North Fork Skykomish area has plenty to offer, from trail work to gorgeous vistas to berries! Photo Credits: Puncheon - Janice Van Cleve. Bootpath to Kodak Peak - 2DrXExplorations. Huckleberries - Aaron Brackney

What's special about this trip:

Besides the huckleberries, you mean? Mid-week, you can venture up to Dishpan Gap or the aptly named Kodak Peak (don't forget your camera!). Either of these areas offer broad vistas of the rugged Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.

Why the trail needs you:

You'll be giving back to this wilderness trail during the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Help rehabilitate an area that hasn't seen much trail maintenance in recent years. By the end of the week, you'll be impressed by how much of an improvement you've made.

>> Sign up for the Wild Sky/North Fork Skykomish Volunteer Vacation (scroll down to August).

Mount Adams at Riley Creek: Bask for a week in fall colors and alpenglow

September 6 - 13

Camp for a week just off the Pacific Crest Trail with Mount Adams right in your front yard. Enjoy a moderate four mile hike into camp accompanied by vibrant fall colors all around you. And this late in the season, you won't need to worry about bugs! Relax in camp in the evening, basking in the majestic volcano's alpenglow as the sun sets.

Riley Camp_VV
Work in the shadow of Mount Adams for a week at Riley Camp. Photo credits: Volunteer digging - Kindra Ramos. Alpenglow on Adams - susanellielay. Tools in flowers - Kindra Ramos.

What's special about this trip:

On your day off, be sure and explore the Pacific Crest Trail in either direction, or simply relax in camp with your fellow volunteers.

Why the trail needs your help:

We'll be working north and south on the PCT within four miles of camp. Enthusiastic thru-hikers will have been walking the iconic trail all season, so WTA is heading in to fix treadwork and drainage and generally rehabilitating the trail for next season. Come for a week and explore the remote wilderness around Mount Adams.

>> Sign up for the Mount Adams' Riley Camp Volunteer Vacation on the schedule (scroll down to Sept.).

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