Are you Game for Trail Work?
One of my favorite Tomatoes, Jeanne, an IT director in a major university, really needs to leave town. “I am so tired of computers, phones and being inside. All I want to do is go camping and hiking, somewhere beautiful in the USA and far away from NYC.”
“Great, that’s easy to plan,” I said.
“I don’t want to go alone and no one wants to go with me,” sadness washed across her face. I knew what she really meant. When her husband was alive, they took two vacation trips a year. One where they stayed in a lovely hotel and one where they rented a motor home or camped out, always with a focus on hiking in a different location.
“On a volunteer vacation, you can just join in with the group and make new friends,” I paused to let that sink in. “How many people have you asked to go with you?”
“Oh, you know, New Yorkers don’t want to go camping.”
“How many?” I persisted.
“Two, including you.”
My travel availability didn’t mesh with hers, but I had an idea. “Either send out one of your group emails to all of your friends or post it on your Facebook page that you’re looking for a travel partner for a week’s hiking and camping trip. I promise to find you the perfect trip that will include gourmet meals, gorgeous views, and great people.”
Voila. I received a Google Alert for Volunteer Vacations in Washington State that needs people. I included the Washington Trails Association in my book Volunteer Vacation Across America. Washington is one of my favorite states. A few years ago I worked for a summer in Stehekin, located at the northern most point of Lake Chelan surrounded by the North Cascades National Park, as a breakfast lunch cook on a horse ranch. Washington grown peaches and cherries are the best in the world as are their wines, mountains, ravines and hiking trails.
Pete Lake needs to build a structure to keep rising waters from covering the hiking trails. Beginning and Intermediate hikers will be comfortable on the trail along the Cooper River traversing an old-growth forest to the lake, but people need to be strong and in good shape to handle possible crosscutting.
The Waptus River needs general annual maintenance pruning vegetation, clearing trees, and increasing drainage. Volunteers will hike seven miles into the camp location, accompanied by pack horses carrying the food, tools and supplies. Which brings up an important point: whenever and wherever you are considering volunteering, always ask what a day will be like along with how strenuous and what level of physical conditioning is needed. The evening campfires and star gazing are worth the trip as long as there’s a choice of activities that you will be comfortable doing.
Marmot Lake is absolutely stunning with unbelievable views from the campsite as well as working trails. Mazama Park’s views remind me of the classic scene in The Sound of Music when The von Trapp family walked out of the mountains into safety. Tough winter conditions have left both sites with plenty of roads and trails that need clearing and cleaning to restore them to Forest Service standards.
I found the trips and Jeanne put together a group of two single girlfriends and one friend with her husband. What a great way to celebrate nature and enjoy very active mind, body and life restoration surrounded by mountains out under the stars.
Learn more at Washington Trails Association.