Monday, August 20, 2007

Good stories

On Saturday evening, Mount Rainier National Park hosted a small gathering of some of our longest-running volunteers. We baked a few pounds of lasagna, and served it with potluck salads, deserts, and stories from the trail.

The stories are what I enjoy the most. Our volunteers have such amazing experiences out on the trail, from the interesting people they meet, to the wildlife they see, to the adventures they have along the way. Some of our volunteers keep meticulous notes about the flowers and glaciers along their routes, which will be invaluable for future naturalist and historians interested in the changing patterns of wildflower blooms and melting glaciers.

I hear great stories from the supervisors, too. There’s the group from REI last week, 16 people, who pulled 15,860 invasive weeds in a day’s work (which would be extremely helpful in my own yard, though much less critical!). Then there’s the group from Starbucks the weekend before that, who finished their trail project early and decided to pack in the decking for a new trail bridge in Stevens Canyon. Our trail crew was considering the use of a helicopter to fly the materials in to the work site, an efficient but expensive alternative; our two dozen volunteers accomplished it in an afternoon, at no cost! (Just what kind of coffee were they drinking, anyway?!) One of our individual volunteers, Scott Hart, has been designing trail bridges to replace the ones washed out by winter storms, and his donated engineering expertise has saved the park thousands of dollars.

The best part is that these stories are invariably told with great relish and enthusiasm, and an obvious anticipation of the next adventure!

We’re at 1,359 volunteers so far this year, and counting, with loads of work yet to go. Thank you, to all of you, for your efforts, and your stories.

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