Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Season-in-Review: WTA Crew Forge New Trail

Kevin passed this article along to me, and o-man, is it deserved. The Washington Trails Association has had work parties in the park (this is a rough estimate) nearly every week for the past four months. Often time it has been the same dedicated individuals coming back time and time again to work. We're talking about super volunteers here. So read on friends, and be amazed at how much work was done.

WTA Crews Forge New Trail for Climbers and Families at Mount Rainier

As the summer hiking season has come to a close, so too have some of our summer season's trail projects. In September, WTA trail crews wrapped up a summer of hard work on our single biggest project of the year, the Glacier Basin Trail reroute at Mount Rainier National Park.

Is the project completed? Not quite. About 5,000 feet of new trail has been constructed, a stretch that lies directly uphill from the stretch of trail that was heavily damaged in the now historic flooding of late 2006. Since the project began in 2008, WTA has hosted more than 68 work parties with over 186 individual volunteers contributing more than 7,000 hours of manual labor. These volunteers experience all that goes in to building new trail: clearing the corridor of blowdown and duff (organic material), removing stumps and rocks, constructing structures such as rock walls and fords - ultimately creating a solid and sustainable tread. WTA's involvement in the Glacier Basin reroute was made possible in part by a generous grant from The Boeing Company and financial contributions from hikers like you.

Hikers have not been introduced to this new route yet; the ends were intentionally left unfinished, and will be knitted together with the existing trail early next season. You are still welcome to visit the Glacier Basin Trail, however-- a temporary path has been sketched out near the riverbed in the floodplain (see this August 13 trip report for details.)

According to Carl Fabiani, Mount Rainier National Park's trail programs coordinator, a full season of work lies ahead before we can call this project done. "This fall, we have a lot of rock to remove." Blasting operations began the week after Labor Day. "Next year, another 2,000 feet of new trail will be built." In all, the Glacier Basin reroute involves a mile and a half of new trail construction.

You can also help by making a financial contribution to WTA. Give now to support the Glacier Basin reroute and dozens of other trail projects this fall.

Truly magnificent. 7,000 hour and 5,000 feet is no small feat (pun intended). Seriously though, a round of applause for the WTA.

At Mount Rainier National Park, it's groups like the WTA who form a solid backbone for our volunteer program. Groups that come back year after year, whose ability to work independently and proven track record mean that they get the job done quickly and efficiently, these are the groups we rely on most of all. Working with the WTA, Carl can rest assured that a major project will be handled, letting his crew fix everything else in the park. If we didn't have the WTA to work with, I question whether projects could be done in the time they're done now. So lets be thankful we have organization like the WTA to work with.

And if you're ever interested, I encourage you to join the WTA on a work party or two. See what you think, and more likely than not you'll be hooked.

I'll meet you on the trail,


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