On Thursday, June 21st, Washingtonians saw what seemed like the first rays of sunshine peak through the clouds. It was the perfect day to experience the beautiful terrain our wonderful state has to offer. Luck would have it that I had previously scheduled this as a volunteer day with the Washington Trails Association (WTA). “Volunteer day,” you ask? You heard me right. As Merriman employees, we are each granted 100 volunteer hours per year. It is a way for us to give back to the organization(s) that matter the most to us.
For me, the choice is obvious. The WTA gets you outside and gives you the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people. Most importantly it preserves the trails that have exposed millions of people to the Washington wilderness.
For this trip, our group met at a local Park and Ride and carpooled 40 minutes east to the Franklin Falls trailhead located in the central Cascades. Our projects for the day included first cutting up an old tree that fell on the trail last winter, and then rebuilding the trail entrance. The first project was tougher than I anticipated. The tree was four feet in diameter and we had to use an old fashion crosscut saw (think circa 1900 logging photo) to cut it up. Luckily we were 8 people strong and with a few rotations our crew managed to clear the trail.
The driving force behind our second project was a grant given to the WTA to make trails wheelchair accessible. This translated into using rock from a scree field to widen the entrance. We then put a layer of fine gravel on top to smooth it out.
By the end of the day we had accomplished what we set out to do. It was time to head back home and plan our next volunteer outing.
Whether it is a one day work party or a week long “volunteer vacation” it’s not all about work. The experience of meeting new people, relaxing in a beautiful location and connecting with the environment makes volunteer work with the WTA a truly unique experience.