Trail Volunteers: Thank You from a Blue Hat
2020 was hard, but volunteers have shown up for trails in a big way.
WTA trail maintenance volunteers have accomplished an impressive amount of work in 2020. They carefully adapted to new safety protocols, then successfully performed more than 300 day work parties and 60 backcountry trips. These work parties played a critical role in our Lost Trails Found and Trails Rebooted campaigns, with volunteer trail crews contributing more than 6,000 hours of maintenance to Lost Trail Found and over 24,000 hours to Trails Rebooted. WTA volunteers also dedicated more than 1,000 hours to urban trails across the state through The Trail Next Door campaign.
by Barbara Budd, a Blue Hat (crew leader)
Wow! I’ve known for years how amazing WTA volunteers are and what a joy it is to work with all of you. But this year, you’ve shown me again and again how true that is. In a year of unexpected challenges and ongoing changes to how we care for the trails we love, you have brought your patience, flexibility, ingenuity and hard work to new levels.
As we figured out how to resume trail work after months of staying home, you came back with heartening commitment, helping to hone systems as we designed them — fun, even silly, ways of marking tools to keep from confusing them; better ways of setting up handwashing stations; awesome phrases to remind us all to stay 6 feet apart.
Your problem-solving skills on trail have been put to the test and come out shining. You’ve found new ways to work as a team. (“Hey, I don’t have a shovel, would you please help me here with yours?”) You’ve found new ways to move large objects without crowding each other. You’ve even completed structures that I would never have guessed we’d be able to do with such small groups. And you’ve done it with skill and humor.
You’ve shown patience as we’ve navigated new and different ways of registering folks for work parties and getting waivers signed. You continue to be flexible with sharing those in-demand work parties, allowing lots of different folks to get out and not being too disappointed when we decline someone who’s been out recently to include someone who has not had the chance. You graciously adapted when volunteer vacations changed to trips where you had to cook for yourselves, and when smaller crews meant some of you had to stay home. You showed up with enthusiasm, even when trips were moved, postponed or scheduled with little notice.
Thanks to you, many of our trails are getting more maintenance than we thought they would this year. Cleaned drains allow water off the trail. Widened tread and cut brush give hikers the room they need. Walls to support trails have been built, and structures have been repaired. Through all the challenges of this year, you’ve made a difference. And you’ve done it all with dedication, kindness and generosity of spirit. I can’t imagine working with a better group of folks than those who consistently grace the work parties I lead.
While the huggers among us miss that particular greeting, we still get to share stories and laughs. And I’m grateful for each face I get to see. For those of you for whom the right choice is still to stay home for a while, we miss you and look forward to the time when we can all be on trail together again.