Overheard at the PCTA’s Trail Skills College

Author and historian Edward Hale wrote: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Sherry Remillard, a volunteer trail maintainer with the Pacific Crest Trail Association and Trailkeepers of Oregon, shared that quote with me during the 2019 Columbia Cascades Trail Skills College.

We bring the classroom outside during Trail Skills College. Photo by Gray Feather Photography.

“I think this really applies to me this weekend,” she said.

Even though injuries kept Sherry from joining trail skills classes, she was still volunteering. She arrived at the event early to prepare materials for participants, she staffed the registration table, checked in folks as they arrived, answered questions and sold raffle tickets. As students were returning from trail skills classes on the final day of the training, there she was, collecting evaluations and reviewing their feedback to find out how we could improve future Trail Skills Colleges.

“It makes me feel better about doing what I can do.”

PCTA North Cascades Regional Representative Michael Hanley and Sway Careaga teaching Cooking and Camping with the Crew. Photo by Ellen Ginda.

Sherry, it’s true, you are one, and I suppose you cannot do everything. But you did do something, and it made a big difference at Trail Skills College. The PCTA’s volunteer programs, including Trail Skills College, wouldn’t function without the support of volunteers like you. Thank you!

I got to spend the Columbia Cascades Trail Skills College in the company of more than 150 dedicated volunteers, including many from the PCTA’s Mount Hood Chapter, Washington Trails Association, and Trailkeepers of Oregon.

April Ann displays Sway’s beloved tea kettle. Photo by Sway Careaga.

Here are some other comments that made my ears perk up:

  • “For those of you who are new here, we want you to feel empowered to say ‘Hey, I’ve never tried this before. Do you mind if I try?’” — Ryan Ojerio, WTA’s Southwest Regional Manager, reminding the crowd we were there to learn, to include one another and to do it all safely.
  • “You typically don’t bring a Dutch oven on a packed-in trip.” — Michael Hanley, PCTA’s North Cascades Regional Representative, while instructing 204: Cooking & Camping with the Crew.
  • “I don’t even like carrying them between my car and my house!” — Bex Wankowicz, Mount Hood Chapter volunteer and attentive student.
  • “This pot has been in my family for 50 years. This ratty old tea kettle too.” — Sway Careaga, Mount Hood Chapter volunteer and fellow Cooking & Camping with the Crew instructor, bringing a personal touch to the Trail Skills College curriculum.
  • “Thanks for getting me into these classes. I really needed this. Life’s been tough lately and this is a little vacation where I can learn and do some good!” — Brian Clark, Washington Trails Association volunteer.
  • “A big part of safety is being able to communicate, to say ‘I noticed that.’” – Ryan Ojerio, empowering everyone to make their safety, and the safety of their fellow trail workers, the top priority.
  • “What did you like most about this course?” “I corrected my stance using a chainsaw. I’ve been doing it wrong for 20 years!” — Anonymous survey response following the 104: Intro to Chainsaw class.

More than 150 volunteers gathered in Cascades Locks for Trail Skills College. Photo by Gray Feather Photography.

Thank you to the volunteers, staff, partners and sponsors who make Trail Skills College possible!


Up and down the PCT, we teach the fundamental skills of trail design and maintenance at Trail Skills Colleges. Classes are free and open to new and experienced volunteers and outdoor professionals. If you’d like to learn more about PCTA Trail Skills College or attend future events, please visit our webpage. Special thanks to the PCTA’s Trail Skill College sponsors, the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon State Parks, and Osprey.

Author: Ellen Ginda

Ellen is PCTA’s Volunteer Programs Coordinator. She works in PCTA’s Sacramento office, supporting the volunteers who dedicate their time, energy and passion to the trail.