Ten 2021 Volunteer Program accomplishments to celebrate!

By Hazel Platt,
Volunteer Engagement Associate

A virtual wall of stickies captures some of the good things PCTA volunteers did in 2021.

Volunteers accomplished a lot of amazing things throughout 2021! In December, we got together with some of our crew leaders to talk about some of the projects we can all be proud of.

1. No Serious Incidents

Safety briefing at North Cascades Trail Skills College in 2019. Photo credit: Patrik Bangle.

Safety is our number one priority! Working out on the trail means often means working with sharp tools, moving heavy objects, and managing environmental hazards like weather, downed trees, and more. PCTA volunteer crew leaders play a critical role in keeping volunteers safe—and in 2021 they did an excellent job! Thank you not only to our crew leaders for their excellent risk management, but also to our volunteers for following safety guidelines and staying vigilant.

2. Delate Creek Bridge Repair

Volunteers work on re-decking the Delate Creek Bridge. Photo credit: Michael DeCramer.

Washington hosts some of the most remote sections of the PCT, including the section through the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, a 340,000 acre roadless area in the Central Cascades, east of Seattle. The bridge across Delate Creek Falls, a 95-foot-high cascade of water that sits 16 PCT trail miles north of Snoqualmie Pass, was deteriorating and threatened access for stock and hikers alike.

Volunteers, partners and PCTA staff worked together to remove the rotting decking and replace it with new boards on a three-day project, which included a 9.5 mile approach to the worksite! Projects like this require an immense amount of coordination, between volunteers logging out the approach trail and working with partners to haul 2,660 pounds of lumber via pack train. Thank you to everyone who took part in this impressive project!

3. Eagle Creek Trail Reopened

Volunteers on the Eagle Creek Trail. Photo courtesy Mt Hood Chapter.

In September 2017, the Eagle Creek Fire was ignited in the Columbia River Gorge, trapping more than 150 hikers, threatening nearby residents, and burning tens of thousands of acres of the National Scenic Area. It took months to contain the fire – and much longer to rebuild and rehabilitate the many miles of trails in the burned area. PCTA’s Mt. Hood Chapter took on a tremendous portion of the restoration effort and despite setbacks along the way, the trail was finally reopened in 2021! Thank you for your tireless efforts to make these trails accessible!

4. Launching PCTAConnect

PCTAConnect makes it easy to sign up for projects and track your volunteer hours!

Organizing volunteers all along the trail takes an incredible amount of coordination! In 2021, we launched PCTAConnect, a custom online platform that streamlines our programs and allows volunteers to manage their own event registrations, volunteer profiles, and more. This platform is a big step forward for scaling up our programs with the support of Great American Outdoors Act funding and making opportunities visible and accessible to a wider audience of prospective volunteers.

5. Grider Creek Brushing

Powerbrushing at Grider Creek. Photo courtesy of PCTA North 350 Blades Chapter.

In an area known as Grider Creek, just south of Seiad Valley in Northern California, the trail had become so overgrown that volunteers estimated 40-50% of hikers were becoming lost in thick brush that was ten feet high in some areas. A crew of folks from the North 350 Blades chapter made the long trip from Washington and dedicated nearly 400 hours to brushing and logging out the trail for hikers to pass unimpeded. Thank you for your effort!

6. Online Zoom Training

PCTA staff hosting a trail skills workshop online. Photo by PCTA.

While the pandemic put a hitch in many of our in-person volunteer education events, we pivoted to create online opportunities for teaching volunteers critical trail maintenance and assessment skills. Throughout the year we hosted seven online events with a total of 237 participants! Thank you so much to everyone who attended and navigated these new opportunities with us.

7. Blowing Up Andy’s Rock

A team effort in Southern California to remove a large boulder that was blocking the trail. Photos credit: Allegra Torres.

What a blast! In a remote area of the San Jacinto Wilderness in Southern California, a pile of boulders along the section of trail known as the Desert Divide created a challenging obstacle for hikers. A multi-year effort to remove the boulders finally culminated in an echoing explosion that sent the boulders down the mountainside, thanks to the work of highly experienced mule packers from the Redshank Riders Backcountry Horsemen of California Unit and a certified blaster from the Forest Service. An American Conservation Experience crew helped to restore the tread afterwards. What an awesome project!

8. Corps Crews!

Happy campers: this crew spent 5 weeks working on the PCT in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness. Photo courtesy of Northwest Youth Corps.

Our partnerships with corps crews help us address some of the most challenging work – often projects that are deep in the backcountry or require technical skills to accomplish. Northwest Youth Corps is one of several corps organizations that PCTA partners with to do important work on the PCT, provide opportunities for young people to spend a summer in the outdoors and help the next generation to feel empowered to give back to the places they love. In 2021, NYC was able to help support a 32-day continuous project in coordination with PCTA’s North 350 Blades. We love our corps crews! Thank you for your dedication!

9. Trail Skills Colleges in the Northern Sierra and Mid-Oregon

Working together to move a large rock at the Northern Sierra Trail Skills College! Photo Credit: Allegra Torres.

Trail Skills College  is one of the critical pieces of our volunteer program, giving volunteers the opportunity to learn necessary skills for working on the trail as well as lending expertise to other agencies and organizations looking for instruction to sharpen their trail work skills. After cancelling all in-person Trail Skills Colleges in 2020, PCTA was able to run several Trail Skill College events, including in-person trainings in the Northern Sierra and Southern Oregon, and hybrid events through Mid- and Northern Oregon which combined online classroom sessions with in-person learning. Thank you to all of our participants who came out—and to the volunteer instructors who helped make these possible!

10. New Staff to Support Volunteers

We’re excited for our new volunteer program staff! Clockwise from top-left: Jeanine, Landon, Hazel, Michelle, Matt, and Michelle.

Our volunteer community accomplishes a tremendous amount of work, and our staff team works hard to help support and streamline the effort – working with agency staff, collaborating with partner organizations, organizing training events, managing event registration, recognizing volunteers for their dedication, communications, and more. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring new staff on board to help manage these programs at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, thanks in part to funding from the Great American Outdoors Act! Welcome to the team, Landon Welsh, Hazel Platt, Michelle DiMeglio, Michelle Daneri, Matt Rump, and Jeanine Russell!



Author: PCTA Staff

The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians, and for all the values provided by wild and scenic lands.