Giving Back – Volunteering For Trail Maintenance
Spending time on the mountains can be the best for capturing amazing memories and rejuvenating your soul.
At the beginning of the hiking season it can be tough with all the dead fall, over grown bushes and broken bridges from the changing elements on the mountains. Soon lots of people will be on the trails navigating their footing and bush whacking along the trails. It can be exhausting and dangerous. It’s impossible for BC Parks to solely clean up the parks and make it safe from fallen debris and broken bridges on their own.
Have you ever thought of joining a group of volunteers to clean up the trails so everyone can be safe and enjoy the trails? I did for the first time this year and it is fun and rewarding. I love giving back but I don’t have a lot of skills. It’s not really a difficult task as large dead fall on the trail will probably be cut by BC Parks Rangers. You can help move it so it can be used as stepping stools across muddy sections, creek crossings or just moving it on the side of the trail. Building bridges/boardwalks will most likely be done by skilled people but there are jobs for everyone from pruning, organizing groups, raking, carrying supplies and shoveling. Everyone has something to Give Back. Not only are we fixing up the trails for us, we are promoting growth for the animals to eat. The deer’s are our bushing partners. They love to eat the tender shoots that grow from our cuts.
Here are some things to think of before signing up
- The trail you will be working on. Where it is? How long is it? Is it steep? Will you be able to keep up to the others? This is very important because you are there to get a job done and with a leave no-one behind rule, you don’t want people to have to look or come back for you taking them away from the job at hand. You must be fit!
- You will need to carry your back pack with your ten essentials, extra clothes, rain gear, gloves for pruning, water, lunch, extra snacks for energy & retractable trekking poles. You also may be required to carry the tools you will be pruning with. Carrying these items to practice weeks before you volunteer is a good idea.
- You are required to wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt. These are needed as the bushes can be prickly and this will keep your body free of any scratches & will help with bug bites. Bring shorts and t-shirt for your return trip. Wear good quality waterproof hiking boots with aggressive tread and ankle support. Mosquito & tick repellent should be sprayed on you, your hair and clothes. Check your body for ticks after you’re finished just to be safe as you will be slightly off the trail and in the bushes. Bring some good quality pruning or work gloves. Wear a hat or hiking buff to help prevent ticks and to help with the elements. Sunscreen & sunglasses will protect you from the sun. Have a rain jacket so you are prepared for all mountain weather, which changes frequently.
- Some trail work can be done as a day job and some will require a longer stay. If it’s a longer stay you may be required to pack in your tent, sleeping bag and other supplies. It’s important you are able to hike in with these supplies on your back and still able to do the trail work. If it’s a longer stay make sure you’re able to do the duration of work as there may be orientation the first day.
- It is important we keep in the good graces with BC Park’s. There are volunteer groups in place that do trail work. They let BC Park’s know they are going out and send them a follow up report with pictures on the work that was done. Sometimes BC Park’s will even be on site assisting with the work.
Ridge Meadows Outdoor Club says, “For the past few years we have been very actively maintaining the trails in Golden Ears Park so that our members, as well as the public at large, can continue to enjoy walking the trails in what we think of as our park. We believe that BC’s Park’s are an important part of BC’s environmental legacy – a public trust where people can go to walk, hike, swim, camp, and reconnect with nature. We believe BC’s Provincial Parks should continue to be accessible and protected for the enjoyment of our children.” To volunteer at Golden Ears, contact: alhike on http://www.clubtread.com/ or http://www.rmoutdoorclub.ca
Let’s see the whole picture and jump in and do our part in giving back. Why not make it a hiking-working-vacation. Giving Back is the most rewarding experience you can give yourself, the people who hike the trails, our parks and the animals who live there.
There are lots of dates already scheduled through spring and summer to volunteer. For more information on how you can help the parks in your region: https://bcparks.ca/volunteers/opportunities/
Lori Pederson is an Education Assistant for The Surrey School District. In her spare time she's an avid hiker, ss'er and loves Dragon Boating. She scouts out challenging but safe hikes & SS'ing and posts them to her hiking site, Hiking For The Scaredy Cat.