The Washington Trial Association or WTA is a local organization which promotes hiking and protecting the wilderness areas which surround us here in the PNW. My family has supported the group for a long time with donations and taking part in the yearly Hike-A-Thon that takes place each August. 3820647032?profile=originalFor my black belt community service project, Rosie and I took part in one of the weekend work parties. The WTA has regular work parties that rebuild trails which are in need of repair or build out new trial systems. We chose a work party that was building out a new trail system around Squak Mountain. Not only was it fairly close to our house, but it is an area we have hiked together in the past.

Recently King County purchased a major new piece of land and our work party was helping build out a new trail system on it. Originally the property was apart of a private camping park off Highway 900, King County purchased it and added it to the existing Squak Mountain preserve. The camping park had a trail system through out the property, but it hadn't been maintained in a quite a while. Our specific work party was to repair about 200 yards of trail, which had a tree had fallen across it and no longer met USFS trail specifications.

I am not sure how we did it, but we managed to pick the one nasty weekend of the entire summer. We woke up on Friday to rain showers, which never really quit until late afternoon. Luckily we were able to drive most of the way to the work site, it was only about a mile hike to the actual work area. I was initially a little concerned that most of the work party was made up of high school kids from Mercer Island community group, but I quickly discovered this had a big benefit. (They don't seem to get tired!)

There were two main activities we took part in, the first being the removal of a tree that had fallen over the trail. This is where I learned of the WTA's odd policies on technology. It seems even though we were on King County property in 3820647115?profile=original2014, we had to act like we were on Forest Service land in the mid-1800. Instead of using a chainsaw, which would have had the tree removed in about 15 minutes, we had to use a manual Crosscut saw. Needless to say this took quite a bit longer then 15 minutes and took a lot more effort.

The second main task was taking about 50 yards of trail which was on a 30degree inclined and make it a 20degree incline. If you are not sure what this means, basically it means moving a LOT of dirt around. Again the lack of technology was very evident. I got to learn a lot about USFS trail construction requirements. I didn't know there was such a thing as trail geeks, but there are! Width, slope, turning radius of corners, these are all very important things. Even with all my 3820647090?profile=originalcomplaining and the poor weather, it was still a fun time. I look forward to doing a family hike on the trail when they officially open the system in 2016.

The WTA has a lot of great resources available on their website. In addition to excellent resources on hiking spots around the area, they have a active community for helping people find others to hike with. I recommend it for anybody wanting to get outside on one of these great fall weekends for a hike.

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