Published August 2006
date with Mother Nature
With the Fourth of July over, the Puget Sound region has entered its unofficial sunny summer phase, when weekends become an opportunity to pull weeds, stain decks and paint siding.
That’s not to say that home improvement doesn’t have its place this time of year (I, too, have a date with some GacoDeck before the rain returns), just that Mother Nature’s charms extend beyond grass clippings to include flowing rivers, towering evergreens, pristine lakes and mountains — lots of mountains.
And if you need an excuse to experience such treasures firsthand, look no further than the Washington Trails Association’s Hike-A-Thon. The event, now in its third year, runs through the month of August and combines hiking with fund raising for a good cause.
It works like this: Participants register for the event (either online at the WTA’s Web site, www.wta.org, or by calling 206-625-1367), set a fund-raising goal, raise money through pledges, log their miles hiked throughout the month and send in pledges and mileage total to the WTA by Sept. 8.
The money raised supports the nonprofit organization, which maintains the region’s hiking trails with the help of thousands of volunteers, advocates for trail funding and educates the public on the environment around them, said Lace Thornberg, WTA’s development director.
With the Hike-A-Thon, people really have their own strategies for raising money, she said. “I know some people like to ask their friends in person; other people will have an event; other people make it into a Web campaign.”
Pledges can be a set number or based on miles hiked, and participants tend to have a pretty even mix of both, Thornberg said.
Prizes are awarded for the various pledge levels, with an OR Exped Venus II Tent going to the hiker who raises the most money, and Timberland hiking boots awarded to the hiker with the most sponsors and the hiker with the most miles hiked.
“Last year, the person who hiked the most miles hiked 165 miles in one month,” said Thornberg, a Midwest transplant who became “enchanted with the mountains here.”
But every little mile counts, and there are plenty of trail miles to be had fairly close to home, including:
Before you get to any of the trails located in the USDA Forest Service’s Northwest Region, which includes the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, be sure to get a Northwest Forest Pass ($5 for a day pass or $30 for an annual pass), which is required. They can be obtained at ranger stations, ordered online at www.naturenw.org/store-passes.htm or by calling 800-270-7504.
“I think that to take up the Hike-A-Thon challenge is not too difficult and is a great motivator to make the most of your late-summer weekends,” Thornberg said.
Besides, those weeds will still be there to pull in September.
© 2006 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA