After visiting Scotchman Peaks, we headed up to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, (the last stop before Canada) to do trail work with the US Forest Service. The federal government doesn’t provide sufficient funding for basic maintenance, so the Bonners Ferry Ranger District relies on state grants and volunteers to maintain their 350 miles of trails. Our volunteer trip was a weeklong backpacking trip into the Selkirk Mountains to retread trail along Parker Ridge which is part of the newly designated Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (an east/west sibling of the Pacific Crest Trail connecting Montana with the Pacific Ocean).
Pat Hart has been applying for grant funding and organizing volunteer trips for over thirty years. In one summer they’ll put over 70 volunteers to work on US Forest Service projects. Our group of 15 included a welcome diversity of individuals ranging in age, nationality and experience with public lands.
After slinging chili dogs for a charity bike race and hiking Scotchman Peak, we thought we were well prepared for our trail building endeavor. We were wrong. Retreading trail involved 10 hour days of pulaskis, rock bars and shovels. By the end of the first day were so tired we were laughing at just about everything.
The second day, though, it seemed our bodies had acclimated to the work and we got into the trail-building groove. It was fun to work along side such a diverse group of people and hear their stories.
The mix of hard work, good company and excellent food (provided by the Bonners Ferry Ranger District and cooked by Pat) made for a rewarding experience. We’d like to come back in a couple years.
We were connected with Pat and the Bonners Ferry Ranger District through volunteer.gov, which provides an easy way to find opportunities to support public lands.