KEEPING THE TRAILS OPEN
One Volunteer’s Passion
Story by Renee Bodine
It is true. One person can make a difference. Take Annik Wolfe: in 25 years she has designed, built and repaired miles of trail on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, removed invasive weeds and planted natives, trained and led trail crews.
A lot of people who wouldn’t get to hike otherwise enjoy the one-mile loop around Gold Creek Pond where Annik has worked for the last seven years to keep it wheelchair accessible. About 5,000 to 10,000 people visit this ADA accessible trail each year on the I-90 corridor, viewing wildlife and reading about the surrounding ecosystem on interpretive signs lining the walkway. Annik has worked for a decade maintaining the Ira Spring Trail so 10,000-15,000 people who visit annually can see fabulous wildflower displays and vantage points with views of Mt. Rainier. Asahel Curtis Nature Trail near Snoqualmie pass is another family friendly trail, giving about 10,000 visitors a year a chance to stroll through majestic old growth forest. She is one of about 100 individuals who have invested 4,000 to 5,000 hours a year working on the Iron Goat Trail off of Highway 2 more than 20 years. About 10,000 hikers a year walk this historical scenic interpretive trail that is barrier free and wheelchair accessible for five of its 10 miles.
Annik has been involved in volunteering on national forest lands through the Foothills Branch of the Mountaineers and the Volunteers for Outdoor Washington, where she first went to a class on trail maintenance. Since then she has become a crew leader and has learned to design trails and build them. Annik doesn’t just volunteer on national forest lands, she recently designed and built an urban project for Lake Forest Park and a walking path connecting a neighborhood to the Grace Cole Nature Park.
Annik is retired and lives in Seattle, Wash. She likes being outdoors and volunteers most weekends. One of her favorite activities is teaching youth how to do trail work. “It is great introducing kids to how much impact they can have. Later on maybe they will get involved,” she said.
Between floods, avalanches, rapid vegetation growth and recreation use, Forest Service recreation specialists said they couldn’t keep trails open without volunteers. “All of it is very hard work. After about three years a trail can be overgrown and not usable to anyone,” said Tom Davis, trails specialist from the Skykomish Ranger District. Coordinator for building and maintaining the Iron Goat Trail since its beginning, Davis said what he appreciates most about Annik is her technical knowledge about trail standards and specifications. “She helped train trail crew; we really needed her in the early days,” he said. Wilderness and trails program manager Bill Sobieralski from Snoqualmie Ranger District is impressed with Annik’s dedication. He said if a project doesn’t have funds, she will find resources; if there is a design problem, she has ideas to solve it; and, she sticks to a job until it is done. “Annik is a real motivator and really cares,” Sobieraski said.
Learn more about volunteering on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/mbs/volunteering.