Brad Allen, volunteer ranger, races through the forest during the winter hazards training at Snoqualmie Pass.

Winter Hazards Training for Volunteers

Winter Hazards Training Prepares Volunteers for Snowshoeing Classes

Snowshoeing has started in the Cascades Mountains on Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. But before the first visitor could strap on shoes, 25 volunteers who would be leading snowshoe hikes learned their way around winter safety at Snoqualmie Pass Visitor Center the day before the season kicked off in January.

During her fifth annual class, Forest Ranger Kim Larned leads groups though job hazards analysis, winter precautions and visitor expectations. She has been running the snowshoe interpretive hikes for 20 years, which began with a few small group hikes and expanded into a robust program offering outings tailored for children, families and the more adventurous, starting in January and continuing through March. “We started the volunteer training because we were getting more and more people interested in volunteering, and safety is so critical in the winter, not only for the volunteers, but also for the public we are out with,” she said. Larned said she feels strongly that a Forest Service volunteer is on an equal playing field with employees when it comes to customer service and safety.

During the class Larned gave volunteers tips for noticing the onset of hyperthermia, reviewed emergency response procedures and showed them how to spot identifying landmarks along trails covered in snow. “Many of these trails look alike, especially with fresh snow. You will be escorting visitors back and forth to the center and you don’t want to get lost,” she said. To conclude the class, volunteers went on a 90-minute snowshoe walk to experience first-hand what they would be doing for opening day.

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