Seattle Youth Camp, Build Trails, Restore Lookout
Story and photo by Kathy Vue
“If the lookouts live up here for a whole year, where do they shower?” asked 14-year-old Nicky Dang.
Forest Fire Lookout Volunteer Jeff Kemp answered fairly, “In the springs and river. It’s quite refreshing.”
Nicky’s eyes widened with surprise at this particular fact about the lives of traditional forest fire lookouts before the time of modern aircraft and helicopters.
She was one of 10 high school teens from Seattle’s International district that traded cell phones and video games for a first-time camping trip to Skykomish Ranger District on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest the last week of July. During their weeklong trip, they helped restore Heybrook Lookout and learned from Zach McBride of the Washington Trails Association that trails don’t magically build themselves, nor are they the result of people walking in the same path over and over again.
With the help of WTA and Forest Service staff, 85 feet of eroded and muddled trail at Barclay Lake was restored by hauling rocks and mineral soil by youth who had never picked up a Pulaski or visited a national forest before. For the last several years, the International District’s Wilderness Intercity Leadership Development youth program (WILD) and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest have collaborated to connect urban youth to the national forest by exposing them to various career opportunities in natural resources and new outdoor experiences. In August, WILD will participate again in a weeklong camping trip in the Mt. Baker Ranger District. To find out about future events, contact the youth coordinator Stella Torres at 425.783.6096.