10 Things WTA is Thankful For
When Washington spins into winter, the dark days can be challenging to endure. Fewer hours of daylight make it hard to get outside, but we believe it's a good time to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for: pikas, toilets, and a community who cares about each other.
When Washington spins into winter, the dark days can be challenging to endure. Fewer hours of daylight make it hard to get outside, but we believe it's a good time to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for.
We live and work in a gorgeous state. Trails here lace the landscape, making it relatively easy to enjoy the physical, mental and emotional benefits of being outside. And many of those trails lead to breathtaking views, a reminder of how precious this place is. Our hiking community is an inspiration, too. We love reading your trip reports, hearing you speak up for trails, and meeting you on trail when you volunteer.
Plenty of other small delights make our jobs joyful. Here's a non-exhaustive list of things WTA staff named when asked what they were thankful for.
PIKAS (AND OTHER WILDLIFE, BUT MOSTLY PIKAS)
These shy little fuzzballs can be the best part of a hike if you're lucky enough to spot one. We love hearing their squeaks whenever we hike through their territory and seeing photos of them in Northwest Exposure (our photo contest) or trip reports.
HOT DRINKS (AND THE MAGIC SCIENCE OF A VACCUM A.KA. THERMOSES)
If you like coffee, tea or hot chocolate on a hike, you're probably just as grateful as we are for thermoses to keep your beverage of choice warm. They're the absolute best on a cold winter hike. If you haven't tried it yet, sub out broth next time you go hiking this winter. You can thank us later.
Innovative toilets and wastewater treatment plants
Between promoting responsible backcountry waste disposal and reporting on how fully funding public lands could make the most of new disposal strategies, WTA staffers talk an awful lot about poop. So we're grateful our land manager partners are working to make toilets at backcountry sites more sustainable and that wastewater treatment plants offer nice hikes. It makes it much easier to talk about a (sometimes) crappy problem.
Transit to Trailheads
For the last few years, services like Trailhead Direct and the WET (West End Transit) bus in the Gorge have been working to address the congestion at trailheads and offer increased access to trails. We hope to see more communities in Washington get on board next year.
As a nonprofit, WTA relies on the support of members to achieve our vision. Also key to our success are the organizations who help us accomplish our work on the ground.
Teens, our new benevolent overlords
In case you missed it, teens are absolutely rockin' it. WTA's youth ambassadors has been going strong for 6 years. They've helped update the hiking guide, started an outdoor club at their school, even won conservation awards. They're visionary and hardworking, and we're grateful that they direct some of their energy to supporting WTA.
Small (and big) kindnesses
Hikers love food, so often these kindnesses come in the form of snacks, but sometimes it's as simple as an uplifting comment on a trip report. And sometimes it's as big as hiking your friend's large dog 13+ miles out of the Glacier Peak wilderness. (The pup was fine after the hike, just tuckered out)
Having a place to go to clear your mind close to home is a big deal. WTA's Hiking Guide features a fair number of local parks. Trip reporters help expand it by reporting on their favorite local spot. Getting that local knowledge helps us remain a robust and reliable resource for hikers everywhere.
To be able to spend a day traveling to and from (and on) a trail is a blessing. Because it's not tangible, it's easy to overlook, but it's undeniable that spare time is a gift. We're grateful to have that.
Half our staff said they were grateful for trail mix with raisins, the other half said trail mix without raisins. This debate surfaces about once a year, so I'm gonna go ahead and say I'm thankful that raisins exist so we can keep the conversation going.