Annik has volunteered for 25 years on various trail projects and different parts of the Forest Service. Annik joined Volunteers for Outdoors Washington, took a class on trail construction and maintenance, two years later became a trainer, developed a broader interest in trails and the rest is history. VOW partnered with many other organizations in Washington State where Annik was able to put her new found skills to work. Now she mostly focuses her efforts in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest giving back to help others enjoy the outdoors.
Are all the trails the same?
No, not all trails are the same. There are hiking, equestrian, bike and barrier-free trails to name a few. As an example, part of the Iron Goat Trail is barrier-free which make it complaint with the American Disability Act and part is a hiking trail while also provides a historic component. The trail has been under construction for many years and we've also been maintaining it. We remove invasive plants, fallen trees, and clear slide areas while still lengthening it. The part of the trail that is wheelchair accessible is maintained to a higher standard involving the trail’s width, grade, slope and surface to make it easier for the user to navigate. Equestrian trails require a higher vegetation clearance above, so the rider does not get hit in the face by branches. Other hiking trails may be steeper and narrower requiring different maintenance for drainage. Some trails cross wet areas thus requiring board walks and needing more frequent maintenance.
As a team leader, what are your responsibilities
My main task is to coordinate a trail maintenance/construction project. An event can take place in various areas of the forest, so the work may appeal to different volunteers depending on their hiking capabilities and interests. I have to ensure we have the proper tools and safety equipment. Advertising and recruiting are also part of the process. Sometimes a little fund raising is required for materials, tools, publication of trail brochures or the feeding of volunteers. That kind of help usually comes from grants and partnering organizations. The biggest thing is to ensure volunteers have a safe, fun and satisfying experience.
What gives you the most satisfaction in volunteering over the years?
Well, I can’t name a particular project, but I always feel really good when people come to volunteer on a trail project and have never done trail work before; but by day's end, they are so amazed and proud at what they have accomplished. Some times they even bring a family member or friend back to hike that trail to show them the work they did. So for me, I’m happiest when I see people have a feeling of satisfaction of a job well done in doing something they didn’t even think they could ever do.
I also enjoy the technical aspects of the trail, figuring out how to make it work with no problems and just enjoyable to hike.
How far have you hiked?
Though I’ve never been a long distance hiker, I've hiked across the Cascades starting at Lake Chelan, Wash., going westward. I've also crossed Olympic National Park beginning at Lake Quinault, Wash., traveling north and ending up at the Elwa entrance, not far from Port Angeles, Wash. Each hike renews my appreciation and interest in trail construction, maintenance and enjoyment.
What’s the one thing about you few people might not know?
Although I have not done it since I’ve been back in Wisconsin – my studies have occupied my free time – I like to sing and play the guitar and the piano. In my old job, I was involved in a community chorus and symphonies in Ithaca, N.Y. where we sang Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. In high school, I was involved in musicals and several choruses that were combined with other high quality high school choruses to play with the Manhattan Philharmonic Reserves and perform at Carnegie Hall. You know, I haven’t thought about that for awhile, but it was fun.
If you could meet any famous person who would they be?
I would like to meet someone, not necessarily famous from the past that led wagon trains across the United States. How did they choose their trails and how did they tackle their different problems? I can imagine how much problem solving they had to do to navigate the roadless terrain years ago.
The Faces of the Forest is a project of the U.S. Forest Service Office of Communication to showcase the people, places and professions within our agency, which is responsible for 193 million acres of forests and grasslands in 44 states and territories. If you know someone you would like to have profiled here, send an email with the person’s name, work location and a bit about them to Faces of the Forest.