By Steve Kruger, Executive Director, Trailkeepers of Oregon Work in the Columbia River Gorge has changed dramatically for Trailkeepers of Oregon since September 2, 2017. On Labor Day weekend we saw the Eagle Creek Fire race across some…
This fall was chaotic and dramatic. Historic winds, fires, civil unrest, and a deadly pandemic will define the fall of 2020 for most. For me, they all set the backdrop for a somewhat confusing, sometimes chaotic, but overall incredibly fulfilling internship with Trailkeepers of Oregon, the US Forest Service, and Northwest Youth Corps. For the months of September, October and November, I worked in the Columbia River Gorge, aiding in ongoing trail restoration efforts.
Hands down the best part of this experience has been working with, and getting to know, all of the awesome trail workers of the Gorge. The volunteers I had the privilege of working with are truly incredible and inspiring. They are hardworking individuals who don’t mind getting a little bit muddy, and love donating their time to cleaning up the trails that we all love so much. I am truly inspired by their motivation, encouragement, perseverance and kindness. They made the rainy days more bearable, and the cold days a bit warmer. Rain, or shine, they will be out on the trails and I encourage you to join them one day!
On the final day of my internship, I scouted Franklin Ridge and ended at the snowy top of Larch Mountain. It felt very fitting for my last day to provide me with a birds-eye view of the trails I have been working on so hard all fall. It was my first time at the summit, and I was blown away. Everywhere I looked I knew that there was still so much work to be done, but the beautiful view shifted my mind to thoughtful reflection of all of the hard work that has already been accomplished. I am hopeful for what is to come, and excited for whoever is the next Gorge Recovery Intern. It’s been a gift to watch these trails transform before my eyes and I encourage you all to volunteer in the Gorge soon. I am so thankful to have spent these past few months climbing up and down those rocky slopes. I am even more appreciative of all the wonderful folks I met along the way.