Jody, Trail Walking Ambassador
Volunteering is important to me; over the years, I have volunteered with such organizations as the Washington Trails Association, Student Conservation Association, Earth Corps, the National Park Conservation Association, and Tubbs Snowshoes. Volunteer projects I have participated in have included schlepping parts for a back country toilet up the Rampart Ridge Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park; cleaning up trash from the beaches in Olympic National Park, removing invasive plants and planting native species at both city and county parks and of course, the Romp to Stomp events (in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia – ask me about the white out adventure at Mt. Bachelor some time, it was epic!) So when the opportunity came to participate in Winter Operations Training to become a volunteer “Snow Rover” at Mt. Rainier, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to combine two of my favorite activities – snowshoeing and giving back.
Training was held in two separate sessions separated by a break for lunch. The morning session was held at the Longmire Community Building and consisted of several “mini-sessions” by members of the park’s law enforcement, park rangers, and volunteers giving presentations on safety, navigation, how to assist visitors, hypothermia prevention, snow blindness and winter driving conditions. Volunteer “snow rovers” will be helping out on the ranger-led snowshoe walks, checking in with visitors headed up to the meadows above Paradise, and talk about sledding safety with visitors.
After breaking for lunch, we met briefly at the Wilderness Information Center in Longmire to learn where the radios and first aid equipment was located, as well as the volunteer check in/check out procedure to record our volunteer hours if we were volunteering during the week since the Jackson Visitor Center is only open on weekends. After another short break, we all drove up to Paradise to participate in one of the ranger led snowshoe walks (definitely the highlight of the day). The Ranger performed as if we were all a bunch of visitors to the park and going snowshoeing for the first time. First, he gave us a brief explanation of the different types of snowshoes that are available to the participants.
Volunteers that had not brought their own snowshoes, then selected a pair and we made our way to the trailhead of the Nisqually Vista Trail for the rest of the walk.
The snow was pretty thin (only a couple feet so far) – I know it seems like a lot, but when the meadows have to have a minimum of five feet of snow for sledding to protect the fragile wildflowers; but it was snowing and absolutely breathtaking. There’s never a bad day when out snowshoeing.
Mt. Rainier is a great place for winter snowshoeing trips and I can’t wait to go back and volunteer over the winter. So come say “hi” on a ranger led walk and enjoy the spectacular beauty that surrounds you when you are up at Paradise. It’s a completely different place in the winter!