Wednesday, August 08, 2018

We won an award from the National Park Service!

Last week Ashely Northcutt, the Executive Director of Wilderness Volunteers, flew back east to Washington, DC to accept a National Park Service award on behalf of our volunteers.

Click for the Event Program

Dept of the Interior Headquarters, Washington, DC

The ceremony took place in the lower level of the Department of the Interior building and the awards were presented by Ruth Prescott, Chief of Staff for the National Park Foundation, Lena McDowell, Deputy Director of Management and Administration for the National Park Service, and Lenny Teh, Program Manager of Service-wide Volunteer Programs for the National Park Service.

Ruth Prescott, National Park Foundation (photo: NPS)
 "As some of you know the National Park Foundation is the official philanthropic partner of the National Park service. Through our work we seek to raise financial support for private citizens park lovers stewards of nature history enthusiasts and wilderness adventurers to enrich our national parks and its programs. This afternoon it is my honor to celebrate with your our mutual love of these parks and your inspired commitment to the stewardship of these very special places. A commitment made even more real this week with the loss of Captain Bryan Hughes in the line of duty. The efforts, contributions and sacrifices made on a daily basis by NPS staff and volunteers are critical to ensuring public access to our parks and all that they offer. Whether its restoring a trail, interpreting history leading in-park educational programs or providing services at visitor centers, you are second to none. Not only do we hear this from our donors, we personally experience the value you bring when we're lucky enough to get out of the office and into a park. I recently spend a week at Rocky Mountain National Park, a place I've loved since my parents first took me there as a child, but Rocky like so many of our parks, is addressing record crowds. However in spite of the throngs of people, I watched with pride and amazement the patience of the park staff and volunteers as they answered questions, guided tours, directed traffic, awarded junior ranger badges and just generally enhanced the visit for so many of us. And that's just one example from the more than 300 million visits to our parks this year where each of you worked to create an experience unlike any other. That's why we at the Foundation are so honored to be a part of this event year after year to have the opportunity to say thank you and acknowledge the outstanding work of the NPS staff and the over three-hundred thousand volunteers who make visits to our national parks and wildernesses a memory of a lifetime. "
- Ruth Prescott, Chief of Staff for the National Park Foundation

Lena McDowell, National Park Service (photo: NPS)
“The next award is the Wes Henry National Wilderness Stewardship non-government partner award. The Wes Henry National Wilderness Stewardship non-government partner award goes to the Wilderness Volunteers organization. Established in 1997, the mission of this non-profit is stewardship of America’s wild lands through organizing and promoting volunteer service in cooperation with public land agencies, including the NPS. Volunteer leaders and volunteers, ranging from ages 18 to 85, have implemented over 230 week-long service projects in national park units with wilderness and backcountry. The volunteer project work inspires participants to come away from the experience with a new or renewed knowledge and love for wilderness, fostered by the Wilderness Volunteer organization’s commitment to wilderness stewardship. To the entire team of volunteer associates, we are truly grateful for your service.”
- Lena McDowell, Deputy Director of Management and Administration for the National Park Service

Ashely Northcutt, WV ED & Lenny Teh, National Park Service (photo: NPS)
Also honored at the ceremony were the recipients of the George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service, The 2017 Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award, and the Individual and Group Wes Henry National Wilderness Stewardship Awards.

You can watch the entire presentation on the National Park Service Volunteers-in-Parks facebook page at:

NPS Award Ceremony award recipients (photo: NPS)
Letter from the ED:
We are extremely honored to have been selected for the Wes Henry National Wilderness Stewardship Award in the non-government partner category. Wilderness Volunteers exists only due to the dedication of a community of ordinary citizens volunteering their time, labor, and money to give something back to the wild lands they love. Our volunteers enthusiastically hike, backpack and canoe to work building and maintaining trails, installing and repairing erosion controls, removing invasive plants, removing barbed wire fences, revegetating damaged, eroded and burned areas, picking up litter, and removing and rehabilitating illegal campsites. Our individual and corporate donors support our core program and allow us to keep project fees affordable so we can recruit a diverse group of volunteer participants from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. Our volunteers go home with a sense of personal accomplishment & a feeling of pride & ownership toward the public land they visited, becoming wilderness advocates who will fight to protect our wild lands & spread those values to family and friends. 
Thank you to the National Park Service for working so hard to preserve our nation's natural and cultural heritage. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the NPS as we continue to bring together volunteers to address critical projects for our public land agencies and promote engaged community stewardship of our nation’s wild places.
                                 Ashely Northcutt, Executive Director, Wilderness Volunteers

Want to know more? 
You can find get more information and register for service projects at the link below or donate to help us continue putting together low-cost service projects in federal lands across the country. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Wilderness Volunteers honored with National Park Service Award

Today we have some exciting news for our staff, volunteers, supporters and fans...

Wilderness Volunteers has been selected by the National Park Service for the 2017 Wes Henry National Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Award in the external partner category!

The Director’s Wes Henry National Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding contributions to wilderness stewardship by an individual or group and has been presented annually since 1993.

The award was established to recognize and foster excellence in the Agency’s wilderness stewardship efforts by an individual, a group/team, and non-governmental partner (new category), including those involving interpretation and education; management of natural, cultural, and social resources; planning; protection; and maintenance operations.

Award recipients are nominated by National Park Service staff and selected by an interdisciplinary panel. This year's awardees will be recognized during an awards ceremony in Washington, DC in August 2018.

Here's the award write-up from an article published on Inside NPS (internal NPS website):
Non-Government Partner Award: Wilderness Volunteers

"Over 2,400 people have made their way across the nation to volunteer at Apostle Islands, Big Bend, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Haleakala, North Cascades, Pinnacles, Saguaro, Zion, to name just some of the 32 park units where volunteers under the auspices of the service-oriented organization Wilderness Volunteers have taken a week of “vacation” to assist NPS staff with vital projects. Established in 1997, the mission of this non-profit is “stewardship of America's wild lands through organizing and promoting volunteer service in cooperation with public land agencies,” including the NPS. Volunteer leaders and volunteers, ranging from ages 18 to 85, have implemented over 230 week-long service projects in national park units with wilderness and backcountry."

"In the wilderness of Olympic National Park, these volunteers have contributed almost 7,000 hours to the park’s wilderness restoration projects. Work included delineating and improving campsites and preparing tens of thousands of square feet of bare ground for revegetation by breaking up compacted soils with pulaskis and hand tools. The groups’ efforts resulted in successful restoration within the wilderness: expansive areas of compacted bare ground sites now display full-sized native shrubs and a thriving and diverse plant community – a testimony to these volunteers’ outstanding work. Their consistently high quality labor and the amazing quantity of work completed within one week provides critical accomplishments that otherwise would not have occurred. The volunteer project work in turn inspires participants to come away from the experience with a new or renewed knowledge and love for wilderness, fostered by the Wilderness Volunteer's commitment to wilderness stewardship."

Stay tuned for more information as well as a blog post about the award ceremony in August!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Wilderness Volunteers is Now Hiring!

Hey WV'ers, Taryn here. Just popping in to let you all know that I will be leaving the program manager position and moving on to some new parts of life. It has been an absolute pleasure to work for WV these past few years and to have had the opportunity to get to know many of you! My official last day will be on August 17th and I will be working hard in the meantime to set up my successor for a flawless transition!

Having said that, we now have a staff position open. Check out the job listing on the website under About WV and Employment. There is also a link at the bottom of this page. Please send this around to anyone you feel would be interested or qualified!

Check out the job listing and put in your application today!

INTERN BLOG SERIES: Wilderness Volunteers v. Pele the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire

A true Hawaii Volcanoes National Park greeting. 
The group figuring out our next day plan.

All ten Wilderness Volunteers were sitting in a circle in our cabin living room. Having just arrived to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, we were allowed through the gate, passing a sign that read “park closed due to increased seismic activity”. Us and a select number of park employees were the only ones currently in the 300,000 acre park.

Jordan Barthold, the National Parks employee who had been coordinating with Wilderness Volunteers on this trail maintenance project was also in the room. She explained to us what was happening to the project since the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the big island of Hawaii the previous day. That event had prompted the immediate evacuation of over 2,000 park visitors, and park closure for at least the weekend.

My expectation, knowing the conservative nature of federal land agencies regarding safety, was that the project would be officially cancelled and we’d have just that night to stay at the cabin, and figure out new plans. However, to my surprise, our project was still a possibility according to Jordan. If the seismic activity died down, there was a chance we could delay our project one or two days, and still get in the field to complete the trail work. For the next 72 hours, our fate was determined by the Hawaiian goddess of fire, Pele. Until then, the crew was essentially on house arrest, not allowed to wander far from the cabin, and only leaving the park during pre-planned hours, approved by Jordan.

Scanning the room, the volunteers seemed to be in deep thought, asking only a few clarifying questions. One of the trip leaders, John McLean, then added that there was no obligation for any of the volunteers to make this kind of commitment. Given the unique circumstances, the trip fee would be reimbursed for anyone if they chose to no longer stay with the project. But no one backed out. Given that we were in Hawaii, and there were so many things one could do on the island, it was really impressive to see that level of commitment from the volunteers.

We went around the room giving basic introductions such as names, hometown, history with WV, and by request of volunteer Maren, a food that matched the first letter of their first name. There was John and James our two father and son leaders. Tanya, James’ girlfriend who was currently living on the big island. Ted and Maren, the pair from California that weren’t scared by any mini-earthquakes that we endured. Sayyed, who was also from California, and had already read a great deal about the island before coming. John no. 2 who was a veteran volunteer and this was one of his four projects this year. Deni, who had travelled from upstate New York to do her first Wilderness Volunteers trip, by recommendation of her friend Larry, also present. And me, the intern who’d finished her finals, and left for this project the next day. It wasn’t long after these introductions that we started brainstorming ideas of what we wanted to do with our free time the next day.

Snorkeling in beautiful Kapoho Tide Pools
Exploring the misty Kapapala Forest Reserve (photo credits to Sayyed)

The next day the group split into two day trips. James, Tanya, and I snorkeled and the rest went for a day hike. On our return drive to the park, trying to make it back by the agreed upon time, James notified Tanya and I that the park had reopened, and we would be packing out Tuesday. I was thrilled. Back at the cabin, while helping prep for dinner, I overheard James discussing with Larry the new news, and almost didn’t believe my ears. After catching drift that our project was okayed, the Superintendent of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park stepped in and officially cancelled it, out of concerns for safety.

For at least a moment I’d say most of the volunteers were pretty somber about the cancellation. We wholly understood and respected the decision to cancel the trip, the park has worked with the volcanoes through its entire history and has a deep working knowledge of the system. It was simply a hard pill for us to swallow. Luckily the mood didn’t last long in the room, Tanya and James made an amazing Hawaiian dinner, and we celebrated Ted’s birthday with a beautiful guava cake. Pretty soon we had all started making plans with our newfound time on the island. 

In the following days the group started on new adventures. Like most of the volunteers I stayed at the cabin a couple more days before going to other parts of the island. Larry, Deni, and I hiked over misty lava fields and talked to park rangers about the recent geologic events. One night we got dinner at a military bowling alley with John, James, and Tanya. Having all this fun in some ways made not doing the project harder because I enjoyed being with them so much. Luckily there’s still more work to be done in other, less volcanically-active, parts of the US. I’m sure I’ll see them in the field.

 Mary is a sophomore at Michigan State University and is the Wilderness Voluneers 2018 Intern. Catch her upcoming blogs throughout the summer!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

How to Do a Bear Hang the Right Way

Cinnamon Black Bear
Wild bears are typically shy animals who want nothing to do with people. They are mostly active during daylight hours, are curious about their environment and react to threats based on the perceived danger just like people do. Black bears usually run away from people or climb up trees to get away from them. Brown bears usually avoid people if they have the option. 
Most negative encounters between people and bears occur as a result of improper food/garbage storage. Bears are attracted by the smells of food; it only takes one successful food/garbage exposure to teach a bear that people can have tasty items around camp, making it likely that a bear will seek out people & camping areas again for something to eat. The majority of negative bear encounters occur when bears who have become habituated to looking for people's food/garbage end up in close proximity to people and a person and/or bear is injured or killed as a result. 
Brown bear mother and cubs, Denali National Park
Being responsible in bear country by keeping your food and trash secure and away from  wildlife could affect your safety, the safety of others, and could even save a bear's life.
Some examples of bear habituation:
A woman in the Sierras leaves her backpack on a picnic table and goes to the restroom on the other side of the campground. The backpack has candy bars, jerky, and a sandwich inside along with a rain jacket and other items. When the woman comes back from the restroom she finds a black bear mom and her cub pulling items out of his pack and eating the food. She yells at the bears to try and make them leave but the bears keep going through her pack for another 10 minute before they leave the campground. The woman is mad that they ruined her pack and ripped her new rain jacket.
Brown Bear, Tongass National Forest 
A family in the Boundary Waters leave their kitchen bag at a portage while they carry two other bags and their canoe to the next lake.  When they come back to get the kitchen bag they find it gone. After looking around they find it off trail in the bushes, most of the food has been eaten/damaged and there are wrappers and bags spread out over the area. The family picks up the mess and decides that they will have to head back out early the next morning as they don't have enough food for their trip anymore.
A man in the Rocky Mountains brings frozen chicken on a camping trip to make for dinner. He decides to leave it out on the picnic table to thaw for half an hour while he works on getting his trailer set up. He hears a noise and comes out of his trailer to see a black bear eating the chicken, bag and all. He yells at the bear and chases it out of the campsite and is unhappy that he has to find something else to eat for dinner.  
Tips for preventing problems with bears while camping:
  • Check local regulations for bear safe food storage. Some agencies have specific instructions for how to hang food to keep it away from their bears.
  • Keep your camp & cooking equipment clean.
  • Keep food/toiletries, and other scented items out of sleeping areas & store them properly (in a bear hang/ in a bear box/ in a bear canister/ etc.
  • Never leave packs more than a couple of steps away from you. If a bear comes around the corner will you be able to get your pack safely?
  • Sleep at least 200 feet away from where you cook and cook at least 200 feet away from where you hang your food/garbage.
  • Seal your wet trash in a designated roll top bag or ziplock to make your trash less smelly. 
Equipment you'll need to hang your food/garbage:
  • 2 or 3 50ft-100ft lengths of cord appropriate for the weight you'll be hanging (paracord will work for lightweight hangs, for heavier hangs be sure to get at least 3/8 inch or 10mm cord) From past experience paracord shouldn't be used with bags weighing more than ~25 pounds, they can give you wicked rope burns due to minimal surface area & will snap with repeated use/heavier bags. Good rope is expensive but you won't need to replace it nearly as often.
  • Carabiners (the kind that have weight ratings printed on them, not the decorative kind; these will break and potentially drop heavy bags of food on your head)
  • Optional: pulleys to help lift heavy bags
CLOTHESLINE HANG: (works well for larger/heavier bags)
Working on a clothesline bear hang
  • First find two large trees 12 or more feet apart with large branches 16 or more feet up.
  • Take the center of the line you are using, tie a small loop and attach a carabiner (you can add multiple loops & carabiners as needed for your hang just make sure they are at least 6 feet away from the trees on either side)
  • Loop your bag hang ropes through the carabiner(s)
  • Tie a rock to the end of your hang rope and throw it over one of the branches you've selected
  • Tie that end off securely on that tree
  • Next tie a rock on the other end of the hang rope and throw it over the other branch you've selected
  • Making sure you don't loose your hang rope(s), pull the end tight and tie it off on the other tree making the top line as tight as possible.
  • Attach your bag to the carabiner, pull on the bag rope until the bag is at least 12 feet up, making sure that the bag hangs down 4 feet from the topline), tie off your bag rope as high up as you can (you can use the same trees or different trees but try and keep the line high enough that a bear wouldn't walk into it while walking by) 
Clothesline Hang (US Forest Service)
COUNTERBALANCE HANG: (works best with 2 small, equally-weighted bags)
  • Find a tree with a live, down-sloping branch. When you are 10 feet away from the trunk, the branch should still be approximately 20 feet off the ground.
  • Divide food/garbage into 2 equally weighted bags.
  • Tie a rock to the end of your hang rope and throw the end over the branch 10 feet away from the trunk.
  • Tie the rope to one food/garbage bag and pull the other end until the bag is up to the branch.
  • Tie the second bag to the other end of the rope as high up as you can. Put the rest of the rope in the bag but leave out a loop and tie it to help get the bags back down later.
  • push the lower bag up as far as you can, use a stick to push it up more if needed. Bags should be equal height and at least 12 feet off the ground.
  • To get the bags back down again use a large stick or branch to reach up and grab the loop you made earlier. Pull down until you have the first bag then remove the extra rope and lower the second bag.
Counterbalance Hang (National Park Service)

SINGLE TREE AND PULLEY HANG: (works better with smaller bags)
  • Find a suitable tree with a branch 20 feet up
  • Tie your pulley onto the end of your tree rope and thread a bag rope through the pulley.
  • Tie a rock to your tree rope (non-pulley end) and throw it over the branch you picked out. Pull the rope until the pulley is hanging down about 7 feet.
  • Secure your tree rope to the tree trunk. 
  • Tie one end of the bag rope (threaded through the pulley) to your food.
  • Pull the other end of the bag rope at a diagonal away from the tree raising the food bag away from the tree.
  • Secure the bag rope to another tree, a stump or a rock making sure that your food bag is twelve feet off the ground and six feet away from the main tree.
Single Tree and Pulley (US Forest Service)

OVER A BRANCH HANG: (often difficult to find suitable tree):
  • Find a tree with a LARGE branch at least 16 feet up that will hold the weight of your bag 6 feet out from the trunk. (hard to find)
  • Tie a rock to the end of your rope.
  • Throw the end over the large branch 6 feet away from the trunk.
  • Tie the end to your pack, pull your pack up at least 12 feet off the ground while maintaining at least 4 feet down from the branch to your bag.
  • Tie the rope off as high as you can to prevent a bear from finding/chewing on your rope. 
  • over a branch hang in use
  • You can also use a pulley on the end of the rope to prevent damage to the branch and make taking down your bag easier. 

Over A Branch (US Forest Service)
REMEMBER: Whatever method you use, your lines will likely sag as you first put weight on them and again after the line has had time to stretch. You'll need to tighten and re-tie them a few times to make sure you maintain the distance requirements for a successful bear hang. 

Do you have any bear hang stories or techniques you'd like to share? We'd love to see them in the comments below.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Why it is so important to keep your food & trash away from wildlife

Storing your food and trash properly can have life and death consequences to the wildlife in the area you are visiting. 

Let Wildlife Stay Wild
Squirrels, bears, raccoons, skunks, deer, etc. are wild animals who all have natural food sources that sustain them during the different seasons. They learn when they are little where to go look for these foods and may migrate during the year to feed on different foods depending on their abundance. When these animals find human food they learn that people can be a source of food too. This may lead them to revisit or seek out new areas with people in their search for food. The behavior can interfere with normal migration patterns, make them less afraid of people, and significantly increase the chance that they will have a negative encounter with a human that ends badly for the animal. Negative encounters for people may range from your lunch being eaten, your backpack chewed up, your tent nibbled on, to being bitten, attacked and injured or killed. Negative encounters for animals could include being hit by a car, being shot, getting injured by people or domestic animals, or being trapped, relocated or euthanized.     

Keeping your food stored properly can protect you as well as the local wildlife!

Food and Trash Can Kill
Some types of food can actually kill animals that aren't equipped to digest them. Deer and birds can die from eating too much food with a flour base such as bread. Empty containers, six pack rings, and other discarded trash can be a serious hazard to wildlife too. Animals can get their head or feet trapped in containers or trash leading to suffocation, serious injury or death. The packaging your food is in may also be eaten by hungry animals. This plastic, styrofoam, foil, cardboard, metal, etc. may still smell like food  enough to be appetizing to a wild animal. Unfortunately these items are indigestible and may lead to intestinal blockages, entangled limbs, lacerations, and death.  

Feeding a cute squirrel at the campground may seem harmless at first. That squirrel through will likely start looking to every visitor for a meal and when somebody doesn't feed him he will start getting into backpacks, tents, and cars looking for food. He could even get aggressive and attack somebody if he thinks they have food. 

Be a wildlife advocate and help educate others about the importance of properly storing your food and trash.

Tips on how to manage your food and trash from 
the National Park Service:

In Picnic Areas and Campgrounds
  • Always keep your food within arm's reach and don't turn your back to your food.
  • In some parks, food may be stored inside your car as long as it is out of sight, with windows completely closed, and only during daylight hours; never store food in a pickup truck bed or strapped to the outside of a vehicle. In other parks, all food must be removed from your car and stored in lockers. Remember to clear your car of food wrappers, crumbs in baby seats, baby wipes, and even canned food and drinks.

  • Secure your food, garbage, and other scented items immediately upon arriving at your campsite.
  • Do NOT store food in your tent or backpack.
  • Wash dirty dishes immediately.
  • Do NOT attempt to burn excess food, tea bags, or coffee grounds in a fire. Burning organic matter completely requires a very hot fire, hotter than most campfires. Partially burned matter will still draw wildlife into camps.

In Hotel Rooms and Cabins
  • Keep all food inside your room. If you are not in the room, the windows and doors must be closed. Bears can easily break into cabins through an open door or window.

While Backpacking
  • Check with the park before taking food into the backcountry. Some parks allow or require portable containers designed for backpackers; others provide food lockers.
  • Choose foods that are compact, compressible, high calorie, and lacking in strong odors, such as rice, tortillas, jerky, pastas, nuts, dried fruits, peanut butter, and protein bars.
  • Take food out of its original package. This allows you to fit more food in your canisters and reduce garbage. Use resealable bags instead of bottles, jars, and cans. Force air out of bags or packages.
  • Carry food and garbage in plastic bags to contain crumbs and grease that can leave odors in your backpack.
  • Bear-resistant containers only work if they are closed and locked. Be sure to keep the container closed and locked even while you're around your campsite.

  • Place containers on flat, level ground 100 feet or more from your campsite.
  • Do NOT place containers near cliffs or any water source, as a bear may knock the container around or roll it down a hill trying to open it.
  • Do NOT attach anything to containers. Ropes attached to containers enable a bear to carry it away.
  • Place pots and pans on top of containers as a bear alarm.
  • Learn how to pack your container efficiently.
  • Do NOT dispose of food waste in the wilderness. Pack out all uneaten food and food particles. Treat food wrappers and other garbage the same as food.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Leader Spotlight: Bill Sheppard

"Put the cut pieces uphill. People walking down paths tend to look downhill," says the sage leader of more than approximately 75 Wilderness Volunteers service projects.

While we are brushing trail in the middle of a wilderness area, Bill Sheppard makes it clear that we need to make sure it looks as natural as possible. That means carefully hiding our slash piles up the hill from the trail, not below the trail. Not in the line of sight of hikers and horse riders. Keep it as natural as possible.

Bill is meticulous about his placement of slash. Always uphill, always hidden from view.

And, he is someone whose advice should be followed.

Bill has led an impressive 110 or so service trips between WV and the Sierra Club since 1990 after having been a participant for six years. And then, in 1989 he was invited to the Sierra Club Midwest Subcommittee spring meeting, and was assigned to lead a second section of a full trip in late summer.  It was a canoe service trip in the Sylvania Wilderness, located in the Superior National Forest in Michigan.

In all his years traveling around the country and lending a hand to various national parks, forests and wilderness areas, Bill has seen a myriad of our public lands. However, Bill, who lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, finds himself returning to his local favorite, Grand Canyon National Park. He also prefers leading trips that are within a day to a day-and-a-half drive from Flagstaff. Most of his most recent trips have been located in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

He has conducted nearly every type of trip imaginable, from building trails to eradicating invasive species, and most of them have been in the back country, where WV sometimes receives assistance from packers and their mules hauling in gear from the trailhead to the camp site. It lessens the weight on the packs for everyone, which makes an 11-mile hike into a site much more manageable.

“The packers always amaze me,” Sheppard stated. “They’re usually volunteers, and they really know how to load their stock with our food, kitchen equipment and tools. They make our work possible, and I’m always grateful for their service.”

It’s not only our national public lands that are on the receiving end of Bill’s selfless service. He volunteers for the City of Flagstaff one day a week, working a seven-hour shift doing graffiti abatement. And, he also conducts “unofficial litter pick-up hikes on trails in the forest near home several days a week,” which should come to no surprise to anyone who has ever crossed paths with Bill.

On his various service trips, Bill has enjoyed meeting and working with the volunteers who hail from across the country and sometimes from overseas. He says, “almost all the volunteers have been wonderful. They’re motivated, flexible, physically fit and good comrades.

“The hardest part of each trip was at the end of the week,” he added. “Saying goodbye to all my hard-working friends who had generously spent a week of their vacation time giving back to the wilderness.  We always hope to keep in touch and maybe meet up again on another WV project.”

As for the details that go into getting ready to lead a trip, many leaders, especially new leaders, feel that putting together a menu is one of the most stressful parts of the trip planning. If people aren’t happy with the food, they might not have enough energy needed for the work to be done.

Bill is not one of those leaders.

After planning as many menus as he has, Bill has perfected the process. It is generally the same from trip to trip, although he still tweaks his lineup – adding one or two meals to change things up. For example, when leading his final Wilderness Volunteers trip in 2017, his menu featured a new dinner. He served up Thai food, which featured Tom Ka soup, Backpacker Pantry Pad Thai plus shrimp and spiked mandarins for dessert.

As he retires from leading service projects for Wilderness Volunteers, Bill has one last piece of advice.

“Be flexible, because our plans must sometimes change due to weather, wildfires, packer problems, etc.”

After all, there always is work to be done somewhere.