Written by Brain Mize, Field Forester
Photographed by Milo Zorzino
Foresters tend to be an introverted lot, spending our days care taking the land in solitude. So when our volunteer coordinator, Lauren Miheli, suggested an overnight camping excursion in the Central Cascades with a group of volunteers, I was a little apprehensive to say the least. I provided the idea for a project of cleaning up a couple areas where people had illegally built cabins and left garbage scattered about. I warned Lauren that this area was isolated, and was at least a 4 to 5 hour drive from Seattle. This is when Lauren came up with the idea of camping onsite to allow more time for working.
As we convened on Saturday morning, my uneasiness was quickly settled when I realized we had a small, but incredibly dedicated group of volunteers. We traveled to the project site and quickly set to work cleaning up a jackstrawed mess of rough cut logs, chicken wire, plastic, and scattered trash. The afternoon temperatures reached into the upper 80’s, and there was no shade at the work site; however, our group of 5 volunteers cleaned up the area and hauled everything 500’ up to the road in about two hours. We spent the rest of the evening setting up camp and enjoying the scenery.
By the time we split off on Sunday, our small group had exceeded all expectations of how much work we would accomplish. But more than that, the dedication of our volunteers helped me get over my anxiety, and left me wanting more. Although we have not planned our next volunteer event in the Central Cascades, I look forward to spending more time with people in a place that I love.