• Hayden Seder

Women Only Weekend Trail Maintenance Project

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

One weekend, 10 women, 1 baby. And a whole lotta trail maintenance (17 trees and 26 drains to be exact). This was the Women’s Only Weekend (WOW) Prairie-Miner Loops Project, an event put on by the Wood River Trails Coalition (WRTC) and Idaho Trails Association(ITA). The Wood River Valley is home to numerous trails, used by bikers, runners, hikers, campers, horseback riders, and even some motorized vehicle drivers. All that use means the trails see a lot of wear and the Forest Service is poorly equipped to make sure all trails in this wide area are maintained. That’s where these two organizations and their many volunteers come in.

The Idaho Trails Association was founded in 2010 to promote the conservation and enjoyment of Idaho’s backcountry on foot. Similarly, the Wood River Trails Coalition (named so in 2019 after forming as the Wood River Bicycle Coalition in 2011), works to create, maintain, and sustain the Wood River Valley’s trail network for all users.

As an avid hiker and mountain biker, I’ve been using Idaho’s trails my whole life. I also donate monthly to the WRTC but had yet to participate in one of their many volunteer nights or weekends. But at the option of doing trail maintenance over a weekend with a group of badass women, I jumped at the chance. The areas we covered were the non-motorized trails of the Prairie-Miner Loop (trails #134, #132, and #135) in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Located about 20 miles north of Ketchum, these trails lead to Prairie and Miner Lakes, respectively, and see less traffic than other areas. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need just as much maintenance.

Guiding us on our journey were Kya Goldschalger, WRTC Volunteer and Events Coordinator, artist, and a bike bag sewing entrepreneur. Along for the journey was her 5-month-old Raef who was often strapped to her back as we hiked or she demonstrated trail maintenance skills for us. What a badass.

Representing ITA were Pam Bond and Outreach and Communications Specialist Kelly who filmed and photographed the entire weekend.

Along for the ride were seven other women. Kirsten, a GIS specialist and Forest Service volunteer from Boise did a WOW last year and knew Pam through other volunteer work. After hearing about some cancellations for this weekend, she jumped on board. “I didn’t have plans this weekend and it’s always a lot of fun to come out with groups like this and to meet new people, especially now when it’s so isolated at home; it’s nice to get out and into the backwoods with some like-minded people.”

Those like-minded people included Beth, a comedienne from Boise getting her masters at BSU and formerly a leader for Outward Bound and bartender at Boise’s new karaoke bar, Voicebox and Dagmar, a 65-year-old trad climber and frequent volunteer on the trails (she showed up already wearing an ITA shirt from a different women’s work trip).

Working on the trails for this first time was Holly, editor of Boise’s Idaho Press newspaper. She, too, had heard of spots opening up due to cancellations and thought she would do her part for the trails. “I hadn’t ever volunteered, even in the Boise foothills which I use a lot. I’ve always wanted to give back because I use the trails so much, so I thought this was a good opportunity to maintain them and give back a little bit.”

Using loppers, silky saws, and vintage two-man cross-cut saws, our crew cleaned up 3.7 miles of trail (though hiking more) by digging drainage ditches and cutting down trees that had fallen on trails. The work was insanely hard—perhaps more than I had bargained for—but the knowledge that we had given back to our trails that have given us so much was worth it.

#WOW #ITA #IdahoTrailsAssociation #WRTC #WoodRiverTrailsCoalition #WomenOnlyWeekend #trailmaintenance

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