Bringing the Trail Crew to you! This is a continuation of our “Interview with a Volunteer” series that we’ll be using to bring the fun of being a Trailkeeper to you while you stay safe at home. […]
Angels Rest was where we officially put tools-to trail for the first time in 2008 – grabbing our garden tools and trying our best to glean what we could from our more established partners in Washington Trails Association and Pacific Crest Trails Association. When the Eagle Creek fire hit on Labor Day in 2017, it was the annual return to Angels Rest that was the first trail party we had to postpone. Not knowing then it would take more than 6 months for us to be permitted to scout to the top for the first time. March 2018 we began to restore the trail and kept after it – looping up above the viewpoint to Wahkeena – through spring of 2019. A labor of love, we have volunteer leaders hitting the trail regularly to report back on the work to follow up on.
And just as that viewpoint to the west is a dream, Rowena Crest steals breathtaking views to the east. Jump up the trail and lift to a higher view at Tom McCall Point – passing by some of the most highly sought after and accessible wildflower viewing in the Columbia Gorge. We are officially jumping in to help with our partners Oregon State Parks and The Nature Conservancy who share the land these trails climb through. From viewpoint to viewpoint across Oregon, TKO is ready to tackle all of your trail priorities – we just need your support to climb up.
On March 14th, 2018 TKO Executive Director and (soon-to-be) Stewardship Manager met the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Trail Supervisor for a scout to the top and they were amazed at what they saw. The bottom section on State Parks land was a low severity burn, rolling through the understory with a cleaning effect. Jog up to the Forest Service segment about 2 miles from the trailhead and there wasn’t a leaf left. Some of the trees had seemed to be more toasted, but those were later recognized as being snags from the last time Angels Rest burned in the 90s.
There is a strange band of clay that runs through the Columbia Gorge and can be found at Angels Rest – a site visited by over a million people each year. With that strange soil type and crazy level of visitors, the backlog of maintenance is disheartening. We knew that if ever there was a time to move big rock and reconstruct trail tread, while the trail was closed was our chance. And we went after it. Now we seek to advocate for enhancements to this out and back trail. Help support us to build new trail at Angels Rest!
We’ve found a place helping our land conservation partners with their trail management woes. Whether it be The Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, North Coast Land Conservancy or Lower Nehalem Community Trust – we can help one another in protecting our public access lands through partnering and doing what we all do best.
And just as our partnerships have brought us to Smith Rock and Cascade Head, The Nature Conservancy has asked to have our expertise in trail design and initiating development at this property near Post, OR – a remarkable array of central Oregon landscapes, featuring John Day and Clarno “painted hills” formations. TKO will be heading up volunteer vacations in June 2020 at Juniper Hills. Whether it be ocean views on the Headlands or desert vistas on 10,000 acres between the Ochocos and Maury mountain ranges, TKO is getting after trails in Oregon.
By Tom Kloster
After the Eagle Creek Fire in September 2017, I know I was not alone in
sorting through photos and trip reports from before the fire. While it has
taken time for all of us to absorb the changes the fire brought to the Gorge,
seeing old photos of our favorite places from years passed was a needed
I am deeply concerned about what is happening to our Oregon State Parks with reductions in operational staff and the possible layoffs of critical support within the agency’s ranks. We are concerned this is a preview of what is going to happen across all public lands. All federal, state and local lands are scrambling to catch up on season staff changes while managing new normals in visitor safety — all in a time of re-opening public lands and the looming realities of shrinking budgets. Oregon’s citizenry can help, if we make it a priority.