|Dennis and volunteers on trail. Photo by Tom Davis, USFS|
By Kim Brown, Public Lands Intern
Next Thursday evening, April 11th, at the Iron Goat Season Opener for Volunteers for Outdoor Washington event at The Mountaineers Program Centre, Mountaineers member Dennis Evans will receive a Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region Trails Volunteer of the Year Award for his work on the Iron Goat Trail, a rail-to-trail project at Steven Pass. Thanks to countless volunteer hours by Dennis and many others with Volunteers for Outdoor Washington, hikers can enjoy the rich history of the old rail, including tunnels, snowsheds, and Wellington the site of a famous avalanche incident, and poignant memories.
Dennis got his start by volunteering to work on the Iron Goat through an annual Mountaineer Presidents Day trail work party event on the Iron Goat trail, 20 years ago! “I am a bit of a history buff,” Dennis says. “It was the history of the Iron Goat that got me interested, rather than the other way around. It fascinates me to stand in an area that has been abandoned, particularly if there are still signs of whatever used to be there, and think about what it must have been like and why it was abandoned.”
Tom Davis, Skykomish Ranger District Trails Specialist with the Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forest (MBS) writes of Evan and his dedication, “Initial thoughts that this would be an easy rails-to-trails project were soon dispelled when it was discovered the grade was covered with trees, brush, avalanche debris, and wetlands and crossed a myriad of flood prone streams and streamlets,” Davis writes. “Dennis’s contribution is staggering with 4,538 work party hours and leading 648 work parties since 1992, plus countless additional hours in administrative duties.” Evans also took courses in trail design and ADA accessibility (half the trail is built to American Disability Act [ADA] standards). Without Dennis Evans at the helm,” Davis added,”it’s hard to imagine the trail being built to such a high standard.”
Hiker reaction to coming upon a volunteer trail crew has been very positive. “Usually they just say thank you as they pass by,” Dennis says, “but the most bizarre thing that happened occurred several years ago to one of our regular volunteers. He was working and someone passed by. The person walked about a hundred yards, then turned around, came back and stuffed something in the worker’s shirt pocket, turned around and left again. When the worker took it out, it turned out to be a $100 bill.”
Thanks to Dennis for his dedication to providing a great place to visit history and nature!