Last Saturday, Basecamp Brewing was kind enough to host us for a slideshow and panel discussion about the Oregon Timber Trail. For those that haven't been following along, the OTT is a 670-mile route from Lakeview, OR to Hood River, OR and is suited for mountain bikes! Yes, a through trail, just like hikers have with the PCT. I've been on the board of the OTT and we hosted several events last year, from Sawyer Certifications to Trail work parties. This event challenged me to try to sum up a years worth of volunteer work for a cause that I'm passionate about. I'm pretty comfortable expressing myself with photos and the written word, but to hold a microphone and communicate to a live audience was definitely just outside my comfort zone. But, looking back through the slides I was presenting I realized the whole experience has been just outside my comfort zone, which is perhaps why I'm so enthused about the trail and what it's set out to accomplish.
Let's start with the Sawyer Certification. For those that don't know the term Sawyer, it means learning how to clear downed trees with a chainsaw. Previous to the course, I had never run a chainsaw. But not to worry, the course takes it step by step, starting with a First Aid and CPR course, which is required for all sawyers. Next, the course is as much safety, planning, and situational awareness as it is running a saw. Fast forward a month and we found ourselves at the first work party in the Fremont National forest. The Fremont is remote and its trails don't see many boots or tires, so there was a maze of blowdown to cut through. Luckily the trees are relatively small in diameter compared to the Doug Firs of the Cascades. But what these trees lacked in girth, they made up for in quantity. I think we might have only cut a mile in one day, but that's what it takes. The work party on Bunchgrass Trail was just as challenging and had its own set of circumstances that make it a tough nut to crack. In the end what was significant for me was the community of like-minded people that came together for a common cause and the way I was challenged in the process - both learning how to run a chainsaw and learning to commuicate my passion for this new trail. My hope is that others will come out and find themselves on this new trail. See you out there!