Armed with shovels, axes, rakes and other tools, about 130 volunteers spent Saturday repairing – and in some cases rerouting – trails in Capitol State Forest.
The sixth annual Great Gravel Pack-In brought together an array of nature-loving groups including at least eight chapters of the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington and Oregon, Friends of Capitol Forest, all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts, mountain bikers and cross-country marathon runners, according to Toni Weyman Droscher, a communications consultant with the state Department of Natural Resources.
Volunteers helped prepare the trails for May 1, when the forest’s trails for horses and motorized vehicles and campgrounds are slated to open.
About eight dump truck loads of gravel were packed by horses, mules and trailers attached to ATV vehicles, according to Nick Cronquist, community outreach and volunteer coordinator for DNR. Volunteers helped spread the gravel at various sites, including on trails near Margaret McKenny Campground off Waddell Creek Road.
The work party was originally scheduled for March. But then a snowstorm hit South Sound.
“It’s just been so wet, we had to postpone this by a month,” Droscher said.
Capitol Forest has about 180 miles of trails, and because the department has limited state funds, it depends on thousands of hours of volunteer labor to help keep the trail system safe and usable, Cronquist said.
“For us, it’s about bringing people together and getting people on the trail to help keep the trails,” he said.
Ann Torpie, 54, of Olympia said the event gave her a chance to meet new people and work hard for a good cause.
“I’ve always been a hiker, so it’s time to start helping the trails I love to use,” she said.
Lisa Pemberton: email@example.com