Hello and Happy Fall! Can you believe it's here? I don't know about you, but I can't wait to dive into a fresh, cool season of fall foliage, larches, and waterfalls, as well as Sundays curled on the couch with a mug of tea and a roast in the oven.
As we wrap up the summer, I also wanted to say a big "Thank You!" to everyone who cheered us on and donated to our team—The Big Three—during Washington Trails Association's 2017 Hike-a-Thon.
We are so proud to support an organization that is a tireless advocate for trails and outdoor access for all in Washington State, and we couldn't have done it without your support!
Here's a quick recap of the 14th Annual Hike-a-Thon!
Hike-a-Thon is an annual fundraising event benefiting Washington Trails Association (WTA), a non-profit hiking organization in Washington State. Each year, hikers begin registering and collecting donations in July, then hike and track their miles during the month of August. In September, WTA hosts a Hike-a-Thon celebration to recognize everyone's efforts and hand out prizes in categories like "Most Miles by 4-legged Friend."
Anyone from around the world can participate in Hike-a-Thon, and all miles hiked on named trails anywhere in the world count. According to Grady Olson, Donor Stewardship Coordinator at WTA, folks from Montana, Georgia, Illinois, and Vancouver B.C. signed up this year!
Here are a few more notable stats from the 2017 Hike-a-Thon:
- 491 Hike-a-Thoners participated—a whopping 58% increase from 2015
- Hikers trekked 14,261 miles and climbed 2,242,433 cumulative feet during the month of August
- The total amount raised this year was $135,963, compared to $5,300 in 2004: Hike-a-Thon's inaugural year
Grady said, "We were very impressed with these hiking totals, especially given the number of wildfires and the widespread, persistent smoke we saw during the month of August."
The Big Three
Grace, Margaret, and I thought it would be fun to hike and support WTA together, so we formed a Hike-a-Thon team called "The Big Three." The moniker came about as we were texting each other one day, trying to think of a punny name for our team. The Big Three (Margaret's idea) worked like a charm—there were three of us, and it also refers to the three main components of backpacking: a sleeping bag, tent, and backpack.
Raising Awareness for WTA
Why was it important for us to participate in Hike-a-Thon? Here's what Grace and Margaret said:
There are a couple reasons why I did the Hike-a-Thon. First, I wanted to support WTA and second, we had a team! It was fun being part of a collective effort to raise money for WTA and seeing people get out on all the wonderful Washington trails that are here. I even had a few nice comments about my Hike-a-Thon shirt from hikers I passed on the trail.
I've been avidly hiking WA for a few years and the day someone told me about the WTA webpage was the day hiking changed for me. What great information! It took me a little longer to learn about all the work WTA volunteers do to maintain the trails, but I eventually figured it out. Hike-a-Thon is a great reminder for me. A way to say thanks to WTA and everyone who cares for our well-loved wilderness areas. I'm more aware and focused on trail etiquette, hiking safety, and all the work that goes into the WTA website. And I agree with Grace. Appreciation month is always more fun with friends. :D
As for me, I saw it as an opportunity to support, raise awareness for, and give back to WTA for all the work they do on behalf of hikers like us in Washington State. It was also a lot of fun partnering with Grace and Margaret: we were motivated to go hiking together and it personally helped me to turn to them when I had questions.
Together, our team hiked 189 miles, climbed over 30,000 feet in elevation, and raised $422.00 for Washington Trails Association. We covered all three national parks in Washington State--Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Olympic National Park—and camped together on the Olympic Peninsula.
As part of our fundraising efforts, I offered a special gift to anyone who donated $50 or more to The Big Three. Thank you to my Mom, MG, my husband, Onur, and our friends, Michelle and Daneen, who will each receive a set of notecards made out of a Mount Rainier photo from my website.
Thank you so much for supporting the journey of The Big Three!