WTA Interviews Miles, Everyone's Favorite Marmot
What does the furry mascot of Hike-a-Thon have to say about WTA's biggest annual hiking event? Well...
The following is a transcript of our recent interview with Miles the Marmot, Hike-a-Thon's mascot and spokesperson marmot. Content has been edited for clarity. (We basically just left out Miles' snack break discussion on whether flowers or grasses taste better, and his two-hour nap on a warm rock in the sun where he mumbled incoherently.) Without further ado, here are Miles' thoughts on Hike-a-Thon:
Good morning, Miles. What would you say is your favorite part of Hike-a-Thon?
The prizes? That's it?
Well ... other things, too. But giving to hikers who support trails is a pretty great feeling. I'd say they're a nice icing on top of the wildflower cake.
WTA: Wildflo--nevermind. What would you say is the best part of Hike-a-Thon, after giving away prizes?
Miles: So many things, where do I even begin? Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh.
Well, to start...you know that scene in Point Break where Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze are skydiving and they clasp hands midair? Taking part in Hike-a-Thon feels like that. It's teamwork, it's camaraderie, it's doing something bigger for a good cause. Being part of that is a rush, just like skydiving.
WTA: That is a serious analogy, Miles. Tell us more about the cause and why it's special.
Miles: Yeah, okay, you got it. Hike-a-Thon is special because ... hey, does this blueberry look past its prime? I found it in the dirt. I prefer to pick them off the bush, but you know, you take what you get sometimes. I like them when they're just a tad overripe. You know you've found the perfect one when you hold it in your paw and ...
Miles: Huh? Oh, yeah, so anyway, Hike-a-Thon is special because it lets you support trails while you hike. I mean, how cool is that? You're already hiking, so why not support the trails you're hiking on while you do it? It's a sweet opportunity to raise money for the places we love to spend time in. The best part? You can do it with your friends or family and it's super easy. You can even support the hikers doing it by donating to their team if you don't want to make one yourself.
WTA: What inspires you to be the face of Hike-a-Thon?
Miles: The work WTA is doing is easy to get behind ... or is it in front of? As a spokesmarmot I'm not sure. Either way, the work is something I'm proud to be associated with. From striving to ensure everyone has equitable access to trails, to doing the actual maintenance on them and even leading efforts in Olympia and beyond to advocate for their funding, it's honestly the easiest decision I make all year to be a part of this organization.
But with Hike-a-Thon specifically, I'm inspired. Have you seen some of the hikers who've signed up? It's incredible! Take Dhana for example. They started hiking four years ago, fell in love with it, and realized how important preserving these wild places is. Their plan is to pick up trash they find on every hike. I mean, these wild places are my home .... Are you inspired? Because I'm inspired.
And Dhana is just one example of the many teams and individual humans with great reasons for taking part in Hike-a-Thon. The best part is that everyone's contribution is meaningful, no matter how small or large. It's easy to feel rewarded for taking part in things like hiking all August for Hike-a-Thon. The event itself is an extension of all the great work WTA is doing, and I want to make sure everyone knows how beneficial it is to both trails and WTA when people take part in it. If my charming personality can help do that, then count me in.
WTA: Charming is right. One last question before we let you go ... What do you love about WTA?
Miles: Oh, this is an easy one. WTA isn't just a nonprofit doing good work. It's a community made up of the hikers and volunteers who power the work being done. From people with the shovels in their hands, to trip reporters, to the hikers who sign up for Hike-a-Thon. Everyone is a part of the community that makes WTA special, and that's really cool.
But speaking of cool things, I think I'm going to go take a dunk in that alpine lake now. Thanks for having me, and happy Hike-a-Thon!