Latina Youth Trail Crew Building Trails, Looking to the Future at Mount Rainier
Nine young women recently spent a week improving Mount Rainier trails, contemplating equity in the outdoors and stoking a passion for adventure, with a little help from Latino Outdoors, WTA and many others.
by Michelle Piñon
No, pues, wow.
For those who know me, you’ll recognize the sentence above as my go-to catchphrase. It’s a Spanglish phrase best used to communicate awe in a natural setting. I frequently mutter it after reaching a ridge-top view after a steep climb. But right now, after having spent a week wandering in the woods with the Latina Trail Crew, “no pues wow” feels like an appropriate statement.
So what happened? The Latina Trail Crew was launched in conjunction with Washington Trails Association and Latino Outdoors. On July 23, nine young women (ranging in age from 13 to 16) embarked on an epic adventure at Mount Rainier.
We were stationed out of the White River campground and spent our days building trails, exploring rivers and contemplating the future of equity in the outdoors. Most of the participants hailed from the South Park neighborhood of Seattle and were alumni of the esteemed Duwamish Youth Corps. They had spent several months learning about environmental justice and community healing and were eager to take the lessons learned in South Park to the wild lands of Mount Rainier.
Over the course of four days of trail work and over 30 hours of volunteer maintenance, the nine girls learned about the parks natural history, careers in the park service, and their own place in world of public land conservation. We also learned, first-hand, just how ruthless the bugs can be in the sub-alpine.
This work would not have been possible without the support of the Washington National Park Fund, who raised funds to provide scholarships for each participant. We are also greatly indebted to the folks at Mount Rainier National Park (including Ranger Orozco, Ranger Annie, and Ranger Montgomery) who welcomed the crew to the park and inspired several to consider careers in the Park Service.
Thanks to the support of REI, Outdoor Research and MSR, the adventure doesn’t stop here. Each of the girls received numerous outdoor gear (ranging from stoves to backpacks to Goretex rain jackets) to encourage further exploration. It is our hope that WTA and Latino Outdoors have merely planted a seed, a passion for the outdoors, that will be further cultivated in years to come.
No, pues, wow.