Rusty Thompson wins National Wilderness Award
What's in an award? If you're Rusty Thompson of the Wenatchee River Ranger District, there's a lot of humility in an award - especially the award he recently received in Washington D.C.
The other Washington is a far cry from the mountainous terrain of the Glacier Peak Wilderness and his trusty pack string of mules named after Flintstone characters.
Rusty was honored on October 14th at the Forest Service's National Wilderness Award Ceremony as he received the top Award for Traditional Skills and Minimum Tools Leadership, not only for his great skill in running a pack string, but also for the many years he has spent inspiring "contagious enthusiasm among trail volunteers for the use of primitive tools throughout the State of Washington."
It's a pretty big deal to some, but to Rusty it just comes with the territory, and he would prefer if no one noticed. Rusty's been running the pack string on the Wenatchee River Ranger District for more than 30 years. He's also tirelessly supported WTA's work parties for the past 15 years, packing in tools, food and essential gear for our Volunteer Vacations.
While he's known for being a bit of a curmudgeon, our volunteers who have worked with him know the truth - that there's a pretty lovable side to Rusty, and he cares deeply for the trails he's overseen for decades. Rusty will go out of his way to teach someone how to do amazing trail maintenance with a shovel. He's quick to point out the fundamentals of trail restoration, and he's been a staple at WTA's annual Crew Leader College. Our volunteers have learned a tremendous amount from Rusty.
We at WTA can't think of anyone who more fully embodies the Traditional Skills and Minimum Tool Leadership award or who more clearly deserves this recognition. Sorry Rusty, we couldn't but help notice.
Do you have a favorite Rusty memory out on the trail? Share them here.