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Summer Starts Monday at 5:30 am

Posted by Lauren Braden at Jul 28, 2011 11:55 AM |
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WTA's Hike-a-Thon begins Monday at 5:30am with a hike up Tiger Mountain.

Summer is past due in Western Washington this year, and the heavy mountain snowpack is still keeping hikers out of the high country in some places.

What's an avid hiker to do? So many trails to hike, so many wildflower meadows to frolic in, so many ripe, juicy huckleberries out there just waiting to be eaten! And now, there's only one month to do it all.

August = Summer. You just have to cram it all in.

Need an incentive to skip the housework or put off painting the house so that you can hike, hike, hike all month long?

One word: Hike-a-Thon.

Better yet, every single mile you hike can mean more funds for protecting and maintaining Washington’s hiking trails.

Hike-A-Thon is an annual benefit for Washington Trails Association. It kicks off this Monday, August 1st at 5:30 am. That's right, 5:30 am. That’s when eager Hike-a-Thonners will meet at Tiger Mountain’s High Point Trailhead near Issaquah to kick off their month of hiking.

I asked Lace Thornberg, editor of Washington Trails magazine and leader of the kickoff hike, just what she was thinking when she decided to organize a hike on a Monday morning.

“It seemed better than starting 12:01,” she said, adding, "But, really, the hike-a-thoners who come on this hike will have 5 miles under their boots on day one, before 9 am, before they head to work on Monday morning. That's pretty cool.”

I have to agree: It's pretty cool.

Hike-a-Thon is simple. Hikers collect sponsors and pledges from family and friends, then spend the month of August hiking the mountains, the coasts and everywhere in between. Hike-a-Thon participants are eligible for cool prizes, and have the satisfaction of knowing that each and every mile hiked goes towards protecting and maintaining hiking trails.

So far, 98 hikers have signed up for Hike-a-Thon 2011. If you take to the trails this August you might see them, hiking in blue Hike-a-Thon wicking t-shirts. If you want, you can join them. There's still time. Sign up here.

So, why do these folks want to hike so much, anyway?  The reasons cited by Hike-a-Thon participants for all the blisters and perspiration in their near futures are varied. Here are some of my favorites.

Gwen Tollefson of Woodinville is hoping to raise $750 for trails in her second year of participating in Hike-a-Thon. “WTA does a fabulous job of working with the various agencies to maintain the trails I love to hike.  For the time being, I'm not able to participate in trail maintenance programs, so this is my way of giving back.” she said. “Plus, I'm gonna be out there hiking anyway; why not raise some dough for trails while I'm at it?”

“It's for a good cause,” said third-time participant Holly Weiler. “It gives me an excuse to abandon all other responsibilities for the month of August and just hike. I have to go back to work in September!”

I love that Hike-a-Thon inspires people to hike more. I love how it connects hikers with the well-being of the trails under their boots. It’s a fun and healthy way to give back to those trails and public lands. And anyone can participate, whether you hike a little or a lot, up mountains or down valleys. It’s for anyone who likes to hike.

I also have to admit, I love the prizes.

Here are some of my favorites. The hiker who logs the most hikes on river trails will win a Fikkes fly rod/hiking pole. How perfect is that? The first and second-place hikers who raise the most money will each win a Hilleberg tent, the creme de la creme of backpacking tents. Other prizes include clothing from ExOfficio, an MSR stove, backpacks from Jansport, Mountain Hardwear jackets, Ahnu boots, and much more.

Have you signed up for Hike-a-Thon yet? I hope so. Summer is short this year. Make those miles count.

Hike-a-Thon is presented by Mountain Hardwear - Seattle Store