I happened upon the OET booth at the Oregon State Fair. I loved to trail ride and was looking for some others like me who enjoyed the wilderness and the trails. I had also noticed the trails were often blocked by downed trees, and it was getting more and more difficult to find places to trail ride, especially away from the crowds.
The people manning the OET booth enlightened me to the fact that the federal agencies were experiencing funding shortages that translated to fewer paid people out there clearing the trails. If we, as equestrians, wanted the trails to stay open for riding, we should volunteer to help clear and maintain them. I joined immediately. This sounded perfect for me. I feel very proud to donate my time and energies to such a worth while cause.
At first, I was worried. What could I do, since I was just one lady?
Once I joined and met the wonderful people in OET, I realized a lot can be accomplished when you work with a group. I was hooked. I started attending the trail skills colleges put on by the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the Forest Service. I was so happy to learn how to use crosscut saws and get certified as a crosscut sawyer. I was lucky to have a patient and skilled mentor for our trail boss: Joel Starr.
The work part of the work party can be as strenuous or as easy as each individual wishes.
It is just as important to have the sawyers along as it is to have the swampers, the stock baby sitters, and the people back in camp preparing the wonderful food for the potluck. Everyone is free to contribute it any way that is comfortable to them. Even just donating or paying dues or the very important part of holding an office and doing the work from a desk instead of out on the trails or in the camps. That is what makes OET so wonderful.
For me, the thing I like best is clearing trails.
I like to work hard and use it as my free version of a gym membership. I get to build muscles, lose calories, and see the grand views of our wilderness. I’m not sure how to beat that. Plus the feeling of achievement. Knowing I’m doing something so valuable. I have made many wonderful friends with folks in my chapter, in other chapters, and with the land managers we work with. Plus, there are even some friends who recreate in other forms on our trails I can now call friends. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we all work together!
Want to share your OET story? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.