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Q&A with the Pacific Crest Trail Association


Q&A with the Pacific Crest Trail Association

Today we share a question and answer session we recently had with Mick McBride, who volunteers with the Pacific Crest Trail Association in the region surrounding Ashland. Mick also has a wonderful Facebook page called Out Under the Sky where he shares great photos of his experiences outdoors in this region. 

Insight to Ashland: I understand that you work with the Pacific Crest Trail Association as
a volunteer. Would you please share with us what the Pacific Crest Trail Association does and a little about its history?

Mick McBride: The Pacific Crest Trail began as an idea by Clinton C. Clarke in the early 1930’s. Through a tremendous amount of work and dedication the trail was named a National Scenic Trail in 1968. The hard work and dedication didn’t stop there though, keeping the trail protected, maintained, and funded requires the efforts of many including numerous volunteers. Last year 1,637 volunteers worked 92,418 hours to maintain 1,172 miles of the 2,650 mile trail. The Pacific Crest Trail Association advocates for the trail and coordinates volunteer efforts including recently establishing several PCT Trail Skills Colleges in which new and established trail volunteers can learn or hone already learned skills. We have one right here in our backyard at Hyatt Lake
one weekend each year.

ITA: How long have you been working with the PCTA and what role(s) do you and other volunteers do as you work on their behalf?

Mick: I have volunteered on the trail since 2011. My first volunteer weekend was spent at Crater Lake doing tread work on the PCT as the trail passes right through the National Park. The thing is, it was a lot of hard, dirty work, but it was also incredibly fun! That weekend I met like minded people that I still have relationships with, folks I never
would’ve met were it not for choosing to volunteer. In fact, I had such a great time there and on ensuing volunteer projects that I decided to throw my hat in the ring as a Volunteer Crew Leader.

Volunteering on the Pacific Crest Trail

Working on the Pacific Crest Trail

ITA: As I’m sure you’ve heard, the book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed was being shot this summer in Ashland and other parts of Oregon. Have you read the book and have you seen any increase in interest in the PCT because of it? Do you believe there will be a relatively large influx in interest in the PCT once the movie comes out?

Mick: I have read the book and really enjoyed it. There does seem to be an increase in interest in the PCT, certainly more people are aware of it’s existence, and more folks are on the trail as a result. I expect that the movie will bring even more attention and more people onto the trail. My thought is that initially it will bring too many people onto the trail, however, I also believe that the interest will wane rather quickly for most of the new folks. What I am excited about is that it will also bring several people to the trail who won’t lose interest because the trail, the people they meet, and life outdoors will change them in ways they never saw coming. These very same people will stick and become stewards of the trail, and if not of the PCT, they will become stewards of a trail or wilderness near them.

ITA: Where are some of the best spots to do day or weekend hikes on the PCT near to Ashland?

Mick: My favorite spot on the PCT near here is off of HWY 140 between Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods. You head South on the trail from the highway and stroll through the Brown Mountain Lava flow. The views of Mt. McLoughlin are spectacular, and if you’re brave enough to hike it in the winter with a bit of snow out, the savage beauty of the snow covered lava field, towering pines, and expansive blue skies will take your breath away.

Other wonderful hikes on the PCT in the area include Mt. Ashland, Pilot Rock, Hyatt Lake, and Crater Lake. In fact, we are fortunate enough to be right on the PCT corridor which means there are access points all over the area and I’m not sure anyone ever really goes out hiking and winds up wishing they hadn’t.

ITA: You have your own Facebook page called “Out Under the Sky” where you post photos of your various outdoor adventures. Is that simply a personal hobby or is there another side to it? What inspired you to start the page?

Mick: Out Under The Sky is something I started as a place to connect with other outdoor enthusiasts and as a place to encourage getting out under the sky and doing whatever makes you happy – in short, get off the couch and create happiness for yourself as it is right there for the taking. The photos are just one of the mediums I chose as a way to
share what is out there to be seen. In the process I also learned that I love landscape photography which has now become an obsession. At times, well ok most of the time, now that I have a DSLR camera I have to remind myself to “hike” while I am out there.

ITA: If others are interested in volunteering with the PCTA, how might they get involved?

Mick: Anyone interested in volunteering on the PCT should go to their website click on volunteer, and submit the volunteer application. Here is the link: http://www.pcta.org/volunteer/

We are putting together two one day volunteer projects on Mt. Ashland this Spring. The first is Saturday, April 19th and the second is Saturday, May 17th. We need volunteers, so please consider signing up to join us. 🙂

The most important thing to know about volunteering other than the great time you will have, is that no experience is required! We will happily train you.