We made an important discovery while hiking this year, our US Forestry Service would be in BIG trouble if it were not for the "US Forestry Service Volunteers". Each visitors center that we visited while planning our hikes were manned by "Forestry Service Employees", BUT the best information we received came from the "Volunteers" that we ran into.
It seems that if you have the summer free, and qualify, the US Forestry Service will give you a place to live in the US Forest in exchange for "Volunteering". What a wonderful opportunity! Most of the volunteers we ran into were filled with a wealth of information about the local trails, since they were frequenting them while also "Working". Interestingly, we met one man and all the rest were women. What does that tell you?
The man we met was a volunteer along with his wife. He is mostly confined to the "Visitor's Center" now since he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's. They were BY FAR one of the most interesting couples we had ever met. There adventures included HER hiking the ENTIRE Appalachian Trail. He told us that he started out with her, but did not enjoy it. It seems he felt TOO Closed In. She told him she was enjoying it and he then became her supply wagon meeting her at designated points and bringing her supplies. He then became a courier for all the hikers along the trail-bringing them supplies and ferrying part time hikers back and forth. It sounded like a GREAT adventure!
Their adventure that was truly amazing was biking from coast to coast ONE YEAR after she learned to ride a bike. The journey took ten weeks and included a foray into Canada to get better views and roads. They biked through Glacier-where we hiked last year.
This was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to their lifetime of adventure. They now have a home base in a Denver Condo, but enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible. They have taught their children and grandchildren the same love of the Great Outdoors and NOW have a great-grandchild to begin working on.
The Forestry Service website has this to say:
If your schedule allows – for example, if you're retired or have summers free – you may even have the unique opportunity to live in a national forest while working as a Forest Service volunteer. If you are a college student, you may be able to obtain college credit for volunteer service through your school
My hat goes off to these "Mountain Angels" who went above and beyond the call of duty to help make our trip a huge success. Who knows - one of us may end up in one of the volunteer positions one day!