Tiger Mountain hike launches statewide trails fundraiser

August 2, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Lace Thornberg, Mickey Weinrich and Pam Roy (from left) start a month of Hike-a-Thon trips with a five-mile roundtrip West Tiger 3 hike Aug. 1 at the High Point Trailhead. By Greg Farrar

The long trek across the Evergreen State started just after dawn on Tiger Mountain.

The nonprofit Washington Trails Association launched Hike-a-Thon, a monthlong fundraiser to protect and maintain trails, at the High Point Trailhead near Issaquah just after 6 a.m. Aug. 1.

In the month ahead, more than 100 hikers plan to climb, ramble and slog across mountains, coasts and other scenic destinations.

“Tiger Mountain is the perfect place for people who work in Issaquah and Redmond and Seattle to just head out before work, get on the trail, get some exercise, get their hearts pumping before that long workweek,” association Development Director Rebecca Lavigne said.

Lace Thornberg, hike leader and Washington Trails magazine editor, said the early morning Tiger Mountain hike offered a chance for participants to jumpstart Hike-a-Thon.

“This 6 a.m. guided hike is our way of helping these awesome folks get their Hike-a-Thon campaigns started with a bang,” she said. “Before 9 a.m., when they head off to work on Monday, these hikers will already have five miles under their boots for their Hike-a-Thon campaigns. That’s pretty cool.”

Lavigne said the organization selected Tiger Mountain to “highlight all of the amazing places we have to hike right in our backyard. Washington has such a diversity of landscapes for people to explore. In this kind of summer where a lot of the high country is still out of reach and under snow, we want people to know that there are so many great places to explore very close to home.”

Hike-a-Thon raised $63,500 for the organization last year — a larger haul than the $5,000 generated during the inaugural fundraiser in 2004. The number of participants and dollars raised continues to increase each year, organizers said.

Hikers collect sponsors and pledges from family and friends, then spend August logging mile after mile on trails across Washington. Some hikers use photos and reports to document each trek, but each hiker’s tally is based on the honor system. Hike-a-Thon participants can earn prizes, such as outdoor gear, in addition to the blisters.

“Hike-a-Thon connects hikers with the well-being of the trails under their boots,” Hike-a-Thon Coordinator Kara Chin said. “It’s a tangible, fun and healthy way to give back to those trails and public lands. Anyone can participate, whether you hike a little or a lot, up mountains or down valleys. It’s for anyone who likes to hike.”

Lauren Braden, communications director for the organization, said cool, cloudy conditions persisting through July offered another boost for hikers to hit the trails in August.

What to know

Washington Trails Association Hike-a-Thon

  • Through Aug. 31
  • Register at the Washington Trails Association’s website, www.wta.org, or call 206-625-1367.
  • Registration is $15 and includes a T-shirt.

“Our summer has been so slow to start, and Hike-a-Thon is really giving them an added incentive to get out and hike in August,” Braden said as the monthlong event launched. “August is pretty much it — provided that this week is an indication of what’s to come, that summer is actually going to stick around.”

Hike-a-Thon, she added, offers others incentives to participants.

“By the end of August, I was in great shape. I had awesome stories,” Braden said. “It really does push you to go and put off painting the house and doing things around town because you’ve got to go out and hike.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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