If you’re lucky, you’ve had the pleasure of being on an ITA trip with Cindy! This year, she took volunteering as an ITA cook to a new level and planned out the meals for many of our trips. Thank you for taking on this new responsibility and keeping our crews fed, Cindy!
Could you share a little about your background and how you came to volunteer with ITA?
I grew up in a little town along the Clackamas River with a view of Mt. Hood. My two brothers and I spent our childhood rafting, camping, hiking, skiing, riding the pigs and playing in the dirt. I attended college at University of Oregon where I (eventually) met my husband. We returned to Eugene several years after college where our son, Mack was born. We moved to Plano, Texas where our daughter Natalie was born then moved to Boise when my husband was hired by HP. We’ve lived in Boise for 25 years, splitting time between Boise and McCall since 2008. When my kids were in High School I quit my job of 12 years with the school district and went back to school to get a Masters Degree in Psychology, focusing on career coaching and work styles. I worked for a time with a company helping develop HR materials and then decided to retire.
Volunteering at the suicide hotline (ISPH), Boise Bicycle Project (BBP), U of I’s Master Gardener’s program and the Master Naturalists’ program kept me busy but when I saw an opportunity to volunteer for ITA’s trail work project, I jumped on it. That was in the fall of 2016 and I’ve volunteered to work and/or cook every year since.
I enjoy any time I can spend outside playing tennis, nordic and alpine skiing, mountain/road biking, running, hiking, paddle boarding, or any other self-propelled activity.
Most memorable backcountry experience?
The most memorable experience that comes to mind is from a couple of years ago with ITA. I volunteered to work as crew on Middle Fork of the Salmon River where we set up camp at the confluence of Camas Creek and the MF. It was a warm 13 mile hike in. John McCarthy was our crew leader and MaryJo was our cook. It was a great trip (even with the rattlesnakes) and one of the reasons MaryJo was able to persuade me to become a camp cook myself. The trip out was equally hot and long and at about mile 11 there were about three of us hiking out together when a 4 wheeler buggy came buzzing by us and the character at the wheel asked us if we wanted a ride!? Well, we did, so we hopped on and he buzzed us through several sprinklers and stopped at his cabin a ways down the trail. He turned out to be a friend of the packer taking our gear out and invited us onto his porch for ice cold beverages and a table full of snacks. He ushered us off to recline in his screened gazebo and then started cooking hotdogs for us and the crew following. When John caught up with us he had a bewildered look on his face but was happy to take a quick break before we all headed back on the trail for a short jaunt to Meyer’s Cove.
What is your favorite ITA trip you’ve been on and why?
Every last trip I’ve been on has been my new favorite but the one I felt really cemented my love for trail work was with John Platt and Rick Hudson on the North Fork Lick Creek Trail in 2017. There were several changes and cancellations leading up to the four day trip but we set out in early July with our gear on our backs and tools in our hands. The work crew were John and Rick (trail billy goats) and three (gasping- it was a steep trail) newbie women eager to give the crosscut a try. And boy did we get to know those saws! We may not have gotten as far as if there was a full crew but we cut out more than 100 trees over the long weekend. I’m pretty sure there’s a photo out there with us doing the “Charlie’s Angels” pose with a crosscut saw.
What advice would you have for new trail users?
The best advice I can give is to enjoy the view and write down the names of your new mates because you’ll meet people along the way who you’ll want to remember. Oh, and if you enjoyed the unspoiled view, please leave it that way. We all want to feel like we’re the first one to see that mountain lake through a spectacular field of wildflowers.
What’s your hope for the future of trails and/or ITA?
As trail use in Idaho and across the country continues to grow, my hope is that ITA can continue to provide education and the benefit of it’s leader’s experience to all their volunteers and the community to become better stewards of Idaho’s beautiful and irreplaceable wilderness areas.
Thank you for all you do for ITA, Cindy!