Tom’s been fortunate to hike and climb in some of the most beautiful places in the world, especially right here in Idaho. To help others enjoy outdoor adventures, he’s led hundreds of hiking and climbing trips and served as an instructor for classes in rock, snow, and ice climbing, wilderness first aid, leadership, backpacking, wilderness survival, and avalanche avoidance. Tom has served as an officer or board member with numerous educational, civic, and charitable organizations including working as ITA’s Board President for many years! While Tom will soon be stepping down as Board President, he will remain a vital part of ITA as a board member and crew leader. Thank you for all you’ve done for ITA and trails, Tom!
When, how and why did you first get involved with ITA?
About 8 years ago, I happened to see a short notice in our Sandpoint newspaper about an Idaho Trails Association project that would be held here in northern Idaho. Having been an active mountain climber and backpacker most of my life, I wanted to help keep the hiking trails in our national forests open and in good shape. I hadn’t been on one of ITA’s trail projects before and it seemed like a great chance to help, so I signed up. That one-day project was fun, we got a lot done, and we worked with some really nice folks, including our Crew Leader Phil Hough. Phil was one of the founders of ITA in 2010 and he talked me into becoming more active in ITA. Over the next 8 years, I got to see and work in some of Idaho’s most beautiful backcountry and, more importantly, become friends with an amazing group of people I would have never met and gotten to know without ITA.
What is your favorite ITA trip you’ve been on and why?
I’ve never been on a “bad” ITA project, and in the past 8 years, I’ve been on a bunch of trips. One of my favorites was last year when 17 members of our Board of Directors, Advisors, Crew Leaders and others were taken by jet boat up the Snake River to the start of the very steep, brushy, and seldom maintained Bernard Creek Trail. We worked the trail for a week and got it opened way up towards McGaffey Cow Camp almost 4,000′ above the river. Hard work! But great comradery, great food (thanks Cindy), and great memories of friends like John Platt who co-led the project.
What advice would you have for new trail users?
My advice to new trail users would be to volunteer with a group like ITA so you can meet, work, and talk with folks who know the incredible backcountry in our public lands. Those experts just might be willing to share information on their favorite hikes and can give good advice on how to enjoy those lands. Another piece of advice – come to the backpacking clinics that ITA will hold this spring and learn from some very experienced experts.
What’s your next big adventure?
This spring, my wife and I will be heading back down to the very unique canyon country in the US southwest to hike and backpack more of that special area. We did our first backpack in Grand Gulch 50 years ago. We have been going back to the southwest almost every year since, and still haven’t run out of new stuff to see. What an incredible country we live in! In addition, we have a few other backpacks planned in some of Idaho’s more remote areas. No, we won’t share the photos on social media – you’ll need to find those places on your own and please don’t tell others where they are!
What’s your hope for the future of trails and/or ITA?
In the future, I hope to see ITA do trail projects in more parts of Idaho. Alex (Our Trail Projects Director) recently reported that we’re working in half of the US Forest Service Ranger Districts in our state. Lots of new places to see and work. ITA can offer our volunteers some places they may not have visited before. Also, I would like to have ITA offer special trail projects for our veterans. Finally, I hope that ITA continues to offer trail projects that are fun, safe, and rewarding so that we can grow our ITA family of friends.
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