Jim (far right) at ITA’s Crew Leader College.

Glenn and Michelle are one of ITA’s power couples! They began volunteering in 2019 and since then, they’ve risen to crew leader status, helped ITA begin to offer projects in East Idaho near their home in Pocatello, and volunteered at local events. Glenn also joined ITA’s Advisory Board last year and together they’ve proven to have many great ideas for helping make ITA better. They are leading five trail maintenance projects this year alone. If you’d like to join them on the trail, check out this one-day project near Pocatello for National Public Lands Day. Thank you Michelle and Glenn for your enthusiasm for trails and ITA! 

What is your background in?

Michelle and I (Glenn) worked in the semiconductor industry for many years. I was an engineer and Michelle worked in supply chain management. Since retirement in 2015, we have volunteered for several organizations including Pocatello Parks & Rec, BLM-Kanab Field Office, Bonners Ferry Ranger District, Idaho Fish & Game-Southeast Region, Canyonlands National Park-Maze District, Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation, Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation, and Idaho Trails Association.

How and why did you first get involved with ITA?

I was in my late twenties when I first became involved in trail maintenance. I spent two weeks working in the Wind River Range for two years and found the experience very rewarding. So when Michelle and I retired, I looked for other trail crew opportunities and came across a week long trail crew with the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation in Montana. We decided to give it a try. We enjoyed the experience so much that we decided to look for other trips closer to home, and finally came across ITA.

What do you like about volunteering with ITA?

ITA gives us the opportunity to explore beautiful new places and to meet interesting like-minded people. We are very happy to have found a venue of stewardship for the Idaho lands we enjoy.

Most memorable backcountry or ITA experience?

It was late September in 2017 when Glenn and I (Michelle) decided to hike the Alice-Toxaway Loop in the Sawtooth Wilderness. Glenn had completed the loop earlier in July to let some friends of his parents from North Carolina know whether he thought they could complete the loop or not. They had heard a lot about the loop and wanted to hike it but hadn’t backpacked much. Glenn ensured them that they could do it, so they completed the loop in mid-September. After they returned home, they went on and on about how beautiful it was. So, I told Glenn that I had to go. I couldn’t just let someone from North Carolina rave about a place in Idaho that I’d never been.

Again, it was late September when we started our hike. We got up to Alice Lake and started running into snow. This was somewhat of a surprise, as his parent’s friends had just been there the week before and they didn’t mention any snow. And, I had always told Glenn, I don’t like to be cold, so don’t take me winter camping. But, Glenn didn’t want to turn around, he wanted to keep going on to camp at Twin Lakes. I reluctantly continued, cussing him all the way as we were post-holing in knee deep snow with no visible trail in sight. I was not happy!

After a lot more cussing, we made it to Twin Lakes and set up our tent in the snow. That night I kept thinking I would be miserable, but surprisingly I slept warm and comfortable. The next morning it was cold, but the sun was shining and it was incredibly beautiful. Glenn captured a reflection of the mountains on the crystal clear lake and I was in awe. Overnight my mood about winter camping had suddenly changed, and I was ready to continue our hike to Toxaway Lake. With no tracks to follow in the snow, Glenn managed to remember how to get up to the pass. The view of the lakes from the top of the pass was absolutely breathtaking. The snow added an extra layer of beauty to the already stunning jagged peaks of the Sawtooths. Never had I seen such a beautiful sight. With more amazing views along the way, we camped at Toxaway Lake that night and hiked out the next day.

The Alice-Toxaway Loop is one of the most beautiful trails we have ever hiked. So in 2019, we were excited to volunteer for our first ITA trip at Alice Lake. We enjoyed it so much that we volunteered again with ITA at Toxaway Lake in 2020 and 2021. In August of 2023, we will be returning to the area as ITA crew leaders to work with the Forest Service in replacing puncheons.

Why are trails worth protecting?

Connecting with nature greatly benefits people’s health and happiness. And, trails are key to connecting people with nature. Trails offer a place to learn about nature, a place for exercise, and a place to help reduce stress. Just a few moments enjoying the sights, sounds, and feelings of nature is very satisfying. And, everyone should have the opportunity to experience nature. People who get out in nature tend to care about the earth, and they often develop desire to support conservation efforts. A favorite quote of ours is “A man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. Soon a lack of respect for all living things becomes evident” – Luther Standing Bear. This is why trails are so important and why we support ITA’s mission to keep Idaho trails open for all.