2023 Wilderness Immersion (applications closed)

Volunteer Trail Work Project

2023 Wilderness Immersion (applications closed)

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April 1st update: Applications are now closed, check back next year for more extended project opportunities!

March 21 update: We are still looking for alternates for this project in case a volunteer drops out! We are requesting that if chosen as an alternate, you attend the pre-trip meetings leading up to the project. If you are interested in being an alternate, please fill out the application and we’ll be in touch soon.

This 3-week wilderness project is a first for ITA. We’ll fly to Chamberlain Basin in the heart of the huge Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho and backpack to some of the most remote country in the lower 48 states. We’ll be resupplied by pack string during the project as we clear trails to seldom visited and beautiful places like Meadow of Doubt, Dillinger Meadows, and Hida Point. Because of the unique nature of this long project and the remote location, ask that interested volunteers to fill out an application which will be available on March 1. Crew leaders want volunteers to be successful on this project, so the crew will be meeting monthly to cover everything about this project and the ins and outs of extended backcountry living. 

Itinerary: In the months leading up to this project, volunteers will attend monthly Zoom check-in calls. On July 15th the crew will fly from McCall to Chamberlain Basin. On August 5th, the crew will fly from Chamberlain and back to McCall. For the duration of the project, volunteers will be backpacking and doing trail work, with periodic days off. Camp will be moved as needed. A packer will resupply the crew twice during the three-week trip. 

Crew Leaders: Tom Dabrowski and Pam Bond 

Application Information – Applications are due March 14th.  ITA staff and crew leads will process and inform folks by April 1st if they are selected as a candidate.  If you are not selected as a candidate, you will have the option to become an alternate. At this time, we are still taking applications for alternates.

Please read through the following checklist and make sure you can answer “yes” to each question before applying for the Wilderness Immersion Experience. These experience requirements are meant to help ensure the trip is safe and memorable for everyone! The Frank Church is both remote and rugged, and this trip is not designed to be a first-time backpacking trip. 

  • I have been on a longer self-supported backpacking trip that involved hiking at least 6 miles per day, on average, over varied terrain. 
  • I am able to organize, pack, and carry my own backpack, with all of my personal belongings and my share of group tools, for up to a week at a time. 
  • I am physically fit enough, and will be at the start of the trip,to walk up to 10 miles carrying a fully loaded backpack (up to 50 pounds), plus trail tools in hand. 
  • I am able and willing to be away from regular communication and modern conveniences for three weeks. I understand there will be no way to leave the trip early other than out of necessity because of injury or other extenuating circumstance. 
  • I am able to commit to a monthly Zoom call (April, May, June) with all crew members to discuss safety, logistics, food, gear, etc. 

If you are unsure about the proper gear or about preparing for a trip, please reach out to trails@idahotrailsassociation.org.  

Difficulty Rating  

The difficulty on the project is not so much the distance or work, but the duration of the experience! 

Experience with backpacking and being in good hiking condition with broken-in and tested gear is mandatory for this project.  This is a remote backcountry project so injuries such as sprains and blisters or even extreme fatigue from not being properly conditioned can quickly become a big safety issue. It is expected that volunteers begin training for this project upon acceptance.  

You will be asked to prepare three weeks’ worth of backcountry meals prior to leaving.  Crew leaders will help advise during the pre-trip meetings, but ultimately you are responsible for your food. This food will be shipped to Chamberlain Guard Station prior to the trip for the packer to pick up on the resupply runs on July 22nd and 29th. 

You will be spending three weeks with no access to any normal comforts, no hot showers or bathrooms, sleeping on the ground, rain or shine, etc. It will be awesome and life-changing! 

You will be out of direct contact with friends and family for three full weeks. In the case of an emergency, either at home or in the field, there is no quick way to return back to civilization. If there were an emergency, crew leaders will have satellite messengers to coordinate evacuation if necessary. 

Hike: 4/5 Strenuous
The intended loop to clear is about 30 miles, with more hiking for side hikes and back and forth for project work elevations within 6,000 to 7,000 feet. Carrying heavy packs and tools. 

Project Work: 4/5 Strenuous
Lots of trees are expected for repeated saw work. Some heavy lifting or digging. Traveling long distances.

Volunteer Spots: 8

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