Service in Majestic Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14298A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Help maintain a trail system for future park visitors to enjoy
  • Enjoy a natural wonderland of forests and wildflowers, glaciers and waterfalls
  • Hike, explore, or relax on your day off


  • Campsite and meals
  • Work tools and instruction


DatesSep 7–13, 2014
StaffGary Kanterman

Trip Overview

The Trip

Mount Rainier (at 14,411 feet) is the centerpiece of Mount Rainier National Park's 378 square miles of rugged terrain on the western slope of the Cascade Mountains. It is located approximately 90 miles southeast of Seattle.  At nearly three miles high, Rainier is the tallest and most significant snow-clad volcano in the contiguous United States, with one of the largest glacial systems radiating from a single peak anywhere in the world. The surrounding park is a diverse natural wonderland of dense forests, dazzling waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, tremendous snowfields, immense glaciers, and mountain lakes.

By the time Mount Rainier became the nation's fifth national park in 1899, wildlife and early settlers had created a basic system of trails, which laced the ridges and hills near the mountain. Our project will give us a chance to work on a trail in this spectacular location.

The Project

With only a small staff to maintain trails, the National Park Service has come to rely on volunteers to maintain a trail system impacted by heavy use and exposure to the elements, including heavy snow loads and freeze/thaw cycles. 

The Mount Rainier Park Agency has asked us to remain flexible as far as our project location. Currently we do not know the specific location of our work site. The trails supervisor will identify a project(s) for us when the snow has sufficiently melted off the trails, which will allow them to prioritize the sites in need of trail work.

Although we don't know our work site location, the Park Service has provided the following general description about what our project may include:

The work being performed involves bending, kneeling, lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying, walking, repetitive motion, and using hand tools such as axes, shovels, Pulaskis, picks, wheelbarrows, or hand saws. Duties could include, but are not limited to:  

  • Constructing new or maintaining existing trail tread or features (i.e. bridges, turnpikes, footlogs)

  • Opening and closing trails (i.e. cleaning water drains, removing timber, raking or shoveling debris from trail corridor)

  • Maintaining trails (i.e. removing vegetation from trail corridor, clearing brush, repairing tread of native soil, gravel, or asphalt)

Participants will be trained on the use of tools and techniques for performing this service work. Our work will not involve the use of power tools.

Our project will be accessible from a frontcountry campsite. Our daily work will involve day hiking to the work site, a full day's service work (potentially at a strenuous level), and then a return hike back to camp. The work sites can be in elevations ranging from 1,800 to 8,000 feet, in rugged terrain, with potentially inclement weather.

Participants should be fit, ready to work at high elevation, and prepared to deal with inclement weather.


Day 1: We'll gather mid-afternoon at a rendezvous point (as yet to be determined). We'll have an orientation and set up our camp for the week.

Days 2-3: We'll hike to the work site(s), perform service work, then hike back to camp (approximately 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).

Day 4: On our off day, it's your choice as to what you do, whether it's hiking, exploring, or relaxing.

Days 5-6: We'll hike to the work site(s), perform service work, then hike back to camp (approximately 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).

Day 7: After breaking down camp, we'll say our good-byes.



Accommodations and Food

As soon as our work location is determined we will provide detailed directions to the rendezvous site. Participants must arrange transportation to the site. Rental cars are available in Seattle and at Seattle-Tacoma airport. Carpooling is recommended, and the leader will provide a participant e-mail list to facilitate this process.

National Park entrance and camping fees will not be required.

We will be camping at an established frontcountry campsite with running water and pit toilets. For the safety of ourselves and the wildlife, all food and fragrant personal items (e.g. toothpaste) must be locked up at all times and not left unattended in tents. The Park Service will provide storage containers for the storage of our food. No food, cooking equipment, or anything with a strong fragrance should be kept in our tents. To allow for enough space at our campsite, we ask you to only bring a one- or two-man tent. Also, we ask you to practice Leave No Trace camping principles, which we will review in our group orientation.  

We encourage you to take the view that food is part of the adventure! Vegetarian friendly, creative, and plentiful meals will be prepared by an experienced cook. Trip participants should expect to take a turn in helping with food preparation and clean up. Our meals will be largely vegetarian, with some meat options available. Before applying for the trip, people with food allergies and/or strong food preferences should contact the cook to see if accommodations can be made. Our first meal will be dinner at the campsite on Sunday, September 7 and our last meal will be breakfast on Saturday, September 13.

Trip Difficulty

Participants will all be able to work at their own pace. Confidence in the use of tools, attention to proper body mechanics and safety will be our main concerns during the workday. Our work should be successful, satisfying, and fun. Our job sites may be at elevations up to 8,000 feet, and we will hike to/from the work sites each day. The hours hiking/working will be from approximately 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. with lunch and breaks, allowing time before dinner to wash up, explore, or relax. Participants should prepare for strenuous project work by starting a training regimen in advance of the trip. This will allow for a safer experience and maximum enjoyment of the service work experience.

Equipment and Clothing

Participants will need standard camping gear, such as a backpack, tent, a warm sleeping bag and pad, trusted raingear, a warm fleece, and sturdy boots. After sunset, it can get very cold on the mountain -- even in the summer. Work gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and eye protection (safety or sun glasses) are needed on the work project for safety. Cooking equipment and food are provided by Sierra Club. Participants need only bring personal dishes and utensils, a hard plastic container to carry their lunches in, and containers to carry at least two liters of water to the work site. A complete equipment/clothing list will be sent to registered participants.



Once our work site is established, we will send out information about the maps that would be useful to bring aong.

  • The Northwest Interpretive Association (NWIA) is a clearinghouse for books and maps of the area. Call (360) 569-2211 ext. 3320 to obtain a catalog.
  • Comprehensive Map: Trails Illustrated, Mt. Rainier National Park 


  • Crandell, Dwight, The Geologic Story of Mount Rainier. United States Geological Survey, 1973.
  • Filley, Bette, Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail. Dunamis House, 1993.



The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and encourages grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater understanding, advocacy, and participation in the goals of the Club.

On Mount Rainier's rocky slopes sit more than a cubic mile of glaciers, more than on any other single peak in the contiguous United States. For thousands of years these masses of snow and ice have served to stabilize the climate and water flow around Washington. Now they serve a new purpose as indicators of regional climate change. Since the late 1970s the glaciers have melted faster than they accumulate, and their retreat has attested to rising temperatures in the Pacific Northwest. This evidence, coupled with record melting of arctic glaciers in 2005 and the shrinking of Antarctic glaciers, points to the monumental change in the world's climate.

Compounding the rapid change in climate is the fact that ice reflects sunlight efficiently, while land and water absorb it. As glaciers and ice floes continue to melt around the world and expose land and ocean, they create a positive-feedback loop that helps to warm the Earth. These changes call for humans to ask what effects the climate may have on us and what effects we have on climate change, and what we wish to do about it.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.

While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.



Gary Kanterman has been an avid outdoor enthusiast for over 30 years. He has led and participated in all types of outdoor adventure throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. As a way to give back for all the fantastic experience he's had in the outdoors, he began leading service trips. He truly enjoys the teamwork, camaraderie, and project work involved in a service trip.


Patti Miller-Crowley is a Northwest native who has spent most of her life in Washington State. She enjoys a variety of outdoor activities and has cooked for Sierra Club service trips for over 10 years. She enjoys meeting new people and sharing her love of the outdoors with others. If you have any concerns or questions about the food that will be provided on the trip, please feel free to contact her.

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