Did you know that there is a 2,650- mile trail that winds its way from Mexico to Canada along the ridgelines of the Sierras and Cascades? On the way it passes through most of the great national parks of the west, including Sequoia, King’s Canyon, Yosemite, Lassen, Crater Lake, Mt. Rainier and North Cascades, as well as state parks and national forests too numerous to list here.
I have a job and family obligations, but I can tell you if I was young & fit & didn’t have anybody counting on me for anything I would take six months or so off and hike it all!
In fact, you don’t have to do it all at once. The Southern California, Central California, Northern California, Oregon and Washington sections are each about 500 miles and you could easily do one of them a summer for five years. That might be a nicer way to go.
Too many miles? The most dramatic part of the whole Pacific Crest Trail is the approximately 220-mile section called the John Muir Trail that goes from Mt. Whitney to Yosemite. You could just hike that. There are some other trails like this that span the continent, but not all of them are completely finished yet:
Appalachian Trail (eastern states)
Continental Divide Trail (Rocky Mountains)
Ice Age Trail (Wisconsin)
North Country Trail (Great Lakes region)
Trans Canada Trail (Canada)
The California Coastal Trail isn’t finished yet, but when it is it will be 1,200 miles long and run along the entire California coast from San Diego to the Oregon border, including the Marin County coast.
PAID TRAIL WORK:
Near our school, the Point Reyes National Seashore has summer jobs for a few high school students through its Youth Conservation Corps. A number of our students have done this. http://www.nps.gov/pore/getinvolved/jobs_ycc.htm
The Youth Conservation Corps can be found nationwide, but every program is run locally. The YCC used to be much bigger. Funding for it was reduced during 1980s from a high of approximately $60 million nationwide to just a few million. Given that the YCC is nearly every young participant’s first real job, and that our nation’s parks and trails get used as heavily as ever, wouldn’t it be nice for Congress to restore funding to this valuable program at least to its 1970s levels?
The YCC is not limited to the National Park Service. There are also Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management YCC’s. Most are not residential, meaning that the participants have to live nearby. (George lived half an hour away; he and his peers got to the park by driving, carpooling, bus, and/or rides from parents.) However, there are programs at Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks that are residential; they provide housing for the summer. YCC programs can also be found at Shenandoah National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Tongass National Forest. www.nps.gov/gettinginvolved/youthprograms/ycc
In our area the Conservation Corps North Bay also has summer jobs for high school students maintaining trails through its Summer Youth Ecology Corps Program. They also have jobs and programs for young adults 18 and older. http://www.conservationcorpsnorthbay.org/
Marin County Parks and Open Space hires “Seasonal Assistants” for $14-16/hour to do grounds keeping, trail maintenance and repairs. That job and all Marin County Jobs can be viewed at www.jobaps.com/marin/.
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s LINC Program for San Francisco and Marin County high school students pays a $1000 stipend and includes a camping trip to Yosemite. You work four days per week for six weeks during the summer. http://www.parksconservancy.org/learn/youth/leadership/linc.html
The Student Conservation Association hires high school students, college students, and recent graduates of high school and college nationwide to do trail work and conservation projects on public lands. Our San Francisco Bay Area youth programs are run from offices in Oakland and Menlo Park; to be eligible for these you have to demonstrate financial need. There are also regional and national programs; and programs for young adults 18 and over. www.thesca.org