Blood, sweat and trails |

Blood, sweat and trails

Jason Kelley/Sierra SunJack Schoenthaler and Amy Knoth from New York work together on a stream crossing along the Donner Rim Trail. They and 23 other Sierra Club volunteers from around the country worked for a week on the trail for the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

It’s the ultimate in sweat equity: Sierra Club volunteers from all over the country have been toiling away on a new section of the Donner Lake Rim Trail for everybody’s benefit.

The 25 volunteers came from across the United States for a variety of reasons, but they all wanted to care for the environment and enjoy the outdoors.

“Essentially we are environmental activists wanting to preserve wilderness and make it available to as many people as possible,” said Al Wittine of Iowa. “It’s to introduce people to its beauty so they will want to preserve it.”

For Barbara Fortune, who calls Vermont and New Hampshire home, the hard work is all about the future.

“I have six grand kids and would like for them to have some place to go and enjoy,” she said.

For a week, the trail crew picked, shoveled and moved rock on a stretch extending from Castle Valley, passing north of the Pacific Crest Trail and running east to Summit Lake. The Truckee Donner Land Trust’s long-term goal is to get the 23-mile trail around Mount Judah to Schallenberger Ridge, the organization’s most visible and accessible conservation achievements.

“I can’t keep up with them, they’re crazy.” Sara Taddo, land director for the land trust, said of the volunteers. “They have done three times the work we expected.”

And this wasn’t an ordinary group, either. The back-testing labor was done by folks who’ve experienced at least five decades of life.

“One of the things that enticed us to come to California was that this was a 50-and-over trip,” said Glenn Rickles of New York. “But all of us have a lot of energy and are doing a lot of work.

Many of the volunteers said they wanted to contribute to the outdoor community after all they had gotten from it.

“Its amazing how you can take things for granted until you do something like this,” said Jeanne Divine of Arizona.

Rickles said that as a Sierra Club member he’s been “worried about the environment and we enjoy giving something back.”

Taddo said she expects to have three weeks of work on the trail with the American Hiking Society, as well as other groups, but also hopes that locals will come out to lend a hand on public trail building days. For more information contact Sara Taddo at (530)582-4711, or by e-mail at

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