USA News

Washington Trails Association kicks off 20th Hike-a-Thon fundraiser

If you’re a hiker in Washington, you’ve likely consulted Washington Trails Association to research a route. The nonprofit’s popular hiking guide and trip reports at wta.org are well-trodden resources for the hiking community — and the group puts in the legwork, too, completing thousands of hours of trail-maintenance work and advocacy for hikers in Olympia. 

This month, WTA is celebrating its 20th annual Hike-a-Thon. Over the past two decades, hikers have hit the trails for HaT, as it’s affectionately known, to compete for prizes, connect with others in the outdoors community and raise money for trails in the Evergreen State.

Hike-a-Thon kicked off Aug. 1 and runs through the end of the month. You can register throughout August at wta.org, where there are leaderboards for miles hiked, elevation gained and money raised. You only have to get on the trail once in August to be an official Hike-a-Thoner. If you raise $25, you get a HaT shirt.

In honor of the anniversary, we talked to five Hike-a-Thoners — including a few fundraising families and a 13-year-old who’s already a HaT veteran — for their trail tales from over the years. We got their hike recommendations, too, of course. Here’s what they said. 

Lu Martin, 13, Tacoma

Hike-a-Thon participant since 2018

Favorite Washington hikes: Park Butte and Sahale Arm

Lu Martin was less than a year old when she went on her first hike, on Lost Lake Trail on Chuckanut Mountain. Her parents got her into Hike-a-Thon in 2018, and five years later, she’s still going strong. One of her favorite Hike-a-Thon memories: hiking to Little Mashel Falls on a hot day with her friend Chloe and using a floating log to ride around the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. How does she power through the miles? By refueling with her favorite hiking snacks — salt-and-vinegar chips, popcorn and sour candy.

Mani Dhami, 40, Covington

Hike-a-Thon participant since 2014

Favorite Washington hikes: Hoh River Trail, Chenuis Falls and Ipsut Falls

Mani Dhami took up Hike-a-Thon with her husband in 2014. Since then, they’ve added their two kids, ages 8 and almost 6, to their crew. As soon as their kids could walk, they wanted to hit the trails, too. “My daughter’s first trail was Carbon River Trail at the age of 13 months, and my son’s first trail was Naches Peak Loop at 14 months,” Dhami said. “Of course they didn’t walk the whole trail, but that’s where they took their first steps in the outdoors.” They first joined Hike-a-Thon “to show people that they, too, can incorporate the great outdoors into their lives,” but Dhami’s goals have grown with her family. Now, they aim to “teach future generations the value of nature and preservation of the great outdoors.” 

Mai Ling Slaughter, 47, Seattle

Hike-a-Thon participant since 2019

Favorite Washington hikes: Snoqualmie Tunnel on the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail and Kingfisher Natural Area at Thornton Creek

Born and raised in Washington, Mai Ling Slaughter says she was probably strapped to her dad’s back for her first hike. She has fond childhood memories of hiking in the Sunrise area at Mount Rainier and Flaming Geyser State Park, north of Enumclaw. In 2019, she learned about Hike-a-Thon and joined the cause, sporting her HaT T-shirt through Canada’s Jasper and Banff national parks. She started leading a team with co-workers, and for the past three Hike-a-Thons, her group has raised the most money for a company team. Slaughter found particular comfort in the outdoors during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Hike-a-Thon gave me an excuse to plan hikes with friends, since being outdoors was one of the only things we could do anyway,” she said. At the time, Slaughter and her friends explored local parks and trails, which “really opened my eyes even more to the beauty that surrounds us throughout Washington.”

Dave Monjay and Nicholas, 76 and 6, Seattle and Burien

Hike-a-Thon participants since 2016 and 2021, respectively 

Dave’s favorite Washington hike: Lake Dorothy

Nicholas’ favorite Washington hike: Seahurst Park

For lifelong hiker Dave Monjay, Hike-a-Thon became a priority after the birth of his granddaughter, Nicholas. I realized fairly quickly that I wanted to have a greater impact on the future of our trails if Nicholas was going to continue to enjoy them,” he said. Nicholas hiked with Monjay “almost every week since being born, first in a front pack, then in a way-too-expensive backpack, then side by side when she could walk on her own.” Nicholas became interested in joining her grandfather after seeing his unique Hike-a-Thon shirts — and the HaT mascot, Miles the Marmot. After realizing she could have her own shirt, she joined. They’re now Team Shark, and on their fifth Hike-a-Thon together, with no plans of stopping. Monjay’s advice for getting out on the trails with kids: Make the time and make it fun.

Matt Martinez, 47, Tacoma

Hike-a-Thon participant since 2016

Favorite Washington hikes: Wonderland Trail and Cispus Basin

After moving to Washington from the East Coast, Matt Martinez spent his first full summer here hitting the trails. He’s now an eight-time Hike-a-Thoner and president of the WTA board of directors. His first hike in the Pacific Northwest? The Wonderland Trail from Box Canyon to Sylvia Falls. For Martinez, Hike-a-Thoning is a double joy: Just by hiking, he’s doing something he loves while raising money for an organization he loves. He pointed to the group’s trail guide, its maintenance work and lobbying at the Washington Capitol in Olympia as reasons he’s passionate about the WTA, which he says “helps people get outside and enjoy this stunning place,” largely behind the effort of volunteers and member donations.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button