Myron Rasmussen and Eva, his...
Myron Rasmussen and Eva, his wife, have been members for three years and drive up to Washington from Portland, Oregon, nearly every weekend.
Pacific Northwest rain is sneaky. Normal rain falls from the sky and takes a relatively direct path to the ground. The Northwestern variety takes the long way down, swirling around in search of cracks and crevices in rain gear, open boot tops and exposed helmet liners to infiltrate and drench.
On a wet winter day when a hard Puget Sound rain was busy soaking riders to the bone, Joe Heitmann was bent over in an icy stream, arms thrust into a plugged culvert. A torrent of cold water washed over his shoulders as he dug out the gravel and rock blocking the stream's passage.
"If we don't unplug this thing," he said, "the trail will wash away and we'll have more work to do."
Joe shoveled and clawed for 20 minutes until the culvert was clear and the stream flowed under rather than over the trail.
"That oughta do it," he said, rubbing his hands in satisfaction as he pulled wet gloves over wet hands and remounted his Honda 400EX. "Let's ride."
The trails in Capitol State...
The trails in Capitol State Forest wind their way across the area's abundant hills and low mountains. The high point of the area is Capitol Peak (2659 feet).
Heitmann is the trail development director for the Washington ATV Association (WAATVA), and on this particular wet January day, he was leading one of the club's many work weekends. The club spends most of the winter clearing trails, which means Joe spends most of his "days off" chainsawing downed trees, rebuilding washed-out trails and riding the wheels off of his sport quad.
The club logs the hours put in on the trails and turns them in to the Department of Natural Resources. The work is done on an all-volunteer basis, and the hours turned in provide a direct financial benefit to grants given by the DNR for trail development. Motivating an all-volunteer club to put in that kind of time is no easy business, and club president Kathy Heitmann sees keeping people enthusiastic and involved as one of her missions.
"The club motto is, 'When you say it, do it," Kathy said.
She first met the club at a poker run her husband, Joe, was participating in. Former club president Larry Minkler asked her to help draw for a poker run, which she did. He later asked her to help with preregistration for another event. While doing that, Kathy came up with a number of ideas on how to improve the club's registration system.
"After the event, Larry came over to our trailer because we have Coors Light and he likes that," Kathy said, laughing as she recalled how they met. She told him her ideas, and Minkler put her to work. Not long after that, Kathy became club president, and many of the members credit her organization, commitment and drive as a key to making the club so successful.
The club's trail maintenance is very evident when riding, as the trails are an outstanding network. The 91,650 acres of Capitol State Forest is cut into two portions, with the northern half open to ORV use and the southern half open only to nonmotorized use. The northern half has nearly a dozen loops of ATV trails ranging from 2 to 50 miles long. Most of those loops offer plenty of "outs," so riders can opt to duck out to a forest road and run back to the truck.