Originally hailing from Georgia, Dana Hendricks fell in love with long-distance trails during a camp outing on the Appalachian Trail (AT). After college, Dana spent several years hiking, and then leading, trail crews on the AT. Later, when she was looking at graduate schools, she chose Oregon for its proximity to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). During her summer breaks, she would hike long segments of the PCT. When it was time for her to look for meaningful work, she immediately sought out the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA). As luck would have it, they were then looking for a regional representative in Oregon. That was 10 years ago.
How much of the PCT have you hiked?
If I get to keep re-counting the miles I’ve hiked over and over again, I’m probably up to 1500. I’m very familiar with Oregon and Southern Washington. My favorite sections are those above treeline or in a towering, mossy forest. I love all the natural settings that make me feel small.
What do you enjoy most about your work with PCTA?
You just can’t go wrong working with trail volunteers. They are the coolest people. I also enjoy the intellectual challenges of effective land management and policy work.
How has the increase of PCT hikers affected the trail?
Previously unimpacted areas are now becoming everyone’s tentpads. Friends shouldn’t let friends put their tents right next to the trail, or right next to the water.
Where in Oregon is the PCT most in need of assistance?
We’ll be making a few short relocations near Mt. Jefferson to address erosion problems that regular maintenance can’t solve. This will give the trail a more sustainable alignment on the hillside and won’t deviate much from the existing route. We’re also in need of dedicated trail stewards in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington and Diamond Peak sections—both of which need some TLC.
What can hikers do to help support the PCT in Oregon?
Trail maintenance is fun and rewarding, and anybody who can hike can do it. Check out our volunteer projects at pcta.org. You can also become a member and help ensure that the trail is well maintained and protected for future generations.
What advice do you have for aspiring PCT hikers?
Do it. The PCT in Oregon is very approachable for beginners, but also offers pockets of rugged, remote solitude for those seeking it.
Want to pitch in and help maintain the PCT near you? Check out the list of current volunteer opportunities throughout Oregon on PCTA’s volunteer page. There’s still openings for work parties in the Columbia River Gorge, Diamond Peak Wilderness, Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, Soda Mountain Wilderness and Sky Lakes Wilderness.