Volunteer Profile – Laura Pfefferkorn

Volunteer Profile – Laura Pfefferkorn

Laura relaxing on the Chetco River

Name: Laura Pfefferkorn
Age: 27
Crews: Aug/Sept 2010, June 2011
Hours on the trail: 145

Before 2010, SMC volunteer Laura Pfefferkorn of Portland, OR had been on day hikes — a lot of them.

“But I had never been in a federally designated Wilderness Area,” she says. “And never for that long either. Being out there seven days blew my mind.”

The first day was hard on Laura. “Hiking in nine miles with all that stuff on my back, that was the toughest part.”

Laura Pfefferkorn and Jill Stokes at Babyfoot Lake Trailhead, 2010

She came in 2010 to “support the endeavor. And because we had been hiking so much — I wanted to give back. Now we know all the hard work that went into building and maintaining those trails.” 

She spent a week that summer brushing the Bailey Mountain Trail No. 1109 between Carter Creek and Slide Creek along the Wild & Scenic Chetco River.

In 2011, Laura came back for more. Last summer she put in another 70 hours of work on the opposite end of the Trans-Kalmiopsis Route, working from Johnson Butte toward Box Canyon Camp on Johnson Butte Trail #1110 and Chetco River Trail #1102. 

“The hardest part was dealing with the walls, to get through all those trees.” Laura says she spent most her 2011 trip crosscutting. “To watch each log break and roll off the trail — it was really satisfying work.”

That year Laura and her crew worked through many sections of trail filled in with logs killed by the 2002 Biscuit Fire, the brush that had been growing for ten years since, and the maintenance deferments forced by diminutive Wilderness budgets.

Laura and Josh Pfefferkorn watch sunset from Johnson Butte Camp

“With other trails I’ve hiked, I have memories of the top, the bottom, where I stopped and where I ate lunch. But with that trail [the Trans-Kalmiopsis Route], I have a memory of its every turn. I take so much pride in it.”

Laura was used to getting up early for work at Starbucks Coffee in Portland. But she wasn’t used to getting up early, hiking into a work site and crosscutting for hours on end.

“I realize it can sound intimidating,” she says. “But it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done, this is an experience people hunt for, and that’s why we’re going to be back. We’re in it.”

Both years Laura came with her husband, Josh. “We really feel like we’re a piece of something.”