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Tiger Mountain trail maintenance a labor, passion | For the Love of the Game

Sally Davies and Ed Vervoot stand near a fallen tree that was cut back to clear the trail.  - Josh Suman, Bellevue Reporter
Sally Davies and Ed Vervoot stand near a fallen tree that was cut back to clear the trail.
— image credit: Josh Suman, Bellevue Reporter

On a warm, early June morning, Tiger Mountain is buzzing.

Most of the dozens of hikers take to the trails with backpacks, walking sticks or leashed dogs in tow. Only Ed Vervoot and Sally Davies head out packing a chainsaw.

As others use the miles of trail that cover Tiger as an escape from the din of city life, Vervoot and Davies have a far more pragmatic goal in mind: clear the trail.

Vervoot has been at it for 12 years while Davies is the veteran. She has some 30 years of formal and informal trail maintenance experience because as she put it, "Somebody has got to do it."

Both are on the board of directors for the Issaquah Alps Trail Club, which used to run regular work parties in the area. When those ended a year ago, Vervoot and Davies couldn't just sit idly by. They remove brush that encroaches on the paths, replace worn tread and even clear fallen trees, hence the chainsaw.

"We cleared 28 trees in one day during the winter," Davies said. "Later that week, we got 22 more just off one trail."

Both retirees, Vervoot and Davies said they each spend around 100 days per year working on the trails of Tiger Mountain. Davies has also worked with groups like Women in the Woods, a project through Mountains-to-Sound Greenway that encourages women to become involved in trail advocacy through specially designed projects.

The Greenway, Washington Trails Association and Department of Natural Resources also have either paid staff or volunteers on the trails throughout the year. But with far more wilderness than man hours and without chainsaws, there is still an overflow of work.

Hiking has been much more than a recreational outlet for Davies, it has quite literally kept her upright. When her physician suggested knee replacement surgery, Davies balked after hearing horror stories from friends who were younger than her and had become invalids after the procedure.

"I told them I would do the surgery if they could promise I would be able to run again," Davies said. "They couldn't promise, so I decided not to have the surgery."

What she did instead was dedicate herself to reclaiming the joint one mile at a time by walking the hills in her Bellevue neighborhood and of course, getting on the trails as much as her body allows. Aside from the physical benefits of staying active, Davies and Vervoot both take pride in maintaing trails so many in the area use for respite.

"I just love being out here," she said.

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