For the past four years, we’ve run volunteer trail building camps in Georgia and Armenia. And each summer, a diverse group of passionate, hardworking, fun individuals has descended on the growing hiking hubs of the Caucasus.
They’ve worked on hundreds of kilometers of trail. They’ve learned how to swing Pulaskis, whacked through overgrown fields with machetes, and studied technical trail design components like drainage and switchbacks. They’ve built luxurious camp furniture, puzzled through elaborate riddles, laughed over campfires, and made toasts with our hosts at traditional feasts.
Our volunteers have been part of the backbone of the TCT’s progress, and they’ve become friends for life.
This year, we’re doing it again. And we’re returning to one of the most spectacular– and little-visited– parts of the Caucasus: Zeskho, in Lower Svaneti, Georgia.
And we want you to join us!
Read on for more information about where we’ll be working, what it’s like to volunteer, and volunteer dates for 2020.
Where we’ll work
This year, our volunteer base camp will be in Mestia, the largest town in Svaneti. This means lots of opportunities for cultural exploration before and after our time in the field, and an excellent jumping-off point for other travel and trekking in Georgia.
But after a day of orientation and exploring in Mestia, we’ll load up and head out on a bumpy dirt road towards Zeskho. Here we’ll find a decaying Soviet alpine camp, a small outpost of friendly Georgian border guards, and a vast wilderness area that few travelers ever see.
What we’ll be doing
We’ll spend our time in the field working on a new connection between Svaneti and Racha, the neighboring region.
We’re rerouting an overgrown, unsafe trail to create a new, sustainable trail that will allow hikers to safely and enjoyably traverse these mountains. Our daily work will involve a mix of clearing vegetation, digging out earth for the new path, shaping and sculpting the trail, and marking the trail.
It will be a critical section of the TCT, and we’re so excited to make it a reality.
What can you expect when volunteering?
Check out the following posts for more information on life at the TCT volunteer camps:
- Do you need any previous trail-building experience? Nope! Our experienced crew leaders will teach you everything you need to know.
- What does “trail-building” actually involve, anyway? Simply put, it’s the process of creating a clear, comfortable and low-impact walking path through wilderness areas. There are many steps that go into this– and you’ll likely learn all of them!
- What does a day in the life of a TCT volunteer look like? Usually: an early-morning wake-up call in a gorgeous camp site, a group stretch, a hearty day doing different types of work on the trail, lots of snacks, a variety of camp chores, and dinner around the campfire before a deep sleep… all with a lot of banter, bonding, and a healthy dose of the unexpected thrown in!
- What kind of people sign up as volunteers for the TCT? Our volunteers are a diverse group. We’ve had volunteers ranging from 18 to 74 years in age and from more than 20 countries. But they all have a few crucial things in common: they want to contribute something meaningful while traveling somewhere interesting and beautiful, they like learning new things, they like challenging themselves, and they enjoy living and working with like-minded people from around the world.
- Can I learn more about others’ past experiences volunteering? Absolutely! We put together a series of interviews with past volunteers to give you a better sense of what it’s like out on the trail– and we’re always happy to answer more questions from potential volunteers. Check out the following volunteer stories:
- Alex, the English Teacher from Denver, Colorado
- Patrick, the Finance Guy from Northern Ireland
- Simon, the Philosopher from Sheffield, England
- Paul, the Web Developer & Biker from Brighton, England
- Matt, the Helicopter Crewman from England/Australia
- Bianca, the Masters Student from Rome, Italy
- Dillon, the Serial Thru-Hiker from Colorado, USA
- Lusine, the HR Manager from Los Angeles, USA
- Addie, the Medical School Student from Colorado, USA
When are the volunteer dates for 2020?
We’re running five sessions this summer:
- July 4 – July 18
- July 18 – Aug 1
- Aug 1 – Aug 15
- Aug 15 – Aug 29
- Aug 29 – Sep 12
Where can I learn more and apply?More information and 2020 volunteer application available here!
Applications will be accepted and slots filled on a rolling basis— apply now to secure your spot on a crew this summer! The final date to apply is April 15th.
See you out on the trails!