Safety tip: “When going out with a group, I’ll initiate a conversation about safety before we leave the trailhead. I’ll share that I’ve got a [emergency locator beacon], who I’ve told where we’re going and what time I told them to expect us back, and what I’ve got in my first aid kit,” Karen says. “Almost always, others chime in with what they’ve got. It’s a good reminder for the group that we’re in this together and that safety comes first.”
Karen Daubert has been exploring the Bridger-Teton National Forest since 1989. Her husband Jared grew up spending summers in a cabin where the BTNF was literally just out the back door. Their home today also has the BTNF as its back yard. “We are so fortunate to be able to so easily recreate on the Bridger-Teton,” Karen says.
The founding director of the Seattle Parks Foundation and former director of the Washington Trails Association, Karen knows the importance of public parks and lands. “People can go to parks and the wilderness and find a sense of contemplation, be rejuvenated, heal, enjoy peace and quiet, and experience awe,” she says. “They can be used in so many different ways.”
She also knows the difference private support can make to public lands. “The Bridger-Teton National Forest is huge,” Karen says. (At 3.4 million acres, the BTNF is the fifth largest national forest in the Lower 48.) “I recognize what a challenge it is for the Forest Service to maintain it; having a partnership with a group like Friends of the Bridger-Teton just makes so much sense.”
During her decades of recreating on the BTNF, Karen has noticed the effects of increased usage. “I believe that, at their heart, people are good and want to do the right thing,” she says. “But they might not necessarily know what that is. Friends of the Bridger-Teton’s work to educate forest users about responsible recreation is important.”
Karen spends most of her time on the BTNF skiing, scrambling, hiking, and backpacking and enjoys seeking out solitude. “I love seeing families on the trail, but my personal passion is a wilderness experience,” she says. “Some trailheads are busy, but on the Bridger-Teton it is so easy to get away from people.”
A small piece of gear that has made a big difference to Karen: “A friend of mine gave me a Kula Cloth, a reusable antimicrobial pee cloth, and it’s wonderful. I don’t have to carry nearly as much toilet paper and worry about it blowing away anymore.”