Gorge Caretaker: Aimee Wade

Gorge Caretaker Role: Hike Program Volunteer

"I grew up in Corvallis, OR, but my family on my dad’s side was from Yakima, WA. Ever since I can remember we have been driving through the Gorge regularly to visit family and some of my fondest memories, actually, are coming to the former Charburger in Cascade Locks which was our ritual stop on every trip to Yakima. We would watch what we called the 'Charburger Choo-Choo.' 

"Getting introduced to Friends of the Columbia Gorge around 2010 really opened my eyes to what goes into protecting this area. What it makes me think of is the 13 communities that are within this scenic area that are so important to support, so come and spend your money in these communities and help them stay afloat. Before, I used to think just about what hike I wanted to do. Now I base my hike choices partly on where in the Gorge I want to, say, eat pizza or nachos.

"We’ve experienced burns before and the landscape will heal. One wish I have going forward from the fire is that people can appreciate the changes to the landscape that they’re going to see.

I took a girl from Florida on a hike up Angel’s Rest recently and one of my friends said, 'Oh, that was really nice of you to do the same trail that you’ve done a bunch of times with somebody to show them.' But I don’t get tired of the same trails because the experience is always different. There are different seasons, different lighting; there’s sunrise and sunset, there’s fall, and my favorite -wildflower season! It's part of our pride of living here; you almost take a parental role with this place. You always take people to the Gorge. Watching their reactions, you kind of feel proud, yeah, this is what we have...we’re so lucky."

Caretakers of the Gorge is a collaboration between Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Swanson Studio, a Portland-based commercial photo studio. 

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