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Christmas has arrived in our nation's capitol, having traveled all the way from Washington state. No, Santa did not relocated to the Evergreen State in search of great hiking.This year's Capitol Christmas Tree came from our very own Colville National Forest. The 88-foot tall Engelmann spruce will serve as the holiday focal point on the lawn at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The tradition of "The People's Tree," started in 1964, with the U.S. Forest Service providing a Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol Building. Every year a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide this holiday centerpiece.
This is the second time that Washington state has provided the Capitol Christmas Tree. The other time was in 2006, when a Pacific silver fir was selected from the Olympic National Forest.
If you can't make it D.C. to see this piece of Washington decked out in more than 10,000 lights, consider a trip to its originating forest instead.Spotlight on Washington's Colville, a hiking and winter wonder
The Colville National Forest, located in northeast Washington, is a unique and beautiful backcountry made up of three mountain ranges with nearly 500 miles for hiking trails begging to be explored. The forest is home to some exciting wildlife such as the grizzly and black bears, cougars, bald eagles and the last remaining herd of caribou in the United States.
It is exciting to share a small token of the majesty of the Colville with the rest of the nation. WTA has hosted Volunteer Vacations and Backcountry Response Trips in this area for the past couple years, and we can attest to its beauty.Three snowshoeing adventures in the Colville National Forest
Do you know how to spot avalanche danger when snow covers a trail? We asked the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center's avalanche meteorologist Dennis D'Amico for some tips for those of you headed into the backcountry this season. See what he has to say before you head out on your next hike or snowshoe, and consider taking one of the upcoming avalanche safety awareness classes listed below.WTA: How common are avalanches in Washington?
Dennis D'Amico: Very common; we have avalanches every winter and they can occur in the highest elevations any time of year given the right conditions. The type of avalanches differ in different snow climates.
The Cascades and Olympics have a maritime snow climate, meaning we have a deeper and warmer snowpack. This produces the greatest avalanche danger during and immediately following our intense storm cycles that come with fluctuating snow levels, periods of heavy snow and even rain at times.
This is a generalization of a maritime snowpack, and other avalanche problems do occur in our region.How can someone spot an area that might slide easily?
The main giveaway is slope angle. Slopes between 30-45 degrees are the most likely to slide. A slope angle of 38 degrees is the prime avalanche slope angle.
If you see an avalanche path that cuts through dense trees at lower elevations, that's a definite sign that the slope has produced avalanches in the past. Depending on how new the vegetation is in the path -- no trees, saplings, or young trees -- you can take an educated guess at the last time there was a major slide.If someone finds themselves in the path of an avalanche, what can they do to improve their chances of survival?
If your group hikes across an avalanche path, cross one at a time, leaving enough space that only one person is exposed to avalanche risk at a time.Upcoming safety classes
Check out some free upcoming classes below, or check NWAC's calendar of events:December 3:
If you are caught in an avalanche, try to cut away to the edge of the avalanche and dig into the bed surface. You want to let most of the avalanche pass by you; ending up in the toe of an avalanche will mean a deeper burial and a lower chance of survival.
If you can maintain an airspace during burial, your chances of survival will increase. But all of this advice is incredibly tough to implement if you are caught in a serious avalanche.Where are the most severe avalanches in Washington?
That's a difficult question -- avalanches occur over a wide range of elevations throughout the mountains in Washington. Small avalanches can still kill people depending on the terrain. Some of the largest avalanches can occur high on the volcanoes in glaciated terrain.Do you have any basic safety tips for hikers in avalanche terrain during winter?
Yes! Have the right gear: Avalanche Transceiver (beacon), shovel, probe and consider the new avalanche airbag packs.
Check the avalanche and mountain weather forecast from the Northwest Avalanche Center before heading out. Take time to check out the website and understand our new avalanche forecasts.
Take a free avalanche class. Some free upcoming classes are listed above, or check our calendar of events).
Finally -- be aware of your surroundings and remember a forecast is only the first step to being safe in avalanche terrain. Once you step into the backcountry, you are your own avalanche forecaster.More winter skills resources
Think back on the year. What are your favorite trail memories?
That dip in an alpine lake? Waking up at 3 am to catch the Perseid meteor shower from the foot of Mount Rainier before driving into work? Seeing your child take their first steps on a trail? Picking up a Pulaski for the first time on a trail work crew?Step 2. Donate before midnight on Tuesday to double your impact
If you made a favorite memory on a Washington trail this year, then consider giving back on #GivingTuesday. A generous group of our members will match all gifts up to $5,000 made on Dec. 3 until midnight -- doubling your impact.
When you double your impact with a gift to WTA on Giving Tuesday, you're telling the world how much the outdoors mean to you, how much you care about trails. It takes an incredible community to build and keep the kind of trails we have here in Washington, and you are part of that.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the days for snagging gifts for friends and family. Become part of this national day of giving, and make Tuesday the day you give a gift to the trails you love.
Once you've made your gift to help us meet our $5,000 match, tell everyone how much you love trails. Spread the word, tag us in a #givingtuesday post on Twitter or Facebook, or post an #unselfie (a photo of yourself telling everyone why you give to trails).
What will your gift do?
The North Cascades Highway (SR 20) is closed due to avalanche danger caused by two feet of snow that fell in the North Cascades over the weekend. The road is closed between the Silver Star Gate at milepost 134 and Diablo Gate at milepost 17.
More snow is expected, and the Washington State Department of Transportation is waiting until Tuesday, Dec. 3 to see if the highway can reopen, or if additional fresh snow will mean the seasonal closure of this northernmost cross-Cascades route.Update Dec. 3, 2013: After more snow, WSDOT officially closed the road for the season.A way to travel the North Cascades Highway all winter long
You don't have to wait until next spring to see breathtaking views all along the scenic route.
Jack McLeod, a science teacher at Cascade High School in Everett, has written a beautiful book, The North Cascades Highway: A Roadside Guide to America's Alps. Featuring gorgeous photos of the scenic route, the book includes a healthy smattering of roadside geology and history, as well as a helpful key for drivers to locate ideal photo opportunities.Know before you go (back)
A book described by the author as "ideal for someone with ADD," the North Cascades Highway offers information on a new subject on every page, making it the perfect introduction to the area for amateur geologists, historians, and naturalists.
It's got a little bit of information for everyone, and reading it provides fascinating insight into the area's tumultuous formation from a seabed to peaks soaring thousands of feet in the air.Identify peaks on your next road trip
Travelers will recognize the vistas in the book, but how many of their names do you know?
The photos are marked with peak identifiers, so when the highway opens back up, be sure to bring this with you. It's a great way to quickly find out the names of those imposing spires and crags that loom above the highway.
Can't find the view you're looking for? The key below appears on each page of the book that features a panorama. The star and mileage number indicate where along the route the view can be found. The P indicates whether or not there is safe parking, and the car graphic tells view seekers which way to look for a stellar photo.A great gift for mountain-lovers
We featured the book (among others) in WTA's 2013 gift guide. It's the perfect gift for anyone who has whizzed past these sights, wishing to learn a little more about the area. Pick it up for a friend, an acquaintance, maybe even yourself! Don't worry, we won't tell if you decide to keep it once you've seen it.Mountain pass updates all winter
So when will the highway open? That's up to Mother Nature. But in the past, Cayuse & Chinook passes usually open for the season in May, and the North Cascades Highway generally is plowed out by late April. You can see the historical dates here.
You can also follow the conditions on all major mountain passes throughout the winter at the Department of Washington's Department of Transportation website or Twitter feed.
The holiday season is rife with traditions, from annual Thanksgiving feasts to family gift-giving to New Year's resolutions. In my family, it's also a time to plan the next year of outdoor adventures -- and to take a few as well. I find that having annual trips and traditions helps motivate my family (and me) to turn off the screens, get out of the house and make memories outdoors.
We recently asked WTA's Facebook community what outdoor traditions they have, and combined with my own experience, we have created this primer for traditions you can start right now.Post-holiday adventures
According to annual tradition, Facebooker John S climbed Mount Teneriffe today and Gwen T took her "Post Turkey Day Trot" at Wallace Falls, something both do every year. What better way to work off a feast than to take a hike the day after a major holiday. While the malls are filled with shoppers, the trails have a fraction of the people they do in the summer.
It may not be Black Friday any longer, but it's still the holiday season. Get some fresh air, work off the turkey and pie and choose a trail that you want to visit each year at the same time.Where will you be on New Year's Eve?
Last year, my family started a new tradition. We took a short vacation to Ocean Shores for New Year's. With school vacation entering its second week, we were ready to get out of town and do something new. We were fortunate to find sun at the coast and enjoyed a hike at Copalis River Spit, snowy owls at Damon Point and a side trip to the rainy Quinault rainforest where we lunched at the iconic lodge on New Year's Eve. It was the best New Year's I've had in years, and my son is still talking about the owls and the wind he braved to see them.Plan a milestone hike for yourself or with someone special
During the spring of my son's fifth year, I took him on a long weekend to Central Washington. We hiked coulees, caves and to the wild horses high above I-90. We also went paddle boating and caught his first fish. The time spent together was magical and memorable, and I'd like to believe helped to instill a love of the outdoors in him. This year my daughter turns five, and I'm planning her mother-daughter trip for this spring. I can't wait until May, and she's already talking about it.
No kids? A milestone tradition need not be just for small children. Several of my colleagues take every birthday off from work to go hiking. Or you could celebrate an anniversary or a special event like a graduation or a new job by taking an outdoor vacation.Making a tradition out of camping and backpacking trips
For the past eight summers our family has taken a camping trip. From the North Cascades to Mount Adams, we have met up with friends and relatives to enjoy the beauty of Washington. Now the kids have come to expect a camping trip in July or August -- and the hikes that go with it. And since camping has gone so well, we added backpacking to the mix the summer my daughter was three. My husband and I sported comically large backpacks on our trek to Shi Shi Beach, but it hooked the kids. No one even blinked this past summer when I announced our backpacking destination - which was longer and required them to carry more of the load.
When we asked the Facebook community about their traditions, several mentioned annual backpacks and hikes. Stephanie T hikes up Kelly Butte each summer to honor her great grandfather who helped supply the lookout there in the 1930s. Paul W has taken an annual August backpacking trip to the Pasayten or Sawtooth areas each year for the past decade. And Paul B heads to the Olympic Coast each winter to enjoy solitude not possible during the summer.It's not too late to start
What if you don't take an annual Mother's Day hike or go camping the same weekend every summer? It's okay! Start a new tradition this year. Spend New Year's Eve cross country skiing in the Methow or snowshoeing at Mount Rainier (tip: there is still availability for lodging). Gather some friends and plan your first annual camping trip this summer (tip: Washington State Parks starts taking reservations nine months out, so now is the time to snag a spot in popular campgrounds). Or plan your post-Christmas hike to a park nearby (tip: it doesn't have to be fancy or difficult; just fun). It's never too late to begin an annual thing. Simply pull out some maps, grab a calendar and start planning! Then come back after your trip and tell us about it in a Trip Report.
This time of year we reflect on the things that make us feel gratitude. I’m so grateful that for over two decades—nearly three—people all over Washington have supported our work on behalf of bicycling through dues, donations, and Share the Road license plate purchases. As a result more kids are riding bikes, more streets have bike facilities, and more towns promote bicycling to improve health and quality of life for everyone while supporting Main-Street jobs.
American stories about Thanksgiving reflect on history as well. In our earliest days we were the Northwest Bicycle Federation (NOW Bike), the Bicycle Federation of Washington joined us, then we became the Bicycle Alliance.
Our programs have changed over the years along with our name, but our mission of growing bicycling statewide has never wavered. Our work has always had the same vision: A future in which more and more of Washington bikes.
And now Washington Bikes is our name as well as our goal. Advocacy organizations like ours around the country are choosing new names that tell you their reason for being as they outgrow names that simply label an organizational structure. We’re making that same strong declaration of identity for the entire state of Washington.Washington Bikes: The Jersey
Our new name just happens to look fantastic on the front of the Castelli jerseys we now offer for purchase online. Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases.
Non-members can join now to get the discount and pay their tax-deductible dues (with a special holiday rate) via the jersey order form, so send this page to your friends who appreciate what bicycling does for them, for your town, and for all of Washington.
Made in Spokane, the women’s and men’s jerseys are available in either short-sleeve or long-sleeve versions. All proceeds benefit our work in advocacy, education, and community engagement around the state, and you’ll be telling the world that Washington Bikes every time you wear yours.Shopping for a Cause: AmazonSmile
One more way you can support our work with a click or two—if you’re shopping online with Amazon go to AmazonSmile. Enter Bicycle Alliance of Washington in the box labeled “pick your own charitable organization” (we’re working on our name change there), then click Select next to that name on the list.
That’s it! Now Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to us. Nothing changes about your online shopping except the site you start from. Remember to start from smile.amazon.com every time instead of amazon.com so you’re doing good when you shop.
Once you’ve identified us as your charity of choice that information stays in your account unless you change it in your account settings, which you can do at any time.
For more information and news about bike happenings all around Washington, visit WAbikes.org, follow us on Twitter at @WAbikes, check out our Pinterest board, and YouTube channel, and follow our Facebook page.
Happy pedaling and happy Thanksgiving!
The post We’re Thankful that Washington Bikes—And Our Jersey Says So Too appeared first on Washington Bikes.
Around every corner of a winter hike is the opportunity to see Washington from a new perspective. Snowshoeing or cross country skiing are great ways to introduce little ones to the fun and beauty of winter. Even if you don't have snowshoes or skis, there are plenty of options that remain snow-free year round, so you can get out without having to save up.
But winter is cold! Ensure that your trip isn't cut short because of chilly toes or freezing fingers by reading our tips and tricks to enhance your winter hiking experience.What to wear
Layers are your friend. Bundle up at the beginning to insulate cold muscles and extremities, and as you warm up, shed that big overcoat, keeping a mid- and baselayer on to fend off breezes or errant snowballs.
Thank you for all that you helped us accomplish this year, and for fighting for a future where our trails and outdoor adventures will always matter.
From their first work parties to their fiftieth, see why volunteers keep turning out to protect Washington's trails, year-after-year.
When you filed a trip report this year, you did more than just keep each other safe and informed. You contributed to a community of people who know, first-hand, how precious and important our trails are. Below are just a few examples of trip reporters giving back to Washington's hiking community:
Your passion for Washington's wild places is why no other state in the country has a community like ours. In this season of gratitude, please accept the thanks of the whole crew here at WTA. Thank you for your support, for giving back, and for helping us improve wta.org.
Most of us know the story of the Pilgrims landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Like many children growing up in Massachusetts, I visited Plimoth Plantation with my elementary school.
But on those trips to Plymouth, we never stopped at Town Brook, which played a role in the Pilgrim’s choice of landing, nor did we learn about the importance of river herring to the Pilgrims and to the Native Americans for generations before that.
Given the work I do, today when I think of Plymouth, I think of Town Brook and river herring. And what better time of year to celebrate the restoration of the fresh water source for the Pilgrims than November.
I was lucky last week to join with local, state and federal partners to celebrate the removal of the Off-Billington Street Dam on Town Brook. The dam is the third dam to be removed on the brook, which until 10 years ago, had 6 dams on it. The Town of Plymouth is also completing design plans for the next dam, Plymco Dam, which is the most upstream dam on the brook. Partners hope to remove the Plymco Dam next year. What a great way to experience “living history” by seeing the continued restoration of river herring to Town Brook.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving. And if you are ever in Plymouth, be sure to make time to walk the 1.5 mile path along Town Brook and see the restored river, just steps from Plymouth Rock.