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Metro Parks Tacoma started a new program last summer that allows folks to camp overnight at a few city parks on select summer nights. We couldn’t make it last year, but this year I made sure to register early for a tent spot at Owen Beach in Point Defiance Park.
The park is only about five miles from our house, so we made this a bike camping trip: I hauled the gear on our cargobike and the girls (6 and 8) rode their own bikes.
With room for one more in the tent, we decided to bring a friend along (8). He rode his own bike, too.
The evening of our campout turned out to be one if the hottest we’ll see all year with temps around 90°F as I loaded up the EdgeRunner. Our saving grace was a small spray bottle hanging from my handlebars so I could mist the kids with water as we pedaled.
About halfway to the park, I decided to make an impromptu stop at the Sherman Elementary pocket library where my oldest crashed hard into a curb and pinch flatted. Doh!
Luckily the EdgeRunner has a 20″ rear wheel, because I hadn’t thought to pack any extra tubes for kid bikes. It only took 10 minutes to change the tube and the kids rummaged through the library cabinet to find a few books to read later. Onward!
The kids had fun playing along the beach and on the hillside bluffs rising from the shoreline. The park was busy on this hot afternoon with many day-trippers staying until the park closed at dusk to take full advantage of the complete shade along the waterfront.
We packed some treats, but Metro Parks also provided campers with a few individually packaged snacks. There were also board games to borrow. The kids were completely spent by 10pm. We missed the storyteller that presumably started after we were fast asleep, but we did get to see the supermoon rising over the Port of Tacoma.
We rose at 7am the next morning for a light breakfast provided by Metro Parks (coffee, juice, milk, fruit, oatmeal.) My oldest said she counted 16 tents.
With another scorcher in the forecast, we set off for home around 8:30am to beat the heat. The ride home is nearly all uphill to some degree and I knew my little riders were only going to get more tired as the day progressed.
We stopped at the Sherman playground to stretch our riding legs after the steepest part of the ride home. (No flats this time!) I had promised the kids a donut stop, but at this point they were already saying that it was too hot for donuts. They wanted something cold for second breakfast.
So we stopped at the grocery store and the three kids split a 6-pack of ice cream sandwiches. After nearly 10 miles of riding in the heat, these kids had earned it. To loosely quote bicycle guru Kent Peterson: Cyclists are not nutritional role models. This ridiculous pile of bottled water made an excellent make-shift picnic bench.
This short trip was a great opportunity for us to try bike camping and make some memories without ever leaving the city. All of us had a blast. My oldest said that the camping would not have been as fun if we had just driven to the park. I agree.
There are still two more opportunities for you to Campout with Metro Parks Tacoma this summer. Consider making these bike camping opportunities as well.
Matt Newport lives in Tacoma. He is an at-home parent who integrates bicycling into daily life as much as possible. This post originally appeared on his blog Tacoma Bike Ranch.
President Obama made some big announcements this week about actions the Administration is taking to help communities and states prepare for the impacts of climate change. These steps aren’t going to stop climate change or prevent all flood damages, but they are a huge step in the right direction to help communities live with their changing rivers and coasts. Rather than continue our current approach- spend billions of dollars recovering and rebuilding back the same way after catastrophic storms and floods- the Administration has identified some ways to encourage communities to proactively protect themselves from flood damage before the next flood hits.
The even better news is that many of the actions announced this week could support investments that protect and restore rivers. Many of the same infrastructure investments that improve community resilience to climate change are the same actions that can improve river health and restore habitat. Under these programs and initiatives many river communities have the opportunity to pursue projects that will provide multiple benefits to their communities. Here are some of the exciting opportunities for river communities discussed in President Obama’s climate preparedness announcement:
There’s still a lot more that can be done to shift disaster spending from recovery and rebuilding to protection before a flood, but this is a big step in the right direction. These announcements present some exciting opportunities for communities to invest in river restoration and protection that will improve their resilience to future storms and floods. We applaud the Obama Administration for taking these actions and look forward to seeing these climate adaptation steps implemented in communities across the country.
House Passes Permanent Enhanced Conservation Deduction The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4719, a tax package to encourage charitable giving. Included in the bill were provisions of H.R. 2807, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Originally sponsored by Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), H.R. 2807 would make permanent an enhanced conservation […]
Living as I do now in the land of technology, aka Seattle, I assume I’m surrounded 24/7/365 by people thinking up new ways to give me new tools to be “more productive,” all of which will involve giving some of my attention to glowing electrons.
I’ve always loved to read and even that now involves technology, which in turn requires maintenance. (All my neatly organized collections on my Kindle mysteriously vanished and had to be recreated just the other day, turning reading into work when it’s supposed to be relaxing.)
Couple all this tech stuff with my lifelong tendency to say yes to lots of things and then generate ideas to turn them into even more work and you have yourself a recipe for burnout.
Biking can be a discipline to which you bring all the compulsive over-achieving, data analysis, and tech whiz-bang possible. (I know this because I’m married to someone who trains for bike racing.)
Fortunately for me, I’ve outgrown some of the Western world’s thinking about athletic achievement thanks to a yoga practice of several years. In yoga, where you are in your practice is where you are. Force it and you’ll snap a hamstring (which makes a sound like a rifle shot, as I know from painful firsthand experience).
Settle into your practice, though, instead of striving constantly for “more” and “should” and “better” and “perfect”; bring everything you have into that moment; and you will have a deeply satisfying experience that uses every cell and fiber in your body. And you do improve so that ambition thing gets satisfied eventually.
Biking is much the same way. Like yoga, bicycling provides a wonderful practice opportunity for mindfulness meditation, as Puget Sound area biking blogger Claire Petersky has pointed out.
You’re watching pedestrian movement and looking for unpredictable pets.
You’re looking for cracks, potholes, broken glass, gravel (which gave me a nasty fall a couple of weeks ago), slippery sewer access covers, stormwater grates that have the openings running parallel to your tires so you have to avoid them….
Despite what Kevin Henderson said about ESP, I still have to look.
At the same time you’re feeling the power of your own muscles moving you forward, the breeze in your face. You’re taking in the smells, sights, and sounds of things around you and gauging the weather and its potential effects on your riding. If it rains you have to brake sooner than normal. If it’s hot you need to drink more water. Your chain is starting to make that chirping sound that indicates you need to lube it.
This may sound like a lot of input. But compare it to a workday with ringing phones, people coming into your office with questions, the email notice blooming constantly in the corner of your monitor, texting teenagers asking if they can have a friend over and bake cookies and by the way where do you keep the vanilla, a dozen or more tabs open in your browser.
I have two monitors at work plus my tablet and on some days a laptop. Think about how much real estate I have in which to create screens full of competing projects: five or six if you count my cell phone (you should) and the screen on my desk phone with its annoying little note about missed calls.
Paying attention to only one purpose — riding my bike — instead of dealing with multiple purposes and priorities is incredibly relaxing by comparison.
When I ride my bike I’m completely in the moment. At the same time I have created a space in which I cannot be distracted by electronic technology, thus improving my ability to focus. Much as it may amaze some of my online acquaintances to realize this, I do not actually tweet every five minutes.
Around 50% of all car trips in the U.S. are three miles or less. This is ridiculously short – the engine doesn’t even warm up. But on a bike that distance takes about 15 minutes, a wonderful length of time that lets you clear your head and make some space in your life.
Biking is downtime, a precious commodity in our plugged-in, wired, always-on world. Make some time for downtime.
The new Teanaway Community Forest has endless possibilities for a world-class trail system for hikers. Currently the forest does not have an official trail system to call its own. The Teanaway Community Forest Advisory Committee (WTA is a member) and the state agencies are looking for feedback regarding the future of the forest. Let the advisory committee know that hiking trails are important in the Teanaway Community Forest. Submit an online comment today. Consider these questions when providing your thoughts about trails in the forest:
With the help of an advisory committee, the departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife must develop a plan for managing the forest by next year. Make sure your voice is heard; share your thoughts on recreation in the Teanaway Community Forest today -- planning is under way!
The King County Employee Giving Program, which enables County employees to support charities through their workplace, received a national award from EarthShare. The award was presented Wednesday to County Executive Dow Constantine and Program Administrator Junelle Kroontje. William Borden, Executive Director of EarthShare Washington, represented EarthShare.
You may have noticed a few changes on wta.org in the last week—including larger photos and maps on hiking pages and new features in trip reports. The changes were directly inspired by the hiking community!
We're constantly collecting feedback from our community about how you use our website, and many of those thoughts informed the new changes, which include larger images and more options for trip reporting.Maps and facts
Over the last few years, we gotten a lot of feedback asking for clearer and larger trail data (trail length, elevation gain and permits). So, we enlarged and elevated the essential stats to the top of the page, and called out at-a-glance features (like waterfalls or established backcountry campsites) that you're likely to find along a trail.
We also created a new Map & Directions section for every hike, where you will find the trailhead location map (now much larger) and directions. This area also lists other resources to plan a safe hike: ranger station info, maps and guidebooks.Trip reports: showcasing your stunning images from Washington's trails
Your trip reports are the heart and soul of WTA, where thousands of hikers give back to trails and to each other by scouting out conditions year-round. But your trip reports do more than report conditions; they inspire all of us here at WTA and the hiking community to get out and explore new places.
Reading your trip reports has always been a pleasure, but the new design makes your stories and incredible photos really come alive. (Interested in the trip report below? Read about Ponder and Muse's backpacking trip in Olympic National Park.)
Your photos and stories inspire us, and we wanted to show them in all of their glory. Here are some of the key features of your trip reports:
What makes a 5-star hike a 5-star hike? You do!
The stars on hikes correspond to the trails you love best, but it will take a few months of you rating hikes to make them a more accurate measure of greatness. The more trails you rate, the better the ratings will be. Log in (or create a My Backpack account) to start rating your favorite trails.Hike tools: share, save or improve
Many of the features of our Hiking Guide and Trip Reports work exactly the same as they did before, but they have a new look.
Save a hike to your My Backpack account, share it with your community, or help us make improvements to the content by filling in missing trailhead coordinates, directions, map data, guidebooks, etc.
You love to be outside, and we don't want anything—including slow web pages—to get in your way.
We've made some big changes in the last month to make wta.org snappier, and as we continue to grow, we'll do everything we can to make sure we meet the demand of hikers who want to learn about and share experiences from the trail.Community resource: share your thoughts, help us find bugs and plan for the future
We've already heard from many of you about the new layout in the Hiking Guide and Trip Report pages, but we always welcome feedback about the website. We're also still working out a few kinks with the update; a huge thanks to folks who helped us spot the issues and took the time to let us know.
As a community-supported non-profit, we invest our resources carefully to make changes that will have the most impact in helping hikers explore and protect Washington's trails. Your feedback is invaluable in helping us do that.
And if you rely on wta.org to get out on trails in Washington, consider chipping in a donation of $5, $15 or $50 to help fuel (and improve) this community resource. Thank you!
On July 15th Senator Maria Cantwell and co-sponsor Senator Patty Murray introduced a bill (S.2602) in the U.S. Senate to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a national heritage area. The legislation joins Rep. Dave Reichert’s companion bill (H.R. 1785) in the U.S. House. WTA supports the Greenway’s efforts to become a national heritage area.The Mountains to Sound Greenway
Stretching from Puget Sound to Ellensburg, the Mountains to Sound Greenway is a 1.5 million-acre landscape with more than 1,600 miles of trail that has sustained generations through an abundance of natural and recreational resources.
Alpine peaks, wilderness lakes, working farms and lush forests within the Greenway are connected by roads and trails, offering local residents and visitors a place to live, work and play in communities deeply rooted to the land around them.National heritage area designation
A national heritage area is a large, lived-in area designated by Congress where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a landscape of national distinction. This designation provides a flexible strategy to encourage residents, government agencies, nonprofit groups and private partners to collaboratively plan and implement projects to preserve a landscape, without affecting private property rights. Official recognition of the Greenway would:
The Senate bill will now head to the Committee on Natural Resources for committee review and approval. In the House, the bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regular for review.Additional information
ROADS UPDATE 7.18.14, 8:00am
Highway 2 is now open between Stevens Pass and Coles Corner, allowing access to Lake Wenatchee and points west of the closure. The stretch of road through Tumwater Canyon to Leavenworth is still closed. Travelers can still access Leavenworth via Blewett Pass and Highway 97.
Puget Sound area travelers should note multiple closures on I-90. Westbound traffic through Bellevue will be restricted to one lane from 9:30 Friday evening for approximately a week. There is also still weekday construction on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass.
The Carlton Complex of fires pose a series of complications from Mazama to Twisp. The fire jumped Highway 20 near Twisp on Thursday, cutting power off to Winthrop, in addition to these communities. Highway 20 is now closed between milepost 206 and milepost 215. Hwy 153 is closed at milespost 6-21. Due to the changing fire situation, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest has closed the Middle Fork Ridge #418, Foggy Dew #417, Martin Creek #429, Eagle Lake #431 and Crater Creek #416 trails.Original Article
Hot weather, thunderstorms and wind have ignited and flamed fires on the east slope of the Cascades this week. In addition to the Mill Creek fire that has closed all access to the Entiat area, a new fire near Lake Wenatchee is prompting closures, evacuations and serious concern.Chiwaukum Creek Fire closes roads, trails and forces evacuations
The Chiwaukum Creek fire started Tuesday and has grown quickly to more than 6,630 acres. On Wednesday, transportation officials closed Highway 2 from milepost 64 at Stevens Pass all the way to milepost 99 at Leavenworth. SR 207 and the Chumstick highway are closed to all but local traffic.
The fire is burning close to the highway near Coles Corner and threatens 860 homes in the area. At this writing, it is zero percent contained and the weather on Thursday is expected to favor fire growth.Consider alternative hiking and camping plans
As this is a dynamic situation, hikers with weekend plans in the area should make alternative arrangements. Tumwater Campground is under evacuation orders. And on Wednesday, Wenatchee River Ranger District trail crews swept the Chiwaukum Creek Trail (#1571) and Trail #1584 to Lake Ethel, Lake Julius, Loch Eileen and Lake Donald for hikers. These should be considered closed until further notice.
It is unclear at this time whether people will be able to travel to Lake Wenatchee from the west side of the pass this weekend.
Those who are planning to hike in the Enchantments and Icicle Creek area may encounter smoke but no closures. Unless the closure of Highway 2 is lifted, travelers should use Highway 97 over Blewett Pass to reach Leavenworth.Other fires impacting hikers
The largest wildfire in the state, the Mills Canyon and Kelly Mountain fires, are getting contained, but trails (or roads to trails) are still closed in the Entiat Mountains, including Keystone Ridge, Lower Mad River Valley and Silver Falls and Larch Lakes.
If you are planning a trip to the Entiat, monitor the situation closely and check conditions before you leave. Also note that Highway 97A between Entiat River Road and Wenatchee remains closed.
The Carlton Complex consists of four fires in the Methow Valley which started Monday from lightning strikes. This fire is also growing quickly and is worth noting if traveling to the area.
The Lone Mountain Fire is burning in the North Cascades National Park approximately five miles northwest of Stehekin, Washington in the Boulder Creek drainage. For safety, park officials have closed the Boulder Creek Trail from Hooter Camp to War Creek Pass.
Tip: If you ever have a question about hiking in a region with an active wildfire, contact or visit a ranger station.WTA Recommends: No backcountry campfires
The hot, dry weather is also prompting campfire restrictions in many areas around the state. These restrictions are being expanded daily. To be perfectly safe:
Tom Stevens, AKA The Puget Pedaler, is a Northwest native and lives in the Tacoma area. He is an avid cyclist and rides with the Tacoma Bike Racing Team. This post was originally published on his blog, The Puget Pedaler, and you can follow his musings there.
Ah, the “no drop” rule. It’s an interesting phrase, “no drop”. I use the quotations, because every time I hear it, I see Dr. Evil doing the finger motions, “Evil”.
This “rule” as it were, is something I have heard about for group rides, but I rarely see it happen. The “no drop” rule is as follows, sort of, the group will slow down or stop and wait for struggling riders. That is to include flatting or other mechanical problems. It is to keep the group together, so no one gets lost, and gets the stronger riders to support the weaker ones. It looks good on paper, is a sound theory, but is seldom practiced to its fullest intent.
All to often, I have seen where someone will drop back, and an hour later the ride “leader” is asking where’s so&so. Then the following week, you’ll see them and ask what happened. The response is always the same: flatted, bonked, or dropped the chain. So while they were changing the flat, sucking down a couple gels, or getting the chain back on, the “no drop” group continued on, no slowing or stopping, just hammering on.
The reason this so called “rule” pisses me off to no end, is that there have been a couple occasions when I’ve stopped to help a flatted rider, and we’ve called out the flat. Nothing more frustrating than standing on the side of the road, yelling, and watching the group get further away, knowing that they ain’t stopping. And then catching up to them at the coffee stop, and explaining what happened, and hearing “Bummer, dude”.
So, beware. You could be fixing a flat by yourself, without a clue where you are, or how to get back. If you are just starting out on group rides, I suggest finding one that says the group stays together, rather than “no drop”.
Get out there, and enjoy the ride.