News from our member organizations

Oregonian article: Carbon limits and skeptical regulators force new scrutiny of PacifiCorp coal plant investments

News from NW Energy Coalition - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 3:01pm
The Oregon Public Utility Commission has concerns regarding PacifiCorps' continued investments in coal-fired power plants. Regulators insist that the company should consider climate regulations and explore clean energy alternatives in the next iteration of its long-term resource plan.

Washington utilities say they’re exceeding their I-937 energy efficiency targets — again

News from NW Energy Coalition - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 8:57am
Initiative 937 keeps paying off with record energy savings for customers of Washington state’s largest utilities. The 17 electric utilities covered by Washington’s Clean Energy Initiative have reported they’ve exceeded their Initiative 937 energy efficiency targets for 2012-13, collectively shattering their record savings total from the previous 2-year period (“biennium”).

When We Explore the Deep Sea, We are Exploring for Our Own Survival

News from Conservation International - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 7:48am
In 1953, on the heels of a discovery of a second coelacanth specimen in the Comoros Islands off Madagascar’s coast, J.L.B. Smith, the man who described the species, wrote in the Times of London: “We have in the past assumed that we have mastery not only of the land but of the sea… We have not. Life goes on there just as it did from the beginning. Man’s influence is as yet but a passing shadow. This discovery means that we may find other fishlike creatures, supposedly extinct still living in the sea.” Unlike the coelacanth, which was thought to have gone extinct, we have known for centuries that giant squid have existed in our oceans’ depths. But unable to observe them alive in their deep sea home, we have understood very little about how they live, where they live and how they behave. That is, until 2012, when Drs. Edith Widder, Steve O'Shea and Tsunemi Kobodera filmedthe elusive and mysterious giant in its natural deep-sea habitat for the first time — a landmark moment in ocean exploration and an example of how technology and ingenuity can overcome the monumental challenges we face in exploring the deep. But it is a drop in the vast ocean-sized bucket of amazing discoveries waiting to be found.

Bike Camping In the City – With Kids!

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!

Stopping to see a deer bedded down in someone’s yard

Homestretch: the waterfront trail between the Point Defiance marina and Owen Beach


Everyone pitched in to pitch the tent

Room with a view: Vashon Island and the Point Defiance/Talehquah ferry

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.

Beachcombing: the first sanddollar I’ve ever seen at Owen Beach



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.

Watching that ferry never gets old

Stopping to watch a raccoon

Our pack mule: Fully loaded Xtracycle EdgeRunner

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.

The post Bike Camping In the City – With Kids! appeared first on Washington Bikes.

New Climate Resilience Opportunities for River Communities

News from American Rivers - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 4:00am
Culvert Failure | Tom Maguire, MA DEP

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:

  • A National Disaster Resilience Competition, similar to the successful Rebuild by Design competition following Hurricane Sandy, will make $1 billion available for communities who experienced a Presidentially Declared Major disaster in 2011, 2012, or 2013 to create and implement plans that make them more resilient to extreme weather. This means that river communities with flooding challenges in recent years will have a chance to redesign themselves to become more resilient to future floods.
  • Establishment of a Mitigation Integration Task Force at FEMA that is charged with implementing a Mitigation Integration Pilot Program by the end of August. This pilot will attempt to break the disaster-rebuild cycle by identifying projects where mitigation can prevent future flood losses. Many river restoration projects including dam removal, culvert upgrades, floodplain reconnection, etc, improve community resilience while also providing environmental benefits. Hopefully these types of projects will be showcased as pilot projects.
  • A FEMA guidance to include climate change in State Hazard Mitigation Plans. This upcoming action has the potential to drive climate adaptation across the United States. Hazard Mitigation Plans help states identify what actions will be taken after a disaster hits and states are required to have a plan in place to be eligible for many forms of disaster assistance. Currently states are not required to consider climate change impacts like sea level rise or increased risk of flooding. By identifying ways to adapt to climate change in these plans- such as upgrading culverts, removing dams, relocating homes and businesses to higher ground- states and communities can make sure they’re ready to take action when rebuilding after the next disaster.
  • Establishment of a new Green Infrastructure Collaborative between federal agencies. EPA has been the go-to federal agency for using green infrastructure to manage stormwater, reduce urban water pollution, and reduce urban flooding. Now the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Defense and Energy have all committed to collaborate with EPA and pursue specific green infrastructure actions from technical assistance to applying green infrastructure on federal lands to integrating green infrastructure into projects and grants. Hopefully this is a major step forward to prioritizing green infrastructure for federal investments.
  • Finally, the U.S. Geologic Survey is launching the 3-D Elevation Program to improve mapping data used by federal agencies. This program will collect Lidar mapping data to help improve flood maps, water resources management, farming, and for many other uses. This launch comes the same week as FEMA’s announcement of the membership of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council which is charged with making sure Flood Insurance Rate Maps use the best available data to guide floodplain management decisions and determine flood insurance rates.

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.

UK Bread Contaminated with Pesticides

News from Beyond Pesticides - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2014) According to figures released by the British Government last week, over 60% of the county’s bread supply is tainted with pesticide residues. This is a shocking increase from numbers recorded in 2001, which found 28% of bread to be tainted. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs […]

32 groups sign letter to BPA on low-income energy efficiency

News from NW Energy Coalition - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 3:55pm
Thirty-one community action agencies, clean energy businesses, environmental advocates and other public-interest groups have joined the NW Energy Coalition in urging the Bonneville Power Administration to improve energy efficiency services to low-income families. BPA can help its customer utilities better serve their low-income populations by providing energy efficiency programs that will lower their bills and reduce shut-offs.

Farm Policy Roundup –July 18, 2014

News from American Farmland Trust - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:16pm

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 […]

The post Farm Policy Roundup –July 18, 2014 appeared first on The Farmland Report.

Biking as Downtime: Musings on Overproductivity

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.

Riding in traffic is particularly good for biking mindfulness.Click To Tweet - Powered By CoSchedule

Riding in traffic is particularly good for biking mindfulness. If you’re riding with the flow of traffic you’re constantly adjusting pedaling pace to maintain a safe distance as drivers and riders around you change speed.

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.

Biking is downtime, a precious commodity. Make some time for downtime.Click To Tweet - Powered By CoSchedule

A version of this post originally appeared on my personal bike blog, Bike Style Life.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What does riding your bike do for your mental health and ability to focus?
  • When was the last time you deliberately scheduled (yes, scheduled) downtime?


The post Biking as Downtime: Musings on Overproductivity appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Do You Want Hiking Trails in the Teanaway?

News from Washington Trails Association - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 2:45am

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:

  • What kind of hiking trails would you like to see in the Teanaway? (Example: I enjoy trails that meander along rivers and are family-friendly.)
  • When you go hiking, what kind of experience(s) do you like to have? (Examples: I want to get to the top of a peak; I like to backpack and spend the night out under the stars.)
  • Do you want multi-use trails in the Teanaway? (Examples: I don't mind hiking with horses or mountain bikers; I like using hiker-only trails.)
  • Do you want the Teanaway Community Forest to contain motorized trails? If so, would you be ok hiking on trails with motorized users such as dirt bikes?
  • If you currently use the Teanaway Community Forest, mention where you go and what you like to do there. (Example: I enjoy hiking to Cheese Rock because there are great views.)

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!

Click to download the full map from the Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Report: Chicago’s World-famous Skyline is Crunching Carbon—and Your Town Can too!

News from NRDC - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:00pm
CHICAGO (July 18, 2014) – Chicago’s unique partnership to showcase energy efficiency efforts in the city’s biggest buildings is already delivering impressive savings and offers a replicable model for other municipalities according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Federal Government OKs Seismic Exploration for Oil, Gas on the East Coast

News from NRDC - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 17, 2014) — The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a decision today that would open the East Coast — from the New Jersey/ Delaware border to Cape Canaveral, Florida — to dangerous “seismic” exploration for offshore oil and gas. This seismic testing threatens to harm already-imperiled marine mammal populations as well as important commercial fisheries throughout the region, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

EPA Proposes Limits to Protect Wild Salmon, Prevent Massive Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay

News from NRDC - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (July 18, 2014) – The Environmental Protection Agency today formally proposed limitations that would block the massive, ill-conceived Pebble Mine project, a controversial proposal to mine gold and copper at the headwaters of the pristine Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery in Alaska.

King County Employee Giving Program Receives National Award for Excellence

Internal feed - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 2:40pm

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.


read more

Website Improvements Inspired by Hikers

News from Washington Trails Association - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 1:45pm

You may have noticed a few changes on 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.)

Fields of avalanche lilies above Appleton Pass from a recent trip from Ponder and Muse. Photo by Ponder.


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:

  • Your photos display larger, and you can include a video report from YouTube or Vimeo.
  • There are more options to report on road, snow and bug conditions.
  • When you are logged in, look for the green edit button (top left above the WTA logo) to edit the text, photos or captions of your reports.
  • Advanced search: continue to search reports by trail, author, date, month or type of trip.
  • Sort trip reports: you can sort trip reports by date hiked or by the date they were filed.

Rating hikes: log in to rate your favorite hikes

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.

The invisible changes: website speed

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 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 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!

Greenway National Heritage Area Legislation Introduced in Sentate

News from Washington Trails Association - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:30pm

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:

  • Create a framework for communicating the national significance of the Greenway.
  • Build public awareness, recognition and involvement in stewardship of the Greenway.
  • Empower citizens, businesses, interest groups and government to work together more efficiently.
  • Provide a legal structure to enable governments to work together across jurisdictions.
  • Name the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust as the local coordinating entity.
Next steps

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

Mountains to Sound map, courtesy

New Wildfire Closes Trails, Highway 2

News from Washington Trails Association - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:55am

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:

  • Backpacking: WTA recommends that all backpackers refrain from making campfires until fire season has passed.
  • Car Camping: please check with a campground host before lighting a campfire, as some counties and forests are expanding their bans to campgrounds as well.

The “No Drop” Rule

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.

Me, getting dropped. At least Dave waited at the top.

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.

The post The “No Drop” Rule appeared first on Washington Bikes.