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What an incredible week! We've been soaking up the last of summertime hiking as your weekend trip reports roll in. The eight trip reports below are just a small sample of your adventures, so grab a coffee and find out how your fellow hikers sent off the last official week of summer.
"I found carpets of blueberries under crisp views of Mt Baker. Upon entering the North Cascades National Park, a dry rocky trail led steely up towards a saddle. Many butterflies and grasshoppers were afoot..."
Golden Horn - Snowy Lakes - stars and fall color on the PCT
"My dad and I went in on the 15th of September. Beautiful views all the way up to out first campsite ... It was a clear night and the stars were out, and beautiful..."
"I awoke this morning to perfectly clear skies. The dawn and the sunrise were magnificent. During my descent, the fall colors and ptarmigans in the meadows provided a beautiful exit from a thrilling destination."
Mount David - climbing from summer into fall
"We passed below the big pika filled talus field and switchbacked up the other side. The leaf color improved. Some of the best color of the day was here..."
Steamboat Rock - wildflowers, reptiles and sunshine
"I was also lucky enough to spot the tail end of a western skink! I had no idea we had such colorful reptiles in this state..."
Burroughs Mountain - big views and little bears
"This is a great hike to take in spectacular views of Mt. Rainier all the way from the beginning to the end of the trail ..."
Mount Pugh - 5,000 feet of gain in 5 miles
"This is a great time of year to take on Mt.Pugh. It is a tough nut to crack though, over 5000' elevation in around 5 miles. The upper portions are decidedly more a scramblers terrain ..."
Killen Meadows - Adams Creek Meadows, High Camp
"First time hiking in this area of Mt Adams and we timed the weather perfectly - great weather, amazing sunset, and ZERO bugs ..."
When you hold an event and have literally every level of government represented—city, county, state legislature, governor’s office, state Department of Transportation, congressional delegation—you know you’re doing something right.
When private donors are willing to put up hundreds of thousands of dollars for a trail, you know you’re doing something right.
When over 50 people give up a sunny Saturday afternoon in early fall to come to an event that involves people giving speeches, you know you’re doing something right.
That “something” is the Whitehorse Trail in Snohomish County. As the Everett Herald headline read, “Restoration of Whitehorse Trail well on its way.”Click to view slideshow.
Branching off from the Centennial Trail, the Whitehorse Trail runs through the heart of Oso to Darrington through quiet, beautiful forested glades along the Stillaguamish River (great fishing!) with scenic views of the North Cascades including Whitehorse Mountain, Mount Higgins, Prairie Mountain, and more.
Wildlife, birds, and wildflowers abound. Largely undeveloped with large sections of original rail ballast, it draws hikers, equestrians, and people on mountain bikes. Repairing sections and improving the trail surface would expand its potential to include those touring on road bikes, bringing more tourist business to the towns that need it most.
When the dreadful mudslide wiped out portions of Highway 530 around Oso six short months ago, Washington Bikes had just received a grant to promote bike travel in Snohomish County. It was immediately obvious that in addition to identifying and promoting great bike touring opportunities, as we’ve done in our Snohomish County Bikes series, Washington Bikes needed to work with community leaders to find short- and long-term opportunities to grow local economies.
Tourism represents the third largest sector of the Snohomish County economy, and local elected officials were eager to communicate that Snohomish County travel is open for business and welcoming visitors. Through Washington Bikes policy connections and long hours of work with great partners who welcomed our help we’ve made bike tourism part of their economic recovery strategy, and it’s paying off.
Recovery efforts have resulted in rapid clean-up of the trail as Highway 530 has been relocated and is being rebuilt. A federal grant put 80+ people to work through Workforce Development, giving people jobs after long-term unemployment or job displacement. They live in the immediate area and get to enjoy the fruits of their labors with long walks on the Whitehorse Trail through the quiet woods.
At the event to celebrate progress and look ahead at future potential, Snohomish County Parks and Recreation director Tom Teigen said enthusiastically, “The partnership we’ve put together is really incredible—local, state, federal, private donations have all come together to get us to this point. And we’re here today thanks to Washington Bikes helping us connect the dots to be poised for even more progress on the trail.”
An anonymous couple has donated over $300,000 to the effort, enabling Snohomish County to repair and reinforce numerous bridges along the trail to prepare them for future decking and surfacing. With this donation, investments by Snohomish County Parks, and federal disaster relief funds for clean-up and repair as matches, the project is being submitted for possible state funding from the WSDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Grant Program in the upcoming legislative session.
The long-term vision that has inspired so many partners: A completed Whitehorse Trail connected to the existing Centennial Trail in Snohomish County, ultimately connecting to the growing regional trail network across Snohomish and King Counties.
This network includes the East Lake Sammamish Trail, Sammamish River Trail, Burke-Gilman Trail, and future Eastside Rail Corridor Trail, now getting under way with the planning of the Cross Kirkland Corridor, along with other, shorter trails and on-street connections. Just think of the total trail mileage!
Total: 126.8+ miles of trails connecting to and through Snohomish County — and growing
Snohomish County bicycling offers miles and miles of separated pathways through gorgeous scenery, small towns eager to stuff you full of pastries and locally brewed or distilled beverages, farms inviting you to pick fresh produce, antique stores, art galleries, local museums, and more. Imagine the power of providing an easy bike route from the major population center around greater Seattle to all this—wallets on wheels will roll into town ready to refuel with calories.
That’s the vision that had everyone so excited at Saturday’s Whitehorse Trail event. That’s the power of partnership, and Washington Bikes is proud to help bring this project to fruition.
The post The Whitehorse Trail: Partners, Progress, and Potential appeared first on Washington Bikes.
Autumn is an amazing time to get into Washington's mountains. The backcountry is bursting with fall color, crowds have thinned to a trickle, and the bugs are all but gone.
But like any type of sport, hiking carries certain risks, and your safety is best ensured with preparation and caution. Shorter days, colder nights and quickly-changing weather can make even a simple day hike more risky than your average summer excursion.
When hiking in the fall, pack some extra caution into your backpack and learn to step carefully.Pack extra caution in your backpack
Carefully choose your hike destination, and take the time to check trail conditions and weather forecasts before you head out. Let someone know where you will be and when you plan to return. Bring warm clothes, and be prepared for any weather. And pack the backcountry essentials that could save your life should you get lost or injured.
Here are some tips for safe backcountry hiking in autumn:
It sounds simple and easy. Hiking is basically walking, putting one foot in front of the other. But as summer rolls into fall, and rain starts to make trails more slippery, remember that the ground isn't flat, and a heavy pack can throw off your balance. Some trails pass right by steep cliffs. Snow may be slippery. Loose rocks on trail tread may shift unexpectedly.
You can't control the environment, but there are ways to become more sure-footed when you hike.
Each one of us is ultimately responsible for our own safety in the backcountry. On this long holiday weekend, choose hikes that feel safe to you and be step carefully out there.
Since it launched last year, WTA's Outdoor Leadership Training program has facilitated more than 900 outdoor experiences for youth.
How? By empowering teachers and youth leaders with the skills and resources they need to lead safe, fun outdoor experiences. Adult trip leaders can sign up for skills building workshops, borrow free gear, and apply for a mini-grant to help with transportation costs.Join WTA for a sneak peek of Outdoor Leadership Training program's new gear library
A lack of gear should never be a barrier for a classroom or youth group getting outside on a nature walk, camping adventure or snowshoe trip. That's why WTA is stocking a gear library, where educators can borrow free gear their students need to get outside safely.
You're invited to learn more about the program and check out the gear library on Sept. 23:
We will gather in the Community Room and offer guided tours of the gear library throughout the event. WTA will provide light hors d'oeuvres and drinks. RSVP for the OLT open house now. When: Tuesday, Sept. 23 from 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Where: Mt. Baker Lofts - Community Room, 2923 Rainier Ave S, Seattle 98144 Accessible by public transportation: Mount Baker Light Rail Station King County Metro Routes: 7,8,9,14,48 Please RSVP by Sept 22.Upcoming workshop on Sat, Oct. 4 for educators and youth leaders
If you want to connect your students with an outdoor education experience this year and gain access to the gear lending library, our upcoming hiking workshop is the best place to start. It's a 6-hour entry-level course focused on leading a safe, successful hike with a youth group.
Location: Tradition Plateau Trails from the High Point Way Trailhead, Issaquah, WATime: 9:30am - 3:30pm
John Pope, WA Bikes board member and volunteer USBRS route coordinator, has put foot to pedal and is riding the newly designated USBR 10. His wife Michele is providing vehicle support and chronicling their cross-state adventure.
We pulled out of Okanogan with a long day ahead of us. The secondary route outside of Omak was beautiful but could use a sign! We traveled many miles along the Okanogan River through scrubland until we arrived in Riverside where we visited the Detros Western Store (jeans long enough for Michele). After outfitting ourselves in some local garb, John hopped in the saddle and pedaled toward Tonasket while I visited the local grocery/antique/curiosity shop. It had everything one could need — including a collection of pocket lint dating back to 1993.
Our next community stop was Tonasket where we dropped by the Visitor’s Information Center and had the pleasure of visiting with Linda Black. Linda is a whirlwind of energy and great ideas. She has developed a bike campground behind the visitor center with top end restrooms and shower. She is a huge supporter of bike tourism and USBR 10 and cyclists are invited to camp here for free. John calls her a Trail Angel.
Next came the long arduous climb away from Tonasket and the Okanogan Valley up to the Okanogan Highlands and over Wauconda Pass, elevation 4,311 feet. There is a long stretch of narrow and winding road, with little to no shoulder, and the truck traffic can feel fast and heavy. This is offset by the stark pioneer beauty of the upland prairies and a long pleasant descent to Republic.
Nestled in a valley between Wauconda and Sherman Passes, Republic is a quaint tree-lined town with history steeped in the logging and mining industries. Bike campers can pitch their tents at no cost in the city park on the west end of town. Be sure to visit Republic Brewing Company to sample handcrafted beers, ciders and sodas. And bring your own food.
Looking forward to Friday. John will be joined by ColVelo webmaster Jason Edwards and his wife for the climb over Sherman Pass. Then we roll into Colville in time for Blazing Saddles and a second USBR 10 ribbon-cutting event on Saturday. A layover day for the weary travelers!Related Reading
Congress Passes Continuing Resolution The House of Representatives and the Senate this week passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund government agencies through December 11. Because Congress failed to pass any appropriations bills before the end of fiscal year 2014, a CR was necessary to pass to avoid a government shutdown. The CR passed in […]
John Pope, WA Bikes board member and volunteer USBRS route coordinator, has put foot to pedal and is riding newly designated USBR 10. His wife Michele is providing vehicle support and chronicling the cross-state bike ride.
We spent Day Three exploring the scenic Methow Valley. We left Early Winters Campground near Mazama and John pedaled past farms and ranches to Barn Bicycle Camping. Located midway between Mazama and Winthrop on Hwy 20/USBR 10, this stay-by-donation place for bike travelers is owned by Jan and Jim Gregg. It offers a solar shower, composting toilet and free wi-fi.
John’s next stop was Winthrop and the Methow Valley Cycle & Sport to stock up on bike tires (he had two blowouts on Day Two) and to thank them for their support of USBR 10.
Then it was on to Twisp and a great lunch at Cinnamon Twisp Bakery. Located at the confluence of the Twisp and Methow Rivers, this community has been an ardent supporter of USBR 10. The Methow Valley Inn hosted one of Washington Bikes’ early outreach meetings for this project.
From there things took a literal ‘turn’ for the worse. John continued on Hwy 20/USBR 10 to climb the 4020 ft summit of Loup Loup Pass while I managed to get turned around in a detour and took the scenic road along the Methow River into Pateros. I realized the error of my ways and turned around. The drive back to Twisp suddenly seemed longer, less scenic and much more twisty! After getting help at the construction site I headed over Loup Loup Pass and on to Okanogan — arriving at the same time as John! I offered to retire as his sag wagon but he declined my offer.
So Day Three was a day of lost and founds. Lost John’s helmet mirror and found it. Lost the bike pump and found it. I lost John and found him! All’s well that ends well!
WA Bikes board member John Pope is pedaling the newly designated US Bicycle Route 10 across Washington’s northern tier. His wife Michele is providing vehicle support and she submitted this post about Day Two.
What a wild and wonderful day on USBR 10. We had a late start due to not one but two tire blowouts. Then halfway through the day John decided to switch saddles, going back to his tried and true Brooks Saddle.
The uphill sections began with the narrow roadway through the Skagit River Gorge with activated tunnel beacons and a high bridge. After Ross Dam you get a sense of uphill, but the real grind begins along Granite Creek where the road shoulder becomes rough and the fast cars feel the need to get going really, really fast. The steep climb to Rainy Pass was helped by views of the high mountains, followed by a short downhill to Bridge Creek, then a final climb to Washington Pass and its views of Liberty Bell and spires of Early Winters.
The payback after all that climbing is a 40 mph downhill with sweeping curves from Washington Pass to Early Winters Campground, where we stayed for the night. You really get the sense of fall in the air when traveling at such a speed. Leaves are starting to turn. There was a constant cascade of falling leaves along with the coolness that air takes on with the changing season.
We met some fellow travelers on our journey today. Some were eager to chat while others saw their destination on the other side of the pass and kept a steady pace. One couple that stood out were Preston and Wendy from Bellingham. They spotted John at the Diablo overlook and asked if he was the bicyclist that was biking the new USBR10! They were very enthused and excited to have run into him after reading the article in the Bellingham Herald.
What occurred to me, as the sag wagon observer, is that you will be hard pressed to find more glorious views than the passes that we went over today. It reminds me how lucky we are to live in this corner of the world. It also reminded me that riding a bike on such a journey is a testament to dedication, tenacity and loving to truly experience life.
You may wonder about the “El Sid” t-shirt that John has been wearing. Here is the back story. John’s journey over the pass today was dedicated to our brother-in-law Sid McHarg, who was a lifelong bike commuter in Seattle until he was hit by a car while returning home from work. We are happy to say that he survived the collision but many broken bones later he is no longer able to ride his bike the way he had enjoyed. A reminder to always be mindful of the humans sharing the road with us. Everyone is a story.
Day Two Stats: 57 miles ridden with nearly 5000′ of climbing.Related Reading
In an ideal world, we would have the resources to monitor changes in rivers and streams after many of our restoration projects. Monitoring helps us evaluate the river’s recovery following a major change, like the removal of a dam. Unfortunately, funding constraints often limit the extent and duration of monitoring work, leading to information ranging from volunteer-collected data to only the most preliminary information to anecdotal evidence.Background
This isn’t the case on the Patapsco River. American Rivers and our partners have invested significantly in assessing the recovery of the river following dam removal. We kicked off this effort prior to removal of the Simkins Dam in the fall of 2010 in order to characterize the rate at which sand and gravel in the dam’s former impoundment dissipated downstream and the resulting biological response from the aquatic community during and after this recovery.
Releasing stored sediments can be a viable management option at dam removal sites if they are not contaminated, and if the estimated impacts to downstream floodplain ecosystems and human uses are acceptable. The Simkins Dam removal— which impounded clean sand and gravel— represents the first time this technique was used at a site in Maryland.
Over the last four years, we have conducted seven river surveys, collecting data at roughly 28 points beginning upstream of the former impoundment and through the downstream sections of the watershed. We also have 88 photo documentation stations along the river that we return to regularly to supplement our physical data collection. An example of some of the photos taken over time at one of our stations can be seen in the slideshow below.
Downstream of the Simkins dam, pre- dam removal Downstream of the former Simkins Dam - post- dam removal - 3/9/11 Downstream of the former Simkins Dam - 9/25/11 Downstream of the former Simkins Dam - 3/21/12 Downstream of the former Simkins Dam - 11/1/12 Downstream of the former Simkins Dam - 10/28/13
In addition, we investigate responses of fish and aquatic bug (benthic macroinvertebrate) communities to the change in habitat type and increased connectivity between aquatic habitats. To monitor this aspect, we are partnering with the Maryland Biological Stream Survey to conduct yearly surveys of migratory and resident fish and aquatic bugs at locations throughout the Patapsco.Results
Upon removal of Simkins Dam, a substantial proportion of the sediment that had accumulated behind the dam washed downstream fairly rapidly. Within a period of weeks, much of that sediment settled into the Bloede Dam impoundment, decreasing its depth by as much as 1.5 meters in some places. By April 2012, most of the Simkins sediment temporarily held behind Bloede Dam was transported downstream, in part due to Tropical Storm Lee (an estimated 10-year event in September 2011). As this sand moved through the system, we witnessed a process of pools filling in and then re-scouring as the sand moved downstream. The sand didn’t remain in any one place for very long, and as you can see from the sample cross-section below, sediment deposition isn’t always uniform across the channel. As of the last survey, a thin veneer of sediment from the Simkins impoundment can be found roughly seven kilometers downstream. These results largely follow modeling predictions made before the dam’s removal.This figure shows changes in a cross-section of the river downstream of the former Simkins Dam showing (a) bed sediment texture evolution through time after removal and (b) elevation profiles for corresponding survey dates.
While the primary motivation for removing the Simkins Dam is to improve populations of migratory fish, we don’t expect much change in the abundance of migratory fish until after the downstream Bloede Dam is removed. That said, we did see shifts in aquatic bug communities as habitat changed both upstream and downstream of the former dam site. As the former Simkins impoundment reverted to its natural rock and cobble bed, we saw an increase in the percentage of mayfly, stonefly, and caddisfly larvae (good bugs). Conversely, we found increases in the occurrence of burrower aquatic bug species downstream due to their relative preference for the sandy soils that were transported following the removal of the dam.
This monitoring data will be used to help affirm our design assumptions and sediment management approach as we continue to plan the removal of Bloede Dam. Recovery of migratory fish in the Patapsco hinges on the removal of this structure, and it is exciting to be able to document these changes through a comprehensive monitoring effort.