HIKING -- Today is the first day of the annual late-summer closure of several roads leading to prime recreation areas in the Sullivan Lake Ranger District of the Colville National Forest.
The closures were instituted in the 1980s to reduce human disturbance in prime grizzly bear habitat and berry areas when they are most attractive to bears, acccording to Mike Borysewicz, Forest Service wildlife biologist.
The gates were locked yesterday on two notable roads leading to trailheads:
- Johns Creek Road 500 off the 2200 Road just east of Sullivan Lake Campgrounds. It provide's access to the Trail 540 trailhead for the shortest hike (2.5 miles one way) to Hall Mountain, which looms over Sullivan Lake. Ironically, because of the late spring weather and snowpack, the road is closing before that area's huckleberry crop is ripe.
- Bear Pasture Road 200 off the 2212 Road near northwest of Gypsy Meadows. It runs to the border of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness, offering the easiest foot access to Gypsy Peak (elev. 7,309 ft.), the highest mountain in Eastern Washington. The route is about 4 miles one way using the alpine-bound Trail 515 and off-trail scrambling. But you'll have to wait until next year.
I drove up both of these roads and hiked the trails last week to beat the closures. The areas area spectacular.
The huckleberries were green but the mosquitoes were at their peak.
I met Rick Moore, who was surveying dragonflies for the Forest Service. He said the mosquitoes were viscious at Watch Lake, but around the ridge, where violet-green swallows were swarming like bees -- the mosquitoes were barely noticeable. A coincidence? Hmmm.
If you want to hear the buzz for yourself now that Road 200 is gated, you'll have to hike all of Crowell Ridge from the Sullivan Lake Lookout more than 8 miles one way to Gypsy Peak.