Latest from The Spokesman-Review
TRAILS — A packed house showed up last night at the new Jefferson Elementary School for the city-sponsored meeting to unveil new plans for the $6.8 million project that will repave and remodel High Drive while changing access to the South Hill bluff trails. The meeting provided a lot of answers to concerned neighbors and perhaps raised a few more questions.
One comment from the audience caught my attention as an illustration of how wide the views range on developing a public asset such as High Drive. The comment from the man, Dave, reminds us that private property owners often take very narrow views of public interest on city right-of-way.
To paraphrase Dave:
The city should focus funding earmarked for sidewalks to poor neighborhoods where people need the walkways to get to the bus rather than waste the money on a sidewalk in an affluent neighborhood where it isn't needed.
First, Dave apparently doesn't look out the tinted windows of his vehicle as he drives to and from his South Hill home to observe all of the walkers and runners who use High Drive each day.
Second, more walkers and runners would enjoy the premier views of High Drive if they didn't have to walk in the road especially around dangerous curves.
Third, it's crazy that the city has gone this long without providing a sidewalk or path the length of High Drive, one of the finest pedestrian routes the city has to offer.
TRAILS — As today's news story points out, City of Spokane engineers are ready to present a new plan for the $6.8 million High Drive street project after public criticism of initial proposals this summer and fall sent them back to the drawing board.
The project is of major concern to the hikers, cyclists, dog walkers and runners who flock to the 25-mile trail system along the South Hill bluff. Initial proposals would have reduced access to the trails and eliminated up to 80 percent of the available parking.
The city will unveil the revised design in an open-house meeting on Thursday, Nov. 7, from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., at the new Jefferson Elementary School, 123 E. 37th Ave.
- To get involved with protecting and improving the bluff trails and the natural landscape they traverse, check into the Friends of the Bluff.
OUTDOOR GROUPS — The Spokane Mountaineers, an outdoors club that's been exploring the region's mountains, waters and trails for nearly a century, will describe their activities in the annual Meet the Mountaineers presentation, Monday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. at the Spokane REI store, 1125 N. Monroe St.
Members plan to offer a visual tour of club schools, programs and outings, including bicyling, climbing, conservation, hiking, paddling, and skiing.
TRAILS — The City of Spokane's plans to "remodel" High Drive in 2014 while updating sewer lines could change bike lanes and reduce parking options for the popular South Hill bluff trails.
Traffic flow, pedestrian walkways, and bike lanes will also be affected, according to the Friends of the Bluff.
TRAILS – Idaho state Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, hasn’t given up his plan to travel the length of Idaho this fall by muscle power to promote trails, experience rural areas and raise funds for the Redside Foundation that supports the health of Idaho guides.
But he said a leg injury has forced him to change his plan from hiking the 950-mile Idaho Centennial Trail to continuing on a bicycle.
He’d hiked 220 miles in 10 days from Upper Priest River Falls to Mullan, but a few days later on the stateline trail along the Bitterroot Mountains, the leg injury got too him.
His Facebook posts show him biking down the old Lewiston Grade and advancing to Riggins and the Mountain Time Zone.
On Wednesday, the outdoor educator and climbing guide said, “Left the bike up north, caught a ride Boise, put on a suit and am headed to interim Energy, Technology and Environment Committee meeting.
"However,” he added, vowing to finish his Idaho end-to-ender, “I am not shaving my face until I get to Nevada!”
OUTDOORS — After a summer hiatus, Inland Northwest outdoors groups are reviving monthly free programs. Among this week’s offerings are:
Bicycling programs of the Spokane Regional Transportation Council explained by Ryan Stewart, senior planner, 6:30 p.m., Monday, at Riverview Retirement Center, for Spokane Bicycle Club.
- See map and directions to Riverview Retirement Center auditorium, which is used by several groups for free monthly programs.
Given some of the discussion on turning Main Ave in downtown Spokane into a two-way street, this new tool called Streetmix is perfectly timed. Consider it a practive for what you want your built environment, streetscapes, and elements for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians to look like.
Developed at a hackathon by a group of Code for America fellows - Lou Huang, Ezra Spier, Marcin Wichary, Katie Lewis and Ans Bradford - it's hard to put down.
BICYCLING — Time's running out to register for Spokane's premier bicycling event.
Choose from four rides ranging from a fun-filled loop in Riverfront Park for kids to 9, 21 and 47 milers through Riverside State Park.
- SpokeFair will have live music, food, vendors and interactive booths!
- Mountain Gear will be giving away prizes at SpokeFair including sunglasses, day packs, jackets for men and women and more…
- Spokey, the SpokeFest mascot will be greeting kids and families.
- Kids riding the Park Loop will be entered in a drawing for a free bike.
OUTDOORS — Spokane is featured in Outside magazine's 2013 list of 18 Best Towns for outdoors enthusiasts.
Park City, Utah, was ranked No. 1 by a feature in the September issue.
I'm proud Spokane is in the spotlight. I know that even a lot of folks who live in this area don't realize what we have in terms of four-season recreation for a wide, wide range of interests.
Other great outdoor towns on Outside's list range from Honolulu to Boston, with niches like Bozeman, Mont., and Minneapolis, sprinkled in between.
While I agree with the distinction, Outside's writeup on Spokane is vague, lacking and slim on details regarding why this region is such a great place for people who love the outdoors. I'm OK with that. Discovery is part of the adventure.
Best Town stories often are low-budget deals for the magazines. This is an example of that, including a outdated photo of the Riverside State Park footbridge from a Seattle-based stock photography outfit. Geez.
We're still underrated in so many ways…. shhhhh.
I'll continue to help you count the ways as I've been doing since leaving Montana to make Spokane my home in 1977.
BICYCLING — They're pedaling from Spokane to Sun Valley in five days starting this weekend in memory of a sister who died at 17 but donated parts of her body so others may live.
Bravo to the Lebsacks for putting meaning into a bicycle tour.
BICYCLING — Hundreds of cyclists are resting their legs this week after Saturday’s Eight Lakes Leg Aches ride west of Spokane. But there’s plenty of events remaining in August, such as:
Le Tour de Koocanusa on Aug. 10 out of Libby, Tour de Lentil metric century on Aug. 17 out of Pullman, White Pine Pedal Mettle on Aug. 17 out of St. Maries, and the Conquer Schweitzer hill climb on Aug. 18.
See details on these and dozens of other rides through October in The Spokesman-Review’s 2013 Northwest Bicycling Events Expanded List.
Field reports: Badger slated for rotenone… warm weather prompts angling restrictions… Avery pub-grill destroy by fire… Junior Rifle Team open house… Kettle Crest trail reconstruction underway…Fire prompts Clark Fork River closure…Seven bighorns killed on Montana roads
SPECIAL REPORT ON WOLVES:
- Public opinion runs deep in debate over protecting wolves
- Experts study wolf skeletons for insight into behavior
- From rival to hated enemy
- Predators a powerful attraction
- Picture story: Divided we stand
WILDLIFE — The photos show the wolf that chased the Sandpoint bicyclist in the Yukon last weekend as reported in my outdoors column.
The photos (click "continue reading" below to see them all) were snapped by Pennock, Minn., resident Becky Woltjer, who was in the RV that stopped to rescue William "Mac" Hollan from the wolf that had become obsessed with his bike, nipping and tearing at his rear bike packs even after Hollan dropped the bike and took refuge in the RV.
Alberta resident Melanie Klassen helped chase the wolf away by beaning it in the head with water bottle.
The photos also show Hollan saluting the RVers after the wolf had left and he resumed his Point to Bay bicycle tour from Idaho to Prudhoe Bay with his two cycling companions.
Read on for Woltjer's Facebook account of the incident, and why she felt compelled to give a stranger from Idaho a big hug:
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — "Credit them for having bear spray," said Nancy Campbell, Environment Yukon spokeswoman in Whitehorse, referring to a Sandpoint bicycle tourist who, while separated from his companions, was chased on the Alaska Highway by a wolf.
As today's Outdoors column points out, short bursts of bear spray bought Mac Hollan time to be rescued by motorists even though the relentless wolf kept coming back to nip and rip his paniers and tent bag as they raced down the highway.
"We tell everyone to have bear spray with them and in a holster ready to use any time they go into the backcountry, which can be a few steps off your back porch in the Yukon," Campbell said.
Hollan said he and his friends had fully prepared for encounters with bears by having bear-proof food canisters, keeping clean camps and keeping bear spray readily available clipped to their handlebar bags.
"I never dreamed I'd need it for a wolf," he said.
WOLF OR DOG?
Some readers are pointing out that chasing a bicycle or motorcycle is abnormal behavior for a wolf but normal behavior for a dog, such as a husky or wolf hybrid that may look like a wolf.
Indeed, no one, including a biologist, could verify this was a wolf involved in this incident or the June 8 incident with a motorcyclist in Kootenay National Park (photo above) without getting DNA documentation. That could be done from saliva on the packs, I suppose, but no one is likely to fund that effort.
The lesson, regardless of the animal's species, is that having bear spray readily available is a wise prepareation for muscle-powered travelers.
UPDATE, July 14, 10 a.m. — See photos of the wolf attacking the bike and an account from the RVer who helped rescue cyclist Mac Hollan from the wolf's relentless pursuit. Also, I've interviewed one of the motorist heroes who drove the wolf away from Hollan's bike. Read her account of the story in today's Outdoors column. — RL
BICYCLE TOURING — A Sandpoint, Idaho, man and two companions riding bicycles on a 2,750-mile tour to Prudhoe Bay as a fundraiser for a school charity had a tense encounter with a gray wolf last weekend.
- This is similar to a recent incident in Canada, except for one big difference: the man from Banff was riding a motorcycle.
Mac Hollan, 35, who will be student teaching at a Sandpoint elementary school this fall, posted this chilling detailed account on his Point to Bay Facebook page on Monday.
Two days ago I was attacked by a wolf while riding down the ALCAN. With all the planning for bears, road safety, and everything else, this scenario was something that none of us had ever considered. But, if you read on you will find out how I found myself alone on my bike being chased down and attacked by a Canadian Gray Wolf.
It was around 2:30, about 60 miles west of Watson Lake on the ALCAN,… I was a bit ahead of the guys when I heard something to my right. Thinking Gabe or Gordo had caught up without me noticing I looked over my shoulder and was shocked at what I saw. The first thought that ran through my head was "that is the biggest damn dog I have ever seen!". This surreal moment of shock and confusion passed immediately was the "dog" lunged for my right foot and snapped its jaws just missing my pedal.
WOLF!!! At this point I received the biggest jolt of adrenalin I have ever had in my life. Without so much as a thought I shifted my bike to the highest gear possible, started to mash the pedals like never before, and reached for the bear spray in the handlebar bag. I threw off the safety and gave the wolf a quick blast in the face which served to slow him down so that he was now 20 feet behind me but still not stopping. He hung back for maybe 20 seconds and then raced forward and attacked my panniers, in the process ripping my tent bag and spilling my poles onto the highway.
I gave him another shot of pepper spray, which again backed him off to about 20 feet behind. Despite pedaling like I have never pedaled before, the wolf kept pace with me easily. It was at this point that I saw an 18 wheeler round the corner and began to wave, shout, and point to the wolf frantically. As he slowed I began to breathe a sigh of relief, thinking if I could just get off my bike and into the truck fast enough I would be safe. After taking a good look at the scene the driver resumed his speed and drove on.
This same scenario would happen to me 4 separate times, with my desperation growing with each car that passed me by. Every time the wolf would begin to close on me again, I would shoot a quick blast of bear spray behind me to slow him down.
As I came around the corner, to my horror I saw a quick incline, and knew that I would not be able to stay in front of this wolf for much longer. I just kept thinking about all the shows I have seen where wolves simply run their prey until they tire and then finish them. It was a surreal moment to realize that I was that prey, and this hill was that moment. The only plan I could think of was to get off my bike, get behind it, and hope that I had enough bear spray to deter him once and for all when he got close enough.
It was also at this point that I realized I might not be going home, and I began to panic at the thought of how much it was going to hurt. About .2 mile before the hill an RV came around the corner, and I knew this was it. I placed myself squarely in the center of the road and began screaming at the top of my lungs "help me, there's a wolf, please help me" while waving frantically. Seeing the situation the driver quickly passed me and stopped on a dime right in front of my bike. I don't know how I got unclipped or off my bike, but I swear I hurdled the handlebars without missing a beat or letting go of my can of bear spray. When I got to the backdoor of the RV still screaming, the door was locked. In an absolute panic I began to climb in the passenger window, but the driver reached across and threw the door open to let me in. By the time I shut the door the wolf was already on my bike pulling at the shredded remains of my tent bag. I began to shake, and cuss.
More cars began to pull up and honk at the wolf, but he would not leave my bike, as though he thought it was his kill. It took someone finally beaning him in the head with a rock to get him to leave. At this point Gabe and Gordo showed up looking confused and concerned with a set of shattered tent poles in hand. While I know I got the names of the man and woman who saved me, for the life of me I can't remember them now. I do remember the woman giving me a hug that felt like the greatest hug of my life.
Still jacked on adrenalin, all I wanted to do was get out of that place, and get out fast. The folks in the RV were nice enough to watch our backs as we got a ways down the road before leaving, and gave one final wave as they passed by. I gave them a card for the ride and I hope they are reading this so that they know how much I am in their debt and how grateful I am that they stopped to save me. Otherwise I honestly don't think this story would have ended well.
We made it about 10 miles down the road before the full adrenalin rush wore off and then everything seemed to go into slow motion and I just felt dizzy and tired. We pulled over to a roadside creek where I stumbled down to splash water on my face and basically sat in the creek and lost my s%$t. The full implication of what had just happened to me sank in, and I just lost it for a good 15 minutes.
We have spent a lot of time talking about the incident since, and the only conclusion we can come up with is that the wolf was old, sick, or injured, to be chasing something down on the highway. I would not doubt I am the first cyclist ever to have this happen to them on the ALCAN. That being said I have tried not to let this experience change my positive feelings about being out here, but I do look over my shoulder more, and am a bit jumpy.
While other things have happened since the last update, this is all I can really remember. We're in Whitehorse, Yukon now, having pulled off a century before 2:30. We're planning on doing some bike work here and relaxing for the afternoon. That's all for now.
Point to Bay is a charity bicycle tour from Sandpoint, ID to Prudhoe Bay, AK supporting the Sandpoint Backpack Program. The Sandpoint Backpack Program provides students in need with backpacks full of food for the weekend to ensure they return to school on Monday fed and ready to learn. This ride is 100% self-supported, and 100% rider funded, meaning every bit of your donation goes directly to students in need. The 2,750 mile ride begins June 17th, 2013 and will take roughly 6 1/2 weeks to complete. For more information please follow the links to the Point to Bay website. Full bellies, full minds!
TRAILS — The Spokane County Regional Trails Plan, which provides guidance for local, state and federal agencies in developing new trails and maintaining existing routes, is open to public comment through an online survey.
The plan seeks to coordinate trails throughout the region, identified corridors for trails and wildlife, aim for road and trail standards and promote the system.
The inventories and organization of the multi-partner plan already has helped the region secure more than $7 million in funding for trails and conservation areas, said Lunell Haught of the Inland Northwest Trails Coalition.
The plan includes the Spokane River Centennial Trail, Fish Lake Trail and other major trails as well as a network of smaller trails on agencies ranging from county parks and state parks to U.S. Bureau of Management Lands.
The public input will be incorporated into the plan as it's updated this year, Haught said.
STATE PARKS — Volunteers organized from local groups and organized by the Washington Trails Association are installing foot bridges for hikers and snowshoers over the creek crossed by popular trails, such as Trail 100. in Mount Spokane State Park.
Photo shows the crew after the first bridge was completed on Monday.
WTA is returning to the park July 20-22 to finish more bridges.
NATIONAL PARKS — Early snowmelt is allowing Crater Lake National Park to open East Rim Drive circling Crater Lake to non-motorized traffic, providing a rare experience for visitors to enjoy the park on foot or on bike this weekend, June 22 and 23.
Under the plan, East Rim Drive Road will be open to non-motorized vehicles only (except for administrative and emergency vehicles) from North Junction around the East Rim of Crater Lake all the way to the intersection at Crater Lake National Park Headquarters and the Steel Visitors Center. Hwy 62 through the south end of the park, West Rim Drive and the North Entrance Road will be open to vehicles. Regular parking areas will be open, but generally fill up quickly.
TRAILS — Aptly named Sage Clegg, 33, is attempting to become the first person to solo hike-and-bike the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail.
Clegg has the credentials, having already proved to be among the country’s fastest ultralight female backpackers.
She left her home in Bend on June 5 and is en route to Idaho, hoping to finish by July 20 before the desert goes from hot to broiling. She's already encountered treeless stretches, arrowheads, bighorn sheep and this week entered some forested terrain, accordng to her desert trail blog.
The Oregon Natural Desert Association created the concept of the desert trail to raise awareness for desert protection.
The staff has worked two years mapping the route, which links trails, roads and corridors through Oregon desert jewels, including the Badlands, Hart Mountain, Steens Mountain and the Owyhee canyonlands. (See a map of the route.) But Clegg will still have some dots to connect as she bicycles the flatter, most boring sections of trail and walks another 600 miles.
Her support team will mail food packages to spots along the way (Frenchglen, Fields, McDermitt, Rome), just as it did during the 18 months it took her to hike 8,000 miles of the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide and Appalachian national scenic trails.
Clegg carries about 12 pounds plus food and water. Her tent weighs 3.5 ounces. This is the perfect time for the wildlife biologist to go hiking because her work as a desert tortoise researcher in California’s Mojave Desert goes on hiatus while the reptiles spend summer underground.
Follow her desert journey online, onda.org.
FATHERS DAY— Give dad what he really wants for Father's Day — some good, healthy outdoor time with the family.
Here are four suggestions:
FISHING — Most of the region's lakes and streams are in great fishing condition for the weekend, and some Spokane-area are getting a Fathers Day bonus with additional plants of triploid rainbows. Montana is sweetening the holiday attraction by offering Free Fishing Days on June 15-16. Nobody needs a license to fish in Montana over the weekend, but you must follow all of Montana's other fishing regulations.
BIKING — The Spokane River Centennial Trail and the Fish Lake Trail offer excellent and safe family biking opportunities in Spokane. The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is a prized rail trail between Mullan and Plummer, Idaho. Or go for big adventure near Lookout Pass on the Route of the Hiawatha rail trail, featuring tunnels and towering trestles. Shuttles, bike rentals and even lunches are available.
BOATING — It's hard to beat a family tradition of being on the water with Dad. I prefer paddling the Spokane River or, say, Horseshoe Lake in a canoe or kayak. Maybe a whitewater rafting trip on the Spokane or Clark Fork rivers with Wiley E. Waters or ROW Adventures. Sailing or motorboating is has been bringing families together for generations, as you can vividly see in this heartwarming short video, Good Run, by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. The film tells the story of one man’s experience on the water and shows why life is better with a boat.
HIKING — Taking a walk to a nifty spot is a simple and rewarding family outing, whether it's close to home in Riverside State Park or off in the mountains of a nearby national forest. Need some tips? Check out my new guidebook, Day Hiking Eastern Washington, which details 125 trips, including a bunch of hikes within a short drive of Spokane. (The book is available at REI, Mountain Gear and local book stores.)
My suggestion: If you're up for stretching your legs, give Dad the book with a note that says, "We want to make this your best Father's Day ever by taking you on one of the hikes described in this book. We'll pack the picnic lunch!"
I heard from several families who reported that offer was a big hit on Mothers Day.
Let's assume that she is not his mother.
A) Cycling safety. B) Bike seat comfort. C) Something his friend Max said about girls during recess. D) Other.
CYCLING — Jeremiah Alexander tends to his dirt-trail rash during the 24 Hours Round the Clock mountain bike race, which concludes today at noon at Riverside State Park.
The event for solo and team cyclists is one of th biggest camping parties of the year, but as Alexander illustrates, it's the real deal.
Outside magazine online is asking readers to vote for the nation's "best active town," and Spokane is one of the 10 candidates for the distinction.
The cover photo for the Spokane listing features cyclists on the Centennial Trail along the Spokane River, which is a good start to the city's numerous outdoor attractions.
But note that the survey so far doesn't even barely scratch the surface of options for running, cycling, mountain biking and even downhill mountain biking, rock climbing, conservation areas, trails, wildlife, paddling, fishing, etc.
Other cities in the running include Waitsfield, Vt.; Bozeman, Mont.; Carbondale, Ill., Park City, Utah; Greenville, S.C.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Boston, Mass.
TRAILS — The Route of The Hiawatha rail-trail near Lookout Pass is set to open for the 2013 summer season on Saturday (May 25).
The 15-mile route for mountain biking or hiking follows the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad grade between the old town site of Taft, Mont., (off Interstate 90) and the North Fork of the St. Joe River near Avery, Idaho.
Top attractions include seven trestles towering up to 230 feet over the creeks and forest and 10 tunnels, including the 1.7-mile St. Paul Pass Tunnel at the Montana-Idaho border.
The gentle 1.6 percent average grade drops 1,000 feet over the 15 miles length with shuttle buses available to transport trial users and their bikes back to the top.
Trail passes, shuttle tickets and mountain bike rentals are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area conveniently located off I-90 at the top of the pass on the Idaho/Montana border 12 miles east of Wallace, Idaho.
Basic trail passes cost $6 for kids and $10 for adults. Season passes and group rates area available, as well as shuttle bus service from Lookout Pass, lunch options and guided tours.
The trail will be open daily, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. PDT, through Sept. 29.
Biking the Hiawatha is one of the Inland Northwest's top memorable adventures you can organize for an active outing with summer out-of-town guests.
MOUNTAIN BIKING — The annual 24 Hours Round the Clock mountain bike race is gearing up for another extravaganza of solo and team efforts supported by one of the biggest campouts of friends and dirtbaggers of the season May 25-26 at Riverside State Park.
The Seven Mile airtrip area of the park fills on the eve of the race with hundreds of bikes along with tents, RV’s, trailers and cyclists from around the country. The event begins with a La Mans start at noon May 25. Riders complete as many 15-mile dirt-trail laps before the event 24 hours later.
Read on for details from the sponsor, Round and Round Productions.
BICYCLING — The Art of Wheel Building will be discussed in a free program on Monday (May 13), 6:30 p.m., Riverview Retirement Center Community Building, 1801 E. Upriver Dr., in Spokane.
The program will be presented by Matthew Larsen, who builds custom wheels for each rider's size, riding style, and function. Learn about custom wheel building with this hands-on look at improving your ride with today's fine hubs, rim materials, disk brakes and spokes.
The program is sponsored by the Spokane Bicycle Club.
BICYCLING — Bicycle commuting — and all of its benefits in terms of health, environment and money savings — will be celebrated in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene with activities during Bike to Work Week, May 13-18.
- Pre-register to get the most out of each city's offerings.
Spokane's Bike to Work Week riders will kick off with what's become a traditional free pancake breakfast Monday (May 13) in Riverfront Park, 7 a.m. at Riverfront Park. Riders can log their mileage online for neat comparisons, enjoy "energizer stations" supported by local businesses on Wednesday (May 15), and enjoy a wrap-up celebration with prizes and refreshments at NoLi Brewery on Friday (May 17).
Read on for other events through the week in Coeur d'Alene including safety classes, moonlight ride, movies, beer tasging, repair clinic, scavenger hunt and more.