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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.
BICYCLING — The 2013 Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Racing Series kicks off May 8 at Riverside State Park.
It's the most current in a long, long list of bicycle rides, events and races scheduled through October.
See the complete list for events throughout Northwest in The Spokesman-Review's 2013 Bicycling Events Calendar.
PUBLIC LANDS — Volunteers are planning to pick up and spruce up a couple of prized outdoors recreation features in the Spokane area this weekend.
Unveil the (Centennial) Trail, Saturday (April 20), 9 a.m.-noon
About 350 volunteers have pre-registered for the annual clean-up, working in sections to cover the entire 37.5-mile Centennial Trail from the stateline to Nine Mile Falls. The trail attracts two million visits a year.
Dishman Hills Service Day, Sunday (April 21), 9 a.m.-noon
OUTPEDAL – Last Sunday’s Outdoors feature on regional bicycling events included a list of regional bicycling groups.
Unfortunately, an editing error omitted the venerable Spokane Bicycle Club, which was at the top of the list.
“We've been an active biking club for over 35 years with a membership of around 200,” said Don Carlton, club president. The group has adopted mile 31 of the Centennial Trail and provide reliable support for all things related to bikes in the area.
- See a full list of 16 top regional bicycling groups and more than 100 cycling events througout the region in The Spokesman-Review's 2013 Northwest Bicycling Events: Expanded List.
BICYCLING — The second annual Spokane Bike Swap — a one-stop shop for people interested in buying or selling a bicycle — is set for April 13-14, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m both days, at Spokane County Fair & Expo Center.
There's no better time or place to make a deal on a bike, and the 5 percent consignment fee supports a cycling gem — the Spokane River Centennial Trail.
The event will feature a wide range of used bikes in the bike corral and seven local bike shops with new bikes and accessories.
Admission: $5 or kids under 13 free.
Sellers: check in bikes April 12 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sellers are urged to pre-register online.
“The goal of the Bike Swap is to enhance Spokane County's biking community by providing affordable bikes for transportation, recreation and fitness,” said LeAnn Yamamoto, event director.
DONATIONS AND FREEBIES
Free bike helmets: a limit number will be available April 13 for kids ages 3-16 in families of financial hardship through the Kiwanis Paint-A-Helmet program.
Donate a bike: You can donate a bike to sell for the total benefit of the Centennial Trail. The Friends of the Centennial Trail will store the bike if you want to bring it in days before the event. Call (509) 624-7188.
BICYCLING — Bicyclists are in that brief once-a-year window of opportunity when the North Cascades Highway west of Winthrop is all theirs — save fore a few snow plows and Washington Department of Transportation vehicles plowing the pass.
- Click here to follow the work to clear the road up and over Washington and Rainy passes.
And if you miss this opportunity, there's always the premier chance to ride behind the plows on the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park starting in late April and sometimes running into June.
OUTGOING – The Inland Northwest Trails Coalition has rounded up a dozen local leaders in trails-related efforts for the annual “state of the trails” presentations tonight (March 21) starting at 6 p.m. at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley.
This is the place for trail users to learn where they can get involved in trail projects.
Progress on the Spokane River water trail will be updated and the Washington Trails Association will detail this season’s trails maintenance projects from Spokane County to the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.
Lunell Haught, INTC coordinator, said the consortium of outdoor recreation and conservation groups has pulled together to encourage city and county governments to engage in regional trail planning.
The group’s vision, she said, “is a system of paths, trails and open space corridors that connect neighborhoods, community and regional parks and conservation land in our region to engage people in muscle-powered recreational and conservation opportunities, promote active transportation and preserve open space to enhance our region’s quality of life.”
BICYCLING — As I compile bicycling events for The Spokesman-Review's 2013 Cycling Events Calendar, I came across this troubling message from Lorne Westnedge, organizer for the venerable Pedal Around a Glacier, Eh! bicycle tour, sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Nelson, British Columbia.
We are hoping to host another Pedal Around a Glacier, Eh! (P.A.G.E.) ride on June 1 & 2, 2013. However, we need a minimum number of riders to sign up by April 1st in order for us to continue. The minimum number is 20, and we are not there yet.
PAGE starts in Nelson for a two-day,140-mile ride along Kokanee and Slocan Lakes and twice across the spine of the Selkirk Mountains to loop around Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park. Overnight in New Denver along Slocan Lake. Cost: $95.
Here's a rundown on some of the recent outdoors stories in The Spokesman-Review:
OUTDOOR TRAVEL — Two premier outdoor recreation areas within a day’s access from Spokane are listed among the Lonely Planet's Top 10 U.S. Destinations for 2013.
The San Juan Islands are No. 3 on the list and dubbed “The Gourmet Archipelago.” The writer notes the three main islands – San Juan, Orcas and Lopez – support two vineyards, a lavender farm, an alpaca ranch and weekend farmers’ markets that ply everything from artichokes to marionberries.”
From the outdoor recreation angle, the islands are standouts for bicycling, sailing and sea kayaking. “Hop on a bike, explore the beaches and enjoy the scenery, but be sure to eat!” the author says, noting several fine restaurants.
Glacier National Park is ranked No. 10 — perhaps a little low from a outdoor enthusiast's point of view, but that’s just as well, considering the Lonely Planet’s top 10 list is viewed by 12 million people a year.
“A relatively new shuttle system offers an eco-friendly alternative. But go soon,” the author warns. “The park’s 25 glaciers are melting – and could be gone altogether by 2030 if current climate changes continue!”
Here's full list of Lonely Planet's Top 10 U.S. Destinations for 2013:
TRAILS — A proposed bike-pedestrian trail through the heart of Spokane Valley will be discussed at a community workshop Monday, March 11, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague, Suite 101.
The proposed 12-foot wide trail would run about 2.2 miles down the old Milwaukee right-of-way, between University Road and Evergreen Road and between Sprague and 4thAvenue. Future extensions would be possible.
City of Spokane Valley Public Works staff members and design planning consultants will be on hand to introduce the project, review maps, and help gather input from the community.
Info: Steve Worley, project manager, 720-5014, email email@example.com.
Here are some of the top outdoors stories published recently in The Spokesman-Review:
HUNTING — Three of my friends this season showed how muscle power can be a workable alternative to horsepower when it's time to pack out big game from the mountains.
- Click continue reading to check out all three photos:
Kyle Hanson and his father, Dan, use a canoe to paddle out a whitetail buck they bagged along a northeastern Washington stream.
Jim Kujala uses a game cart to help me haul out the elk I shot in early November in the Blue Mountains. We boned out the meat and loaded it into four bags along with the hide, proof of sex and spike antlers. We pulled the cart briefly cross-country to closed logging roads for two miles out to a main road.
Pat Behm has a new twist on a “bicycle rack” as he pedals out of the mountains on his mountain bike. Behm and his hunting partner, John Karpenko, boned out the meat, stuffed it into their packs and carried it all out down a gated road to a main road.
“The hunting area was open to all, you just have to work a little smarter to get there,” Karpenko said.
CYCLING — Spokane's venerable Two Wheel Transit bicycle shop has moved to the South Perry Neighborhood from its former location on First Avenue at the west end of downtown.
TRAILS — The Spokane River Centennial Trail is closed between miles 7 and 9 through Nov. 24 as workers repair the erosion damage to the trail west of Barker, reports Kaye Turner of the Friends of the Centennial Trail.
The detour flows from the Walt Worthy building bollards (near the basalt water fountain; east of Sullivan and Krispy Kreme) out onto Indiana Parkway.
Progress east through the new round-about onto Flora going north until it curves right, east, onto Montgomery.
At the “T” intersection of Montgomery and Riverway, turn right heading slightly south then east to the “T” intersection with Barker.
Turn left, north, onto Barker. The Barker Trail Head is on the right before the bridge.
Almost wiped out on my bike this morning when taking a turn on a stretch of road covered with about an inch of pine needles.
Reminded me of a Nov.1st years ago when my friend John Kafentzis said driving to work had been made challenging that morning by a smashed-pumpkins glaze on the roads.
Warning: There's some language here that wouldn't make it into the print SR.