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Helpers needed for trail project at Liberty Lake

TRAILS – Helpers are needed for a series of Liberty Lake trail rerouting projects on the 7-mile loop trail at Liberty Lake County Park, starting next Sunday, organized by the Washington Trails Association.

Other scheduled dates for working at Liberty Lake are March 29 and 31 and April 2 and 26.

WTA pledged to rally area volunteers and contribute 2,000 hours of volunteer effort over the next two years in order to get a grant from the Washington Recreational Trails Program. 

Liberty Lake, at 3,000 acres, is one of the largest county parks in the state.  This is an excellent opportunity to get to know the park better and chip in some effort to improve the hiking/biking/horse-riding opportunities. 

Sign up online here.

Info: (206) 625-1367.

Mountaineer mudders sponsor mountain biking clinic

CYCLING — Registration for the 2012 Spokane Mountaineers Mountain Bike Skills Clinic is open.

Although the clinic at Riverside State Park isn't until June 9-10, the class is limited to 30 — and more than a dozen cyclists already have signed up.

The class — covered in this Spokesman-Review story —  is interactive, comprehensive, personalized and fun.

An online registration form on the Mountaineers's website.

Friends ready to rally for Centennial Trail

TRAILS — The 4th annual Friends of the Centennial Trail  Adventure Auction is set for March 9 at Northern Quest Resort and Casino.

Silent auction starts at 6 p.m.; dinner's at 7 p.m.; live auction at 8 p.m.

People who support the fabulous 39-mile trail from Nine Mile to the Idaho State Line (and beyond) already are getting tickets and gathering friends to join them at tables for a feast.

"Eighty percent of the proceeds go directly into our Trail Builders fund for projects on the Trail," said Kaye Turner, the friends group's executive director. "Remember the bumps at Barker Road - our Trail Builders fund fixed those."

Kris Crocker, KXLY's star weather reporter, will once again be the MC — and she's gathering a table of friends, too.

Tickets: 624-7188 or e-mail friends@spokanecentennialtrail.org.  

Video: Bicycling as though gravity isn’t a factor

CYCLING — All this snow-free winter weather and the bare roads have turned my thoughts occasionally to bicycling.

However, this video suggests I have a long way to go before learning everything about riding a ROAD bike.

Spokane’s Mountain Gear easy on environment

CONSERVATION — Backpacker magazine and SNEWS named Spokane-based Mountain Gear the Sustainable Retailer of the Year at the recent 2012 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.

The annual award honors outdoor retailers that stand out as leaders for the industry and the communities they serve.

 “This award recognizes the efforts of our entire team to be a sustainable organization and to continually learn and try new ways to reduce our footprint,” said Paul Fish, company president.

The S-R has reported for years on Mountain Gear's environmental activities. Among the stories:

The award givers at the recent Outdoor Retailer show also were impressed with Mountain Gear’s corporate headquarters (see map), an old warehouse renovated with skylights, energy management systems and drought-tolerant landscaping irrigated with collected rainwater.

Recycled materials, low-flow plumbing, waterless urinals and energy-efficient lighting were added. Incentives for employees to commute efficiently or bike to work top it all off.

Spokane Parks looking for outdoor trip assistants

OUTDOOR RECREATION —  The Spokane Parks & Recreation Department's Outdoors Program is looking for outdoors lovers who would make good outdoor trip assistants for the great outings featured in the Outdoor program guide.

The main benefit:  Cool group outdoor trips at no cost.   Here's the job description:

In this volunteer position, you will learn to facilitate a safe and fun outdoor adventure such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, hiking, mountain biking, and bike tours.
Trip Assistants receive free training and discount outdoor merchandise!
To get started on this adventure, contact volunteer coordinator Catherine Lyle, 625-6216 or email clyle@spokanecity.org.
  • See more info on the Outdoors Program volunteer website.
  • See the Outdoor Trip Assistant description here.

Show a kid this video on the danger of a single sunburn

OUTDOOR SPORTS — Many people will be hitting the sunny ski slopes this week, or maybe "coloring up" in a tanning booth, or planning for a winter getaway to a warm beach. 

Fine. Take your sunscreen and learn to cover up. 

Remember, your skin is like an elephant. It never forgets.

A single bad sunburn before the age of 18 doubles your chance of contracting malignant melanoma.

This video, "Dear 16-Year-Old Me," is worth sharing with any young person.

City recruiting helpers to build trails in NW Spokane park

TRAILSSpokane Parks and Recreation Department is planning two volunteer trail building days at Wyakin Park. This undeveloped park is in the northwest part of Spokane at the corner of Assembly and Francis. 

"This area is about 20 acres and will make a great small trail area that is close to Riverside State Park, and the Merkel Trail system," said Mike Aho, the city's outdoor program director. "It makes a great hiking, trail running, dog walking and Mountain Biking park for the northwest residents."

"To make this happen we are relying on volunteer labor to help create another close to home nature area. Your help continues to make Spokane a great place to live and recreate by helping out."

The work days are:

  • Friday (Nov. 11-Veterans Day), noon-3 p.m.
  • Saturday (Nov. 12), 9 a.m.-noon.

Sign up: Contact volunteer coordinator Ted Moon at  lunarover@comcast.net or 991-5166

Bring Trail tools (shovels, racks, litter bag, loppers), Gloves, Sturdy Shoes, water bottle and dress for weather.

Meet at the park just North of Francis Avenue on Assembly Street.

Mount Spokane mountain biking topic of parks survey

STATE PARKS – A survey regarding mountain biking at Mount Spokane State Park has been launched by Washington State Parks. People who love the park should comment, even if they are not mountain bikers. Read on and I'll tell you why.

The public has until Dec. 16 to complete the online survey and indicate their desires for mountain biking opportunities at the 13,919-acre state park to help officials plan future trail developments.

Survey questions focus on how park visitors use the trail system now and on how the system could be improved.

After 15 years of effort from the Mount Spokane State Park Advisory Committee, a "master plan" has finally been approved. Now the details and on-the-ground stuff is being worked out.  Trails can and are being realigned for all sorts of reasons, and one of the chief reasons to consider is safety.

Unfortunately, a full mountain biking plan has yet to be completed. 

If you've hiked or ridden a horse on Mount Spokane trails you probably share my feeling that high-speed downhill mountain biking is not compatible with other recreationsts on steep trails. This survey seems to be a start at addressing that.

"We want every visitor to Mount Spokane to have a positive experience, and we know that many people have experienced conflict, frustration, and outright fear when high speed mountain bikers encounter other recreationists," said Friends spokesman Cris Currie. "The local mountain biking community and state parks in Olympia have created a survey to gather input on this matter and I would hope that each of you might take the time to answer it.

"The Advisory Committee's position so far is to create a high speed mountain biking area in the alpine ski area and then apply more restrictions to mountain biking on other trails in the park.  We've reached no conclusions yet regarding what these restrictions might look like, but we would like your opinions!" 

Fore details on Mount Spokane trails and the master plan updates, see the great Friends of Mount Spokane State Park website.

For more info on the survey, contact: Nikki Fields, state park planner (360) 902-8658, email mount.spokane.mountainbike@parks.wa.gov

Bike glove turn-signal invented for cyclists

CYCLING — An Oregon man is using the latest LED technology to develop a turn signal glove to give bicyclists, and those behind them, a safer and more visible way to turn, especially in low-light situations.

 Jack O'Neal, an Afghanistan war veteranmechanical engineering at Portland State University, is in the early stages of developing the product

There's no development and manfacturing deal — yet — but he's selling a $90 "field testing" model via email

Mountain biking basics clinic Thursday at REI

BICYCLING  — Learn the basics of biking etiquette, safety concerns, biking techniques and recommended equipment in a free mountain biking clinic starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at REI in Spokane.

Store staff also will discuss basic bike repairs and maintenance and resources for where to ride in the Inland Northwest.

This class is free, but space is limited, so be sure to pre-register.

Neighbors gather to discuss forest health near High Drive bluffs

URBAN FORESTS — Residents interested in Spokane’s High Drive bluff — the trails and the neighborhoos —  are invited to participate in a discussion of forest health for the area on Wednesday (Aug. 31).

Last spring, community members identified fire risk abatement as a high priority for the Bluff. This workshop will focus on a plan for reducing fire risk on the Bluff and for neighboring homes.

The workshop will be held at the Rocket Market at 726 E 43rd Ave from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will include a description of the proposed forest health plan, plus a question and answer session.

Join in the discussion, enjoy a no-host beverage with neighbors, and learn how you can get involved in the project!

For planning purposes, please RSVP to Diana Roberts at WSU Spokane County Extension, phone (509) 477-2167 or E-mail robertsd@wsu.edu.

Tonight: Volunteers meeting for weed detail on South Hill Bluff

TRAILS — Volunteers interested in helping manage noxious weeds on Spokane’s High Drive Bluff are invited to participate in a work party this evening, (Aug 17).
"We will cut rush skeletonweed plants away from sections of the trail where they are impeding trail use," said group facilitator Diana Roberts of the WSU Spokane County Extension.

Next Wednesday (Aug. 24), volunteers will focus on controlling knapweed. 

"Be sure to bring work gloves, sturdy garden clippers and water to drink. Long pants, long sleeved shirts, and hiking boots are the recommended attire."
Meet: 6:30 p.m. at the trailhead south of Bernard St. and High Drive.

"At 8 p.m. we will adjourn to the Rocket Market for a beverage and to socialize," Roberts said.
Info: Diana Roberts (509) 477-2167 or robertsd@wsu.edu.


Outdoor reader reports game changing around Lookout Pass

CAMPING — Rich Servatius sent in this report after 12 days of exploring the Route of the Hiawatha and Loop Creek areas along the Montana-Idaho border.

My extended family and friends have been going there for about 15 years for a week or so.  Each time we go the wildlife that we see changes.

The first year we saw 13 bears between us, the next year only one and haven’t seen any since.

We normally see about one moose per day; this year we saw one only.

We normally have deer hanging around our camp on Loop Creek; this year we mostly saw them in the old railroad tunnels, but did see some in the Loop Creek valley.

We saw lots of beaver the first five years; one this year.

We saw a few elk tracks this year and heard reports of 22 head near Dominion Peak a couple months ago, but we saw none.

Four years ago my sister saw a wolf near I-90 and close to St. Regis (our first sighting).  This year a pack of wolves were howling just a hundred yards from me to the south of the Gold Hill trail, coming from Moon Pass direction (West).  That was a little exciting and scary too.  No wonder that the couple of ATV riders were carrying pistols.  My only weapon was a rock.

As for huckleberries, they were ripe at lower elevations in places with lots of sun and I found one place higher up in an alpine meadow where the berries were 50 to a bush and juicy.  It will be another couple of weeks before they start showing up in quantity.

Wild flowers were showing their splendor.

Shefoot mountain was pretty, but someone had left a fire burning at the top and a little trash.

If you go to that area, expect lots of bicycle traffic and dust.

We helped a couple of ATV riders clear the Idaho / Montana state line road for a few miles for ATV use.  We didn’t have the equipment and gas and manpower to clear it for truck use.   About 100 trees were down between Roland Pass and the paved road from the St. Joe River to St. Regis pass.  Someone else had cleared the road before us, so these trees had probably blown down in the last few weeks.  If you take that route; bring a chainsaw, help, shovels, and cable.

Spots of snow 2 feet deep were melting slowly.  The snow on Shefoot Mtn. was melting fast…none on the road, which was clear.

Lots of flies and those *&%$#@ skeeters to bother people!

—Rich Servatius

Take a tour of the downtown bike loop with the City Of Spokane bike-ped coordinator

Here is an awesome opportunity for cyclists in Spokane: You can join Grant Wencel, the City’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator; members from the Bicycle Advisory Board (BAB); and other bicycle enthusiasts this week on a tour of the newly completed downtown bike loop.

“The downtown bike loop project is great for Spokane,” says Grant Wencel, “As a City we continue to make significant strides in improving our community for all kinds of cyclists.” (Check this post for a little DTE background on the bike lanes.)

The tours, held from noon to 1 p.m. each day, will start at Howard St. and Riverside Ave. by the hot dog stand; free hot dogs are included in the event. A small group of cyclists will ride around the loop, ending back at Howard St. and Riverside Ave. Tours will last about 20 minutes. Release waivers will need to be signed before going on the tour by an adult 18 or over.

Nisbet to lead walk, wild plant discussion on South Hill bluff trails

TRAILS — Is Spokane’s High Drive Bluff festooned with native plants or plagued by weeds?
Author and naturalist Jack Nisbet along with WSU scientist Diana Roberts will lead a hike along the bluff trails on Wednesday to help trail fans understand the vegetation.

The event starts at 7 p.m. at Polly Judd Park,1732 W. 14th Ave.
Wear clothes and shoes suitable for a hike on the trails. This workshop is not designed for young children or dogs.
Info: Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension, (509) 477-2167, email robertsd@wsu.edu.

Car vandalized at South Hill bluff trail parking area

TRAILS — Never leave a purse, wallet or valuables in sight in a car seat while parked at a trailhead, whether it's along the Centennial Trail or at the edge of a wilderness.

The latest reminder occured Monday around 10 a.m. when a vehicle parked on High Drive near 37th Avenue was struck by a thief while the driver was hiking the  South Hill bluff trails. 

The thief, apparently attracted by a purse left in the vehicle's seat, broke the window in full view of a residential area and fairly busy city street, grabbed the prize and was off.

Join group maintaining South Hill bluff trails

TRAILS — With more than 23 miles of trails to maintain on the South Hill bluff trail system below High Drive, a group is organizing to do the job right.

Join them Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon, for a practical clinic on how to protect trails from erosion.

The group will work on an intersection that is eroding back to its "natural" angle of slope.

Mike Brixey will teach how to deal with these situations, which are common on the bluff trails.

Meet at the High Drive trailhead 20 yards south of Bernard. Wear work gear and bring sturdy tools!

Hikers and mountain bikers are all welcome to participate.

Info:  Diana Roberts 477-2167, Email: robertsd@wsu.edu

Fat-tire riders organize trail building in North Idaho

CYCLING — the Pend Oreille Pedalers are working with the Bonners Ferry Ranger District's trail crew to build a new mountain bike trail at Brush Lake about 20 miles north of Bonners Ferry on Highway 95.
The new trail at Brush Lake will add a low elevation option to an area that is already rich with some of the best high elevation single-track in North Idaho, said John Monks, local organizer.
(Classics include the Sidehill Trail, the Danquist Trail, Rutledge Trail to Queen Lake.)
"Come on up for the day on Sunday and help build some trail, have a picnic, learn about a great riding area, and do some riding," Monks said.

Meet June 19 in Bonners Ferry at the northwest corner of the "Big R" (formerly K-mart) parking lot at 7:45 a.m.
The group will carpool from there. Bring gloves, water, snacks, riding gear, bicycle (of course!) and clothing appropriate for the weather.
"We'll meet up with the USFS crew at Brush Lake at 9 a.m., build trail until noonish, then have a barbecue lunch with the USFS cooking up hamburgers," Monks said.
Info: John Monks, (209) 290-2857.

Riverside State Park plans forest thinning

STATE PARKS — Preliminary plans to thin some forest areas in Riverside State Park to reduce fire danger and the spread of bark beetle infestations will be presented at a public meeting tonight, 6 p.m., at the Shadle Park Public Library. 

Park officials say the plans will be formalized before work would begin this fall and winter.

Fish Lake Trail mural marred by vandals

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TRAILS — Vandalism has marred a mural in the Fish Lake Trail tunnel less than two weeks after volunteers had put all but the finishing touches on the colorful farm-to-rail scenes.

Apparently on Friday night, a paint roller was used to write graffiti and ruin every panel on both sides of the tunnel near Marshall, said Dan Schaffer, who heads the friends group that stewards the trail.

Eastern Washington University art students had worked for weeks to design and outline the farm-and-railroad-themed mural. Volunteers ranging from kids to retired helpers showed up on May 14-15 to add color to the outline.

 The popular paved railroad right of way starts near Sunset Boulevard and Government Way and runs 7.4 miles to Scribner Road near Marshall.

Email tips that might lead to the perpetrator to the Fish Lake Trail friends group at traildan@comcast.net.

Tax-deductible contributions for repairing the mural can be sent to Inland Northwest Trails Coalition, PO Box 3331, Spokane WA 99220-3331.  (Dan Schaffer funded most of the first round, including artist fees, by himself.)

Info: traildan@comcast.net

Escure Ranch, Rock Creek waterfall in top spring form

PUBLIC LANDS – This is prime time to visit the BLM’s Escure Ranch area south of Sprague. The scabland area is green, Rock Creek is flowing nicely over Towell Falls, wildflowers are blooming and the cheatgrass hasn’t turned brown and full of spears.

Read on for details from my weekend reconnaissance.

Guess how many miles of trails below High Drive?

TRAILS — When I biked and hiked the Spokane South Hill bluff trails one day with a GPS unit, I was a bit startled to see the final tally of more than 23 miles on the unit's odometer.

This trail system of old roads and routes hand-built by volunteers just over the hill and out of site of a city neighbornood is a treasure for hiker, bikers and nature lovers, as my Sunday outdoors story explains.

The story includes a contact for getting involved with stewardship of the trails and the bluff, from trail maintenance to weed control.

Any bluff trails users should consider joining the Doo-Crew, either by taking a day of the month to tend the doggy doo plastic bag stations — or simply by picking up after your dog!

FYI, there were a few connector trails I did not log on the map above, either because I could not  map them without a lot of backtracking or because they are ill advised.

If you haven't been to the bluff for a walk or mountain bike ride, you own it to yourself to check out the map above and give the area a look — perfect for after-work summer visits.

Learn mountain biking skills from local riders

MOUNTAIN BIKING — Fat tire bike riders are gearing up for the annual Mountain Biking Skills Clinic — for novice and experienced riders —  organized by the Spokane Mountaineers.

The event is June 11 and 12 on a special skills course to be set up at Riverside State Park.

Riders who have taken this course are always amazed at how many little tricks there are to learn, and how beneficial a bit of focused practice can be to their overall riding skills, safety and enjoyment.

The registration fee is $40. Registration deadline is June 8, but class size is limited so register ASAP.

Check out details on the clinic.

View a recent photo gallery

2011 Mountain Bike Skills Clinic registration form

Contact: Teresa Watson (509) 238-6776 or  email mtb-info@spokanemountaineers.org

Fans of South Hill Bluffs and trails to meet Tuesday

PUBLIC LANDS — If you enjoy the South Hill Bluff trails or the landscape, check this out.

 A High Drive Bluffs planning meeting is set for Tuesday. Any area neighbors or users of the trails are invited to join in developing a vision and action plan for the area, 7 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. at Roosevelt Elementary School, 333 W. 14th Ave.

Questions? Contact Diana Roberts, 477-2167 or <robertsd@wsu.edu>

Summer wings

It's officially the last day of school, in my household at least. Although the weather hasn't cooperated, I'm looking forward to slowing down. To long walks and time to think. To watching little girls ride bicycles…
First published June, 2008

It was the best part of a summer day: When the long, cool twilight winds us down; when light plays with shadows and night moves up, painting the edges of the horizon. When the moon chases the sun across the sky.

When stars appear and the air is heavy with the perfume of red roses and green grass and hamburgers cooked on the grill. When cats pounce on imaginary prey and dogs bark, passing the word that the day is done.

I walked my own silly dogs, walking off a long day at work, walking off my dinner and shaking off the weight of everything that had settled on me since I opened my eyes that morning. They strained at their leashes, pulling me forward. I pulled back, dawdling, distracted by the scenes in the windows of the houses I passed. Golden windows that gave me glimpses of other lives. Other interiors.
I heard voices and looked up to see her coming toward me, riding under the branches of the tall shade trees that line the boulevard.

She was astride a shiny new bicycle. A helmet was strapped under her chin, her hands gripped the handlebars and her skinny legs pumped the pedals. Her face was tight with concentration.
Her father, home from work, still dressed in his crisp white shirt and dark trousers, trotted behind her. His arms were outstretched, ready to catch her if she lost control and crashed.
She raced down the sidewalk, passing me as I stopped on the pavement to watch, and was gone. Her father tossed a smile as he ran past.

Maybe it was the time of day, the shadowy, magical part of the day when time is fluid and plays tricks on us; when what was and what is stop for an instant and exchange glances. Perhaps it was my mood, tinged with violet like the evening sky.
But for a heartbeat, I was that little girl. For an instant I was 6 years old. I could feel the handlebars in my hands, and the pedals against the soles of my shoes.
The world rushed by me as I flew down the streets of my neighborhood, leaning into the curves as the wind tangled in my hair. I had wings. I had wheels. I was free to push myself as far as I dared to go, yet I was still safe. If I fell, there was someone there to save me.
The man and the child rounded the corner and were gone, heading home. My dogs, impatient with the delay, tugged at their leads, anxious to travel. They had things to see before calling it a day.

I walked on, but my mind was light years away. I was a girl on a bike. I was a mother, my heart in my throat, watching a child, wobbling and weaving, navigate the world without training wheels.

I could see who I had been. What escaped me, is who I have become.

And then, just as night settled around me, it was clear: I’m still a bit of both. I still have my wings. I still have my wheels.

And if I fall? I pick myself up.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap can be reached at cherylannemillsap@gmail.com

Cycling quick hits

During Bike to Work week one thing we kept commenting on was how fortunate we were here in Spokane to have organizers that carried the flag all year round.  By that we mean that while the hoopla may only last a week, the Tweets keep coming and the news and updates are kept fresh and active all year long.  And that’s just from one organization.  Need we remind you about Spokane’s diverse cycling blogosphere (our favorite HERE with great links to others in the blog roll on the right hand side).

We’re thankful for that not just as cyclists and commuters but as community members because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the cycling community, they’re resourceful people who work hard for change and improvements.

Take Hank over at Shallow Cogitations for instance.  His issue with lane blocking, both of the irresponsible vehicle owner side and of the curious streets department side have been well documented on his blog (honestly, one of the top blogs in Spokane).  So no surprise that he was one of the commenters on a story that came out yesterday on the Cycling Spokane blog about the Spokane Police Department’s bike lane complaint hotline.  Though since we’re in modern times and hotlines don’t really exist, it’s an email address - carparkedinbikelane@spokanepolice.org in fact.  So what’s so great about this, as opposed to reporting them on the My Bike Lane website?  According to the announcement from the PD, “[they] will send out a notice to the registered owner on the first violation. [They] will add repeat violators to [their] Traffic Hotline for officers to investigate further which could include issuing infractions.”  And if you want to make sure you’re reporting everything in all possible ways, there’s always SeeClickFix as well.


Take a walk with Mayor Verner - TODAY

Show Support For Non-Motorized Transportation Improvements at Oct. 20 Rally Do you want more area walking trails, bike lanes, and better access to transit? If you answered ‘yes,’ join us at the SmartRoutes Community Rally TODAY to raise awareness and support the need for improved non-motorized transportation facilities in Spokane. Photobucket Several local agencies, including Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC), the Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane City, and Spokane County are partnering with area civic, bike, and pedestrian groups to participate in the Rails To Trails Conservancy’s (RTC) ‘2010 Campaign for Active Transportation.’ RTC is seeking to double funding to $9 billion for non-motorized transportation in the next reauthorization of the federal transportation budget. The proposal will advocate that $2 billion of the funds support forty communities, which could include Spokane, with $50 million in funding over six years to increase biking and walking for transportation. More information can be found at . www.smartroutes.org