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Scablands trails bloom for explorers in March

TRAILS — Trails through the sage-steppe scablands of Eastern Washington are among the first to welcome hikers and mountain bikers in March.

Sunday was a perfect day to bike the single-track and double track through along the basalt-rimmed canyon and blooming buttercups of the Odessa-Pacific Lake Trail.  More flowers will be blooming by the end of the month.

The 13-mile route is described in detail in the guidebook Day Hiking Eastern Washington.


  • Deep-well irrigation has lowered the water table dramatically in this area. Pacific Lake is just one of the victims. Bobs Lakes, in the basin ahead of the biker, are history. But one big surprise: Bobs Lakes spring is still flowing.
  • Haven't detected any ticks yet, but will hold off on official word since they have a way of showing up on my wife's pillow a day or two later.

Ice Age Floods experts set programs, field trips, hikes

GEOLOGY — There's no better way to soak up the science and history of how the Inland Northwest landscape was shaped than to join in some of the events scheduled this season by area geologists and experts in the Ice Age Floods.

The Cheney-Spokane Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute has a excellent schedule of events ranging from lectures and field trips to a rugged hike. Check them out.

MARCH 12 —  Free lecture, “The Incredible Shrinking Glacial Lake:  A Nonfiction Account of the Rise and Downfall of Glacial Lake Columbia,” 7 p.m.,  Eastern Washington University Science Building, Room 137, in Cheney.

Earth scientist, Michael McCollum presents the incredible story, 20,000 years in the making. He'll describe a 3,000 year onslaught by catastrophic Floods whose sediments finally overtook the lake’s accommodation space and the continuing assault by incremental headward erosion of the southwest bedrock battlements at Grand Coulee, followed by the final betrayal in which global warming caused the disappearance of the once supportive Okanogan ice lobe. 

MARCH 14 — Hike (rated "most difficult"), Palouse Canyon to Palouse Falls, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., covers 8 miles on and off trail. Begins under railroad bridge near Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery, near Washtucna, Washington. 

Leaders Lloyd Stoess and Gene Kiver, emphasize the Ice Age Floods story as well as Native American and settlement history. Participants must be in good shape, with no serious heart or vertigo problems, and capable of hiking at least 3 miles on rugged terrain without a break. Fee: $10 for students/teachers, $20 for chapter members and  $30 for non-members. 

MAY 8 — Free lecture, “Lower Grand Coulee and Crab Creek Floodways,” 7 p.m., JFK Library Auditorium, EWU Campus, Cheney

Gene Kiver, who taught geology at EWU for 32 years, will give an overview of the Missoula Floods through the Grand Coulee and the merging with floodwaters that descended through the Telford-Crab Creek Scabland.  A complex of minor coulees occur along Interstate 90 and other areas.  Scabland features of note include large flood bars, giant current ripples, and recessional cataract canyons.

MAY 9 — Spring field trip, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Gene Kiver and Bruce Bjornstad, authors of the field guide "On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods," are the guides and lecturers on deluxe buses to sites of Ice Age Floods features through Lower Grand Coulee.  A fee is charged.

OTHER TRIPS coming up, with more details to be posted on the local chapter website include:

May 31, Saturday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.  “Floods, Flowers, and Feathers Festival” at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, Cheney.  This is a free public event.

June 2, Tuesday, 7-9 p.m., Vic Baker will lecture at Spokane Community College, The Lair Auditorium.

Sep. 19, Saturday, IAFI Field Trip, Wenatchee.

Oct. 23, Friday, 7-9 p.m., IAFICS Membership Meeting and John Buchanan will lecture “Big, Bigger, Biggest:  A Comparative Look at Megafloods”

October —Two Hikes. Details to come.

Another live tree hacked along South Hill bluff trails

PUBLIC LANDS — Apparently we have an axe-swinging landscape terrorist on the loose who's getting some sort of warped pleasure from vandalizing live trees along the popular public trails on the South Hill bluff.

Another ponderosa pine was crudely hacked down in the last few days, says trails user Chris Lang, who snapped the photo above today near the first tree that was reported being hacked down below 37th and High Drive on Feb. 10.

The local group, Friends of the Bluff has done so much hard labor and work to maintain the trails and thin and prune the bluff forest to make the area less fire-prone.

But this tree-whacker apparently is no friend of the bluff.

These trees cannot be seen by homes along High Drive and are not in thick forested areas that are a still in need of planned and controlled thinning.

Keep an eye out for this jerk.

Procrastinators lose on BC hiking, paddling reservations

HIKING — You snooze you loose for popular summer outdoor destinations in Canada.

British Columbia’s top hiking and paddling destinations are most surely available to adventurers who have their travel itineraries ready to apply the minute online reservations are accepted. High on the advance planning list are:

  • Lake O’Hara, a heavily restricted hiking paradise in Yoho National Park near Field, allows visitors to book campsites starting April 1. Call in the morning of the day three months in advance of your preferred reservation start.
  • West Coast Trail, a challenging but classic trek in Pacific Rim National Park, will be taking reservations online or by phone starting in mid-April for the entire prime hiking season, June 15-Sept. 15.
  • Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit, a classic week-long paddling loop formed by lakes and rivers, requires backcountry reservations that can be made for the entire summer season starting each year on Jan. 2.

Blood-thirsty ticks on the prowl

NATURE — People weren't the only critters motivated by unseasonably warm weather to be active outdoors in the past week.

Ticks are on the prowl, I've heard from several reports — from anglers at Crab Creek in Lincoln County east to the hikers at the Iller Creek/Rocks of Sharon area in Spokane Valley.

Perfect timing!  There's nothing like a full tick check for Valentine's Day.

Comments sought on restoring grizzlies to North Cascades

WILDLIFE — A tentative federal proposal to restore grizzly bears in the North Cascades will be explained at public meetings next month.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service are taking public comments for an environmental impact statement before deciding whether to take an active role in restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades Ecosystem.

The first meeting is 5 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. on March 3 at the Red Barn in Winthrop. Other meetings will follow in Okanogan, Wenatchee, Cle Elum, Seattle and Bellingham.

Online comments will be accepted through March 26 at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/NCEG

The grizzly bear was federally listed as a threatened species in the lower 48 United States in 1975. The species was listed as endangered by the state of Washington in 1980.

“The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan calls on us to fully consider the restoration of the grizzly bear in the North Cascades, and this process will ensure we solicit public input before putting any plan into action,” said Robyn Thorson, FWS Pacific regional director.

Several conservation groups already have indicated their support for grizzly restoration.

Fewer than 20 grizzlies are known to roam the North Cascades ecosystem encompasses 9,800 square miles in the United States and another 3,800 square miles in British Columbia.  The United States portion includes North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake and Lake Chelan national recreation areas plus the Okanogan-Wenatchee and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie national forests. 

A few grizzly bears have recently been sighted in the Canadian part of the ecosystem, but no grizzlies have been confirmed in the United States portion since a hiker documented one with a photo in 2010.

Details on the public open-house meetings:

Winthrop    March 3, 5-7:30 pm
    Red Barn Upper Meeting Room
    51 N. Hwy 20
    Winthrop, WA 98862

Okanogan    March 4, 5-7:30 pm
    Okanogan PUD Meeting Room
    1331 2nd Ave N
    Okanogan, WA 98840

Wenatchee    March 5, 6-8:30 pm
    Chelan County PUD Auditorium
    327 N. Wenatchee Ave.
    Wenatchee, WA 98801

Cle Elum    March 9, 5-7:30 pm
    Putnam Centennial Center Meeting Room
    719 East 3rd Street
    Cle Elum, WA 98922

Seattle    March 10, 5-7:30 pm
    Seattle Pacific University Bertona Classroom 1
    103 West Bertona
    Seattle, WA 98119

Bellingham    March 11, 5-7:30 pm
    Bellingham Central Library Lecture Room
    210 Central Avenue
    Bellingham, WA 98227

Long-distance backpacking seminar in CdA

HIKING — Long-distance hikers can take the mystery out of planning by taking advantage of a special event on Feb. 21 in Coeur d'Alene.

  • Are you planning a long-distance hike or know someone who is?
  • Is your pack too dang heavy?
  • Have questions about how to cook on trail, or how to resupply?
  • Are you PCT, CDT or AT curious?

Perhaps the Inland NW Winter Ruck is the place for you to be, says veteran long-distance hiker Phil Hough of Sandpoint.
The event is set for 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Feb. 21 at Lake City Community Church, 6000 N. Ramsey Rd. in Couer d'Alene, sponsored by the American Long-Distance Hiking Association-West.

Topics Include:
  • Leave No Trace Ethics …
  • The PCT, CDT, and AT and what you need to know
  • Trail and town etiquette
  • Food, Safety and navigation
The event offers One on One & Group Q&A with experienced Long Distance Hikers and "Triple Crown"members of ALDHA-West who will be there on site to help

Chili lunch and refreshments will be provided. $10.00 donation, $5 for ALDHA-West members

Live tree hacked down along South Hill Bluff trails

TRAILS — Trails users on the South Hill Bluff today found a live ponderosa pine crudely hacked down by someone using an ax.

The apparent vandalism is below 37th and High Drive.

A lot of people have chipped in to create the trail system and the Friends of the Bluff have organized clean ups as well applying forestry techniques and hundreds of hours of volunteer effort to make the bluff more fire safe.

But this tree was in the open, providing nothing but healthy shade and habitat.

What the hell?

Yellowstone to charge backcountry permit fee

NATIONAL PARKS — Yellowstone National Park will require an overnight backcountry permit fee starting May 1.

The National Park Service says the money raised from the new fee will help pay the costs of running the park’s backcountry program.

Under the new fee, anyone obtaining a permit to stay overnight in the backcountry between Memorial Day and Sept. 10 will have to pay a per-person, per night permit fee for all individuals 9 years of age or older.

Backpackers and boaters will pay $3.00 per-person, per night, with groups of 5 or more paying a total of $15 per night. Stock users will be charged $5.00 per-person, per night.

Visitors may purchase an annual backcountry pass for $25.

Hiker permit quotas adopted to spread out ‘Wild’ crowd on PCT

HIKING — Growing numbers of hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Mexico-to-Canada route made increasingly popular by the movie “Wild,” have led officials to take steps to alleviate traffic.

The Pacific Crest Trail Association announced on Wednesday a new permitting system that will limit to 50 the number of long-distance hikers heading north each day from San Diego County.

An online application process will allow hikers to schedule start dates and view projected hiker density on any given day.

The PCTA’s Jack Haskel says the goal is not to limit the number of hikers, but to spread them out.

The trail starts near Campo, California, and stretches 2,650 miles before ending at the Canadian border.

Haskel says since the movie came out in December, website traffic is up 300 percent.

Cheap gas, devalued loonie: Time to recreate in Canada

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — The Canadian — Rockies, ski resorts, fishing waters — are calling louder than ever.

Gas is cheaper than it's been in years and the Canadian dollar is low, low, low.

Pack the bags, baby, this a great opportunity to head north across the border.

Plagued primarily by plummeting oil prices, the Canadian dollar — the loonie — reached its lowest value in six years in recent days, trading on the global market for barely 79 cents U.S.

A year ago, anxieties were already rising after the loonie dipped below 90 cents for the first time since mid-2009.

This is troublesome for business that rely on Canadian tourists coming to the US, but it's an invitation for US citizens to visit Canada.

Analysts forecast the loonie may keep dropping in value through spring and potentially summer perhaps as low as 75 cents U.S.

State Parks considers letting farmers use rail trails

PARKS — A proposal to allow farmers and ranchers to occasional use Washington rail trails will be considered by the State Parks and Recreation Commission at a regular meeting Jan. 29 in Tumwater.

The policy proposal would permit certain limited non-recreational motorized use of state park long-distance trail corridors, such as the John Wayne Trail.

The trail corridors are legally set aside for non-motorized recreation only.

"In the interest of being good neighbors, State Parks is seeking additional flexibility and consistency—for example, allowing farmers to use the trail right-of-way to access their fields," Parks officials say in a media release.

"The policy would set guidelines for permits and is intended to ensure agency responsiveness to such requests, while providing oversight to prevent adverse effects on recreationists and to recoup the cost of any trail damage from allowed motorized uses.

The meeting is set for 9 a.m., Jan. 29, in the Labor and Industries Auditorium, 7273 Linderson Way S.W., Tumwater.

According to the meeting agenda, the commission also will consider adoption of policy statements to provide direction for the agency’s real estate management activities in four areas: recreation business activities; enterprise lands; land transfers and exchanges with other government jurisdictions; and land leases from other jurisdictions.

State Parks manages approximately 124 developed parks, marine parks, heritage sites and properties, altogether totaling approximately 120,000 acres statewide. The agency manages leases on some properties, while holding others for future park and trail development.

In other business, the Commission will consider adoption of the 2015 director’s performance agreement, an annual work plan for the agency and director. Several reports will be presented, including reports on the agency’s Boating Programs, Interpretive Program, Discover Pass, current finances and 2015-17 budget requests and a legislative report.

Friends of Mount Spokane to fill board openings

PARKS — The Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park Board of Directors is looking for new members.

The panel of up to 15 members serves as a link between the park manager and park visitors, says Cris Currie, board president.

“It provides management recommendations to the park manager, organizes volunteer park projects and raises funds to help fulfill management plans for improved facilities and education within the park,” he said.

 The group meets 3-5 times a year and is looking for people who have a passion for the park and who can help represent recreational user groups as well as other interests including education, business and environmental protection, Currie says.

For an application, email a letter of interest to criscurrie22@gmail.com.

Hikers halfway on winter thru-hike of PCT

HIKING — Shawn Forry if Midpines, Calif., and Justin Lichter of Truckee, Calif., are attempting to be the first to complete a documented thru-hike of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail during winter.

Having started in Canada in late October, they're near Lake Tahoe this week, more than halfway toward their destination at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Pacific Crest Trail Association blogger Jack "Found" Haskel. They hope to finish in April.

"They’ve walked so far that the metal on their snowshoes is wearing thin," Haskel reports. "Soon, they’ll switch to skis."

From frostbite and drenching rain to friendships and stunning and quiet landscapes, their journey is remarkable. The feat requires skill, experience in snow-camping and winter travel plus avalanche awareness, and some luck. Many experts say it's crazy and dangerous.

Lichter, a ski patroller, has more than 35,000 miles of backcountry experience around the world and Forry more than 15,000 miles, according to the  Reno Gazette-Journal. The two also completed a 150-mile ski-and-hike trip last year between the Sonora Pass and Mammoth Lakes.

The light snowfall that plagued the region's ski areas in the early season was a boon to the PCT hikers, who've been snowshoeing 20-mile days since Christmas.

One of the pluses of hiking the PCT, say's Lichter, is then when they take a rest day or resupply, they can nab a motel room at cheap winter rates.

Scotchman Peaks Wilderness group optimistic, plans activities

PUBLIC LANDS — The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness based in North Idaho and Western Montana is celebrating the group's 10th anniversary on a high note this month. 

Recent passage of the Montana Heritage Act indicates that Congress is able — and even somewhat willing — to designate Wilderness, says FSPW program coordinator Sandy Compton.

The group has not yet succeeded in winning official wilderness designation for the 88,000-acre roadless area that straddles the Idaho-Montana border. But since the group was founded in 2005, it's attracted nearly 5,000 "friends," Compton said.

“Our new commission in Bonner County is very supportive,” said FSPW executive director Phil Hough, who's based in Sandpoint. “We’ve worked hard in our two Western Montana counties to gain support in a number of ways, including opening an office in Libby and helping create the Lincoln County Prosperity Forum Series."

  • The 10th anniversary celebration will begin in Sandpoint, Friday, Jan. 9, with live music, silent-auction and picnic-style food at Tango Café in the Columbia Bank. Get tickets here.
  • The FSPW  schedule of winter group hikes begins on Jan. 11 with an easy-to-moderate snowshoe trek up Lightning Creek.
  • March events in Troy and Thompson Falls will feature author and historian Jack Nisbet speaking on David Thompson’s explorations of the Kootenai and Clark Fork valleys in the early 1800s.

Stewardship has joined wilderness advocacy in the group's approach to securing protection for the peaks that overlook Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River. 

FSPW volunteers and staff have contributed hundreds of hours of work to:

  • Build or improve Scotchman Peak Trail 65 and Star Peak Trail 999.
  • Monitor weeds, conduct multi-day white bark pine surveys, work on stream restoration and assist with trailside tree planting for the national forest “Treasured Landscape” program.
  • Coordinate summer hike programs for adults as well as for young children.
  • Assist wolverine researchers by setting and monitoring remote camera stations in Idaho and Montana.
  • Create a Winter Tracks program to teach tracking skills and wildlife monitoring methods to area youth, including kids from Spokane.
  • Plan summer 2015 trail projects on the lower portion of the Scotchman Peak Trail and continue to work on trails in Lightning Creek.

Congress finally gives wilderness a nod

PUBLIC LANDS — Congress shook its inability to work across the aisle this week and passed public lands legislation that's been years in the making. 

The U.S. House on Thursday passed a defense spending bill containing a broad public lands package for the West.

In Montana, it provides new wilderness on the Rocky Mountain Front, a ban on mining near Glacier National Park and changes supporting oil exploration and grazing on federal land.

The bill adds 67,000 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and designating 208,000 acres along the Front as a conservation management area.

In Washington, the bill expands the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area by 22,000 acres.

It also creates a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which includes the B Reactor at Hanford.

It's not all perfect from anyone's point of view.  But many experts say it's better than stalemate.

The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration, where a vote is expected next week.

Value of getting together

The Missoulian has a story — Report tracks successes of conservation collaboration in Montana — indicating that collaborative groups have helped shake the shackles of a do-nothing Congress in public lands issues.

The story cites the "Collaboration at a Crossroads" report from the Wilderness Society, which examines 15 of the 37 active roundtables on land-use in Montana. Among them is the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front, which worked on the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act passed Thursday by the House.

Will Reese Witherspoon spur a backpacking boom?

HIKING — Industry insiders are wondering whether the soon-to-be-released movie "Wild" featuring Reese Witherspoon will provide the boost for backpacking that A River Runs Through It, featuring Brad Pitt, bestowed on fly fishing.

The buzz is already buzzing.

“The movie follows the book by Cheryl Strayed, a woman who traversed more than 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself.

Media outlets already are hyping backpacking destinations as they spin-off news about the book and movie.

Pacific Northwest writer Craig Romano, my co-author for the guidebook Day Hiking Eastern Washington, is quoted in a Fox News piece on hiking along with a list of "best hikes"  most of which I agree with, except I hate "best hikes" lists.

Here are Romano's recommendations for top North American hikes to add to your bucket list.

1. The John Muir Trail - Pacific Crest Loop
This 211 mile long section of Pacific Crest Trail features stunning cliffs, lakes, granite peaks and canyons. The trails pass through some of America's most stunning backdrops, including Ansel Adams Wildernesses, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Hikers can take the trail going North or South but travel during the winter months is not advised.

2. Old Rag Mountain - Shenandoah National Park
Described as one of the most beautiful and "most dangerous" hikes in the country by the National Park Service, this nine-mile loop contains many rocky paths and a significant change in elevation. For this reason, the park discourages young children and shorter adults from attempting the seven to eight hour trek. Despite the difficult terrain, this trail can be very crowded on weekends so if you have some free time during the week, head over the Shenandoah and be the king or queen or your own mountain for the day.

3. Lincoln Woods Trail - New Hampshire

White Mountain National Forest is home to over 1,200 miles of non-motorized trails for all levels of hikers. But for novice hikers, Lincoln Woods Trail affords great views on a popular route with relatively stable terrain. Summer hikers can take bait and tackle gar along to fish in the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. In the Fall, enjoy spectacular Northeastern leaf foliage colors, a favorite time of year for Romano.

4.Devils Garden Primitive Loop - Arches National Park

This difficult trek traverses over seven miles of rocky terrain but hikers are sure to witness some of the most breathtaking views Arches has to offer. The National Park Service estimates this hike will take between three to five hours to bring plenty of water. Not recommended when rock is wet or snowy.

5. Florida National Scenic Trail
While hiking usually brings to mind mountainous terrain, Romano says there are great hikes to be find anywhere nature exists. "The Florida Trail is almost 1,400 miles and it has great sections for long distance hikers." If you're just starting, it might be better to stay out of the Everglades unless you're with an experienced hiker. Whether you're looking for wildlife, interesting marine species or a better understanding of the Florida ecosystem, the Florida Trail has something for everyone.

6. Forest Park - Portland
"People living in urban area have great hiking networks right in their backyards. Especially Portland," says Romano. He recommends Forest Park with its more than 80 miles of scenic Northwest wildlife. For hikers young and old, Forest Park Conservancy even has its own app with maps of hiking trails, weather updates and other details.

7. Mount Rainier National Park - Washington

"I've hiked all over the U.S. but some of my all time favorite trails are in Washington— I just love the diversity of mountains, wildlife, forested scenery and even wildflowers," says Romano. Among his favorites in the Pacific Northwest: Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades. All National Parks are popular tourist destinations. Rainier is the smallest of three making it a great destination for new hikers; Olympic is the largest and features more diverse terrain.

8. Porcupine Mountain State Park - Michigan

While most hikers tend to gravitate to the East or West Coasts, great trails can be found everywhere. On Michigan's Upper Peninsula, take a walk along Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Mountain State Park. This scenic trail has high peaks, sparkling rivers, waterfalls and more. Campers will also find a fully loaded RV amenities area for over night adventures.

9. Appalachian Trail - Fitzgerald Falls near Greenwood Lake, NY

This scenic section of the Appalachian Trail is a perfect spot for city-dwellers. Just an hour and a half from New York City, Greenwood Lake is known for its pristine waters and summer aquatic activities. This 4.6 mile loop involves moderate climbing ability to reach the summit of Mombasha High Point. History buffs will enjoy exploring an abandoned settlement along the trail and on a clear day, views of New York City can be seen on the Southern horizon.

Read more of the buzz about the movie Wild:
—“Wild” stars Reese Witherspoon as a woman who takes on an arduous solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail
—Reese Witherspoon Sounds Like A Feminist In 'Wild' Because She Is One

—'Wild' writer says actress Reese Witherspoon 'honored' her story

—Behind the scenes of Wild

Mining in the Cabinets: It’s a question of wilderness

PUBLIC LANDS — I'm getting mixed reviews in comments and emails about my Sunday Outdoors story: Not-so-wild wilderness: Mining proposals threaten Cabinet Mountains streams, lakes and grizzlies.

Some people say I featured only wilderness activists and that there's really nothing to worry about regarding the mining proposals surrounding the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness in northwestern Montana.

Besides, we all need the metals miners extract, they point out.


But the point of the story, and the sidebar focused on the impacts of the mining on grizzly bears, is that while state and federal agencies are poring over mounds of documents on the impacts of each mine proposal, no agency appears to be sizing up the CUMULATIVE IMPACTS of both new mine proposals plus the re-starting of the existing Troy Mine plus the proposals for more motorized vehicle access in the Kootenai National Forest management plan.

The sum of these threats warrants public attention, hence the story.

The Forest Service declined to answer my prepared questions that focused on cumulative impacts.

"The process seems to overlook the wilderness as a whole.

“There’s no advocacy group for the wilderness in Sanders County. It wouldn’t be a popular position. But when I’m hiking in there, I also see lots of people form Coeur d’Alene, Spokane and Missoula, and none of them seems to know about the mines.

"A lot of people in Sanders County don’t think people from other areas don’t have a voice in the issue because they don’t live here. But the wilderness belongs to everyone.

     — Jim Costello, SaveOurCabinets.org

"It’s wilderness: Either you’re for or against it."

     —Mary Crowe Costello, Rock Creek Alliance

Banff Mountain Films lineup listed for Spokane

ADVENTURE — The lineup of films for the three-day run of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Spokane has been decided — just hours before the first films will be shown tonight starting at 7 p.m. at The Bing Crosby Theater.

Shows are sold out for all three nights.

World Tour host — better known as the World Tour road warrior — Holly Elliott met with Phil Bridgers of Mountain Gear met this afternoon at No-Li Brewery to work through the options. They take a lot of care in getting a good mix of 7-9 films of varying lengths and subject matter each night. No repeats through the three-night run.

Elliott already has been on road with screenings in Montana, but Spokane is among the first of hundreds of shows across the globe through September. She says The Bing is one of her favorite venues for sound, intimacy and the atmosphere of the facility and the crowd.

Read on for the lineup in Spokane:


Vasu Sojitra - Out on a Limb

Tumwater Solitude

Cerro Torre (Best Film: Climbing)


Delta Dawn (Best Short Film)

Forgotten Dirt

The Little Things - Meghann O' Brien

Sufferfest 2 - Desert Alpine (People's Choice Award: Radical Reels)


Danny MacAskill - The Ridge


Love in the Tetons

Sculpted in Time - The Wiseman

And Then We Swam (Best Film: Exploration and Adventure)


Mending the Line (People's Choice Award at Banff)

Just Keep Running

Valley Uprising - The Golden Age (Grand Prize winner)




Happy Winter

Arctic Swell

Tashi and the Monk (Best Film: Mountain Culture)


Africa Fusion


Into the Empty Quarter

Wild Women - Faith Dickey

Sun Dog

International Selkirk Loop motor route detailed in new book

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — A photographic journey encircling the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho, eastern Washington and southeastern British Columbia has been compiled into a new book.

“Selkirks Spectacular” (Keokee Books) highlights the International Selkirk Loop, a 280-mile scenic route named by Rand McNally as one of five “Best of the Roads.”

The book features more than 300 images by photographers Jerry Pavia and Tim Cady along with chapters written by Canadian Ross Klatte on the history, geology, communities, natural features, attractions, and the flora and fauna showcase this beautiful corner of the earth.

A book publication party with the authors and photographers is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21, at The Pearl Theater, 7160 Ash St. in Bonners Ferry.

The book captures highlights from Lake Pend Oreille to Kootenay Lake to endangered woodland caribou and ruffed grouse as well as the region's mining and logging legacies.

The book has two front covers, one for the U.S. side and one for the Canada side. Halfway through, readers flip the book over and start again from the other side.

Free entry to Washington state parks Tuesday

PUBLIC LANDS — The Discover Pass is not required on vehicles at Washington State Parks on Tuesday, the  final free day of 2014 as the parks observer Veterans Day.

The “free days” are in keeping with legislation that created the Discover Pass, a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on state-managed recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources.

The Discover Pass legislation provided that State Parks could designate up to 12 “free days” when the pass would not be required to visit state parks.

The Discover Pass is still required to access WDFW and DNR lands on State Parks free days.

‘Trails to Trout’ topic at Trout Unlimited in Sandpoint

FISHING – Spokesman-Review Outdoors editor Rich Landers will present a program, Trails to Trout, at the annual meeting of the Panhandle Trout Unlimited Chapter Thursday, Nov. 13, at Di Luna’s on Cedar in Sandpoint.

Cocktail/bragging hour starts at 5:30 followed by dinner off Di Luna’s special menu.

Program starts at 7 p.m. with no admission fee.

Volunteers needed for Dishman Hills trail work

HIKING — The Dishman Hills Conservancy and Spokane Mountaineers plan to complete a new stretch of trail this weekend linking conservancy lands with the Glenrose Conservation Futures Area managed by Spokane County.

The Cliffs Trail needs another 500 feet of new construction to finish up on the 2,200 feet of trail volunteers already have completed.

Meet Saturday, Nov. 8,  at 8:30 a.m. at the Ponderosa Elementary School, 10105 E. Cimmaron Dr. in Spokane Valley to carpool to the work site.

  • Directions: From I-90 take the Argonne Exit and drive South on Argonne until it becomes Dishman-Mica Rd.  At a stoplight turn right on Schafer, pass Redeemer Lutheran Church, the 3rd road to the right will be Cimmaron.  Ponderosa Elementary is 2 blocks up Cimmaron on your right.

No trail construction experience necessary. "We have great on-the-job training in a low stress at-your-own-pace atmosphere," organizers say.

BRING:  Gloves, water, lunch, and clothes for the weather.  Most of the route is open grassland or scattered ponderosa.   A little daypack to carry things in is handy.  This will be an all-day project so bring what you need.

TOOLS:  Tools will be provided but if you have your own Pulaski, grub hoe, rake or the like, it would help extend our supply. 

RSVP: Lynn Smith, (208) 772-4337,  kslynndeb@hotmail.com.

Plan ahead for free entry to federal lands Nov. 9-11

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal and state land managers offer fee-free entry days to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.

  • The last big freebie of the year is Nov. 8-11 — Veterans Day Weekend — with free entry to virtually all the federal public lands.  NOTE: National Parks are offering free entry only on Nov. 11.
  • Washington State Parks will waive the Discover Pass requirement on Nov. 11.

The fee waivers do not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.

Beware of Zombies: Riverside Park trail to get scary on Oct. 25

PARKS — The third annual Return of the Zombies hike is set for Oct. 25 on what's billed as "the scariest half-mile hike ever" in Riverside State Park.

Hikers of all ages are invited to hike the haunted trail between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. as a fundraiser for the Riverside State Park Foundation.

The route begins at the park's Seven-Mile Airstrip, 7903 W. Missoula Road, in Nine Mile Falls. See directions.

Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for youths age 3 – 12 and free for children under 3.

  • The Washington Discover Pass is not needed on vehicles for this event.

Adults are issued a flashlight, and kids ages 3 to 12 receive a glow-in-the-dark bracelet. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Pets are not allowed. 

At this outdoor version of a haunted house, participants hike a half mile through the woods at the park, while volunteer “zombies” provide the scary atmosphere. Participants should be prepared to walk over uneven terrain and wear comfortable shoes and warm clothing. Organizers will be selling hot chocolate and coffee. A DJ will be entertaining at a warming fire.

Info: Cherie’ Gwinn, 465-5066 or cherie.gwinn@parks.wa.gov.

Nature hikes make us happy, study confirms

HIKING — British and American scientists have published new research showing that group nature walks help us combat stress while boosting mental well-being.

Researchers from the University of Michigan and Edge Hill University in England evaluated 1,991 participants in England’s Walking for Health program, which organizes nearly 3,000 walks per week for more than 70,000 regular participants. They found that the nature walks were associated with significantly less depression in addition to mitigating the negative effects of stressful life events and perceived stress.

“Stress isn’t ever going to go away, so it is important to have a way to cope with it,” said Sara Warber, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and senior author of the study. “Walking in nature is a coping mechanism—the benefits aren’t just physical.”

The findings were published in the September issue of Ecopsychology.

Program: Topping Colorado’s 14ers in 60 hours

HIKING — Ultra-athlete Ben Clark will give a presentation tonight in Spokane on his quest to scale 14 Colorado Fourteeners — peaks topping 14,000 feet in elevation — in 60 hours.

The free show starts at 7 p.m. at the Mountain Gear retail store, 2002 N. Division St.

Nolan's 14 is an unofficial race challenge to bag the famous collection of high Rocky Mountains peaks. The challenge goes about 100 miles through the Sawatch Range accumulating 90,000 vertical feet

With a 15 percent finish rate, only seven people have completed the challenge since its inception in 1998.

Clark's first two attempts in 2013 and one this year were ended by severe weather conditions.

This program centers on his imminent next attempt.

Raise a cold one to youth outdoor education

OUTDOORS — Join the North Idaho folks from Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education (SOLE) and NoLi Brewhouse for the kick-off of a community fund-raiser for youth outdoor education programs. 

The event is set for 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Idaho Pour Authority, 203 Cedar St. in Sandpoint

This fun after-hours event will include great raffle prizes, a seasonal beer line-up from No-Li and the opportunity for to support a great cause!

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year links to National Wildlife Refuge Week.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.