Latest from The Spokesman-Review
PUBLIC LANDS — Land classification proposals that could make or break a plan to expand the Mount Spokane alpine ski area will be presented at the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Thursday, July 24, in Bellingham.
In 2010, Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park proposed expanding its ski area within the state park to provide more intermediate terrain needed to remain competitive. Conservation and wildlife groups have contested the expansion.
- Appeals forced more scrutiny and delays on the expansion.
The ski area concession encompasses 1,425 acres of the 14,000-acre state park.
In 1999, land classifications were adopted for the park, but 850 acres was left unclassified in an area designated for potential alpine ski expansion.
The ski area has proposed installing a lift, which already has been purchased, and expanding skiing with seven new runs over nearly 280 acres of that area.
State Parks staff is releasing a report this week that proposes four land classification options. One of the options would designate the land a “natural forest area,” which would preclude any development and most recreation.
An environmental impact statement on the land classifications is to be released this week. Public comment will be taken through mid-August. The commission is scheduled to choose an option on Nov. 20.
The Lands Council based in Spokane plans to argue that the report has flaws, including the stance that the area does not include old growth forest.
“I guess we’re still in a little bit of a battle,” said Mike Peterson, executive director.
STATE PARKS — A hut geared primarily for snowshoers at Mount Spokane is well on its way to being completed for the next winter season.
Nora Searing, above, and Cris Currie of the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park were working on the hut Thursday, as Nora painted the stair railings.
“Afterwards I had a scenic little hike all by myself up Trail 140, while Cris continued to work,” she said, making a perfect day of work and pleasure.
Says Cris, who heads the Friends group:
The volunteer project to finish the snowshoe hut at Mt. Spokane is up and running. Today, volunteers painted the first coat on 3 sides and we've made lots of progress insulating the floor. I'm planning to work on it next Thursday through Sunday, so if you would like to help, please let me know what days you are available. If it's showery weather, we'll paint inside, and if not, we'll do the 2nd exterior coat. Three to five people each day would be perfect. It's also not too early to start getting firewood if anyone is so inclined. I could also use a couple more carpenters for the more technical work like the deck railing, the ADA ramp, the wood shed, and the interior siding and window trim. We also need someone to make a table and benches out of a really nice white pine I found in the nordic area. It has been ripped into rough cut lumber and drying since last August. This place is going to be soooo nice when it's all done!!!
STATE PARKS — Roads and trails are clearing at Mount Spokane, but there's still plenty of snow in the upper elevations and timber.
Warren Walker rode his bike Thursday and was able to accumulate 8,000 feet of climbing — but he wasn't able to pedal all the way to the top of the mountain.
“The Summit Road is still snowed in,” he said in a post with the photo above.
WINTER SPORTS — Skiing is winding down with a flourish at regional resorts, with good snow going into the last weekend at 49 Degrees North, Silver Mountain and Mount Spokane.
But 49 Degrees is making the temptation hard to resist with FREE lift tickets all week.
Says today's snow report:
Thanks to our friends at Toyota, ALL LIFT TICKETS ARE FREE UNTIL APRIL 13TH!
WINTER SPORTS — If I weren't forced at knife-point to be here in the office today, I'd be taking advantage of the prime conditions presented by the weekend's dump of 10 inches of new snow to be skiing Art's Boogie and other off-trail routes at Mount Spokane State Park.
See Sunday's story (also click the Photos button for photos) about Art Bookstrom, who helped blaze an off-the-groomed-trails route for people who sometimes long for a peaceful trek through the woods.
Extension: Art's Boogie is about 3Ks one-way from the Selkirk Lodge area to the Nova Hut. Extend your pleasure by continuing up the access road to the Quartz Mountain Lookout (see photo).
On the other hand, there's freezing rain in the area, so driving would be tricky and the temperatures will be warming as the day advances.
Maybe the office isn't such a bad place to be?
WINTER SPORTS — I feel sorry for those of you who couldn't call in sick and head up to a ski area to take advantage of today's clear skies and fresh pow.
Here's the view from Quartz Mountain in Mount Spokane State Park.
WINTER SPORTS — The trend toward more dogs, linked to the growing popularity of snowshoeing, is getting easier to track at Mount Spokane State Park.
And sometimes you might track it into your car.
Snowshoer Warren D. Walker posted several photos of dog poop he observed while hiking the mountain on Monday, noting that there are plenty of similar photo opps and the trend is dramatic and disgusting.
Part of the problem is people who violate the state park leash law while others neglect to bring bags to clean up after their pets. Says Walker:
It is a STATE PARK - not a DOG PARK:
Pictures from today - even one at the top of Mt Kit Carson.
I understand your love of animals - but it can not be that hard to pick up after your dog. We are in a State Park - a public place and on a trail used by many - so out of respect and courtesy for others using the trail please pick up after your dog.
Having a dog inside the State Park is a privilege - not a right.
WINTER SPORTS — Pity everyone who has no way out from the gloom of the lowlands.
A few folks are choosing to rise above the persistent fog by heading to their favorite ski resort.
John Stucke joined Caroline Woodwell got up early enough to be the first skiers at Mount Spokane nordic ski area this morning, early enough to ski perfectly groomed, untracked trails and catch the sunrise from the Shadow Mountain trail.
Good way to start the day.
WINTER SPORTS — Gather your skis, skins and headlamp for and evening of food, climbing and downhilling under the stars at Mount Spokane on Jan. 24.
Mountain Gear is sponsoring Nachtspektakel (pronounced knocked-shpeck-tockle
Pre-registered skiers will:
- Sign in at Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park's Lodge 2 by 5:45 p.m.
- The group skins up and begins the uphill tour at 6.
- At the summit, they'll enjoy drinks and appetizers at the historic Mount Spokane Vista House.
- Everyone enjoys the downhill run under the resort's lighted slopes back to the base of the mountain by 9 p.m.
- Enjoy drinks and dinner at Lodge 2 with Mountain Gear hosts.
Click “continue reading” for more details and link for pre-registration.
WINTER SPORTS — Several special nordic skiing activities are gearing up this week, according to Spokane Nordic. Time to dig in:
Hands-on Waxing Clinic
Friday, Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. — A two-hour class on base prep to finish waxing on your own gear at Fitness Fanatics in Spokane Valley. $35 a person/set of skis. Pre-register, (509) 922-6080.
Kids' Telemark clinic this weekend
Cross-Country Skiing Basics Class
Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. — Session at the Spokane REI store covers fundamental differences between backcountry, telemarking, and touring ski styles, plus clothing choices and where to get started. Pre-register here.
Coming up Jan. 19: WinterFest, presented by Spokane Nordic.
Here's what to think about now:
Register for Donut Dash
The Donut Dash Sprint Race during WinterFest Jan. 19th is geared to all ages and abilities. Enter the lighthearted or competitive bracket. Learn more and register.
> Backcountry Clinic and Free lessons
A few spots are still available for the FREE Backcountry Ski Clinic at WinterFest. There are also free lessons slots available throughout the morning.
> Sign up for soup and cider
Two “folk ski” routes to free soup and cider at the Nova Hut will be featured on Jan. 19. Learn more and register.
WINTER SPORTS — Although skiers would prefer a nice dump of new snow to soften the slopes, conditions were perfect for snowshoers exploring Mount Spokane from top to bottom today: firm footing, sunny skies and not a breath of wind on the summit.
WINTER SPORTS — Yesterday I noted two snowshoeing trails recently marked on Mount Spokane for all to follow.
Today, snowshoer Warren D. Walker announced that another route has been flagged (tape to be removed at end of season). Here's his notice:
New OFF-TRAIL option to hike to Bald Knob.
A winter trail is marked (flagged) from Trail 100 up to Bald Knob (dashed line on map). The route is approximate – and goes cross country. Just follow the engineer tape. This completes a loop trail to Bald Knob – or as an alternate return route from the CCC Cabin to the parking lot. The double tape is the trail head as seen From Trail 100 - just beyond the first creek drainage - just look uphill.
The printable map of snowshoeing routes on the Friends of Mount Spokane website was recently updated.
It's called the Trail 260 Loop and starts just below the Selkirk Lodge. From the Lodge, hike east and downhill and cross the Linder Ridge Road. Go around the closed sign to the pink flagging and then head straight downhill.If you are on the groomed Nordic trail, you have gone to far! Just find the easiest way and head straight down until you get the to Condo Road. There is no flagging or trail on this portion of the route.Turn right on the road and pass through a large logged area with great views. After going around a bend and crossing over a wooded stream, there will be another small logged area. Head uphill into the logged area, following some more pink flagging, and then find Trail 260 heading to the right. It is an old logging road that gradually climbs the hill back to the starting point.I opened up the trail last summer and trimmed it a few weeks ago. Yesterday I tracked the whole route and added some more flagging. I would consider it an intermediate trail and it took me less than an hour. You can easily extend it by hiking more of the Condo Road in either direction.The road is on Inland Empire Paper Co. property until it enters the SnowBlaze property. If you follow it east, you will come to the groomed Nordic trails at the bridge. (Snowshoeing is prohibited on the groomed ski trails.)Trail 260 was going to be a snowmobile route to get the machines off the Linder Ridge Road until IEPCO banned snowmobiling completely from their property. So now we can use it as a snowshoe route! Enjoy!
WINTER SPORTS — Snowshoer and state park volunteer Warren D. Walker got up very early this morning to be high on the slopes of Mount Spokane for sunrise.
To get even more from his outing, with the permission of park staff, he marked a trail for snowshoers to follow.
I hiked today to see the sunrise from the top and to finish marking Trail 140. Did both. Trail 140 is now marked from Bear Creek Lodge to the summit. A good return route from the top is off the back on Trail 140 down to the CCC Cabin then back on 130/131 to the snowmobile parking lot.
WINTER SPORTS —
UPDATE 12/23/13 at 2:10 p.m.: The historic stone Vista House at the mountain summit will open Dec. 26 and stay open daily through the holiday break, according to Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park. After Jan. 5 it will be open weekends and holidays. New this year, canned beer will be served along with the usual soups, snacks and hot chocolate.
WINTER SPORTS — While fog shrouded low-lying ares in the region Saturday, local snowshoer Don Story climbed to the summit of Mount Spokane for sunshine and sweeping views. Here's his comment:
WINTER SPORTS — Saturday will be a better day to wax your cross-country skis than to use them.
According to today's grooming report, there's been no grooming on the Mount Spokane nordic trails for a few days because the snow is ice and in some places “hard as a rock.”
Snowshoer Warren D. Walker found the footing firm and the Vista House coated with frost on the mountain summit this week (above).
WINTER SPORTS — My recent blog post on the transitions at Mount Spokane State Park indicated the biggest change this seasons is the elimination of the Discover Pass for WINTER vehicle access to the park through March 31.
The handy chart above, courtesy of the Spokane REI store, helps illustrate the change.
Read the story for details.
WINTER SPORTS — This is transition time for nordic skiers and snowshoers at Mount Spokane State Park.
This week: State Park staff was out recently to clear about 50 trees that had blown down on the 60-kilometer cross-country trails system after two feet of snow followed the storm and buried them well. Taking the snowcat out for that job helped pack some of the trails, and Park Manager Steve Christensen went out on his own with the snowmobile groomer to smooth out the trails, although it was too hard-packed to set tracks. The Selkirk Lodge will be opened on Thanksgiving Day, he said. “I've been trying to save a little money on heating it — it costs about $1,000 a month — since there's not that many people up here yet,” he said.
Starting Dec. 1: Official grooming will begin if snow conditions allow. The biggest change this year mostly affects snowshoers. Dec. 1 marks the day that Discover Passes will no longer be valid for parking during the winter season at Mount Spokane, where all vehicles will need a Sno Park Permit in their vehicles EXCEPT at the Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park official parking when the resort is operating. No parking will be allowed along the roads without a Sno-Park Permit this season.
Lots of other things are gearing up. A good way to stay informed is to Join or Renew a membership with Spokane Nordic and get the club's regular newsletters and email updates. A sampling of this week's updates:
Snowball potluck, Dec. 7
Celebrate the first Saturday of grooming at the Mt. Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park with the Snowball potluck on Dec. 7, assuming conditions cooperate. If it has to be moved later for lack of grooming conditions, we'll let you know through email and Facebook. This is open to ALL skiers. Get to know your fellow skiers and start the season with a full belly. Bring a dish to share for lunch at noon at the Selkirk Lodge. What to bring: Names starting with A-P bring a main Dish; Q-Z bring Dessert.
WinterFest early registration prizes
Even better than Black Friday… register for WinterFest by Dec. 1 and you'll be automatically entered to win an REI backpack. WinterFest is a new event the club is organizing to celebrate muscle-powered winter sports at Mount Spokane.
Kids' skis available
The online ski swap lists a collection of used small kids' gear available at Mountain Gear's retail store in Spokane. You can also find a set of barely-used ski waxes and some booties for your skijoring dog.
Nordic Kids and Youth Rangers
Register for Nordic Kids and the new Youth Rangers program before Dec. 15 to avoid late fees. And invite a friend to get their kid going in lessons!
Adult nordic skiing lessons
Adult lessons are scheduled for all experience levels, skate or classic on Saturdays and Sundays starting Dec. 7. Tweak those skills, and invite that friend or co-worker who's never skied to try out a beginner lesson.
Contact Spokane Nordic by email: email@example.com
TRAILS — The work park staff and volunteers put in building bridges at Mount Spokane this summer and fall is paying off this winter, especially for snowshoers who can easily get across Burping Brook on the trails above the Mount Kit Carson Loop Road.
Holly Weiler of the Spokane Mountaineers and Friends of Mount Spokane State Park volunteered her muscle to build the bridge. On Sunday she used muscle power to enjoy the luxury of easy stream crossings and took time to post this photo.
Weiler also is a member of the Washington Trails Association, which took the lead on building bridges and other trail work in the park this year.
WINTER SPORTS — Snow conditions in the Mount Spokane Cross-Country Skiing Park were ungroomed but excellent for snow shoeing, says Warren Walker, who checked out the area today and snapped this photo of other snowshoers he saw there.
Snowshoeing is allowed around the cross-country trails until grooming starts.
WINTER SPORTS — The 49th annual Ski Swap sponsored by the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol coming up this weekend, Oct. 26-27, will offer a new feature to the main activity of buying and selling used winter gear — a FREE Learn To Ski Area
Beginner skiers don't have to wait until snow carpets the mountain. They can take their first turns at the Ski Swap.
Mt. Spokane Ski Area will provide skis and boots from Elan, as well as helmets for each participant. Certified instructors will coach beginners through their first turns.
The Learn To Ski Area is FREE to all participants! Minors must bring a parent for supervision.
All participants will receive a coupon for $10 off any beginner lesson at Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.
The Learn To Ski area will be open at the Ski Swap on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 27, from 9 a.m. to noon.
The Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap is the Pacific Northwest's largest winter sports retailer, featuring new and gently used gear from area shops and individuals.
Visitors to the Ski Swap will receive a FREE Mt. Spokane Thursday non-holiday lift ticket by purchasing advance tickets online at www.skipatrolskiswap.com.
These guests will also receive a $20 Liftopia voucher, and gain early access to booth & vendor spaces at 8:00am Saturday. Shopping begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.
FLY FISHING — Bob Bates, 83, passed away Wednesday, a week after he was at the monthly Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club meeting as curious as ever about the sport.
- Here's an oldie goldie that works; Bob shared it with many.
Bob devoted years to teaching students about fisheries by volunteering to run the public tours at the Spokane Fish Hatchery.
Click here to read about just one of many fisheries-related services Bob enjoyed.
He made the world a better place.
WINTER SPORTS – Snow’s falling in the high country, a sure sign that used gear will be coming out of closets for great deals at annual ski- and winter-gear swaps.
The following fundraisers help raise money for area ski patrols and racing groups:
49 Degrees North Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Northeast Washington Fairgrounds in Colville, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday. Register items for sale 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m.-9 a.m. Saturday.
- Info: firstname.lastname@example.org; ski49n.com.
Mount Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap (49th annual event) at Spokane County Fair and Expo Center in Spokane Valley, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 26 and 9 a.m.-noon on Oct. 27. Register items for sale from 3 p.m.-8 p.m. on Oct. 25.
- Info: mssp.org.
Lookout Pass and Silver Mountain ski patrols’ Winter Swap, Kootenai County Fairgrounds on Government Way in Coeur d’Alene, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Nov. 2. Register items 3 p.m.-8 p.m. on Nov. 1.
- Info: winterswap.org.
Fitness Fanatics Nordic Ski Sale and Swap specializing in cross-country gear at store, 12425 E. Trent Ave. starting at 9 a.m. on Nov. 2. Register items to sell before 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.
- Info: fitfanatics.com.
Schweitzer Alpine Racing School Ski Swap at Bonner County Fairgrounds in Sandpoint, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Nov. 9. Bring items to sell noon-7 p.m. Nov. 8.
- Info: sars.net/
PARKS — The foundation is done and a contractor has put up the walls on the new Smith Gap warming hut for snowshoers and backcountry skiers at Mount Spokane State Park.
Warren D. Walker snapped this photo to document the effort on Sunday.
Steven Christensen, park manager, said it's unlikely the hut will be ready for use this winter, but there's still a possibility. Either way, volunteers will be needed next summer to finish the inside, he said.
WINTER SPORTS — Work is progressing on a hut to serve as a Smith Gap warming shelter for snowshoers and backcountry skiers at Mount Spokane State Park.
Park staff constructed most of the foundation. A contractor is coming in to build the enclosure, hopefully before winter. Volunteers will be needed to help with finishing the inside next season, according to Park Manager Steve Christensen.
It's no surprise that Cris Currie, long-time leader of the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park, is in the thick of the volunteer action. The friends group is looking for a wood stove to install in the hut.
Here's a weekend update with these photos from Currie's wife, Nora Searing:
STATE PARKS — The Friends of Mount Spokane State Park are putting out a plea for someone with building skills to help lead the construction before winter of a yurt for snowshoers and backcountry skiers at the park.
Here's the message:
We are now at a critical point in our 4 year effort to build a new winter shelter for snowshoeing and backcountry skiing at Mt. Spokane, and we need everyone’s help. A grant for materials has been secured from the Johnston-Fix Foundation and additional financial support is available from the Friends of Mt. Spokane. The plans have been approved and park staff expect to have the foundation for the hut finished by the middle of next week. The location is Smith Gap. Unfortunately, the volunteer retired contractor we had lined up to lead the project is no longer available and we need to replace him. IF we can find a replacement within the next couple of weeks, and if we can find 3 or 4 committed volunteers who can devote several days a week to the project, we could at least get the exterior done this season. If not, we will do our best to protect the foundation over the winter and resume in June.So, I would like to ask everyone if they happen to know a retired or semi-retired builder/contractor (preferably a snowshoer or skier!) who would like to devote a few weeks of their time to direct the construction of this hut. The Friends Group will pay for the materials and at least this person’s expenses. We think we can start Friday the 16th. If you know of anyone, have them email me at email@example.com or call me at 509-466-9540. I would be happy to discuss the details with them. It’s easier if they have their own tools, but they will also be able to use the fairly extensive resources that the park has as well. I will be out of town this Friday to Tuesday but will be available by email.Then, secondly, assuming we can find the right person, we will need additional volunteers who can pound nails and move boards around. So those people should contact me too and let me know their level of building experience and their availability. You do not need a Discover Pass. In fact, with 24 hours of service, you can get a free Discover Pass!This has the potential to be a very exciting, fun project, and volunteers are guaranteed to learn a lot about the park, have the opportunity to hang out with some fun people, and maybe even learn a few things about building.Thanks for your help!!Cris Currie, PresidentFriends of Mt. Spokane State Park
STATE PARKS — Spokane Nordic members are recruiting helpers to spruce up the Selkirk Lodge and brush out the miles of trail in preparation for the 2013-14 cross-country skiing season at Mount Spokane State Park.
The second Trail Day of the summer at the Mt. Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park is Saturday, Aug.10. Projects include wood and brush cutting. It looks to be a gorgeous mid-summer day, and families are welcome.
Meet at the Selkirk Lodge at 9 a.m. dressed in work clothes and bring gloves and your lunch. Also bring a small chainsaw or limb/branch loppers if you have them.
RSVP: Brian Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past month, volunteers have power-washed and caulked the outside of the Selkirk Lodge, and it's ready for stain. Spokane Nordic needs helpers willing to spray new stain on the logs and brush it in. Sprayer, brushes and stain will be provided.
Contact Brian Hawkins at email@example.com to work out a date.
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