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Clinics prep skiers, dogs for skijoring

WINTERSPORTS — Skiers can learn to have a wild time with their dogs during skijoring clinics this season.

Skijoring is a sport in which a person wearing skis is drawn over snow dog-sledding style by one or more dogs. Clinics include:

  • Jan. 8 at the Spokane REI store. Spaces limited. Sign up in advance. The in-store clinic (no dogs allowed) will discuss the sport, equipment, local opportunities and what it takes to get started.
  • Jan. 11 or later, an on-snow clinic with dogs is being organized by Skijor Spokane, a group organized on Facebook.

At Mount Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park, the times and groomed nordic trails open to skijoring have expanded dramatically this year: Skijoring will be allowed:

  • Noon to dusk on Sundays and all day on Wednesdays.
  • On Upper Tripps, but uphill only. That means skijorers going out Lower Tripps from Brickel Creek Bridge No. 1 may turn around at Tripps Knob or continue to climb Upper Tripps.
  •  On Mica Road to the end at Junction 8.


Nordic ski, snowshoe rentals available at Mount Spokane

WINTERSPORTS — A new rental service for cross-country skis and snowshoes is officially debuting today at Mount Spokane State Park.

Fitness Fanatics, based at 12425 E. Trent Ave., will have a trailer full of gear to rent, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursdays-Mondays during the winter season. The trailer is next to Selkirk Lodge and the Mount Spokane nordic ski trails.

Fitness Fanatics owner Robin Deruwe said Sno-Park passes and snacks will be sold and snowshoeing maps will be available.

The center will have classic and skate gear for adults and kids, as well as hats, gloves and waxes, she said.

Nordic skis and snowshoes can be reserved by calling the store, (509) 922-6080.

Snowshoeing event Dec. 7

The annual Snowshoe Stomp, Spokane’s only snowshoe event, is set for Sunday, Dec. 7, at Mount Spokane State Park, sponsored by Fitness Fanatics.

It's a day of racing, training and just simply snowshoeing for fun.

Transportation will be available from Mt. Spokane High School on a first come, first serve basis.

$25 for Individual Participant (Includes one beanie)*
$50 for family of four (Parent and child combo; Includes 2 beanies; Option to purchase more beanies)*
*Add $10 if pay at the event

Click HERE to Register

Sno-Park permits soon required at Mount Spokane

WINTERSPORTS — The change from Discover Passes to Sno-Park Permits is one of the transitions underway at Mount Spokane State Park as snow begins to pile up and road plowing begins.

Starting Dec.1, vehicles accessing the cross-country skiing and snowshoer parking areas will be required to have Washington Sno-Park permits. The permits can be purchased from a variety of vendors as well as online.

Until then, vehicles accessing the park will still be required to display a Washington Discover Pass, says Steve Christensen park manger, noting that the Sno-Park system is a separate account in state recreation budgeting.

Customers parking at the Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park do not need a vehicle pass — but only when the resort is open and operating.  The ski area has not announced an opening date.

Let’s name Mt. Spokane’s new downhill ski runs

WINTERSPORTS — Now that the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission has approved the controversial expansion of the downhill skiing area at Mount Spokane State Park, much more work must be done.

More planning is needed, plus permitting, installing a chairlift and building seven new ski runs totaling 74 acres through  279 acres of pristine mountain habitat on the northwest side of the mountain. 

The least the public can do is help Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park name the seven new runs!

A few suggestions to start the process:

  1. Missing Lynx
  2. Former Getaway
  3. Backcountry Found
  4. Wild Hare
  5. Close to Home
  6. Almost Schweitzer
  7. Compromise

State Parks board approves expansion of Mt. Spokane ski area

PUBLIC LANDS — A proposal to expand downhill skiing at Mount Spokane was approved by the Washington Parks Commission today during a meeting in Spokane.

The proposal has been years in the making.

By a 5-2 vote, commissioners approved the designation of the land for skiing, then in a separate vote approved the ski development plan.

See the full story from the meeting by reporter Becky Kramer.

Numerous stories and editorials have followed this proposal over the years.  Some of the most recent samples include:

Mount Spokane nordic warming hut takes shape

WINTERSPORTS — The cozy warming hut destined for the outer reaches of the sprawling 60K Mount Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park was taking shape this weekend, thanks to volunteers from Selkirk Nordic.

Mt. Spokane ski area expansion meeting Nov. 19

STATE PARKS — The controversial proposal to expand the downhill ski area at Mount Spokane State Park will get another public hearing in Spokane Valley next month.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has announced a special  evening public meeting to take testimony about land classification options that could impact the expansion proposal.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 at Center Place Recreation Center, 2426 N. Discovery Pl.

“This will be the only opportunity for verbal public comment on the Mount Spokane issues prior to the Commission’s decisions on land classification and the proposed expansion at Mount Spokane at a regular meeting in Spokane the following day,” the commission says in a media release.

In 2010, Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park pared down previous plans and requested an expansion of the concession’s ski area by about 279 acres. The proposal involves adding one lift.

Nov. 14 is the deadline for written comments to the commission before its meeting. Email comments to  Commission@parks.wa.gov.

The options the commission will chose from are spelled out online at 1.usa.gov/1u0NSOA.

This  draft Environmental Impact Statement includes a previous round of public comment received through Sept. 30.

 In 2010, Mount Spokane 2000 approached the Commission with a conceptual proposal to expand skiing into approximately 279 acres of an 800-acre portion of the park known as the Potential Alpine Ski Expansion Area, an area that has not been assigned a land classification.

Options to be considered by the Commission on Nov. 20 include the following land classifications and associated potential development options:

Natural Forest Area: Would allow no ski lift development and would limit recreation activity to Chair 4 Road as well as to a portion of a summit road and an existing mountain biking trail

Resource Recreation and Natural Forest Area: Would allow alpine skiing as a conditional use with no lift or formal runs constructed and limited clearing of downed or damaged trees to reduce hazards for backcountry skiers

Recreation, Resource Recreation and Natural Forest Area: Would permit ski lift development and runs and would provide for more vegetation clearing within the area designated Recreation, while offering a higher level of resource protection in the Resource Recreation portion and no development within the Natural Forest Area.

Nordic groups clearing ski trails before snow falls

WINTERSPORTS — Cross country skiers in the region are working against time to get trails brushed out for grooming when the snow flies in the mountains.

They'd welcome  your help.

Mount Spokane cross-country ski trail preparations are being coordinated by Spokane Nordic, with a another trail work party set for Saturday, Oct. 11.

Cutting all the alder and brush off the trails is crucial to having a clean trail when the snow base is not yet deep. Meet at the Selkirk Lodge at 9 a.m. and work until 3 pm, or as much of that time as you can offer. 

Bring work gloves, lunch and water. If you have a commercial trimmer with metal blade please bring it as well.

Contact: Brian Hawkins at brianthawkins@hotmail.com.

Fourth of July Pass trail clearing is being coordinated by the Panhandle Nordic Club, which needs volunteers to trim brush along the ski and snowshoe trails on Saturday, Oct. 18.  See trails map.

Meet:  Fire Station at Cherry Hill Park on 15th at 9 a.m..  Carpooling is advised since we will take a few cars on the trails to specific locations. Bring loppers, gloves, warm clothes, lunch and water.  Dessert will be provided at the picnic shelter. 

Contact: Jim McMillen, jimmccda@gmail.com.


Mt. Spokane ski area expansion comments extended

WINTERSPORTS — The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is extending the period for public comments on options for the expansion of the downhill ski area at Mount Spokane State Park.

See my column on the topic published last Thursday.

Comments will be accepted to Sept. 30 on the Combined Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Proposed Land Classification for the Potential Alpine Ski Expansion Area (PASEA) at Mount Spokane Ski Area Expansion.

To provide email comments go to the State Parks web page and enter “Mt Spokane PASEA” in the “Planning Project” box. 

Volunteers to clear Mount Spokane nordic ski trails

WINTERSPORTS — Spokane Nordic is holding maintenance days at Mount Spokane State Park to prepare the cross-country ski trails for the upcoming winter ski season.  Here are the remaining dates.

  • Sept. 13
  • Sept. 21
  • Oct. 11
  • Oct. 26

Contact Brian Hawkins at brianthawkins@hotmail.com to sign up or get more information.

Mount Spokane ski area expansion options released

STATE PARKS — The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has released two proposals regarding the expansion of Mount Spokane State Park. Public comments on the proposals will be accepted through Sept. 15.

The proposals are combined under one draft environmental impact statement, which considers the potential impacts of:

  • The expansion of the Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park, with the addition of one ski lift and seven associated ski trails within an approximately 279-acre area.
  •  A formal land classification and reclassification of a portion of the state park known as the Potential Alpine Ski Expansion Area (PASEA).

See details about the proposals, the draft environmental impact statement documents, and a link to provide comments at this website

Comment by email and enter “Mt Spokane PASEA” in the “Planning Project” box.

Info: Randy Kline at randy.kline@parks.wa.gov or 360-902-8632.

Volunteers needed for Mount Spokane trail bridge project

TRAILS — They're at it again on Mount Spokane.

Volunteers who built a bridge over Burping Brook last year on the Mount Spokane State Park trails up from the Lower Mount Kit Carson Loop Road are building more bridges that will be especially helpful to spring hikers and winter snowshoers.

A four-day bridge-building work party starts Friday at Mount Spokane. Holly Weiler of the Washington Trails Association is coordinating helpers for the construction.

You can still sign up on the WTA website to join the work party.

The bridges will be useful to snowshoers using the new winter hut, also being finished by volunteers this summer.

Snowshoeing hut shapes up at Mount Spokane

WINTERSPORTS — Volunteers are putting finishing touches on the new winter shelter primarily geared for snowshoers at Mount Spokane State Park.

The hut is 1.25 miles up the Lower Kit Carson Loop Road from the hairpin curve parking lot.

Cris Currie of the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park focused last weekend to painting the hut's interior, and there are several more projects to finish.

“It was a wonderful 73 degrees up there and really peaceful,” he said.

To help with the volunteer effort, contact Currie by email, criscurrie22@gmail.com.

ANOTHER PROJECT seeking volunteers is a four-day bridge-building work party starting Friday at Mount Spokane not far from this cabin. Holly Weiler of the Washington Trails Association is coordinating helpers to build more bridges over Burping Brook and tributaries, much like the bridge that was much appreciated last winter by snowshoers in the area.


Volunteers to clear Mount Spokane nordic ski trails

WINTERSPORTS — Great skiing on one of the nation's largest nordic trail system isn't an accident at Mount Spokane.  Members of Spokane Nordic have been assisting state park rangers for years in pre-season efforts to clear the trails and have them ready for grooming when the snow falls.

The group has set a trail maintenance session for Saturday,  Aug. 9 — the second trail clearing day of the year.  Work will include clearing trails, moving firewood and possibly preparing the Nova Hut for painting.

Meet at the Selkirk Lodge at 9 a.m. and work until 3 p.m., or as much of that time as your schedule allows. Bring work gloves, lunch and water. If you have any questions, email Brian Hawkins at brianthawkins@hotmail.com.

The next trail maintenance day is set for Sept. 13.

Ski area expansion prompts Mount Spokane land classification proposals

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.

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.


Volunteers working on Mount Spokane snowshoe hut

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!!!

Snow still plugs Mount Spokane summit road

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.

49 Degrees boosts spring skiing with free tickets

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!

Today is prime for off-trail nordic ski route at Mount Spokane

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?

Sparkling view today from Mount Spokane

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.

Dogs leaving their mark on Mount Spokane

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.

Mount Spokane skiers rise above it all

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.

Skiers to explore Mount Spokane under the stars

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), a traditional European-style ski event that bonds people through the sport of ski touring.  

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.

Nordic skiing events coming up around Spokane

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

Jan. 11-12 at 49 Degrees North — This is a rare treat for kids ages 6-14, who will be fitted with junior nordic downhill gear from Tele Ned's van.

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.


Mount Spokane snowshoers revel in perfect conditions

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.

Another snowshoe trail marked on Mount Spokane

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.

Snowshoe loop trail marked near Mount Spokane nordic area

WINTER SPORTS —  The Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park, which have a list of trails and routes posted on their website, have opened a new 1.3-mile snowshoe route that starts near the Mount Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park.  Here's a description, posted today by Cris Currie, the friends group president:
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!
Also today, snowshoeing volunteer Warren D. Walker signed the Trail 140 route to the Mount Spokane summit.
Snow conditions currently are, shall we say, very firm at Mount Spokane, with an icy crust over softer snow, as the photo of Currie (above) indicates.

Mount Spokane snowshoeing trail marked to summit

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.

Mount Spokane gears up; beer served at Vista House


Mount Spokane is gearing up for holiday crowds at the alpine and nordic areas. Here's the latest:
The historic stone Vista House at the mountain summit will open Dec. 26 and stay open daily through the holiday break.  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.  The Vista House is at the top of Chair 1 and is a popular destination for backcountry snowshoers. 
The Mount Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park is scheduled to be groomed tonight even though the groomer normally doesn't operate on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “We're going to take care of the new snow we got and keep it groomed probably six days a week instead of five through the Christmas break,” said Steve Christensen, state park manager.
A snowshoe hike is being organized by the park staff and volunteers for Jan. 1, starting at 10 a.m. from the snowmobile parking lot located before the road drops down to the alpine ski area.  Sno-Park permits will be required for vehicles.

Snowshoers find good views from Mount Spokane

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:

Gorgeous day on the mountain Saturday. We went up 131 to the summit. Great time, but were disappointed to find the Vista House not open yet. What's up with that?