Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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 —They gave us a preview of their world-class talent during Langlauf on Mount Spokane.
Erik Bjornsen — and his sister Sadie — of Washington's Methow Valley are skiing their hearts out in the nordic events at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. But winning Langlauf, the annual 10K classic event at Mount Spokane, was one of their milestone achievements to get there.
The photo above shows Erik competing today in Sochi. A photo below shows Erik in 2008 at the age of 16 when he was the overall Langlauf champ. He's posing with the top woman that year, Annie Pokorny of Spokane.
The photo at left shows Sadie Bjornsen at the age of 13 when she won the Langlauf women's division — the youngest competitor to take the Langlauf crown.
See today's story about the Bjornsen's attraction to a college in Alaska that's primed them for international competition.
See my story on their connection with the Spokane Langlauf.
Click "continue reading" to see photos of Erik and Sadie Bjornsen in action during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
WINTER SPORTS — Biathlon is a sport that mixes the oil and water of revving up the heartbeat with aerobic cross-country skiing and then asking your circulatory system to calm down instantly for precise marksmanship with the .22-caliber rifle you must carry with a special harness on your back. Repeat.
The sport was born into the Winter Olympics from its roots in Scandinavian military operations.
In modern times, it may be the ultimate shooting sport.
Where can you check out biathlon in the Inland Northwest?
- The Methow Valley has a biathlon team and course.
- Another is sited at Stevens Pass through the Washington Biathlon Association.
- West Yellowstone and McCall at Ponderosa State Park. They're all tightly regulated and require membership or special events for access.
WINTER SPORTS – Take a gamble on the hand you’re dealt to win prizes at the Panhandle Nordic Club’s 23rd annual Best Hand Fun Ski and Snowshoe event Saturday, Feb. 22, starting at noon at Fourth of July Pass.
Skiers will do an 8-kilometer course and snowshowers will trek the shortrer Jeanette’s Jaunt route.
Cost: $10 or $5 for youths under 14. Family rate: $25.
Idaho Park and Ski Passes will not be required for participants in this event.
WINTER SPORTS — Snowshoers and cross-country skiers have some decent opportunities this week at Fourth of July Pass. Here's today's grooming report from Geoff Harvey of the Panhandle Nordic Club:
Glen Truscott and I groomed a good deal of the Area today. The Inner Loop has some good stretches of snow now packed with track set, but there are icy spots in a few places and a bare patch on the Swoop. The good snow is up the Twisted Klister (Snowshoeing) and Skywalker - Moonrunner (FSR 614) (skking) especially above Skateaway on this latter route their is a foot plus of snow with only a few thin places out to Rose Saddle. Unfortunately, somebody circumvented the berm IDT built at the bottom and drove the length of the road to Rose Creek Saddle and a ways down Skateaway where the gate was opened.. Glenn and I did our best to reduce the ruts but it will take either a snowfall, not predicted until next week at the earliest or grooming with the scarifier that will redistribute the snow. We will attempt to get this done next Friday (1/24). Grooming is in place along the route and tracks set,. The gate is now closed so no additional damage is anticipated. This snow above Skateway is better than any I saw at Palouse Divide this weekend.
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 — The weather gods aren't smiling on nordic skiers today. Here's the latest from Sandpoint.
Sorry for the late notice. We were TRYING to be optimistic but…DARN RAIN!! THE W3 WESTERN WINTER WARM-UP IS CANCELLED FOR TOMORROW, SUNDAY, JANUARY 12 @ The Western Pleasure Guest Ranch
The 5K & 10K Nordic Race is tentatively reshcheduled for January 26, 2014
Please stay tuned for notices on the Sandpoint Nordic events web page.
APOLOGIES to all who planned to ski this event, hopefully there will be another chance in a couple of weeks.
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 — Packed ice on trails is a safety issue throughout the region where the snow cover is especially thin.
The 23rd annual Best Hand Fun Ski and Snowshoe Event set for Saturday, Jan. 4, at 4th of July Pass has been canceled because of treacherously icy conditions, said Geoff Harvey of the Panhandle Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club.
Usually the club has a plan to walk the trails for the event in the case of thin snow cover, but not this year, Harvey said today:
Glenn Truscott and Van Bennett went up to 4th of July. They reported that you can't drive or walk on the parking lot, much less the trail. Jim, Carol and Geoff talked and decided the best thing would be to cancel Best Hand Fun Ski. Geoff and Glenn will get a sign up so that people don't even try to enter the parking lot as they may not get out. We plan to reschedule.
WINTER SPORTS — The first nordic event of the season will be held Sunday at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, but skinny skiers won't be the only participants
The Great Scott race has divisions for snowshoers and snowbikers as well as a nordic division. Competitors can come solo or enter the team spring relay.
Register at the Hermit's Hollow Tubing Yurt 8:30-9:30 a.m. Nordic race starts at 10 a.m. followed by snowbiking at 11:30.
Info: Schweitzer Activity Center, (208) 255-3081.
WINTER SPORTS —
TRAPPING — With wolf trappers and hunters crossing paths with recreationists on public lands, a Montana trapping group this week appealed to trappers to use common sense and keep traps away from popular recreation trails.
This action comes after:
- A wolf hunter shot a malamute that was running with its owner, who was cross-country skiing on a closed logging road near Lolo Pass.
- A Sandpoint woman appealed to trappers after her dog joined her for a ski on a National Forest road, was caught in a snare and nearly choked to death.
On Wednesday, the Montana Trappers Association announced it wants trappers to think twice about setting traps anywhere near the dog-friendly cross-country ski trails at Lake Como in Montana's Bitterroot Valley.
Read on for the story by Perry Backus of the Ravali Republic.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
WINTER SPORTS — The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is looking for winter sports enthusiasts to serve on the Washington State Winter Recreation Advisory Committee (WRAC).
The committee for non-motorized recreation has three positions that will soon become vacant. Two of the positions are for non-motorized (cross country skier, snowshoer, dog musher, skijorer) who live in Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln or Spokane counties (Area 3). Another position is for a non-motorized recreation representative living in Adams, Whitman, Franklin, Garfield, Columbia, Walla Walla or Asotin counties (Area 6).
An additional open position is for an at-large candidate to represent motorized (snowmobiler) winter sports enthusiasts.
Nominations must be received by August 30. New appointments begin Oct. 1, for a term of three years.
The WRAC is made up of six non-motorized representatives and three representatives from snowmobile winter sports. The committee also has one representative each from the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Association of Counties. Also included is an ex-officio member from the Washington Department of Licensing.
The committee meets at least two weekends each year, once during the winter and once during the summer. The committee reviews vital issues and advises the Commission and its staff on program policy and funding priorities for snow removal, trail grooming, sanitation, education and enforcement. Members are appointed by the Commission and may serve up to two, three-year terms. Travel, lodging and meal costs for the meetings are reimbursed for members.
The Winter Recreation Program manages more than 3,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, 300 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and more than 120 Sno-Parks (plowed parking areas near snowmobile and cross-country ski trails).
The Winter Recreation Program is supported entirely by user fees, snowmobile registrations and a percentage of the state fuel tax.
Contact the Winter Recreation Program by email at email@example.com, or P.O. Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650,
Info: (360) 902-8684.
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.
STATE PARKS — Volunteers organized from local groups and organized by the Washington Trails Association are installing foot bridges for hikers and snowshoers over the creek crossed by popular trails, such as Trail 100. in Mount Spokane State Park.
Photo shows the crew after the first bridge was completed on Monday.
WTA is returning to the park July 20-22 to finish more bridges.
OUTGOING – The Inland Northwest Trails Coalition has rounded up a dozen local leaders in trails-related efforts for the annual “state of the trails” presentations tonight (March 21) starting at 6 p.m. at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley.
This is the place for trail users to learn where they can get involved in trail projects.
Progress on the Spokane River water trail will be updated and the Washington Trails Association will detail this season’s trails maintenance projects from Spokane County to the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.
Lunell Haught, INTC coordinator, said the consortium of outdoor recreation and conservation groups has pulled together to encourage city and county governments to engage in regional trail planning.
The group’s vision, she said, “is a system of paths, trails and open space corridors that connect neighborhoods, community and regional parks and conservation land in our region to engage people in muscle-powered recreational and conservation opportunities, promote active transportation and preserve open space to enhance our region’s quality of life.”
WINTER SPORTS –The Chelan Ranger District is offering free cross country skiing, snowshoeing or hiking at Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area.
Trail grooming, conducted by the Lake Chelan Nordic Club, has ended for the year, but many trails still have enough snow for skiing, a U.S. Forest Service news release said Thursday.
Travelers should be prepared for snow, ice or mud on the Forest Service roads.
Info: Chelan Ranger District, (509) 682-4900.
- MOUNT SPOKANE nordic skiing trails were groomed this week but grooming has stopped until the snow on the mountain freezes again — likely not until Sunday night, park rangers say. Sno-Park permits are required.
WINTER SPORTS — Fat bikes, snow bikes…. whatever you call them, they're catching on year-round with a niche of the cycling community that's mobilizing on ballooned out tires. Get a glimpse of from the saddle in this video: What's Up With Fat Bikes?
Heres a list of top recent outdoors stories in The Spokesman-Review:
WINTER SPORTS — The annual Langlauf cross-country ski race at Mount Spokane has equal parts of waxing anxiety, sweat, cheering, food — and a lot of hope for placing high in an age group or winning one of the many drawings for thousands of dollars worth of prizes.
It's a colorful event that attracts participants spaning 80 years of age.
Check it out in this gallery of photos I shot today while skiing the race with 244 other participants.
WINTER SPORTS — This is no time to be a couch potoato:
Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival at Gonzaga University, Wed Jan. 30 from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Learn more at ibackcountry.org.
WINTER SPORTS — Learn to ski with dog power in a skijoring clinic Sunday (Jan. 27), 2 p.m., at Mount Spokane State Park.
The Mt. Spokane Skijor Group will teach basic skills and etiquette for the trails that are open to skijorers at designated times twice a week.
Cost: $10, due by Thursday (Jan. 24).
Preregister: Diana Roberts, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (509)570-8242.
WINTER SPORTS – Sign-up is under way for an annual event known for encouraging women to take an adventurous yet enjoyable step into winter.
The Women’s Souper Bowl VIII – which includes cross-country skiing and snowshoeing activities, treats, prizes and lunch – is set for 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Feb. 3 based out of Selkirk Lodge at Mount Spokane.
Activities end in time to avoid conflict with TV’s “other” Super Bowl.
Events are open to women of all ages and athletic ability. Free snowshoe rentals and lessons are available on site; discounted cross-country ski rentals available in advance.
New this year:
• An adventurous guided snowshoe trek from the hairpin turn back to the lodge.
• Round-trip shuttles on buses sponsored by REI. Buses will pick up and return at Global Credit Union offices in downtown and in Spokane Valley, with stops at Mt. Spokane High School. Cost: $5.
Back by popular demand are the Poker Ski and the Flamingo Road snowshoe trek, both on the nordic trails from Selkirk Lodge.
Tickets: A $30 minimum suggested donation is requested for the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant for registrations received by Friday. A $10 additional fee will be requested for late registrations.
Organizers say 280 women came out for last year’s event, enabling volunteers to raise $12,872 for the Free Restaurant.
Sadie Bjornsen, Koos and Pokorny all have the distinction of winning top female or male titles as teenagers at the annual 10K Spokane Langlauf at Mount Spokane.
- Erik Bjornsen, 22, of Winthrop finished first in the men's 15-kilometer freestyle.
- His sister, Sadie Bjornsen, 24, finished second in the women's 10k freestyle and second in the classic sprint.
- Torin Koos of Wenatchee won the men's classic sprint, his seventh U.S. nordic title.
- Annie Pokorny, 20, of Spokane finished fourth in the women's 10k freestyle.
Pokorny, who developed her skills as a teenager with the Spokane Junior Nordic Ski Team, left Lewis and Clark High School to complete her senior year in Sun Valley where she trained with national-class junior skiers. She's skiing collegiately at Middlebury College and has a shot at being named to a U.S. international team.
Sadie Bjornsen, Koos and Pokorny all have the distinction of winning top female or male titles as teenagers at the annual 10K Spokane Langlauf at Mount Spokane.