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Spokane store closure leaves gap in map availability

NAVIGATION — Getting a map is easier than ever with online services and software.

But getting a good durable map that's specific for your application took a big hit this  month as Northwest Maps — formerly Northwest Map and Travel Book Center — closed its shop in Spokane Valley.

As consumers have shifted to digital mapping sources, owner Steve Mitrovich decided to sell his massive map inventory and shifted to an online- and phone-only business to sell only his local-area atlases and marketing maps.

For years, Spokane was a premier hub for maps, including the U.S. Geological Survey office in the Downtown Post office. That office was closed at the end of 2001 after offering 43 years of service.

Mitrovich, who opened his shop in the mid 1985, stepped up to offer not only 7.5 minute quads for the entire region, but also all of the state public land maps, Canada maps, national park and Forest Service maps, wilderness maps and the travel guides to go with them. 

If Northwest Maps didn't have a map you needed, Mitrovich likely could get it.

I pity people who think an 8 x 11-inch printout with smearable ink or even a GPS unit are satisfactory replacements for the information available to somebody who spreads out and pores over a topographic map.

Meanwhile, Northwest Maps is still offering a free map index service and taking phone orders for its local products  through its website www.nwmaps.com.

  • The Spokane REI store on North Monroe Street sells some  topo quadrangle and recreation maps.
  • Forest Service and state public lands maps can be purchased from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office, 1103 N Fancher Road, (509) 536-1200.
  • USGS maps can be purchased online at the USGS Store.

RIP: Hardy Kruse, local fly fishing purveyor

FISHING — Hardy Kruse of Spokane, who ran one of  Spokane's first fishing shops with a special corner for fly fishers, is the latest of several notable angling personalities to drift out of this world in recent weeks.

Kruse, 85, died Sunday after a long illness. No public service is planned, according to close friend Stephen Aspinwall.

Long-time anglers will remember The  Sport Cove, which Kruse operated in the Spokane Valley at the Two Swabbies  for 30 years before closing the doors at the age of 75.

I still have the diver's swim fins Hardy hand rigged with straps to help anglers propel float tubes when they became the rage in the 1980s. "You'll spend three times as much for fins made for use with float tubes and they'll work half as well," he told me.

I tried them out with Hardy for a story about float-tubing in a fine day of fishing at Bayley Lake (see photo), which was one of Hardy's favorite waters for big brook trout and rainbows at that time.  He also loved fishing the Bow River near Calgary.

Other notable anglers passing in recent weeks include:

Harry Lemire: A Boeing worker who became a standout in fly tying and steelhead and salmon fly fishing circles for his exquisite hand-tied flies — and I really do mean hand-tied.

Lemire said he succeeded in tying a fly without the help of a vise in 1991. "I found it very possible, practical and rewarding," he wrote. "From that day to this I've never used a vice when tying classic patterns and see no reason to."

Another Lemire quote: "I've caught steelhead up to 34 pounds on a skating fly and up to 23 pounds on a dry fly. My life, I would say, has been good."

Homer Circle: A southern gentleman, angler and author known to fans as "Uncle Homer" as he informed anglers for 50 years in Sports Afield and Field & Stream magazines. He passed away June 26 at the age of 97.

Jederman Gran Fondo debuts Saturday on open rural roads

CYCLING — Local cycling guru  Michael Emde has an enticing tidbit for participants in Saturday's Jederman Gran Fondo:

There are no traffic lights and there are only 20 over the length of the 112 mile course… The forecast is for 84F and very little wind!

The Jedermann Gran Fondo is a timed 112 mile cycling ride and cycling festival that will start and finish in Cheney, says Emde, event organizer.

The course in this inaugural event will visit the back roads and farming communities of Sprague, Tokio, Harrington, Edwall and back to Cheney.

In Europe, timed recreational events have been around for decades and each country has a different name for them. In Germany they’re called “Jedermann Rennen's” which translates to “Everyone’s Race". In Italy they call it a “Gran Fondo” which translates to “Great Ride”. Combine the two and “Jedermann Gran Fondo”  translates to “Everyone’s Great Ride.”

Custom medals will be awarded Saturday for times under 6 hours, under 8 hours and under 10 hours.

Cyclists can enter as an individual OR as a 2-person relay team.

This ride includes mechanical support, food stops, a post race meal, dessert, libations, music, raffles and more.

Register here.

Idaho bighorns lack respect from state leaders

WILDLIFE — Idaho's bighorn sheep are coveted by hunters, only a handful of which are allowed to hunt them each fall.

They are a prize for wildlife viewers and a symbol of the wildness that set's Idaho apart from much of the world.

Yet Idaho lawmakers have turned their backs on efforts to keep bighorns separated in their native range from domestic sheep, which can transmit diseases that have decimated bighorn herds in areas such as Hells Canyon.

Outdoor columnist Rocky Barker has this sensible insight on the issue, pointing out that it really wouldn't be too hard for Idaho's governorn or other lawmakers to give bighorns a better shake. 

Meanwhile, as a recent SR story points out, sportsmen's groups are largely alone in trying to fund Washington State University research looking into preventing the domestic livestock transmission of diseases that are devastating wild sheep herds.

Read on for the details.

Hunter guilty of baiting bears near Methow cabin

POACHING — A Western Washington man has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of luring bears with doughnuts, salmon and other bait so they could be killed for fun by himself and family from the porch of his Methow Valley recreation cabin.

James Erickson, 52, of Eatonville, Wash., has been sentenced to six days in jail on top of a $12,000 fine and 20 days electronically monitored detention at his home. He'll also loose his state hunting privileges for five years. As part of the plea deal, charges against others were dropped.

The case was sealed after years of investigation after Fish and Wildlife police received a tip that led to a remote trail cam with photos that caught Erickson in the act.

See the story and photos from the investigation that led to the arrest.

Global warming new factor in mountaineering safety

MOUNTAINEERING — Safely below the snowline, I was hiking in the Alps near Chamonix, France, last week when 9 climbers were killed by an avalanche on Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe.  It was particularly eery for me and my family, since we had just shared a train ride with a South Africa couple who had just climbed the peak — and we had shared breakfast on a previous day with a man who was headed up to climb.

The tragedy in bringing international attention to what appear to be increasing danger and unpredictibility in snow-country climbing and backcountry skiing. 

Following the tragedy in the Alps as well as another on Mount McKinley, the New York Times has published this report citing veteran climbers pointing out that today’s conditions are combining to create a volatile highball of risk.

Sign up: test drive an outdoor sport at Sekani Adventure Day

OUTDOOR SPORTS — Maybe you'd like to try a traditional sport, such as canoeing or kayaking, or maybe you're curious about more modern sports such as geocaching, slacklining or stand-up paddling.

Sekani Adventure Day — Saturday (July 21) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — at Camp Sekani Conservaton Area off Upriver Drive is the perfect opportunity. Try out a new sport while getting instruction and the chance to try a huge variety of outdoor equipment.

The event is sponsored by Spokane Parks and Recreation and boosted by volunteers from a variety of outdoor groups. Other sports covered include mountain biking, letterboxing, paddle rafting, archery, map and compass navigation, scrambling and maybe rock climbing this year

Nothing is sold at this event. It's strictly try it and see if you like it.

Where: Camp Sekani Conservation Area, 6707 E. Upriver Dr. See map.

Cost: $9 pre-registration or $15 at the gate.

Get more info and pre-register online, or call 625-6200.

Pikepalooza proves Pend Oreille River still holds whoppers

FISHING — The gillnets didn't get all the northern pike in the Pend Oreille River.

This spring, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department and Kalispel Tribe used gillnets to remove about 87 percent of the non-native northern pike in the Box Canyon section of the river downstream from Newport. (See story)

But results from the June 29-July 1 Pikepalooza organized by the Kalispel Tribe indicate that serious anglers not only can catch a number of northern pike in the river on an outing, they also can catch some whoppers.

  • Josh Whitney won a whopping $1,000 for catching the most northern pike — 14 — during the tournament.
  • Dale Smith won $500 for catching the largest pike of the derby — 46.4 inches long!

The tribe reports that 138 anglers pre-registered and an additional 70 anglers signed up on site.

But water and weather conditions limited participation to about 80 anglers who turned out to compete for $3,000 in cash prizes and more than $500 in raffle prizes.

Although anglers faced tough fishing conditions over the weekend including high water, wake restrictions, closed boat launches, and hit-and-miss weather, the 80 anglers harvested 81 northern pike, reports Jason Connor, the Tribe's fisheries biologist.

  • 33 people registered at least one pike.
  • Pike from 286 mm (11.25”) to 1178 mm (46.4”) were harvested with the majority (74%) being 1-2 year olds less than 18 inches. 
  • No tagged pike were caught, so prizes will roll over to the next Pikepalooza event set for Aug. 3-5.

Read on for the complete list of prize winners.

Veterinarian’s state flora ripe for trouble

Nature didn't stand still while I've been on vacation. 

In the past two weeks, the cheatgrass has gone from green and soft to cured with spear-like seedheads that cling to socks and fur.

I just brushed dozens of cheat seeds out of my dog's fur after a training run.

The season has come to stuff cotton in a hunting dog's ear's before going afield.  I could buy a yacht with the money I've spent over the years to have veterinarians extract cheatgrass seeds from deep inside my dogs' ears.

Big berry crop at your ‘service’

FORAGING — Bruce Howard of Spokane says this is an epic year for serviceberries, the pulpy purple fruit on the native shrubs that caught our eyes with lovely, delicate white blossoms in April.

"With the weather we've had, they are like real fruit this year," he said, noting the berries have been abundant and more flavorful that normal.

Tiger musky open tourney at Newman Lake

TOURNAMENT FISHING — Herb Zielke from Muskies Inc., Mountain Muskies Chapter 60 here in Spokane says the group is taking registration for the
Newman Lake Open Muskie Tournament on July 21.
The event runs 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. out of Newman Lake Resort. Registration starts at 6 a.m. A mandatory meeting starts at 6:30 a.m.
Cash prizes will be awarded along with a tackle raffle after the tournament
Preregister: (509)263-7235 or email douglasjwood@gmail.com
See Mountain Muskies for rules.

Free backpack cooking clinic Thursday at REI

BACKPACKING – Backpackers who are tired of Ramen and balk at plain instant oatmeal might benefit from the free clinc on backpack cooking basics Thursday (July 19), 7 p.m., at REI in Spokane.

Topics to be covered include recipies as well as preserving, preparing packing and cooking tasty meals that won’t weight you down.

Spokane River access opens at Post Falls

BOATING — The City of Post Falls boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park has opened to the public Friday. 

Avista officials said river flows had dropped sufficiently to allow all of the spill gates at the Post Falls hydroelectric facility to be closed last week. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, and on average about June 22. The spring runoff season extended well into July this year because of a larger than average snowpack and rainfall in June that amounted to more than twice the normal amounts.

For current information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River, call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line.

  • In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357;
  • In Washington, call (509) 495-8043.

Video offers primer on chosing trekking poles

HIKING — While a Sunday Outdoors feature story covers the value and issues involved with using trekking poles for hiking, this video offers a useful guide to selecting poles for your type of use.

Our family became advocates of using trekking poles while hiking long ago. They save your knees, ward of charging marmots (seriously), offer an upper body workout and come in useful for all sort of things, including a center pole for a tarp tent.

Volunteers organizing to clear Mount Spokane nordic ski trails

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING – Spokane Nordic members are recruiting volunteers to help trim branches and clear the sprawling cross-country ski trail system at Mount Spokane before the snow flies.

The first of the club’s annual Trail Days is scheduled for Saturday, July 21.

Others Trail Day efforts are set for Aug. 12, Sept. 8, Sept. 16, Oct. 6 and Oct. 21.

Volunteers meet at the Selkirk Lodge at 9 a.m. dressed in work clothes and equipped with gloves, lunch and other tools.

Deails: Art Bookstrom at 624-9667.

Fish and Wildlife dedicates building to Shiosaki

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department today is re-dedicating its Eastern Region headquarters in Spokane in the name of Fred Shiosaki, a former state Fish and Wildlife Commissioner who lives in Spokane Valley.

In addition to his service to fish and wildlife, Shiosaki last fall received the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony honoring the Nisei Soldiers of World War II.  Shiosaki was a member of the U.S. Army All Volunteer Japanese-American 442nd Infantry Regiment.

Shiosaki was instrumental in getting the new Fish and Wildlife facilities completed in Spokane in 2009. 

Sekani Adventure Day offers chance to try 11 outdoor sports

OUTDOOR SPORTS — Maybe you'd like to try a traditional sport, such as canoeing or kayaking, or maybe you're curious about more modern sports such as geocaching, slacklining or stand-up paddling.

Sekani Adventure Day — July 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — at Camp Sekani Conservaton Area off Upriver Drive is the perfect opportunity. Try out a new sport while getting instruction and the chance to try a huge variety of outdoor equipment.

The event is sponsored by Spokane Parks and Recreation and boosted by volunteers from a variety of outdoor groups.  Other sports covered include mountain biking, letterboxing, paddle rafting, archery, map and compass navigation, scrambling and maybe rock climbing this year

Nothing is sold at this event. It's strictly try it and see if you like it.

Where: Camp Sekani Conservation Area, 6707 E. Upriver Dr. See map.

Cost: $9 pre-registration or $15 at the gate.

Get more info and pre-register online or call 625-6200.

Camp cooking clinic Thursday at REI

CAMPING – A free clinic in basic camp cooking will be offered Thursday (July 12), 7 p.m., at REI in Spokane.

Ice Age Floods guidebook authors coming to Auntie’s

GEOLOGY — A just-published guidebook on the region's channeled scablands — a second volume on exploring the aftermath of the Ice Age Floods — is being celebrated with a reading and lecture Wednesday at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane.

On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: A geological field guide to northern Idaho and the Channeled Scabland" will be unveiled by geologist and Eastern Washington University alumnus Bruce Bjornstad and retired EWU geology prof Eugene Kiver.

The event is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Auntie's, 402 West Main Ave.

The floods helped gouge out Lake Pend Oreill, Idaho’s largest and deepest lake, and sculpted the weird topography of Eastern Washington.

This field guide explores a vast expanse of land on the ground and with great aerial photos. Specific hikes are recommended to see key features.

After hiking and exploring the Channeled Scabland region for 35 years, I didn’t know what I was missing until I read this book.

Washington duck, goose calling contests set for Aug. 25

WATERFOWLING — The 2012 Washington State Duck Calling Championship is set for Aug. 25, sponsored by the Washington Waterfowl Association, Yakima Valley Chapter.

The event, a qualifier for international competition, will start at 7 a.m. at Columbia Park in Kennewick.

The following contests are scheduled:

  • 2012 Washington state Duck Calling Championship, open only to Washington residents. (The Winner will qualify for the 2012 World duck Calling Championship to be held Thanksgiving weekend at Stuggart, Arkansas.)
  • Open Duck Calling contest (open to anyone)
  • Junior Duck Calling contest (open to ages 11-17)
  • Pee-Wee Duck (open to all children under the age of 11)
  • Two-Man Duck (open to all ages)
  • Junior Goose (open to ages 11-17)
  • Washington State Goose ( Open to Washington residents only)
  • Open Goose (Open to all callers)
  • Two-Man Goose (open to all callers)

Info and pre-registration: Abel A. Cortina (509)786-9196.

Bat biologists offer hands-on learning in Spokane

CRITTERS – “Bats of the Inland Northwest,” is a hands-on opportunity to learn about some of the the marvelous abilities and essential services of bats that fly our skies at night.

Ella Rowan, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist who specializes in bats, is teaming with biologists from other agencies to offer the class twice this summer, on July 14 and Aug. 25.

Because of the subject matter – nocturnal creatures — timing is a  little later than most classes in the region. Both classes go 7 p.m.-11 p.m.

Cost: Adults $17 or $11 for youth ages 7-17 (no children under seven.) 

The classes include outings in Riverside State Park where bats will be captured.

Pre-registration required online through Spokane Parks and Recreation, or call 625-6200.




Film festival tops first day of International Fly Fishing Fair

OUTSEE – Fly fishing takes center stage in Spokane this week starting Thursday July 12 with the opening of the International Fly Fishing Fair at the Spokane Convention Center.

The public is invited by the Federation of Fly Fishers to cruise the exhibit and take part in presentations, clinics and classes in fly tying, fly casting, fishing techniques, conservation and more.

Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday

Cost: adults $5, kids under 16 free.

Other related activities include:

Benefit for Spokane River Redband Trout, featuring local brews, wind and Dry Fly Distillery spirits, 5 p.m-7 p.m. at Rick Singer Photography rooftop garden, 415 ½  W. Main Ave.  $25. Sponsored by Trout Unlimited's Spokane Falls Chapter.

International Fly Fishing Film Festival, a two hour show featurring edited versions of the year’s top fly fishing films, starting at 7 p.m. at the Bing Crosby Theater. Benefits Spokane RiverKeeper.

Tickets are $15 at the door or $12 if purchased in advance at area fly fishing shops.

Idaho Fish, Game Commission in Bonners Ferry

WILDLIFE – Big-game tag quotas will be on the agenda when the Idaho Fish and Game Commission meets Wednesday and Thursday (July 11 and 12) in Bonners Ferry.

A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 11.

Commissioners will consider nonbiological rules for all game animals, nonresident deer and elk tag quotas, nonresident deer and elk tag outfitter set-aside, and release of bighorn sheep tags for auction and lottery.

Commissioners will provide direction on the expenditure of animal damage control funds. Presentations are schedule don legislative proposals, migratory game birds, sage-grouse briefing, the 2014 preliminary budget and a hunting season for sandhill cranes.

Volunteers grouping to trim Mount Spokane nordic trails

SKI TRAILS —  With the State Park cutbacks, the Spokane Nordic club members say more help is needed now more than ever to get the Mount Spokane cross-country ski trails in shape for winter.

The group, as usual, is organizing a series of trail maintenace days to get things pruned and groomed and ready for snow.

The first Trail Days effort of the season is July 21 followed by other work days on Aug. 12, Sept. 8, Sept. 16, Oct 6. and Oct. 21.

Meet at the Selkirk Lodge at 9 a.m. Be dressed in work clothes and bring gloves and your lunch. Also bring hammers, sledge hammers and long-handled shovels if you have them.

Even the kids can have fun lopping alder and exploring the park in the summer!

Info: Art Bookstrom at (509) 624-9667.

Volunteers sign up for work day at Camp Sekani trails

TRAILS — Volunteers are organizing a work party to spruce up the trail system at Camp Sekani along the Spokane River below Beacon Hill.

The Camp Sekani Trail Day is set for Saturday, July 14, 9 a.m.-noon.

Camp Sekani, owned by the city of Spokane, provides recreationists with hiking, mountain biking, disc golf and many other outdoor opportunities.

This work project will bring together volunteers to clean and maintain existing trails, rehabilitate areas that have suffered from overuse and help to develop the overall infrastructure of the Beacon Hill area for users.

Plan to bring sturdy trail shoes, appropriate clothes, gloves, water bottle with water in it as there is no access to water.

Useful trail tools include shovels, rakes, litter bags, and loppers.

RSVP to volunteer coordinator Catherine Lyle at clyle@spokanecity.org.

Camp Sekani is located at 6707 E. Upriver Drive.

Directions:  Head East on Mission. At Mission and Upriver Drive take a right. Continue on Upriver Drive for about 2 miles until you see the Sekani gate on your left. Enter the gate and you should notice the caretakers house on the right. If you get to the Boulder Beach Parking Lot on your right you have gone too far.

Idaho controlled hunt drawing results out soon

HUNTING — The suspense is almost over for Idaho big-game hunters.

Results of special drawings for big-game controlled hunt tags will be available any day on the Idaho Fish and Game Department drawings web page.

Postcards will be mailed to successful applicants by July 10.

Ultimately, hunters must bear the responsibility to determine whether they've been drawn, state officials say.

Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified.

Winners must buy controlled hunt tags by Aug.1; any tags not purchased by that date will be forfeit.

Unclaimed and leftover tags from the first drawing will be available in a second application period Aug. 5-15.

After the second drawing, any tags left over are sold over the counter.

Washington already has conducted its special hunt drawings.

Flathead Lake tests paddlersshore-to-shore

PADDLING —  Kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards will go 4.5, 9.5 or 24 miles on Montana's Flathead Lake on Aug. 24 in a race event to benefit First Descents, a non-profit organization providing outdoor adventure therapy for young adults with cancer

The Epic Shore to Shore race is open to all paddlesports enthusiasts.

Paddlers can race as teams or solo as they crisscross the bays and inlets along the west shore of the lake.

 “We are a local group of outdoor enthusiasts who have a passion for paddling,” said event organizer Chuck Ludden.

Info is on the  Epic Shore to Shore website and the event's Facebook page.

Registration includes a T-shirt for each competitor, a free drink ticket and a pasta dinner ticket.

Registrations will be accepted until one week prior to the race. 

Solo entry for Epic/24 miles = $75
Solo for Intermediate/9.5 miles = $60
Solo for Recreation/4.5 miles = $45
Team:  Each member pays $45

Take a gamble on Tri-Town Float down Pend Oreille River

PADDLING – A two day floating festival of canoes, kayaks and other muscle-powered craft will be playing the odds on the Pend Oreille River July 14 and 15.

The Tri-Tow Float, formerly called the Poker Paddle, will have five stations giving out cards to participants as the float 16 miles from Ruby Creek to Ione the first day.

Camping and food options are available.

The second day features a 5-mile float from Box Canyon Dam to Metaline, followed by prize drawings.

Info: (509) 442-4577.

Sign-up by July 6 for discount.

 Entry forms online at the event's Facebook page.

Bear aware: Tips for camping in bear country

WILDLIFE — The summer camping season is kicking into high gear, putting more people out among wildlife, including bears.

The Grizzly Bear Outreach Project offers basic tips to help campers avoid attracting bears, which can be dangerous to people and destructive to their camping gear.

Worse, a bear that finds value — notably food — in raiding camps almost surely will become a repeat offender that ultimately will have to be killed.

Click "continue reading" to refresh your memory on tips that come from years of case studies:

Spokane-area rich with fly fishing shops

FLY FISHING — July is a major period of transition for fly fishing in the Inland Northwest, as you'll read in my outdoors feature story coming Sunday at www.spokesman.com/outdoors.

Hear the latest news from the water, connect with guides and get tips on the fly patterns and techniques that are working NOW from the area's great selection of fly shops:

Spokane-area fly shops and guides


101 N. Cabela Way, Post Falls; (208) 777-6300.

Joe Roope's Castaway Fly Fishing Shop,

1114 N. 4th St., Coeur d’Alene; (208) 765-3133.

Northwest Outfitters,

2171 N. Main, Coeur d’Alene; (208) 667-2707.

Silver Bow Fly Shop,

13210 E. Indiana Ave., Spokane Valley, (509) 924-9998.

Swede’sFly Shop,

1611 N. Ash St., Spokane; (509) 323-0500.

WestslopeFly Shop,

1003 E. Trent Ave., Spokane, (509) 838-0252.