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GU students go wild in Salmo-Priest film

WILDERNESS –An short film about the 43,348-acre Salmo-Priest Wilderness produced by the Friends of the Salmo-Priest will be shown with another film in a free event on Wednesday April 30, 7 p.m.,  at the Gonzaga University Jepson Center’s Wolff Auditorium.

The friends group, led by GU students, is observing the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the 30th anniversary of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness Area that straddles the Washington-Idaho border against the U.S.-Canada border.

The student film will be paired with “Wild by Law: The Rise of Environmentalism and the Creation of the Wilderness Act,” a 1991 documentary that was nominated in the Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature.

  • Gayne Sears, Colville National Forest district ranger, will discuss wilderness in the Pacific Northwest.

Tucked among the Selkirk Mountains in the far northeastern corner of Washington, the U-shaped Salmo-Priest Wilderness extends its borders along those of Idaho and British Columbia. Its most prominent features are two very long ridges, generally running southwest to northeast, connected near their northern ends by a ridge crowned by 6,828-foot Salmo Mountain. Water from the eastern ridge flows into Idaho’s Priest River while the remaining wilderness drains generally westerly via Sullivan Creek and the Salmo River into the Pend Oreille River. 

Day hiking the Salmo-Priest loop; de-trashing the wilderness

HIKING — Holly Weiler of the Spokane Mountaineers led a 20-mile day hike on the Salmo Loop in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness on Saturday to bring her August Hike-A-Thon mileage close to 300 miles as she raised donations for the Washinton Trails Association.

Photo shows Holly and Ed Bowers about 12 miles into their day hiking down off Little Snowy Top Mountain. In the background is Crowell Ridge and Gypsy Peak, highest point in Eastern Washington.

Why is Holly carrying such a big pack for a day hike, you ask?

Because, as usual, she's been picking up garbage along the way as she cruised through the wilderness, including lots of plastic stuff, plus empty butane fuel canisters and full freeze-dried food packages that were being chewed through by rodents in the Little Snowy Top lookout.

Note to the uninformed:

  • Fire pits are not garbage disposals.
  • Aluminum does not burn in a campfire.
  • If you can pack it in, pack it out.

Wilderness found:  The Salmo-Priest is getting plenty of attention.  We counted 36 hikers including our group of three had signed in on 8-31-13 at the two Salmo Basin Trailsheads at the end of Colville National Forest Road 2220.

Trails group recruiting volunteers for summer trail projects

OUTDO – The Washington Trails Association is recruiting volunteers for an ambitious lineup of trail-building and maintenance projects in far Eastern Washington this season.

Every year as the budgets for parks and forests dwindle, volunteers become more important, said Jane Baker, local WTA trail crew leader in Spokane.

 The work parties range for day-jobs at the Rocks of Sharon to multi-day trips in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness that combine backpacking with trail clearing.

WTA is a third of the way to meeting the 2,000-hours of work at Liberty Lake County Park the group pledged in order to get a state grant.  The first of several work parties planned at Liberty Lake is set for March 16, followed by work in April, May, June and July.

Other project areas include the  Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, Dishman Hills, Mount Spokane and Sullivan Lake.

Sign up online.

Info: (206_ 625-1367.

Today it’s even more peaceful at Gypsy Peak

HIKING — Today is the first day of the annual late-summer closure of several roads leading to prime recreation areas in the Sullivan Lake Ranger District of the Colville National Forest.

The closures were instituted in the 1980s to reduce human disturbance in prime grizzly bear habitat and berry areas when they are most attractive to bears, acccording to Mike Borysewicz, Forest Service wildlife biologist.

The gates were locked yesterday on two notable roads leading to trailheads:

  • Johns Creek Road 500 off the 2200 Road just east of Sullivan Lake Campgrounds. It provide's access to the Trail 540 trailhead for the shortest hike (2.5 miles one way) to Hall Mountain, which looms over Sullivan Lake.   Ironically, because of the late spring weather and snowpack, the road is closing before that area's huckleberry crop is ripe.
  • Bear Pasture Road 200 off the 2212 Road near northwest of Gypsy Meadows. It runs to the border of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness, offering the easiest foot access to Gypsy Peak (elev. 7,309 ft.), the highest mountain in Eastern Washington. The route is about 4 miles one way using the alpine-bound Trail 515 and off-trail scrambling.  But you'll have to wait until next year. 

I drove up both of these roads and hiked the trails last week to beat the closures. The areas area spectacular.

The huckleberries were green but the mosquitoes were at their peak.

I met Rick Moore, who was surveying dragonflies for the Forest Service. He said the mosquitoes were viscious at Watch Lake, but around the ridge, where violet-green swallows were swarming like bees — the mosquitoes were barely noticeable.  A coincidence?  Hmmm.

If you want to hear the buzz for yourself now that Road 200 is gated, you'll have to hike all of Crowell Ridge from the Sullivan Lake Lookout more than 8 miles one way to Gypsy Peak.

Volunteers giving TLC to popular trails

PUBLIC LANDS - More volunteers are needed for upcoming outings that combine learning traditional skills and the camaraderie of group camping with maintaining popular northeastern Washington trails.

Three projects organized by the Washington Trails Association and Conservation Northwest include:

  • Bead Lake Trail, June 25-27.
  • Salmo-Priest Wilderness volunteer vacation, July 9-16.
  • Red Bluff Trail near Sullivan Lake, July 16-17;
  • Shedroof Divide Trail near Little Snowy Top, July 23-25.
  • Hall Mountain Trail near Sullivan Lake, Aug. 4-7.
  • Red Bluff Trail near the Sullivan Lake, Sept. 9-10.

Sign up:  Email derrick@conservationnw.org  or call (509) 389-5514.


Volunteer for trail work from Liberty Lake to Salmo-Priest

PUBLIC LANDS – The Washington Trails Association once again is organizing projects to build or maintain popular non-motorized trails in northeastern Washington, from Spokane Valley to the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.

The group projects range from one-day stints to week-long volunteer vacation projects that culminate in great accomplishments in spectacular areas.

Liberty Lake hiking trails are getting attention this month, starting with session on Saturday, followed by sessions May 12, 14 and 28.

Colville National Forest volunteer vacations to consider include:

Get information and sign up for these projects at www.wta.org


Hikers plan scenic vacations around maintaining trails

TRAILS — The Salmo-Priest Wilderness is on the Washington Trails Association's list of 10 signature projects for trail construction and maintenance in 2011.

That means the little wilderness gem in northeastern Washington and a slice of North Idaho will be a destination for volunteers devoting some of their summer vacation to improving trails for all to enjoy.

If you're looking for a change of scenery, I highly recommend looking into the volunteer vacations set for the High Divide area near Mount Baker.  Bring two pairs of socks on this trip, because your first pair will get knocked off when you see the views.

Read on for details: