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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!!!

Most nordic routes groomed at 4th of July Pass

WINTER SPORTS — Here's today's grooming report for Fourth of July Pass cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails from Geoff Harvey of the Panhandle Nordic Club:

The last warm system that passed through condensed the dryer snow from Sunday and Monday and dropped a little new wet snow.  The result was 8 - 10 inches of wet snow on the established base of all runs. All trails that we groom were groomed with the exception of Tree Top View and Loose Moose. Double track was set on the Inner Core Trails with a skate lane between. The outer trails (Skywalker, Moonrunner, the Eagle Run, Skateaway and Elderberry) have a single track set at the side to accommodate a wide skate lane. Because the snow was so wet maneuvering the groomers was a challenge  on some turns.  As a result some widely taken corners resulted in one of the two lanes being damaged and some groves in places. 

Wet snow is more of a challenge to groom.  Since it is forecast to turn off cold, we did not pack Loose Moose.  It is better to have broken snow on this steep run as compared to a packed surface that can freeze up and become exceedingly difficult to ski.  Elderberry has a single track to near the benches and packed snow machine tracks on to Ian's hut. We were able to remove to trees from the cut across trail before chainsaw trouble spared for another day the “jackpot” of four trees. The trail is a work in progress, but in most places can be skied or walked. 

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.

4th of July Pass nordic trails groomed

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.

Fire lookouts a high prize for winter trekkers

WINTER SPORTS — Looking for a winter trek to a somewhat cozy room with a view:

Here's a photo my daughter emailed to me from her recent backcountry ski trek to Winchester Lookout near Bellingham.  That's Mount Baker in the background.  Not a bad backdrop, even if you didn't have the additional eye candy featuring miles and miles of the North Cascades.

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.

4th of July Pass ski-snowshoe event cancelled

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.

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

WINTER SPORTS — 

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?

Snowshoers put up hut at Fourth of July Pass

WINTER SPORTS —  Members of the Panhandle Nordic Club put up a Snowshoe Hut on Twisted Klister System this week. A wood stove soon will be installed.

The snow is still thin, but the it's good to know shelter is there for the winter days ahead.

 

Snowshoer has eye for scenic location

WINTER SPORTS —  Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson and his wife, Lisa, of Lincoln jumped at the chance Wednesday offered to strap into their snowshoes for a walk through a cold clear day and deep powder in Western Montana.

Broke trail to the top of Rogers Pass this afternoon (snowshoes). It is approx.. 1.5 to 2 miles to the top with an elevation gain of about 1000 feet.

There was between one and two feet of snow for the entire trail. Cold and clear day – we got on top just in time for the warm sunset light!

As it set – it got cold! When we eventually got back to the truck, it was 10 degrees below zero. Considering we were 1000 feet higher, we estimate It was closer to -15 on top!

Snowshoers enjoy new trail bridges over Mount Spokane creeks

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.

Snowshoers flocking to Mount Spokane

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.

Mount Spokane warming hut construction progressing

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.

Volunteers building hut for snowshoers, skiers at Mount Spokane

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:

Cris working this afternoon underneath the floor of the new snowshoe hut at Smith Gap on Mt. Spokane. There might even be walls and a roof finished by this winter season!

Leader needed for yurt construction at Mount Spokane

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 criscurrie22@gmail.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, President
Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park

Mount Spokane trails ‘almost’ snow free

TRAILS — After five months, hikers can finally leave their snowshoes home when heading up to hit the trail at Mount Spokane State Park.

The Spokane Mountaineers report there's still some snow on portions of the trail system, but hiking boots alone are sufficient.  Expect some mud, though.

A group from the club was on the mountain last weekend volunteering to remove the signs marking the winter downhill ski area boundary.

Judge says backcountry skiers have right to relief from snowmobiles

WINTER SPORTS — Backcountry skiers who have been negotiating against the near-total encroachment of snowmobiles into national forest playgrounds near Lookout Pass and Stevens Peak may find some support in a ruling handed down by a court in Boise.

A federal judge in Idaho says the U.S. Forest Service broke the law when it didn’t craft rules to govern snowmobile travel, handing powder-loving backcountry skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts a victory that could extend to national forests nationwide.

  • The skiers emphasized they didn't want a ban on snowmobiling, just a balance of their use in the winter backcountry.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush ruled Friday that the Forest Service must go back to work on its 2005 Travel Management Rule and draw up regulations designating areas of use and non-use by all off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles, on national forest lands.

See the story: Judge sides with backcountry skiers

Snowmobilers venturing out of bounds at Mount Spokane

WINTER SPORTS — A few snowmobilers continue to break rules and ride out of their approved zones and onto snowshoe trails and the downhill ski area at Mount Spokane.

It's not a new problem, as this story explains.

Snowshoers who have been finding tracks in several park areas off-limits to snowmobiles suggest people who encounter the problem should report their experience on Mount Spokane State Park's online visitor comment form.

Snowshoes and snow bikes featured at Schweitzer

WINTER SPORTS — The Snowshoe Stampede at Schweitzer Mountain will be pedaling a new option on Saturday (Feb. 2).

A snow bike division has been added to the event that welcomes all sorts of walkers, gabbers, goers — and now, fat bikers!

The event features a scenic course Schweitzer's nordic ski area trails with 3- and 5-mile options, plus a chance to win cool prizes.

Bikes must be purpose built with tires wider than 3.7 inches and pressure no greater than 10 psi.  Bike or ski helmets are required.  A few bikes are available for rent at the Source, (208) 255-3062.

Event fees are $10 entry and $10 trails pass (if you don’t already have a Nordic / Snowshoe season pass).  Register from noon to 1 p.m. at the Hermit’s Hollow tubing yurt.

Snowshoe races begin at 2 p.m.

Snow bike event starts at 3 p.m.  

Three events coming up for perking up your winter

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.

Women's Souper Bowl ski and snowshoe event, this Sunday Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. at the Mt. Spokane Cross Country Ski Park. Details at souperbowlspokane.org.
Langlauf race coming up Sunday Feb.10 Enter now — early registration closes Feb. 6. Check it out at spokanelanglauf.org.

Backcountry film festival benefits winter recreation

 

The Backcountry Film Festival’s road show of human-powered outdoor recreation films will be back for the third year at 7 p.m., Jan. 30, at Gonzaga University’s Jepson Center.

The festival films also will be showing Feb. 8 in Coeur d'Alene and Feb. 22 in Bonners Ferry, sponsored by the Idaho Conservation League.

The seven featured films are the top 2012 picks by the Winter Wildlands Alliance and sponsored in Spokane by Gonzaga and local outdoor clubs as a fundraiser for efforts to maintain nonmotorized access to the region’s top winter backcountry. See a trailer here.

  • In addition, the short film FreeRider will be shown and the Spokane festival night, featuring Washington splitboard mountaineer Kyle Miller during his quest to snowboard Washington’s 10 highest summits.

John Latta of the Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance said proceeds of the Spokane event at GU will be used for efforts to keep backcountry skiing on the front burner of public land planning at two important sites for muscle-powered recreation:

Read on for more details:

Backcountry film fest benefits winter recreation

The Backcountry Film Festival’s road show of human-powered outdoor recreation films will be back for the third year at 7 p.m., Jan. 30, at Gonzaga University’s Jepson Center.

The festival films also will be showing Feb. 8 in Coeur d'Alene and Feb. 22 in Bonners Ferry, sponsored by the Idaho Conservation League.

The seven featured films are the top 2012 picks by the Winter Wildlands Alliance and sponsored in Spokane by Gonzaga and local outdoor clubs as a fundraiser for efforts to maintain nonmotorized access to the region’s top winter backcountry.  See a trailer here.

  • In addition, the short film FreeRider will be shown and the Spokane festival night, featuring Washington splitboard mountaineer Kyle Miller during his quest to snowboard Washington’s 10 highest summits.

John Latta of the Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance said proceeds of the Spokane event at GU will be used for efforts to keep backcountry skiing on the front burner of public land planning at two important sites for muscle-powered recreation:

Read on for more details:

Women step out into winter at Souper Bowl on Mount Spokane

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.

Preregister: souperbowlspokane.org.

All ski trails groomed at Fourth of July Pass

WINTER SPORTS — Skiing conditions are great at Fourth of July Pass sport trails for the holiday weekend. All nordic trails have been groomed and are in especially prime condition for skaters.

Here's today's report from Panhandle Nordic Club president Geoff Harvey:

Skip Truscortt and I groomed today, concentrating on Skywalker above Skateaway, Moonrunner and thye Eagle Run. With last Thursday 's groom of lower Skywalker, Havin. Fun, the Swoop, High Road, Elderberry to the benches and Skateway alomost all groomed runs are groomed. Havin Fun, The Swoop, High Road, Skateaway, Skywalker and Moonrunner are all groomed for skating. With this inversion holding until Wednesday now is the time to get out there skaters.
 

Winter treks led by Scotchman Peaks group

WINTER SPORTS — Tracking critters with a naturalist, studying winter ecology and a ladies-only snowshoe trek into an ancient cedar grove are among a dozen outings the public can join in a winter trip series led by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

The annual outing series in the proposed wilderness area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille starts Sunday with a snowshoe walk up the Lightning Creek Road to the Regal Creek Trail.

Some of the trips are easy, some are quite challenging.

Pre-registration is required.