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Sunday, August 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Mount Spokane: Backyard playground for Spokane families

Mount Spokane is not a world-class peak, a 14er or one of the Seven Summits. It’s not even the highest mountain in Eastern Washington.

But it serves a monumental role as the mountain in our backyard.

A home without a mountain would be like a fishermen without a lake or stream, or a school without a playground, or a heart without a soul.

Thousands of families have forged memories at Washington’s standout year-round state park. At 13,919 acres, Mount Spokane State Park has something for everyone. Drive, hike, bike or ride a horse to the 5,883-foot summit for a view in summer. Ski, snowshoe, snowmobile or take a chairlift to the top in winter. There’s plenty to gain in the experience from top to bottom.

I have accumulated hundreds of photos from our mountain over the four decades I’ve called Spokane home. They show the wildlife, wildflowers, hikers, bikers, skiers, snowmobilers, huckleberry pickers, lookout renters and a parade of other features and users.

A ton of the photos feature my daughters hiking through blooming beargrass, perched on the rock outcropping at Mount Kit Carson, shuffling on cross-country skis soon after they learned to walk and training with their high school cross country running teams.

Two winter photos posted with this column depict much of the wealth Mount Spokane delivers.

The mountain dares us to be bolder and better, as seen in the shot of Magnus Gauss, 9, skinny skiing off a jump.

The mountain challenges us to be healthier and stronger and provides fun ways to accomplish that lifestyle, as portrayed in the photo snapped at the end of the Langlauf 10K cross-country citizens race.

Evan Lambiotte, Charlotte Burns and Josie McLaughlin cheer on Annika Burns, one of the last of skier young and old to finish the annual Nordic event. Shepherding the enthusiasm surrounding Annika’s achievement is her mother, Kate Burns, and adult friend, Natasha Sharman.

The chorus of cheers and smiles encouraging Annika – age 5 last year – to muscle her little legs the final stretch to the finish speaks volumes.

Even the cold, dreary days of winter can be a festival on the mountain.

Friends, family converge there for teamwork, fitness and fulfillment.

Whenever I hear about opposition to proposals for buying or preserving wild open space around the county, I feel like genuflecting to the visionaries who secured Mount Spokane as a state park in 1927 and then continued to expand a good thing to an even better thing. A lasting place.

Mount Spokane is available for an inspirational view any day and close enough to relish on a whim.

I can’t imagine living without a mountain.

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