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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

On first day of 2018 snowshoers treated to sun drenched views from Mount Spokane

While not exactly swimsuit weather, 30 or so snowshoers got a jump start on their summer tans on Monday.

On New Year’s day the group trekked up Mount Spokane on a guided hike. The 1,400 vertical feet gained on 3.5 miles tested some, although none were visibly hungover.

Any difficulty was rewarded when participants broke through a dense cloud layer and into the sun on the summit of Spokane’s namesake peak.

“This was magical, couldn’t have asked for a better (day),” said Paul Blais.

It was Blais’ third year participating in the First Day Mount Spokane snowshoe hike. It was his adult son’s first time up.

“This old man still kicks my ass,” Chris Niles said, gesturing to his dad.

The hike was led by Cris Currie, the longtime president of the Friends of Mount Spokane. Currie related the history of the mountain while leading the group up the hard-packed snow trail.

REI volunteers handed out snacks, warm drinks and hats at the lower Selkirk parking lot. The hike took roughly four hours, with a leisurely stop at the Vista House on the mountain’s summit. With an inversion blanketing Spokane and the surrounding region in fog, it was possible to see the Cabinet Mountains in Montana, more than 100 miles away.

For Scott Gessel and his wife, Monday’s outdoor splendor reinforced their decision to move to Spokane from West Virginia in August. Gessel said they picked Spokane, in part, because of its proximity to Mount Spokane.

There was also an easier snowshoe trip to the Smith Gap Snowshoe Hut at Mount Spokane and a hike through Riverside State Park.

Closer to Spokane, bikers took to the snow in honor of well-known local cyclist Ted Moon. Thirty cyclists gathered at Riverside State Park and rode in his honor, said Dan Wilson, a leader with Evergreen East (Mountain Bike Alliance). Moon’s widow handed out hot chocolate. She told the group that the event would have meant the world to Moon. Moon died unexpectedly in December from heart complications.

Wilson said organizers plan to make the ride an annual event.

Local climbers started the new year clinging to the side of Big Rock in the Rocks of Sharon-Iller Creek Conservation Area. The climbing party included Steve Reynolds, Eric Barrett, Robert Ordner, Adam Volwiler, Lindsay Chutas, Carrie Carlquist, Peggy Clemons and Nick Sweeney.

The winter New Year’s day climb is an annual tradition for Ordner, Barrett and Volwiler.

Other season-confused athletes played in the river. Nine brave souls participated in the 25th Annual “Only Fools Float on the First” river trip down the Spokane. Participants paddled the lower Spokane through Riverside State Park and the Bowl & Pitcher and Devil’s Toenail rapids.

The float is coordinated each year by the Northwest Whitewater Association and includes kayakers from the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club, said Paul Delaney, a NWA member in an email. This year six participants brought catarafts and three were in kayaks. For more information about the club visit

“It was something to do other than watch football all day was the reasoning I recall,” Delaney said of the event’s genesis. “We’ve run the river in both driving snow and bitter cold. Down to 7 degrees in 2011 with four ‘fools’ who struggled afterward to get our Pelican boxes containing car keys open.”

Delaney added, “We do a champagne toast prior to each Fools Float to hopefully usher in a great boating year. With very healthy snowpacks so far we’re optimistic that it will be a fun season.”

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