Check out the online browser version of the brand new Go Green Directory. Just click the thumbnail above.
Check out the online browser version of the brand new Go Green Directory. Just click the thumbnail above.
Join Grant Wencel, the City’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator; members from the Bicycle Advisory Board (BAB); and other bicycle enthusiasts this week on a tour of the newly completed downtown bike loop.
“The downtown bike loop project is great for Spokane,” says Grant Wencel, “As a City we continue to make significant strides in improving our community for all kinds of cyclists.”
The tours, held from noon to 1 p.m. each day, will start at Howard St. and Riverside Ave. by the hot dog stand; free hot dogs are included in the event. A small group of cyclists will ride around the loop, ending back at Howard St. and Riverside Ave. Tours will last about 20 minutes. Release waivers will need to be signed before going on the tour by an adult 18 or over.
The City also will share information on bike safety and rules of the road with the cyclists.
Several accomplishments have been made by the City as it expands its bicycle network:
· Completing a Master Bike Plan.
· Organizing bike and pedestrian counts.
· Supporting events like SpokeFest, Summer Parkways, and Bike to Work Week.
· Adding new shared bike lanes called “sharrows” on Spokane Falls Blvd. in addition to
ones added in recent years on 37th Ave. and Southeast Blvd.
· Completed the second phase of the Fish Lake Trail.
· Began working on “complete streets” concepts for our community.
The 4th Annual River District Criterium Bike Race returns to Liberty Lake’s River District on Tuesday, August 9th. This Criterium race is one of the races in the Twilight Series hosted by the Baddlands Cycling Club. River District sponsors the spectator friendly race.
This family friendly criterium bike race in the River District community has grown in size to include the popular “just for fun” kids’ races before the adult bike racers take to the course. The race takes place around the award-winning Half Moon Park with racers reaching speeds over 35 mph as they play-out team strategies. Neighbors and visitors bring their lawn chairs to sit and watch the race in the park. Kids play in the park during the races.
Wood fired pizza will be provided by Veraci Pizza. Desserts and refreshments will also be available. Kid’s activities, prizes and drawings will occur throughout the evening.
Paul Fish, president of Mountain Gear, Inc. is pleased to announce the promotion of David Noonan to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing from Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
“Dave’s hard work, strategic thinking and commitment to Mountain Gear have positioned our company for continuing success. Through his dedication and leadership, Mountain Gear enters a new phase as we prepare the launch our new website. This is a well-deserved promotion to Senior Vice President – Mountain Gear, Inc. Please join me in congratulating David in his new role. David Noonan joined Mountain Gear in 2001.
The third annual Sekani Adventure Day will be held July 9th at Camp Sekani Conservation Area. Participants will have the opportunity to try a variety of outdoor sports in one day for a single $9 entry fee.
Adults and children of all ages and skill levels are invited to attend Sekani Adventure Day. Stand-up paddling, canoeing, archery, geocaching and approximately six other activities will be available at stations staffed with experienced instructors who will adjust small-group instruction to participant skill level. Participants are encouraged to bring their own mountain bicycle and helmet; all other gear will be provided by local organizations and vendors.
“This is one of the best events in the area,” says Lunell Haught, President of the Inland Northwest Trails Coalition. “You get to try out all kinds of things without buying anything, you can use it right there, it’s a gorgeous site with something for everyone.
“Best of all, there’s nothing — food or equipment — for sale,” says Haught. “This minimizes nagging, begging, whining and any decision making related to money!”
Sekani Adventure Day is organized by the Inland Northwest Trails Coalition and City of Spokane Parks and Recreation in partnership with OutThere Monthly magazine.
Where: Camp Sekani Conservation Area, 6707 E. Upriver Dr.
Cost: $9 pre-registration/$15 at the gate Registration: sekaniadventureday.com or 509.625.6200
Check out this great post from the Cascade Bicycle Club: What are rescissions (and why are they far worse than flat tires?)
Use their web form to send a message of support to the Governor and WSDOT head Paula Hammond.
Thanks to all our contributors for another great issue. Check out Dr. Bob’s take on the new USDA “Plate” campaign and John Speare’s interview with a local tandem cycling couple. As always you can just go to www.issuu.com and search for “Out There Monthly” to see all our latest issues online.
Covering more distance in a shorter time—that’s the essential reason for ultralight backpacking, which is something Eli and Anna Brown have been doing together for six years. They got particularly interested in the concept “after a very slow and unsuccessful attempt at hiking the Snoqualmie to Stevens stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail,” Anna says. The book Lightweight Backpacking and Camping by Ryan Jordan and their own extensive internet research have taught them what works best.
“Eli and I are both attracted to the philosophical idea of ‘getting away’ from everyday life and being completely self sufficient with 20-25 lbs of stuff. This type of self sufficiency requires the ultralight backpacker to be very conscious and very present as well,” Anna says. “There is also something very appealing about going for a nice brisk walk in the woods as opposed to a slow, painful trudge.”
The one downside of the sport is the expensive ultralight gear, they say.
This husband and wife duo go on at least one summer ultralight trip together—usually to the Cascades and often to the Leavenworth area. Eli, who Anna says is more die-hard, goes on 2-3 summer trips. His most successful one so far was completing that same Snoqualmie to Stevens stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in three days with his 58-year-old father. It was the first time Eli took no rain gear and used only a tarp for shelter.
One of their most challenging and comical adventures was hiking the Hatchery Creek Trail outside of Leavenworth in the summer of 2009. “The trail hadn’t been maintained in a long time, so there was a lot off trail, off map bushwhacking. In addition, we had one mishap after another, and by the end of the day we were both totally exhausted,” explains Anna.
The next day when they decided to jump over a relatively narrow section of a creek instead of taking off their shoes and fording it, Eli successfully made it while Anna did not. “My feet hit the edge of the bank, and as I tried to propel myself forward, my butt shot backwards and pulled me over into the stream,” she says.
In addition to backpacking, Eli and Anna rock climb and train for and compete in triathlons. In the winter, Eli snowboards and Anna likes to snowshoe. And they go day hiking and car camping with their four-year-old daughter.
Here is the gear they use to travel the trails in ultralight style:
BACKPACK: REI UL 30
SHOES: Eli – Salomon XT Trail-Runner; Anna – Merrel.
SOCKS: WrightSock CoolMesh, quarter size. “They don’t last more than a season, but they are doubled layered and really work well for cutting down on blisters,” she says.
TREKKING POLES: They each carry one—REI brand.
SHELTER: MSR Ventana tent – discontinued, but they say it’s the “best tent ever.”
SLEEPING BAGS/PADS: Eli – REI Sub-kilo bag and short Therm-a-Rest ProLite; Anna – LaFuma down bag and regular, self-inflate Therm-a-Rest.
CLOTHING: REI convertible pants and Under Armour compression fit shirts. “Moisture wicking is key,” says Anna. “We do not pack more than one shirt and one pair of pants. Quick drying clothes are a must because if we are out on a long trip—four or more days—you can rinse out your hiking clothes at night, and they will be dry by morning, mostly.” For nighttime, they wear REI MTS Long Underwear. “If we pack our lighter sleeping bags, the long underwear helps to cut down on any chill early/late season,” she says.
JACKETS: Eli – Marmot Pollyfill; Anna – Moonstone. She says, “It weighs close to a couple of pounds, but I don’t mind carrying the ‘extra’ weight if it assures me warmth (aka comfort) at the end of the day.” Instead of carrying rain gear, they find shelter if needed.
WATER FILTRATION SYSTEM: Sawyer Gravity Feed filter.
FOOD: Breakfast and lunch: Fuel Fudge—Anna’s modified version of a recipe from Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’: Lightweight Trail-tested Recipes for Backcountry Trips by Christine and Tim Conners. These two meals are “all about calorie intake and little bulk,” she says. She drinks Medaglia D’oro instant espresso, premixed with powder creamer. Snacks: Peanut M&Ms and Shotblocks. Dinner: dehydrated meals, usually Mountain House brand.
OTHER ESSENTIAL GEAR: Headlamps, Petzl for Anna, Black Diamond Ion for Eli; pocket knife; first aid kit; Kelty Triptease lightline for hanging food in trees; and Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap, which Anna says is “organic and completely necessary for anything, from cleaning camp utensils to washing a body.”
Outdoor experiences make life worth living, and our area is rich with lakes and mountains to enjoy. While the challenges or the motivations vary, there is no shortage of inspirational landscapes to appreciate. Whether you’re a biker, hiker or paddler, you probably bring along your camera to document your outings.
Outdoor photography connects people in many ways—the viewer to the subject, the landscape to the accomplishment, the vision to the artist, the moment to be shared again and again. In the Inland Northwest, outdoor photography can be taken for granted since the opportunities are practically unmatched in the rest of the country. From the gigantic Idaho lakes to the massive Cascade volcanoes, there’s a grounded argument that local photographers can photograph dominating alpine mountains, lush rainforest trails, glowing sandy beaches, rolling Palouse farmland, and sweet desert sagebrush all in the same day!
Today’s cameras only amplify the potential for great photos, and continuing jumps in image software boost outdoor photography even further. Like every digital device, modern digital cameras are becoming affordable enough so that many families have a couple decent cameras (not to mention the cameras on many cell phones). It’s becoming increasingly popular for a family to go outside solely for an outdoor photo tour.
Sometimes a family can take a trip to photograph an event, such as the Walla Walla hot air balloon stampede, or they can simply go to photograph a place or a feature such as Palouse Falls. Sometimes the goal might be a day hike up Steamboat Rock at Banks Lake, but along the
way they might photograph an old barn or some beautiful wildlife.
Thanks to the variety and abundance of unspoiled scenery, there’s a chance that the same outing might allow sister to photograph brilliant wildflowers, brother can photograph a majestic elk, father photographs a misty waterfall, and mother photographs a stunning sunset. Even if you’re timid about the outdoors, or you have limited mobility, or you’ve never considered yourself skilled with a camera, outdoor photography in the Inland Northwest truly offers something for everyone.
Through several informal interviews with some of the area’s best outdoor photographers, Out There Monthly compiled a list of some of the premier spots that meet three primary criteria. First, these are all easy—easy to find, easy access, easy approach. These photo spots are all kid-friendly locations. Second, they are beautiful settings with lots of obvious composition options that do not require expensive lenses or extra gear. All of the places are relatively photogenic year round so you can practice taking better and better images, improve your skills, and possibly create seasonal family outings. Third, these places are so unique to the Inland Northwest that even if you’ve visited them ten times already, you will still find something impressive to share or photograph on your eleventh visit.
No other location proves to be the most exotic yet simplest to photograph. The John A. Finch Arboretum is located in southwest Spokane on 65 acres of wooded hills. It’s a botanical collection of trees and plants along the Garden Springs Creek and labeled for field study. Unless you have forever avoided Interstate 90 West to the airport, then you have certainly driven right past this beautiful city park.
Local photographer Jed Conklin says, “We live in the Evergreen state. This park is a real treasure and the best chance to photograph something other than pine trees.”
Conklin also highlights two chief ingredients for good photos—specifically, good sunrise/sunset lighting, and the photographer’s creed: the Rule of Thirds.
The Rule of Thirds is imperative because spacing the primary subject into one third of your picture creates depth, adds a background, and gives each photo a unique scale. The photographer’s role is to create a photograph that captures attention. The Rule of Thirds does that by using basic human behavior. A person’s eyes don’t focus on the center of a photograph; it scans the edges. This is always important in composition, but especially important whenever photographing trees and friends because vegetation and people need a sense of scale in order for the viewer to appreciate the concept of the photo.
Runner-up Location (similar photography opportunity): Manito Park, Spokane’s South Hill.
SITUATED HALFWAY BETWEEN Spokane and Pullman, seemingly in the middle of never-ending farmland, Steptoe Butte offers some of the best photography opportunities possible, especially at sunset. The perch from this State Park provides a vibrant opportunity to fill your camera with fields of gold and green, along with the many colorful wildflowers that blanket the area. Steptoe Butte State Park is a 150-acre, 3,612-foot-tall natural monument composed of quartzite, and the State Park website proudly declares views up to 200 miles in every direction.
The road to the summit actually circles the Butte a couple of times in corkscrew fashion. This circular journey only adds to the panoramas and provides multiple views of the rich farmland at various elevations. Once on the summit, the great relief from the Butte ensures there is always a shady side during the golden sunrise and sunset hours. This translates into longer sessions of soft light, and it really rewards any photographer who remembered their tripod.
Strangely enough, while forest fire or grass-burning smoke often hinders the distance of the view, they can also contribute to some of the most stunning sunsets. Admittedly, it isn’t safe up there during a storm, but if you can catch the weather leaving or coming, there’s a strong chance you can create a brilliant photo.
Runner-up Location (similar photography opportunity): Kamiak Butte, approx. 11 miles north of Pullman.
PALOUSE FALLS IS A Washington State icon. After the Columbia River, Puget Sound and Mount Rainier, this waterfall easily stands among the top ten most photographed natural features in all of Washington. Rightly so. The waterfall drops 180+ feet. Located approximately 25 miles due south from Ritzville, the Palouse River spills into a giant circular gorge just a few miles before joining the Snake River.
In the spring, the sunlight passing through the massive spray casts unbelievable rainbows. In the winter, the entire waterfall gorge can transform into a gigantic collection of ice sculptures. Even during low water, the waterfall holds your attention. With or without a camera, you should go see it.
“At Palouse Falls, specifically, I have found that I get the best results shooting at sunrise,” says photographer Lacey LaDuke. “The sun is positioned right, the colors are rich, and the lighting gives great depth. Waiting too long and allowing the sun to get high in the sky washes out the colors and makes the images come out flat and boring.”
Referring to common mistakes, LaDuke says, “My first trip to Palouse Falls was in the spring of 2007, and I jumped out of the car and eagerly started snapping away and didn’t get anything that I would use today, but I was stoked at the time. The machine gun method seems to be what most amateur photographers go with. Over time I have learned to slow down, survey the scene, look at the lighting and composition and then shoot.”
Runner-up Location: Snoqualmie Falls, west side of the Cascades near North Bend.
TURNBULL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
TURNBULL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE encompasses approximately 16,000 acres of marshes and channeled scablands about six miles south of Cheney. The combination of basalt outcrops, canyons and undulating meadows provide a year-round diverse landscape. Because Turnbull is a true wildlife sanctuary, most of the park is rightly outside of visitor access. However, the 5.5-mile scenic tour road is a real local treasure and a photographer’s portal into the area’s richest wildlife collection.
“Turnbull is the closest deep wilderness experience you can get. The first time I visited, I was sort of disappointed. But I think I’ve been back there at least 30, maybe 50 times. That place has so much to offer,” says photographer John Latta.
Latta capitalizes on his Turnbull visits with a good investment in patience, and a willingness to wait. Sometimes he waits for the water to calm to capture the right reflections. Other times he waits for the wind to die down a little so a field of flowers is tack-sharp. All things considered, the sanctuary status provides a rich vista any day of the year.
He even jokes, “It’s especially nice during hunting season because I know I won’t be shot at while I’m hiking quietly out there.”
Runner-up Location: Potholes Reservoir, south of Moses Lake (hiking required).
Kootenai Falls, near Troy, Montana, is one of the few (if not last) large waterfalls along a major northwest river that has not been smothered by a dam. That may be reason enough for it to make this list. But when you view Kootenai Falls with an eye to the past, you can imagine what other previously unbridled waterfalls looked like—such as Kettle Falls or even Spokane Falls. The major portion of Kootenai Falls below China Rapids drops roughly 80 feet, but the whole river cascades down approximately 200 feet in less than a mile, making for some turbulent and powerful photos. It’s a beautiful sight at any water level.
Photographer Bruce Andre has four primary pieces of advice for this spot. He says, “First, move your body. Get down close to the ground—it’s a new vantage point and usually much more interesting. Very important in photographing kids—get on their level. Also, great photography is usually about beautiful light, so get out early in the morning or just before storms, and don’t be afraid to carry a tripod. Avoid using the flash on the camera because it’s usually harsh light and rarely makes for stunning images. Finally, look at the small stuff. Details can be powerful: close-ups of flowers, water, even people.”
If you’re willing to work for a more unique photo, then you can travel downriver to the Swinging Bridge, cross the river, and then head back upstream to the most prominent falls. The tumbling water never fails to provide a good photo.
Runner-up Location: Yaak Falls, also near Troy, Montana.
No doubt, there are a dozen other regional locales that are not on this short list but could be. Obviously, the criteria for this list are subjective. Yet any one of these five spots will fill your camera card, and hopefully when you are editing or reviewing your photos back home you might become inspired to seek out some exciting parks and natural areas even closer to home to sharpen your photography skills before you visit the next spot. While some of these scenic locations might be a couple hours away, there is plenty to photograph at Dishman Hills, Beacon Hill, Tubbs Hill, or even down the bluff below High Drive in south Spokane. Along with the major lakes and rivers, there is plenty to photograph along the Little Spokane River, Hangman Creek and the Coeur D’Alene River.
Good photos already tell a story. But once you begin sharing the experience of capturing the photo with others, you will have even more stories to tell. Taken a step further, if you weave photography into an outdoor event or outing, you will begin to dramatically capture and archive the experiences and they will grow in value—even while the iPad, laptop computer and the camera itself decrease in value.
Out There Monthly exists because of the plethora of wonderful outdoor experiences available in our region, and photos preserve the marvel of these. If you’re looking to create some family memories to hold in your heart and hang on your wall, you can’t go wrong with these five stunning photography destinations.
Many thanks to these professional photographers. Check out their websites and view their impressive pictures and genius photography.
A “bucket list” vacation FOR any Northwest family should be Mount Rainier National Park. After all, who wants a kid to grow up without stepping foot on the 14,410-foot mountain that dominates the Cascade Range? It’s the fifth highest peak and the tallest volcano in the contiguous United States. Even better, it’s an “episodically active” volcano—kids will love that. According to nps.gov, it last erupted about 150 years ago.
Mount Rainier NP has five regions: Paradise, Longmire, Sunrise, Ohanapecosh and Carbon River. The most popular one is Paradise (5,400’ elevation), located in the southwest corner of the park and accessible from Stevens Canyon Road if traveling from Yakima. It’s renowned for its dramatic views of the glacier-clad mountain, and one of the park’s only two designated campgrounds is close by. Its new visitor center, which opened in 2008 to replace the former, unsustainable building, is open daily during the summer from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and provides interactive exhibits for all ages. There is a picnic area and plenty of nature trails. And children ages 6-11 can take part in the Ranger-led Junior Ranger program during the weekends.
But before you learn anything more, it’s important to know a basic phrase when talking about “the Mountain”—the shorthand that Western Washington residents call Rainier. A visit to Paradise is best when the mountain is “out,” as the locals say. Cloud cover on the summit is disappointing but be patient. In the summer, morning clouds often dissipate by the afternoon. (If not, enjoy the lower-elevation trails and Narada Falls between Paradise and Longmire.)
Thankfully, July and August weather is generally good, considering that Mt. Rainier makes its own weather. So it’s a good idea to plan for a multi-day visit, or at least have some flexibility in your travel plans; then if the summit is hidden by clouds on your first day, you may hopefully enjoy clear skies the next.
Paradise trails have clear signage and most begin at the edge of the paved parking lot. If you’re hiking with small children, the Alta Vista Trail is a great choice. This 1.2-mile round-trip paved trail accommodates a stroller and is typically snow free by mid-July. Another paved trail is the Nisqually Vista.
If you will be carrying your baby or toddler in a carrier or pack, or if your kids are older and capable of hiking longer distances, then the Skyline Trail is a must-do on a clear day. This 5.4-mile loop trail is more rugged and gains 1,700 feet of elevation to a spectacular view at Panorama Point (7,100’). Along the trail, there are plenty of large flat rocks to stop and rest, enjoy a snack, or change a baby’s diaper, and there is an outhouse at the Point.
Since Paradise is “the snowiest place on earth where snowfall is measured” and holds the world record for the largest snowfall in a single year, according to visitrainier.com, check trail conditions at the visitor center before you head out. Sometimes snow still covers upper portions of trails. (As of mid-June, all of Paradise’s trails were still covered by snow and some lowland trails were open—go to “latest hiking buzz” at the visitrainier.com homepage for the current update.) A park ranger can also suggest trails that will best accommodate your family’s needs and ability level.
After hiking, you can relax at the historic Paradise Inn. Its massive lobby, with many couches and a fireplace, is a bustling place throughout the day and serves as a resting place for day visitors and inn patrons alike. The inn offers a full-service dining room, and a small café off the lobby sells sandwiches, snacks, ice cream and beverages—from espresso to alcoholic concoctions. From a parent’s perspective, the inn’s public restrooms are awesome—spacious with warm water, flushable toilets and diaper changing tables.
As for staying overnight in the park, Cougar Rock Campground (elev. 3180’) is only eight miles from Paradise and the only one in the south side of the park. Its 173 sites fill quickly, so make your reservations as soon as possible at www.recreation.gov ($15/night). Although there are no showers, there are flush toilets and diaper changing tables in the restrooms, and ranger-led programs in the evening at the campground’s amphitheater.
If you would rather not camp and can spend $100+ a night, both the Paradise Inn and the National Park Inn at Longmire (11 miles from Paradise) welcome children of all ages. Go to www.mtrainierguestservices.com for room rates and complete details. At Longmire, the General Store sells snacks, souvenirs, clothing and miscellaneous camping gear. Nearby is the kid-friendly and stroller accessible Trail of the Shadows, which is less than a mile long.
Perhaps best of all, especially families with teenagers, there is no cell phone or wifi coverage available from Longmire to Paradise—which means no texting or media distractions, only quality family time.
WHEN YOU GO
Mount Rainier NP is located 2-3 hours from Seattle, Tacoma and Yakima. For detailed directions to the park from Spokane via Yakima, go to http://www.visitrainier.com/pg/directions/Driving-Directions-to-Mount-Rainier-National-Park.