At least 15 students signed up for this year’s course, which is
getting increased support from Olympic Mountain Rescue, a volunteer
group that depends on the course for fresh recruits.
“Getting 15 or 16 students – it’s actually fantastic,” said
Kevin Swem, an OMR volunteer and one of the course’s instructors.
“We have several guys trying to get through OMR (training) and this
is one of our primary resources.”
The first class is this evening and a ropes course is
scheduled for the weekend.
A few students typically drop out after the fist couple
classes, sometimes because they find out just how much of a
physical challenge and time commitment the course is.
It remains to be seen whether this year’s class is merely
a happy blip or a longterm revival.
Combined with property already acquired by the Hoh River Trust,
the purchase creates a 32-mile conservation corridor extending from
Olympic National Park to the Olympic Coast National Marine
Sanctuary. The Hoh River is one of four major rivers flowing from
the Olympics. Its valley is famed for moss-draped old-growth
trees and its value as habitat for threatened species,
including the marbled murrelet and spotted owl. The Hoh also boasts
one of the healthiest native salmon runs in the country.
The Conservancy has purchased forestlands on the Queets and
Clearwater rivers and now manages about 11,130 acres in Jefferson
The second purchase,
also announced on Mar. 31, was Pope Resources’ sale of a
conservation easement on 3,392 acres near Hood Canal. Unlike the
Rayonier’s sale, Pope’s deal with the Trust for Public Land allows
the Poulsbo-based company to retain ownership and continue logging
but development is now prohibited.
Pope granted full ownership on an additional 215 acres. The full
deal cost the trust $4.9 million.
Pope’s Jon Rose said the easement and sale will helps meet the
Navy’s goal of curbing development across from the Bangor
naval base. The public will be allowed access on the property,
which connects to the Dosewallips River.
The company has been selling its properties to Kitsap
County as part of the Forest & Bay Project. More on that
About 34 percent of Americans over the age of three rode a bike
at least once last year, according to the report. Velo
News notes that’s much higher than similar reports, such
as 2014 data from the National Sporting Goods
Association, which puts bicycling participation at just 12
Yes, 34 percent is quite high, but the stat is
tempered by the fact that respondents had to ride just once to be
Bike Snob NYC put it, this “probably includes people who like
to get drunk, go to Walmart, and joyride Kents through the seasonal
Other interesting findings from the People for Bikes report:
Those who rode for transportation are much more likely to have
done so to get to and from social, recreation and leisure
activities (70 percent ) than to have commuted to work or
school (46 percent).
Almost half of adults don’t have access to an
Fifty-four percent of adults perceive bicycling as a convenient
way to get from one place to another and 53 percent would like to
ride more often. However, 52 percent worry about being
hit by a car and 46 percent say they would be more likely
to ride if bikes were physically separated from cars on
a designated path or trail.
This last bit is striking. If cycling routes were perceived as
safer, cycling participation would likely skyrocket. And we’re not
talking about more carbon fiber speedsters – they’re already
riding, and riding wherever there’s pavement.
“Infrastructure improvements will have the biggest impact on
underserved populations such as young adults, females, and
nonwhites,” the report says.
In other words, the untapped army of cyclists will come
from the ranks of the young, the old, and basically anybody
who’s not a white, middle-aged male.
Infrastructure like the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle and the
Trail, particularly the section between Blyn and Port Angeles,
fit the bill of a car-free paved path that connects to several
destinations, including neighborhoods, commercial areas and
In Kitsap, two ambitious trail plans are working their way
toward becoming reality. There’s the
Sound to Olympics Trail, which would start at Bainbridge
Island’s ferry terminal and eventually cross the Agate Pass Bridge
and North Kitsap. At the Hood Canal bridge, the STO would link to
the Olympic Discovery Trail. The first leg of the STO should be
finished this fall.
Rescue, the Bremerton-based volunteer search and rescue group,
is attempting a revival. Some of its most experienced members have
offered to team-teach the course this spring. The class’s longtime
instructor, Brad Albro, is expected to serve some role but health
issues prevent him from heading it up.
The class keeps OMR’s ranks strong. Standout students are
recruited for the group, which helps track down hikers and climbers
lost or injured in the Olympics and Cascades.
“Not having the students to draw on has really put us in a
pickle,” OMR member Kevin Swem told me last year after the class
was cancelled. “Right now, we have people who want to join (OMR),
but they don’t have the basic skills.”
I haven’t taken the class, but my mom did about 45 years ago.
Legend has it she was kicked out for giving some unsanctioned
lessons on mushroom foraging during one of the field trips.
The Kitsap Sun’s own Seabury “Mr. Outdoors” Blair took the class
in the 70s. He managed to hold off on getting into trouble
until after completing the course. Read about that
The class involves a weekly lecture and field trip. Rock
climbing, wilderness navigation, first aid and avalanche awareness
are a few of the basic outdoor skills covered. The class usually
builds up to a traversal of Mount Rainier’s Nisqually Glacier.
At five credits, the class costs around $550. All equipment
except mountaineering boots and clothes are provided.
Students must have an “above average fitness level.”
The class begins April 6 and ends June 19. The weekday lecture
is scheduled for Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:40 p.m. The field
trips are one to two days each weekend.
For more about the class and how to sign up, check out the flyer
below. Continue reading →
It’s a machine for transportation and recreation, but to hear
Anthony describe it, the bicycle is also a powerful tool for
Asked in 1896 for her take on cycling, the champion for women’s
“I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else
in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and
self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by
on a wheel… the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
I ran across Anthony’s quote in a series of stories produced by
the League of American Bicyclists for Women’s History Month.
“March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to
celebrate than to learn more about the women who forged a path
toward gender equity in bicycling?” writes Liz Murphy in the
Here are some highlights from the series:
In 1895, Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky, a
young immigrant and mother of three, set off on a 42-pound Columbia
bicycle (that’s it to the left) to circle the globe. Why? To prove
female “physical endurance and mental fortitude,” and to score a
victory for the “new woman.”
She urged women to trade their corsets for two wheelers.
“Tell the women to discard their corsets,” Kopchovsky told a
reporter. “If women will exercise properly on a wheel, they will
have nicely rounded figures, bright eyes, and healthy cheeks, and
will feel well the year ‘round.”
Author Maria Ward didn’t just want women to
bike, she wanted them to wrench.
About 125 years ago, she published “Bicycling for Ladies,” a
do-it-yourself guide to biking and bike maintenance.
She encouraged ladies not to demur when confronted with a flat
tire or loose chain.
“Most women can sew on a button or run up a seam; sewing, in
fact, is regarded rather as a feminine instinct than an art,” Ward
wrote. “I hold that any woman who is able to use a needle or
scissors can use other tools equally well. It is a very important
matter for a bicyclist to be acquainted with all parts of the
bicycle, their uses and adjustment. Many a weary hour would be
spared were a little proper attention given at the right time to
Ward’s entire book is available online. Read it
And then there’s Belva Lockwood. She became
infamous throughout the nation’s capital for doing two things: a)
studying law and b) riding bikes.
Doing one would have been scandalous enough in the 1880s, but to
do both … well, that was enough to make the president nervous.
Fearing the spread of such behavior, President Grover Cleveland
apparently ordered his cabinet officers to then order their wives
to refrain riding bicycles in Washington D.C.
Read about more women (including a few recent ones) in bicycling
The popular Pyramid Peak Trail, which takes hikers to some
stunning Lake Crescent overlooks, re-opened this week after a
In August, an infamously dangerous section crossing a steep
slide area was closed for rerouting and repairs.
“The washout is the most dangerous place that I’ve ever traveled
on trail and I’m a plenty experienced hiker,” a hiker wrote in a
Trails Association trail report in June. “One slip and any one
of us could have easily perished.”
Olympic National Park’s trail crew and Washington Trails
Association members tackled the section during the closure, pulling
the route to a lower section of the slide and cutting in a few new
switchbacks on its wooded east side.
The rerouted section is about half way up the 3.5-mile-long
I tried out the trail on a Sunday. The repaired section’s path
is a bit narrow and the footing a little loose but it’s in passable
shape. Sufferers of vertigo should probably stop and turn back.
It’d still be worth the hike because the slide has cleared enough
trees to get a good view of the lake and the Olympics.
Hike on and you’ll get to visit a World War II-era cabin
strapped (with steel cables) to the peak. The one-room cabin was
used to watch for the hordes of enemy aircraft that never did make
it to the West Coast. I had read that the cabin was boarded up, but
I found it wide open and showing signs that it’s getting use as an
The north side of the mountain is owned by the U.S. Forest
Service. A Forest Service clearcut several years back allows for
some peek-a-boo views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Up and back took me about three and a half hours, so it’s a good
option if you’re staying at nearby Lake Crescent Lodge or camping
at Fairholm for a the weekend. There was no snow on Sunday but the
top of Pyramid got a dusting on Monday morning.
To access the trail, follow Highway 101 to Fairholm on the
lake’s west side. Turn right and follow North Shore Road (aka Camp
David Jr. Road) about three miles to the North Shore picnic area.
There’s parking along the road and at a small parking lot down the
hill a bit. This is also a good spot to park if you want to explore
the flatter Spruce
Railroad Trail along the lake’s shore.
I’ll have more about mountain biking the Spruce trail, staying
at the lodge’s Roosevelt Cabins and other things to do around the
lake in a feature we’re planning for later this month.
The former Sakai family strawberry farm has a pond, wooded areas
and some open spots alongside busy Madison Avenue. At 23 acres, the
property is full of possibilities. A large section will probably be
preserved as open space, leaving about 10 acres for for ball
fields, an off-leash dog park or a playground – or all three plus a
few more uses. Some park officials would like to build a recreation
center with classrooms and offices.
Perhaps the most intriguing feature is the property’s cavernous
Probably installed at the height of the Cold War, the steel room
is buried in the back of a big concrete storage building that looks
like it, too, could withstand Khrushchev’s worst.
Park officials say the concrete building will work great for
storing park vehicles and other large equipment. But the bomb
shelter, with its rounded, windowless walls, doesn’t present any
obvious park-related uses.
I wrote a story for Sunday’s paper about a
bill that could lead to Puget Sound’s largest and most
comprehensive study of forage fish.
The story, which you can read
here, outlines plans from Sen. Christine Rolfes, a
Democrat from Bainbridge, to put dozens of volunteers and
Washington Conservation Corps members to work surveying beaches and
waterways for signs of smelt, herring and other small fish that
support a multitude of other larger species, including salmon and
marine birds. Forage fish, Rolfes says, appear to be in sharp
decline, and that’s bad news for the animals that depend on them
What might the survey look like? Suquamish videographer John
Williams has some idea. He produced a short video (above) of a
smelt egg survey conducted in North Kitsap a few years back. Looks
like quite a painstaking process involving lots of beach visits,
searching sand with magnifying glasses and then sifting sand using
a technique that resembles gold panning.
As was mentioned in the story, state Dept. of Fish &
Wildlife and several environmental and sport fishing groups back
In addition to the survey, the bill would, for the first time,
require a recreational fishing license for smelt fishing. Rolfes
said that shouldn’t be too much of a burden on smelt fishers
because most of them already have a license for other types of
fishing. A license for smelt would help Fish & Wildlife
periodically survey fishers and track where and how much smelt is
For more of Williams’ videos about Puget Sound, head over to
The park’s neighbors erected a locked gate on Millihanna Road,
the only vehicle access into the park, in 2013 to curb the traffic,
crime, noise and litter they say the park attracts.
County officials said they are “near agreement and resolution”
that would turn the gate’s management over to the county parks
department. Park staff would leave the gate during daylight hours
and lock it at night.
The draft agreement stipulates that the county must improve
Millihanna Road in phases over the next several months.
Millihanna is a one-lane gravel drive branching from Banner
Road. It’s poorly-suited for the high volume of traffic the park
once attracted, Millihanna residents say. The road is private but
the county contends it has had a shared use agreement since 2001,
when the park was established.
threatened to sue if Anderson Point were reopened. In March,
their attorney stipulated that public access could resume if the
county agreed to widen the road to two lanes, install speed bumps
and speed limit signs, and expand the Anderson Point’s parking