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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Washington Wild & El Sendero Snowshoe in the Tronsen Wildlands

Lunchtime view: L-R, Ben, Alexia, Hamed, Max, Roger, Nancy, Peter and Wendelyn, and Callie Dog in front. Photo: Gus

On February 10th, Washington Wild teamed up with Gus Bekker from El Sendero Backcountry Ski and Snowshoe Club to lead a group ranging from beginners to experts  on a snowshoe outing in the beautiful Wenatchee National Forest.

El Sendero is a recreation group whose mission aligns with Washington Wild’s and has collaborated on several wild lands and waters campaigns.  According to the El Sendero website:

“El Sendero represents winter backcountry recreationists by advocating for the creation, preservation, and management of non-motorized winter areas on public lands. We work to preserve backcountry areas for quiet human-powered use, promote winter backcountry safety and ethics, and cooperatively resolve conflicts among backcountry users.”

Eight of us “west-siders” drove 90+ miles (2 hours from Seattle) to the Tronsen non-motorized winter recreation area in Cle Elum. It was an easy drive with good roads and signs to follow. Our snowshoe trip gave us an opportunity to see for ourselves how winter recreation is enhanced by protecting our wildlands. The Tronsen area is unique, as it is an entirely non-motorized section of the Wenatchee National Forest. Snowshoers and cross-country skiers can admire the winter landscape without the high-speed snowmobile traffic found in most winter recreation areas. The fact that the Tronsen area is non-motorized keeps the pristine landscape from eroding so it is especially navigable for those who want to take their time exploring Washington’s wild areas on-foot.

THE TEAM (Photo: Gus)
On this outing, Washington Wild and El Sendero were joined by:
  • Gus, Trip Leader for El Sendero
  • Nancy, Washington Wild Interim Executive Director
  • Roger, Washington Wild Board President
  • Hamed, Washington Wild Board Member
  • Peter and Wendelyn
  • Max, Washington Wild volunteer
  • Ben
  • Alexia, Washington Wild Intern
Of the group, about half of us were snowshoeing for our very first time that day, including myself!

We were told to come prepared with items like an extra coat to wear during lunch, to avoid wearing cotton, and to dress in layers.
As it was my first such outing, I made do with what I had in my closet. Here’s what I ended up wearing:
-Under Armour leggings (1st layer)
-Slim sweatpants (2nd layer)
-Water resistant cargo hiking pants (3rd layer)
-Cotton socks topped with thrift store Sorel snow boots (the kind that come with a removable liner)
-Cotton thermal (1st layer)
-Cotton hoodie sweatshirt (2nd layer)
-Fleece jacket (3rd layer)
-Snowshoes and ski poles (rented from El Sendero)
-*Ski jacket with liner (4th layer)
-*Ski jacket (5th layer)
-*Ski hat
(*Items that I didn’t end up wearing!)

It just so happened that the weather was moderate and very sunny, so most of us that remembered to wear gloves took them off along with several layers of clothes. The unexpected sunshine required us to wear often-forgotten sunglasses or baseball hats.

The snowshoe hike took us along a trail through a meadow and then our group dared to venture off-trail and ascend a steep, tree-covered hill. The snow wasn’t packed like it had been on the regularly traveled trails we’d been on. This portion was especially exciting and challenging! To establish a trail that others could follow, we all snowshoed in a single file line up the snowy hill while navigating around the lush evergreen trees along the way.

We had lunch in front of a great view, as promised by Gus. Some of us brought foam pads to sit on while eating, while others made do with backpacks. One person tucked his fleece into a plastic bag to keep his backside dry and warm – which I thought was a great idea! After lunch, we continued our snow shoe outing down the hill and eventually we circled back to the start of our journey. Thanks to El Sendero and Washington Wild, we experienced just how much fun winter recreation can be!

Thanks to such a high-spirited and ambitious group, it was a fun and inspiring scenic adventure that Washington Wild and El Sendero hope to make an annual event!

Some photos:
Gus & Spunk, El Sendero. Photo: Gus

Roger, Board President, Washington Wild. Photo: Hamed

Hamed, Board Member, Washington Wild. Photo: Hamed

Alexia, Washington Wild Intern, and Ben. Photo: Gus

Peter and Wendelyn. Photo: Gus 

Gus, Roger, Nancy, Max, and Callie dog! Photo: Hamed

Alexia Lee is Washington Wild’s newest intern.  Hailing from Bellevue, WA, she is in the process of completing two degrees (B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology & B.A. in Creative Writing) at the University of Washington. 


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Washington Wild Winter Events Recap

2013 is off to an enthusiastic start for Washington Wild staff, board, and volunteers! 

backcountry film festival.gif
January kicked off with the Backcountry Film Festival hosted by the Mountaineers and sponsored by the Winter Wildlands Alliance.  This beautifully filmed compilation of videos highlighted the great variety of human-powered backcountry winter travel and recreation.  According to the Backcountry Film Festival website:

"The films come from renowned filmmakers who search and explore backcountry corners across the globe to submit their best work, as well as from grassroots filmmakers who take a video camera out on their weekend excursions and submit their best film short. The entries are juried by a panel of judges and the top selections are assembled into a 90 minute program.

The festival was created eight years ago to highlight Winter Wildlands Alliance's efforts to preserve and promote winter landscapes for human-powered users.”

The Mountaineers auditorium was filled to capacity with movie-goers, many enjoying Dante’s Inferno Dogs and New Belgium brews.  It was wonderful to see Washington Wild volunteers and supporters in the crowd!


To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day of Caring, Washington Wild teamed up with the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and United Way of King County to build a new mountain bike trail on Tiger Mountain. 

Although mountain biking is not permitted in designated Wilderness areas, Washington Wild and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance have collaborated on several proposals that combine the need to preserve mountain bike access and permanently protect wild places.  As a result of this collaboration, Evergreen has actively supported two current Wilderness bills -- the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Protection Act and the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act – after key mountain bike trails were excluded from wilderness designation to ensure their continued access and enjoyment.  

Photo: Interim Executive Director, Nancy,(with blonde ponytail) taking a break from standing in the stream

This work party was a fantastic way for Washington Wild staff and volunteers to work alongside Evergreen supporters to create a noticeable, tangible difference in the landscape over the course of six hours.  Nancy, Washington Wild’s Interim Executive Director, was able to spend considerable time wallowing in a stream, moving rocks around to minimize erosion due to cyclists’ tires.  Tom, Washington Wild’s Conservation Director had the opportunity to roll a car tire-sized boulder down a hill in order to contour and stabilize the side-slope of the trail.  All of us left dirty, slightly giddy due to the beautiful weather, and satisfied with the noticeable difference in trail conditions.

Tiger Mt is a fun and challenging place for mountain biking for bikers of all ages and skill levels.  The trail that the Washington Wild crew worked on, Silent Swamp, will eventually link several existing trails together and eliminate the need for to bikers to use potentially dangerous (and less fun) access roads.


Out of the Mist, a movie about the experiences of four individuals on the Olympic Peninsula, brought out standing-room only crowds for the showing at the Seattle branch of the Mountaineers.  Out of the Mist features stunning peninsula scenery and long-time Washington Wild supporter, Tim McNulty.  The phenomenal turn-out demonstrated the great support for the Wild Olympics Campaign in our community. 


Washington Wild’s second annual Cheers to Volunteers! celebration took place last week at the Present Sense Gallery in Wallingford/Fremont.  This event honored the 72 volunteer who donated 2,259.5 hours of their time to Washington Wild in 2012. 

Past volunteers, those interested in volunteering in the future, board members (who are also volunteers!), supporters, and staff enjoyed a smorgasbord of soft drinks, beer, wine, and snacks.  

Photo:  Jack Mountain from Devil's Dome, Paysayten Wilderness.  By Andy Porter


We were tremendously lucky to have Andy Porter, a Sedro-Woolley based volunteer, show some of his gorgeous nature photography during the party.  Andy’s photography has graced our newsletters, website, and print media and his work truly demonstrates the beauty and diversity of Washington’s wild places.


And just like last year, party attendees contributed to the sparkly Washington Wild cairn (Cairn (n): a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone, etc.) to commemorate the occasion. 

Coming soon is a blog 100% devoted to the Washington Wild/El Sendero Ski and Snowshoe Club outing on February 10, 2013, written by Washington Wild volunteer Alexia Lee!  Stay tuned for photos full of smiling people, sunshine, snowy mountains, and happy dogs.

Photo:  Alexia enjoying her snowshoe outing.  Photo by Hamed Ahmadi