Eastern WA and how much it means to me.

Through my travels I have ventured out to the east side of the mountains, and more I am finding myself over there more often. If you know me you’ll know that I am from Arizona, so when I say I have become fond of the Eastern side you’ll understand. My adventures over there started when my dad and I went on a hunt in Twisp, I fell in love like a teenager when I was there. The area is like mixing Northern AZ and W. Washington, and its fantastic. I cannot say that I love it more than AZ but it comes in my top 5 places for sure. If you have not ventured much out there, I recommend it for sure. Twisp has great places to eat (Like cinnamon twisps- https://www.facebook.com/CinnamonTwispBakery/) and also great coffee ( Blue Star Roasters – http://www.bluestarcoffeeroasters.com).

Moving on from Twisp, (Which by the way the fishing in the Methow river is a solid plan, trout fishing is pretty good year round also Twisp River is also a great trout stream) My travels have taken me lately to the most eastern side of the state to Ione, WA. My dad and I went over there for white tail deer hunting this season for a change of scenery and oh man was it a change. The area is a lot like Montana actually, dense forest with little ground cover at times under the canopy was almost cave like, no sunshine at any point in the day, that’s how dense the pines/firs/spruce are there. The forests there are almost something out of a fantasy novel and oddly quiet. Even at night the forest is dead quiet, no owls, no crickets, nothing. The last night we were there I heard a single tree frog but that accounts for all of the night sounds. The wildlife there is fantastic; wolves, bears, elk, deer (white tail and mule), lots of grouse and other birds. While I was there hunting I stumbled upon Sullivan lake where the Kokanee were spawning in a near by river from the lake, the river flow was way down so thousands of kokanee were piled up in little holes in the river. I took my fly rod out to the lake and managed to get a few in but released them unharmed as they were certainly not eating size, but very cool none the less. Much to my distaste, the lack of WDFW patrol in the area was very evident. The local town of Ione holds many people that do not pay attention to seasons or property protections. While observing the fish a gentleman rode up on a bicycle with a 357 mag holstered on his chest with a bullet belt who rode up and asked me if I had seen a bear, because he was out making sure that no one shot him, he was this black bears personal body bodyguard. Later I met that mans wife who when she saw that I had a riffle in my vehicle pleaded with me not to kill the black bear that lived in the area, when I told her I 1) don’t do predator hunts and 2) even if I did they were not in season at the moment she opened up with me about some issues that her and her husband had experienced. Some of the stories of their experience in the area; from locals harvesting out of season does from their yard after shooting through their bedroom window on obviously marked private property, to people shooting bears that walked next to the road (also not in season not to mention road hunting is not legal) the final story irked me the most however they told me that when the kokanee run like they were currently, the locals come down with garbage bags and just walk into the pools and collect a bag full of fish and go home. After the stories I prompted them to call the poaching hotline in the future, but they seemed defeated because they had in the past but patrols had not increased in the area and it seemed nothing was really being done. From my experience with the state, I know that they operate extremely shorthanded most of the time and the areas that wardens have as their assignments are huge, and impossible to be everywhere once, but regardless of this why is it that the state does not up the number of wardens, or give help in some way or the another. I don’t know what the answer is all I know is I see it all the time hunting the East side, illegal harvest of undersized animals or just shooting first seeing that its not the legal size and leaving it to waste. No seriously that happens last year in front of me, I was hiking this ridge of the mountains in twisp and in front of my a spike moved but seeing as it was a spike I kept moving on, the spike went over the hill to my right where the road was, not thirty seconds later a shot rang out from right next to me on the road. Figuring what happened I climbed the hill to the road and saw a man examining the deer getting back into his truck and driving off. I moved towards the animal and it was obviously dead, but was in fact the spike I had just seen. I did report it, but I don’t think anything ever came of it. Sorry this part ended up a tangent, but the baseline is that this sort of behavior is so disgraceful and it makes me ashamed to be part of the human race. Please for the love of God, keep your eyes open and do what ever you can to report what you see when you can and when you feel safe to do so.

In the end I wanted really just to tell you how amazing the east side is, and how much I want to get to know the land better and how wonderful it really is. So I hope that you got that……

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
― Aldo Leopold

One of the greatest travesties

One of the greatest travesties in our time (in my mind) is that we believe adventuring/camping is not simply being outside in the wild of this world but it is binge drinking/stereo booming. Camping=Partying. We losing the wild of this world everyday, but we are also losing the ability to be alone in what is left of it. We have to drink on our camping trips, have apps running on our phones the whole time so we can twitter how many steps we took! Or there’s the photo proof selfie that we were in fact at that spot.

I recently overheard a sober parent talking to a friend and what she said really made me think, she said

“If there was one thing that I could have NOT taught my son, it would be that you have to drink beer to have fun no matter where you are”

the reason this hit home is not because I am an avid drinker but because I feel that most of the people I know similar in age to me (and even not) are that way.There are people who need beer to complete an the adventure, or to drink along the way, many of these I have known in varying degrees. I get having a couple, I have been known to take a can of really good beer or cider to the top of the mountain but never have I taken more than one, this is not meant to say that I am better than anyone but to me I feel like if I really want to be in this moment and this place why would I be inebriated? How do we truly connect with others and nature when we are not being ourselves. I mean were not going to even mention the safety problems with drinking and adventuring as they are pretty obvious (you don’t want to fall of the mountain friends!)

An even larger growing addiction the vast majority of people who cannot be without their phones, they have to be constantly playing music, or games, or texting. I recently went on a camping trip with one of these people (had I known I would have kicked them outta the trip), I am one of the people that when I go out into the woods my phones is turned off and put away because if you have music constantly playing how do you hear the trees playing their quartet of wind instruments in their leaves and the very sound of nothing but chickadees hopping around the forest floor.

Anyway this whole rantish type of thing is meant to do one thing, challenge you! So here it is-

The next time you go outside for any amount of time (especially a hike) I challenge you to NOT bring your cell phone for anything (No fitness/GPS or anything else APP) Leave it in the car. Get a paper map though so not to get lost folks. 

And yes obviously I have brought my cell phone on a few of my trips obviously because I have pictures of them on here, and yes there are even a couple selfies, I feel ashamed. I do not everytime though many trips go undocumented!

Pinnacle and Bear Lake, WA

I went here a couple of weeks ago now but thought I should still mention it. This is a wondrous hike that starts off pretty mellow as it connects to bear lake very early on, this lake unfortunately from what I could see could not really be fished. The lake was very shallow and very warm at the time I was there and I saw now sign of fish as I went bush wacking around. So I continued on unknowingly I was going on a must more intense hike than I thought it was! However, I was really excited to see that the trail was not pristine as it keeps the yuppiest of the yuppys out. The trail gained some serious elevation on switchbacks that were heavily rooted and washed out, and a couple times there were false trails leading off to who knows where. Eventually you get to the top of the switchbacks and see some amazing views before seeing Hempel Lake on the right below you then moving on to some beautiful meadows, I definitely startled some bunnies chowing down on the sweet low grasses. Eventually you reach a large tarn, and at first I wasn’t sure if this was indeed the lake! I moved on and found that now it wasn’t, but that little tarn was pretty darn cute! (hyuk hyuk). In the tarn I saw some salamanders, many birds and various aquatic inverts. Oh by the way I should have mentioned that chacos are a must for this trip, waterproof boots if your so inclined or any shoes you don’t mind soaking with mud (I stepped into some mud, found it was a hole then had to pull my legs out- knee high caked with mud). Anyway the destination of Pinnacle lake was reached and the trip was totally nothing in beauty compared with that of the lake, beautiful and serene, clear and quiet, with views far outreaching. Also you get to see a pretty cool side of Mount Pilchuck and its spires. At this point it started raining and got pretty chilly, I ate my lunch and drank my beer, considered fishing but my fleece wasn’t warm enough to stick around long. When I was done I marched back down the mountain sad to leave early but happy to return again. Funny though when I reached the bottom the rain cleared up and the sun came out, so that was nice. This is a great hike, dont underestimate it though come prepared with more food and water then you need. Thankfully it was pretty clean other than the pet poop bags I saw every once in a while. If you bring a pet and you pick up its poop and put it in the bag TAKE OUT THE BAG. I know you say “well ill leave it here and get it on my way out”, I say “put it in your bag now, its in a bag, itll be okay”

Tangent ahead

For you who may not know anything about me I am going to school and it seems the more I learn about environmental conservation the more I just feel overwhelmed by the problems and helpless to solve them, as if you see a person bleeding out and you cannot get to them to put pressure on the wounds but there are so many people standing RIGHT THERE who refuse to help or just don’t see the person. That is how I feel almost everyday looking at humans and our impact. The only reason I mention this is when I say “Get off the couch and get out there” or something to that effect, I dont just mean get physical activity I mean learn about nature, appreciate it so when it comes to making decisions about its fate you are educated. Thanks for reading.

Get up and get educated!

-Leah

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” -Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

A Little More Volunteering

 It is very easy to become connected to your environment, with one click of the mouse you can find yourself at your county’s page for volunteer opportunities or maybe your states Department of Game and Fish. There are amazing things to be discovered out there, like for me, Mount Saint Helens. I signed up to do some scotch broom removal from an elk habitat area below Mount Saint Helens (MSH) , not really knowing what to expect. Surprisingly I also had a friend decide that a weekend outside of manual labor sounded good to him too! So away we went, a 5 hour drive later we were in an area of WA that we had never seen with beautifully replanted (for future timber cuts unfortunately) firs and pines and large striking mountains. We stayed overnight then went to work the next day using pectoral muscles you never thought to exist while using lobbers for 8 hours then spraying the stumps with an herbicide. It was hard work but I don’t think I have ever had such a good lunch spot. Standing on the banks of the Toutle River it looked like pictures I had seen of Denali. Wonderous would be the word I would use actually, it made me feel so small and complete to be out there in the rebirth of this new earth. I would have never even though to go here if it had not been for this opportunity and if you would so desire this event is held by Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife about three times a year and a very funny and amazing couple Rodger and Mona host a camp for the folks wishing to stay overnight, be prepared Rodger brings Fireball.

http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/

I guess my overall point is that we often dont know what is out there to protect. We hear about issues on the news or via word of mouth (that may or may not be true) so how do we really know the importance of conservation/management without seeing the lands with out own eyes. So we should all get out there, help each other out to whatever capacity you can and it will help everyone. Get up, sign up, Get out there!

Bye for now – Leah

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” -Aldo Leopold

Oh the places we have been

I wanted to take a moment before I wrote about my adventure today to tell you about where I came from. I am not talking my the womb of my mother but the place my mind was soul was born, Arizona (AZ). Most people when I tell them that I come from AZ exclaim how dreadful that must have been or something like how they just cant stand that there is just rocks and dirt. The first thing I ask is if they just visited Phoenix or the surrounding valley on their visit, the answer is typically “No, we went to Scottsdale” or something like that, well that’s just the rich side of Phoenix. Regardless of the answer I respond again by telling them if you drive north about an hour and a half and get off the freeway your idea of AZ should change.

I come from a place called Prescott (pronounced pres-scitt) which is called the mile high city and is amazing for lack of a better word. The scrub land mixed with large expansive ponderosa pines that smell of vanilla in the summertime when you scratch the bark.  The place is 70 is degrees most of the year, with a few months of heat (not near as bad as the valley) and a couple months of cold (colder then here in the PNW, with snow!). The town of Prescott has growth and changed like any desirable spot in the US the most common person moving in is the upper middle class/rich retired couple. They like it because its cooler then their home in Scottsdale and come up for the weekends most often. In my opinion the worst group of people to increase in the area, they require costcos/malls/olive gardens and typically have NO knowledge of what conservation is (see shopping at costco). There are other semi large groups such as; the college student (Embry-Riddle, Prescott college, yavapai), the outdoor folks (mountain biking love is here) and the random groups in between.

This place is magical, and a gateway to many of the wonders of Arizona. I have hiked, backpacked and climbed across some of it but haven’t come close to seeing all of them. From the redrock canyons with tranquil turquoise waters, to the high scrublands where the burrowing owls live in prairie dog holes and endangered black footed ferrets roam and to the iconic grand canyon and the mythical colorado river that runs through her. When people tell me they are to visit the grand canyon I tell them not to even try to go to the south rim but to take the long journey to the north rim where you can camp in the national forest, and hike the many trails seeing the canyon in your own time with out thousands of people swarming you drink tiny single use water bottles before throwing them and all their garbage on the ground where the crows and chipmunks take to feeding. The south rim is like cancer, to quote mr. Abbey again “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell” this place gets bigger and bigger allowing no one to have any idea was conservation is, for example the IRONY of the misters on the shade structures to keep people cool and refreshed while they take in the sights. Why is that ironic you might ask? Well the colorado is the most diverted river in the US, its waters feed New mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California, it even once fed Mexico, but we didn’t care about cutting those people off from the river long ago.The Colorado river is held above the grand canyon in what once was marble canyon but now is Lake Powell, filled in with water to create a hydroelectric dam to feed the needs of Phoenix. This river day to day, hour to hour has discharge rates that change as it reflects how much water needs to be flowing through the dam to create the power in consumption via Phoenix. As one could expect the river is very high in the middle of the day when it is toasty outside and the AC units are whirling away, with waters tragically low at night. The overall water loss through evaporation at lake Powell is staggering in an already water deficit area. There is simply not enough water for anyone, not even the great Grand Canyon.

So you see the misting is ironic because there isn’t enough water to feed peoples needs even most basic but the people have not discovered that. They haven’t discovered that their pools, dishwashers, 3 ACs used to cool one house, golf courses and water parks are the reason, next to the over population increase in the world, that the southwest will some day be a ghost town where everything is dead and empty cities sit with their empty pools collected dust as it is blow by. I long for that day to be honest, the desert will die, but it will come back with time and some many years later it will be what it once was, nature always takes herself back.

Okay so that got very serious, but the take away is that you should visit the southwest, respectfully and dutifully. How do you know what is being lost or at stake if you have never seen it for all its glory! I suggest Sycamore canyon near Clarksdale.

Good luck and get sustaining!

-Leah

dr seuss quote steer yourself

The Importance of Being Outside

When we think of ADVENTURE and EXPLORING, we have to remember that not only is this a trip far away from your home but in your own back yard maybe by yourself seeking solitude or maybe with friends who seek what you seek, to be more connected to something to anything. I often seek grand goals and forget the ones that are so close, not only are they really awesome but also they don’t cost me petrol/money/emissions to get there, they are most certainly more conservative and what I mean by that is CONSERVING. I often rant to my friends and family that environmental conservation is not about wearing Birkenstocks (but wait those are totally in now…) or driving a bio-fuel vehicle or even about wearing patchouli (again that is in now too…) what I mean is using/buying/unwrapping/driving/consuming/throwing away LESS. Going “green” means actually just spending less money, not putting fuel in the machine of CONSUME-rism. I am sorry I really went off on a tangent there, so lets return to the original thought, go explore YOUR backyard. You may not have the same backyard as me or as the person next to you but there is always something to see, someone to connect to in some meaningful way. Talk to someone you may have never met before, discover something new about your neighborhood, or maybe do my favorite thing and bring a bag and pick up trash its a small task but it is very meaningful, to your neighbors and to the animals that may have tried to eat that garbage and maybe died. So get your friends/family/dog/cat? unplug from your electronics (no headphones either!) leave them at home, and get the hell out there. I will quote someone who is NOT Edward Abbey now…. weird I know.

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history. No purpose or place. We have no Great War, No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t”

“This is your life, and its ending one minute at a time.”

-Chuck Palahniuk , Fight Club