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

Hunting, fishing and what they can do for you.

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Many people often have odd reactions when I say that I hunt (not as often when I say I fish). These reactions are often associated with the negative image of the hunter or sportsman as we call them. People think of the jerk that goes hunting from his pickup truck, shoot an illegal deer, takes the head (leaves the meat to rot- Illegal by the way in WA) and then mounts said deer head to his wall right about his gun rack. Now that we have illuminated what people think of when I say “hunter” let me lay down what I think it means. Many people who react negatively to hunting ironically eat meat, ironic why? Because they eat meat, but do not condone the act of hunting. These individuals eat meat maybe even from “humane” farms, but take no care to understand what it means to raise, kill and butcher the meat they eat. A good hunter who has done his or her job correctly has harvested meat to go into the freezer and feed themselves for a long season. Really hunting is a way of making sure that you have meat on the table that is free of antibiotics, is certainly “free range”, has experienced a good life, had a quick death (which is assured by the hunter who makes good shots, target practices, uses correct calibers and tracks the animal if it runs away wounded) and is certainly cheaper than the same amount of meat bought at the store. Not to say that everyone should rush out to hunt because it isn’t meant for anyone and everyone and that is okay! I feel immense amount of respect for wildlife of all kinds from the deer to the fish I kill, its participating in the food web the way I feel we were meant to. There are many of the other kind of hunters though, the ones who don’t buy licenses, don’t pay attention to seasons or restrictions and take without care of how it is done, these people will tell you its their right as Americans, well to them I say nothing because the ignorant will never understand how much they hurt the system because they cannot see the system they can only see themselves. When you purchase hunting/fishing licenses that money goes to conservation efforts in your state, making sure that there is a future for the wildlife that you pursue. Humans have again and again exhibited their ability to annihilate a species for nothing more than their own pleasure (or maybe a small amount of money) think the Stellar Sea Cow or the Passenger Pigeon, GONE because no one regulated the taking of these animals. However there are many honorable sportsman out there so take care to categorize them with the others because they do more than you know. Do you know that also if you volunteer your time you can participate for a program offered through Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife called “eyes in the woods” where you can learn how to report illegal activity to the state? Or there’s a hotline through them also that you can call if you see anything iffy happening so that something can be done about it?

http://wdfw.wa.gov/enforcement/reporting_violations.html

Basically what I wanted to convey through this post is that we all have different ways of living and we may or may not understand or respect those ways however your opinions/morals are your own created through your own living experiences so take care to try to understand others before saying something that may be harmful. And maybe just maybe you’ll think about taking control of the sourcing of you foods buy growing and harvesting as much as you can from your own home or the area around it, because not only is it more meaningful but also more sustainable. Thank you for your time and understanding.

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

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