Abundant wildflowers, hidden waterfalls and marshes full of birdsong. Sweeping vistas of mountains and rolling hills. Intimate canyons with steep basalt cliffs. Golden woodlands and lush forests.
You can find all of these hiking the lands of Eastern Washington, something that will be a lot easier to do with the long-awaited release of a new guidebook, Day Hiking Eastern Washington.
In the latest edition of the excellent Day Hiking series from The Mountaineers books, guidebook authors Rich Landers and Craig Romano have paired up to deliver great day hikes from Spokane to the Tri-Cities, from the Blue Mountains to the Colville National Forest.
What you'll find inside
The guidebook includes:
- 125 hikes with topographical trail maps and detailed route descriptions
- Quick reference info about bird watching, wildflowers, waterfalls, old-growth, and fishing
- Notes about historical interest, kid-friendly, or dog-friendly hikes
- Hike extension ideas for anyone who wants a longer outing
- Info on flora and fauna, natural and human history, and more
"The area is wild, remote, and a window to our past."
Landers and Romano want you to fall in love with hiking in Eastern Washington the same way they have.
"Promoting day hiking is our way of exposing Eastern Washington’s outdoor treasures to the widest base of people, young and old, whether they’re trail veterans or taking their first steps out of town," writes Landers in the preface of the new book.
"Eastern Washington, in particular the Kettle River Range near Republic is very special to me and my wife, Heather," Romano, who has a long history and many fond memories of hiking the area. "We did our first camping trip together in the Kettles and were married 10 years later at Curlew Lake State Park (hike no 15). We made the wedding party hike around Swan Lake (hike no. 13) afterward before having the reception back in Republic. The following day, I took my two brothers on a long hike along the Kettle Crest. The area is wild, remote, and a window to our past."
Meet the authors at upcoming events
Romano, who ranks Washington as one of the most beautiful places on the planet, is a contributing columnist for Washington Trails magazine, Northwest Runner and Outdoors NW and the author of nine books, among them Backpacking Washington, Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula, Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge, and Columbia Highlands: Exploring Washington’s Last Frontier, which was recognized in 2010 as a Washington Reads book for its contribution to the state’s cultural heritage. When not out hiking, he lives in Skagit County.
Find him online at www.craigromano.com or meet him in person when he talks about hiking Eastern Washington at one of the following events.
Landers has been the Outdoors editor for the Spokesman-Review in Spokane since 1977, covering hiking, conservation, hunting, fishing, climbing, bicycling, public lands, and other outdoor pursuits. He is a contributing writer for Field and Stream magazine and author of 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest and Paddling Washington.
Share your Eastern Washington hiking experiences
When you take the new book out hiking, make sure to share you experiences with the rest of the hiking community. Follow in the footsteps of mytho-man and Holly Weiler and file trip reports on hike highlights, trail conditions or road closures. Give back to your fellow hikers by letting them know when wildflowers are peaking, mosquitoes are biting or if they can expect to see any great wildlife.
by Deanna Duff
Issaquah’s Village Theatre is renowned for its trailblazing work in musical theater. With the world premiere of their newest musical, Trails, they are yet again covering new ground—both literally and figuratively.
Trails follows the journey of two childhood friends who reconnect in their early thirties and undertake the adventure of hiking the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail, which spans 14 states along the East Coast. Both friends wrestle with life’s unexpected twists and tragedies—death of a parent, career changes, lost loves, getting older. The journey tests the endurance of mind, body and spirit.
“Trails, in a nutshell, is about the emotional miles—not just the physical—that you need to journey in order to genuinely recover when life throws you a curveball,” says Jeff Thomson, Trails’ composer.
A production inspired by a trail
Thomson is the original mastermind of Trails, and he was inspired by a similar proposal from a boyhood friend. While their reunion hike never occurred, it hooked his attention as an interesting musical concept, which he began formulating in 2009.
“I pitched the idea to my longtime collaborator, Jordan Mann (Trails’ lyricist). He immediately said, ‘Are you out of your mind? How do we sustain an evening of two characters walking around for six months?’” Thomson laughingly recalls.
For more information, visit villagetheatre.org or contact Village Theatre’s Box Office, 425.392.2202.
Performance times and prices vary. Running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes (one intermission)
Trails runs at Issaquah’s Francis J. Gaudette theatre thru April 16, 2013
Performances at Everett’s Performing Arts Center: April 26 - May 19, 2013
Audience members may initially wonder the same thing. How can a stage capture a sense of the outdoors? The musical’s backdrop is an impressive mountain that looms over the action and serves as a blank canvas that represents settings from Georgia to Maine. The narrative also alternates between present-day and the past, which alleviates the characters always being “on the trail” and walking in circles. Writer Christy Hall shaped the narrative with an astute eye towards keeping the characters moving both in time and space.
Trails found its footing as part of Village Originals, the company’s program dedicated to developing new musicals. Each season, two of the five productions are new works. Some, such as Next to Normal and Million Dollar Quartet, became award-winning, Broadway hits after debuting in Issaquah. Trails launched as a reading during the 2011 Festival of New Musicals. The current run marks its world premiere staging.
“Village Theatre cares so much about their audiences and I feel we’re giving them a beautiful show (with Trails). This whole process has been absolutely extraordinary. I can only hope to experience something like this again in my career,” says Thomson.
Exploring the nature of relationships
Thomson is a hiker himself and his parents live in Massachusetts literally yards from the Appalachian Trail. For the musical, the Appalachian Trail is particularly evocative due to its fame—established in 1937, 2-3 million visitors annually hike part of the span. Upwards of 2,000 attempt the thru-hike, which requires approximately 5-7 months. However, the themes and appeal are universal. It speaks to the value of an experience that could occur anywhere—in the Northwest on the Pacific Crest Trail or during an outing at the local park.
“There is something about being in nature that strips everything away,” says Thomson. “In nature we emotionally can’t hide beyond anything like your job or relationship.”
Julie Cassata, Washington Trails Association’s Volunteer Coordinator, agrees. Before joining WTA, she thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. She hiked the Appalachian Trail in two parts during and after college, which was a needed “big adventure” during a time of transition.
“When you’re out there, it’s an opportunity to think about things and work through them,” says Cassata. “I experience a sense of freedom and peacefulness that I don’t seem able to get in my day-to-day life with the hustle and bustle.”
She befriended fellow hikers on the Appalachian Trail with whom she has remained in touch. After seeing Trails, the musical’s focus on relationships resonated with Cassata’s own experiences.
“An hour with somebody on the trail can have more of an impact than an hour talking to someone at a cocktail party,” she says. “You’re more of who you are when you’re hiking. You didn’t specially select your outfit that day or style your hair. That’s really freeing. People are closer to being a truer version of themselves.”
Audience response to Trails has been overwhelmingly positive. There are already discussions of eventually staging it to New York City. In the meantime, Thomson looks forward to catching his breath and hitting the local trails while he’s still in the Northwest. Shepherding Trails to the stage has been a long trek, but well worth the effort.
“I personally believe that nobody knows progress until they’ve stood at the top of a mountain—until they’ve climbed something whether it’s literally or figuratively,” he says.
On March 15, a week from today, Mount Rainier National Park will begin accepting requests for wilderness permits. If you think backpacking the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier is in your hiking plans for this summer, then we've got just the person to help you plan: guidebook author and WTA correspondent, Tami Asars.
Below are three great ways to learn about the Wonderland Trail from the woman who literally wrote the book on the 93-mile trail. Explore her article in WTA's member magazine, catch her at an upcoming event or buy her guidebook to the trail.
The Wonderland in Washington Trails magazine
Explore the trail in Tami's interactive feature from the January+February issue of
In person: catch Tami in Bellingham or Seattle
- Wednesday, March 13th, Village Books Bellingham, 7pm.
- Tuesday, April 16th, Bellingham REI, 6pm
- Saturday, April 20th, Northwest Outdoor Aventure Expo, 2pm, Seattle Center Exhibition Hall
Buy the book
Tami Asars' Hiking the Wonderland Trail, by The Mountaineers Books is the book for Wonderland hikers, whether planning a day trip, weekend or the full circuit. This beautiful guide is full of all the details every hiker needs to know, including permits, camping, food caching and storage, weather, conditioning and suggestions for planning your own itinerary. Buy or download Hiking the Wonderland Trail.
Tami Asars is a third-generation Washingtonian who has spent her lifetime exploring the trails and backcountry of Washington state, from the Olympic Coast to the Okanogan Wilderness. When she’s not exploring trails, she’s writing about them as a full-time guidebook author for Mountaineers Books and as a regular contributor for Washington Trails magazine. To learn more about Tami, visit tamiasars.com or check out her backpacking blog.
Traveling safely across snow is an essential skill for many hikers and climbers—even in the spring and early summer months. Use the following tips from author and mountaineering educator Mike Zawaski to travel more safety across snow fields in Washington—which can linger long into summer.
If you want to learn even more about kicking steps, crampons, ice-axes and hiking over snow, you can buy Zawaski's new book, Snow Travel: Climbing, Hiking, and Crossing Over Snow, from Mountaineers Press.
Snow travel: a good skill to add to your backpack
- A snowy pass can provide a significant and dangerous obstacle for the unprepared hiker traveling in the high country. Even if you don't aspire to climbing peaks, it is definitely worth your time to learn how to kick good steps and travel with an ice ax.
Hiking on snow can reduce your impact
- Having the confidence to travel on snow allows you reduce your impact by walking on snow instead of around it, a practice which can create additional trails and destroy vegetation.
Travel on firm snow reduces risk from avalanches
- Late spring and early summer can be a great time to climb snowy routes on peaks, but avalanches are still a hazard. Reduce your chances of getting caught in an avalanche by climbing and descending your route while the snow is still firm. For east-facing routes, this may mean completing much of your ascent before sunrise.
Look ahead to spot hazardous transition zones
- Common places where falls occur are transition zones. These are places where the terrain or characteristics of the snow changes and climbers fall because they fail to adjust their equipment or technique. Avoid these hazards by looking ahead and preparing for changes before you encounter them. For example it may be much easier to put on your crampons on a low angle section instead of waiting until you are starting to slip because the snow is too steep or too firm.
How to kick steps in snow
- Kicking steps with your feet is more complex than most books make it seem. The two tips I commonly offer are to 1.) choose the step that gets the most of your boot’s sole in contact with the snow (if you're worried about falling) and 2.) not to tiptoe around when kicking hard-firm snow.
Old footsteps can be icy: you may be better kicking your own steps
- Beware of following an old set of footsteps across a snowy slope. These may be very icy, especially on a cold morning. If you are proficient kicking steps you are much more likely to find a better route or travel more safely across pre-existing steps.
Getting technical: crampons, ice axes and rope teams
- While ski poles or trekking poles may help you maintain balance while kicking steps across a slope, an ice ax is superior for helping you self-arrest if you fall. Self-arresting with ski poles is possible, but it is much more difficult and you will slide further than if you are using an ice ax.
Crampons: only to be used on firm snow and ice
- Crampons are an amazing tool that give your feet traction, but they should only be used on very firm snow and ice. The danger on soft snow is that snow will build up under your boot so that your points fail to stick which may cause you to fall.
To learn more about kicking steps, using crampons, and using an ice ax for going up, traversing, resting, and descending on snow, check out Mike Zawaski's Snow Travel: Climbing, Hiking, and Crossing Over Snow.
"[Balog's] hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate."
I love movies. If I'm not out hiking, or writing about hiking, or photographing hiking, or putting together a magazine about hiking, I'm usually catching up on the latest features on the silver screen—everything from the blockbusters at the multiplex to the indies at the local art house. (My favorites are the theater-pubs!)
I recently caught the trailer for a new movie titled Chasing Ice. The film tells the story of National Geographic photographer James Balog and his efforts to capture evidence of global warming by photographing the shrinking glaciers and icefields of the arctic over a period of three years. Through the use of high-tech time-lapse photography, Balog and crew were able to witness a very real, and very sobering, environmental epidemic. I was immediately captivated by the amazing imagery in the film—and this is just from the 2-minute trailer! (See the trailer below.)
The topic brought home to me the very real condition that is global warming. On recent trips to both North Cascades and Glacier national parks, rangers have commented that in 20–30 years, there may not be any more glaciers left in these places. That's a disturbing premise. It's these immense sheets of ice that are responsible for carving and sculpting these magnificent landscapes, and lend themselves to these places' beauty and admiration.
Winner of more than 20 international film awards, Chasing Ice offers undisputed evidence that our planet is changing—and what we can do about it. Look for Chasing Ice in the Seattle and Portland areas starting November 16.
Watch the trailer
WTA reviews two new maps published by Green Trails Maps: Mount Rainier - Wonderland (No. 269S) and Columbia River Gorge - West (No. 428S).