When I went camping as a kid, purifying water meant either boiling it for at least one minute or using those unpleasant iodine tablets. Those options are still available of course, but now we have several other ways to treat our water in the wilderness.
UV rays and gravity filter: alternatives to boiling or iodine
The SteriPen Ultra is the newest UV treatment device from the Hydro Photon folks in Blue Hill, Maine—and the first to let you know if your water is safe or not by actually smiling or frowning at you. USB-chargeable and weighing a scant 5 ounces, it treats a liter of water in 90 seconds, and can treat up to 50 liters of water per charge.
The easily-interpreted display shows battery state, treatment countdown, and either a smile or a frown to tell you whether you had the microbe-killing lamp completely submerged in the water for long enough to do its job. I appreciated the compact simplicity of the Ultra, and my hiking friends admired its sleek design.
Tired of pumping all that water with those tried-but-true hand pump filters? The new Platypus GravityWorks 2.0 will deliver 1.5 liters of pump-free water in 60 seconds, and the basic setup weighs just over 7 ounces. It took me some experimentation to figure out the simplest setup, so be sure to get acquainted with it at home before you take it on the trail.
As one of your Ten Essentials, you should always carry a water filtration device. These are just a couple of the current options available for ensuring you have safe, clean drinking water on all of your backcountry adventures.
This June 1, rally together with hikers across the nation to celebrate National Trails Day –- a single day reserved for trails everywhere. Like any other day, we'll be hauling our dirt-encrusted shovels to the trailhead and turning the gritty trail-duff with our grub-hoes – but this time, we'll be doing it with thousands of other volunteers across the country.
This year, spend National Trails Day (June 1) giving back to the trails that give you access to your favorite natural spaces. Consider signing up for one of the following WTA work parties in regions across the state.
Cougar Mountain, for youth and families (Issaquah Alps)
Enjoy a day in the great outdoors with your family! Youth and parents alike will enjoy digging around in the dirt to improve tread and drainage on one or two trails in the area.
Pratt River (I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass)
This new trail through shady forest just weathered its first winter. Lend a hand getting rid of mud holes, fixing drainage and repairing rock walls to make sure this trail performs like new.
Ape Cave (Southwest Washington)
Learn how to build trail on this cool new route that will link the Ape Cave Trailhead with a scenic vista featuring Mount St. Helens’ southern flank. When you return to hike this completed 1-mile trail later this year, you’ll be able to pick out the section of trail that you built with your hands! Volunteer for the weekend or just for the day.
Beckler Peak (Skykomish District)
The first part of Beckler Peak Trail follows an old road bed through old-growth forest. Help convert it from feeling like a road to more like a trail, for a more pleasurable hiking experience. Use natural materials and trail construction techniques to help narrow and define this section of trail.
South Fork Skokomish (Hood Canal)
The Skokomish River has such a bad habit of changing course, taking old sections of trail with it. So our battle to rebuild and harden an important Olympic Peninsula trail continues. Help out for the weekend or just for the day.
Excelsior Pass (Mount Baker area)
It’s no wonder this hike is so popular since its expansive views of the North Cascades are so easily accessible. But with popularity also comes wear and tear. Join this work party to help clear and repair the trail to Excelsior Pass to prepare it for hordes of summer hikers.
Liberty Lake (Eastern Washington)
Just 30 minutes outside of Spokane, this 7.5 mile loop trail is undergoing some major improvements. As a result, hikers will be able to easily enjoy destinations along the trail, including a beautiful waterfall and large cedar grove. Help cut back brush, level tread and realign the trail.
On Tuesday, May 14, the Forest Service closed Glacier Creek Road (Forest Service road 39) to vehicle traffic at mile 1.0 (Thompson Creek) due to a washout at mile 2.7. There is no estimated repair or reopening date at this time.
Closed road leads to popular Heliotrope Ridge Trail
The road leads to the Heliotrope Ridge Trail, which WTA crews have worked on the last three years. Hikers who had Heliotrope in their plans this summer may need to turn to other spectacular Mount Baker hikes, like Skyline Divide Trail, for volcano views and August wildflowers. If the road to the trailhead remains inaccessible, hikers may miss out on one unique feature of the trail, the chance to get up close the icy blue foot of Coleman Glacier.
Because Heliotrope Ridge Trail climbs so close to the volcano's glaciers, it is a major jumping off point to several popular routes for climbers aiming for the summit of Mount Baker.
"It's just terrible news for climbers," says Karen Daubert, WTA's executive director, a hiker and climber who has been up Mount Baker from Heliotrope Ridge three times.
Road's future is uncertain
The Bellingham Herald reports that 18 inches of asphalt had fallen away:
"It's still moving," Jim Mitchell, roads manager for Mount Baker Ranger District, said of the washout.
He said the cause could be heavy rainfall or Glacier Creek, which is running high, undercutting the slope on which the road sits.
"We don't really know how it started yet," Mitchell said.
Citing, in part, a lack of funds, Mitchell told the Herald that vehicle access will be restricted, and that no fix to the road is planned at this time.
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest road budget in free-fall
Funds available to maintain and repair roads on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest have been in free-fall the last few years. Road maintenance dollars declined from $680,000 last year to $250,000 this year.
In 2009, road funding for the forest hit $1.4 million and has been heading downward since.
As parks and trails in King County have been developed for recreation over the past dozen years, area residents have come to rely more and more on these lands for hiking, trail running, mountain biking and equestrian use. Levy funds have contributed significantly to the development of the Grand Ridge, Cougar Mountain and Soaring Eagle trail systems, among others.
Now the King County Council has approved a property tax levy to fund King County Parks through 2019. This measure will be going to King County voters in August.
Levies have been a critical element of the funding mix for King County Parks. The 2013 King County Parks Levy will fund ongoing maintenance on recreation facilities in King County Parks, as well as planning and implementation of potential new trail connections in the South Sound. This is a continuation of a current levy, not new money. If approved, this levy would replace two voter-approved measures that will expire in 2019. Raising 18.7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value -- or about $56 on a property valued at $300,000 -- the levy will raise between $59 million and $70 million annually.
WTA volunteers have worked hard to maintain King County trails over the years, and we've enjoyed a strong relationship with the County. This levy is essential to maintaining and improving the vital trail systems throughout the King County Park system.
YES on the King County Parks Levy
WTA strongly supports this lid lift, and we encourage WTA members to vote YES when you receive your ballot in the mail, likely in mid-July. Everyone who loves King County Parks will be grateful that you did!
by Sarah Kirconnell
Looking for a quick meal for an easy overnight? Garden Veggie Couscous is a fast, light fill-you-up dinner that can be fixed in the freezer bag, insulated mug or one pot methods.
Pack in a quart freezer bag
- 1 cup freeze-dried vegetable blend
- 2/3 cup couscous
- 1/4 cup shelf-stable parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp. dry milk
- 1 Tbsp. low-sodium bouillon powder
- 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder (not onion salt)
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 packet or 1 Tbsp. olive oil
Freezer bag method:
Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a near boil. Place bag in a cozy, add in water and oil, stirring well. Seal tightly and let sit for 10 minutes.
Insulated mug method:
\Bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil. Add dry ingredients to a large mug, stir in water and oil. Cover tightly, let sit for 10 minutes.
One pot method:
Bring 2 1/2 cups water and oil to boil, add in dry ingredients, stirring. Take off heat, cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes.
Find freeze-dried Just Veggies at grocery stores and REI, or Mountain House freeze-dried vegetables
at REI. Get olive oil and parmesan cheese packets online at packitgourmet.com
Share your variations
If you have a similar backcountry recipe or try this one and give it your own spin, tell us about it in the comments below. What worked? What didn't? Which method do you use?
Sarah Kirconnell is the author of Trail Cooking Made Simple. For more trail-worthy recipes for your next adventure, visit trailcooking.com.
UPDATE 5/16/13, 6:35am: The preliminary results are in: 446 hikers contributed $55,805 to trails during yesterday's GiveBIG challenge. The community-wide total reached $11.1 million - all to help make our region a better place to live, work and play. We can’t wait to find out from The Seattle Foundation how much your gifts will be "stretched" by GiveBIG sponsors. THANK YOU!
UPDATE 5/15/13, 5:45pm: What an amazing day for WTA and so many great organizations, thanks to you! So far, 278 hikers have helped us raise an astounding $34,000 for trails. Give now to help us reach 365 donors and $40,000 by midnight TONIGHT. The bigger your gift, the more matching dollars will go to protect trails and wildlands you love.
UPDATE 5/15/13, 12:30pm: A huge thanks to the 182 hikers, volunteers and incredible members who have already made a GiveBIG contribution to trails today. Because of you, we just surpassed the $22,000 mark! Haven't made your GiveBIG gift yet? All donations made on WTA's page on The Seattle Foundation website today will be stretched by matching funds from GiveBIG sponsors.
Today you can grow your impact on trails thanks to a special challenge from The Seattle Foundation.
Just make a gift to Washington Trails Association through The Seattle Foundation website before midnight tonight, May 15! The more you and your fellow hikers give, the greater WTA's share of matching funds -- and the more we can achieve for trails. Every dollar you give will be "stretched" by matching fund from GiveBIG sponsors -- all to benefit the trails and wildlands you love.
When you GiveBIG to Washington Trails Association, you invest in the largest state-wide volunteer trail maintenance program in the country. Your gift helps ensure that WTA remains a powerful voice for the hiking community.
On top of everything else, every hour The Seattle Foundation will award a "Golden Ticket" worth $1,000 to the non-profit that is selected by random drawing from all donations made in the last hour. Honor the trails you love by being that donor!
GiveBIG now -- the first $2,500 WTA receives will be DOUBLED thanks to the Eleanor Morton Trask Advised Fund!
Figuring out what area to visit is half the battle. The other half is planning your adventure, evaluating your distances and elevation gains and determining the best timing.
Map and guidebook
Start your trip planning by thumbing through a good trail guidebook. This will stir up the imagination with photos and trail descriptions, as well as give you a good idea of distance and elevation gain.
Search for trails with "established campsites" in WTA's Hiking Guide and search "overnights" and "multi-day trips" in Trip Reports for the month you are planning to go.
Once you make a destination decision, a good topographic map will help you identify trailheads along with where you’ll camp each night. Learn more about which maps we recommend in our Backpacking 101 section.
Timing and permits
Rarely, even in a normal snowpack year, does the high country melt out before mid- to late July. Lingering snow can make for hazardous crossings on steep slopes or swollen creeks.
Check with the appropriate land management agency (National Parks, U.S. Forest Service, State Department of Natural Resources, State Parks,etc.) for suggestions on the best times of year to visit and information on snowpack, trail and road conditions.
Tip: Ask if the area of interest requires a special permit or if there are any restrictions on camping.
Set an itinerary
When selecting your backpacking trip, decide if you want to base camp or pack up camp and migrate each day.
Base camp backpacking: Base camping is a good option for those who might not want the hassle of breaking down camp each day. Base camping also allows you to fill your days with lighter, local explorations of surrounding lakes, ridges and peaks.
A different home, every night: The other option is to migrate from location to location and set up camp at a different site each day. This opens up the possibilities of going farther, seeing more scenery and making longer loops out of connecting trails.
Either way, if you're new to backpacking or it's early in the season, remember to take it easy and not plan days that are too long or too difficult.
Consult with the pros
Check trails and conditions with the latest trip reports, and get info on all of the best trail destinations for each season.
Also, talk with service staff at your local outdoor store. They can offer insights on local trails, make suggestions and help you select what you need, and what you don’t, to ensure that you have a memorable, not miserable, experience.
Destination ideas for your planning your backpacking adventure
- Fourteen overnight adventures under 14 miles
- Classic backpacking loops for a weekend
- Ten backpacking trips for kids
- Where Trip Reporters are backpacking now
- Backpacking on WTA-improved trails
- Backpacking the Wonderland Trail
- Early backpacking trips on the Olympic Peninsula
This article originally appeared in the May+Jun 2013 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Join WTA to get your one-year subscription.
The Washington State Legislature is in extra innings, and funding for Washington State Parks is at stake.
The House and Senate wrapped up their regular session without agreeing on a budget. In fact, they adjourned with competing proposals that are $2 billion apart. Lawmakers are back in Olympia, May 20 to come to agree on a final budget.
- The House raises new revenue and funds basic services at higher levels, including $23.7 million for State Parks.
- The Senate raises no new revenue and makes deep cuts, including cutting $5 million from the already-slim 2011-2013 State Parks Operating allocation, bringing them to $16 million.
WTA supports the general funding of 23.7 million for State Parks in the House budget. Furthermore, WTA is excited by an amendment offered by Representative Larry Seaquist that would match each dollar of Discover Pass revenue with a dollar of general fund. That would benefit all three Discover Pass agencies, and would help State Parks dig out of its chronic budget hole.
We are also asking for a $50,000 appropriation to the Recreation and Conservation Office to study the potential implementation of a joint State Lands/National Forest Pass.
Here's how you can help:
Please call the legislative hotline at 1.800.562.6000. When connected with your Washington State Legislators, ask them to:
- Support the House version of State Parks funding at 23.7 million.
- Support the Seaquist Amendment to HB 1935 for sustainable funding for State Parks, DNR and Fish and Wildlife.
- Support WTA's request for $50,000 to RCO to study a joint State Lands/National Forest Pass.
by Carolyn Driedger Mastin
Northwest hikers frequently hand down rich traditions of favorite trails to younger generations. While these multi-generational traditions provide the illusion of landscape permanence, observant hikers often witness geologic change in progress—rockfall, water erosion, and glacier change. You might recognize that your views of mountain landscapes are a little bit different from the views of your grandparents, and what you see will likely be different from what your own grandchildren will eventually see.
Some geologic change happens over generations, centuries and millennia. Other changes occur in mere moments.
Once in a while, landscape change happens on a scale so grand that it transforms not just a landscape, but our collective understanding of earth’s power and permanence. Geologic change is expectable and inescapable, and as a society we are wise to prepare for it.
A history of volcano eruptions in the Cascades
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens captured the world’s attention when the largest historic landslide on Earth and a powerful explosion reshaped the mountain and dramatically modified the surrounding landscape. Twenty eruptions between 1980 and 1986, followed by the continuous eruption of lava onto the crater floor between 2004 and 2008, prompt our vigilance. Hundreds of eruptions have shaken Cascade Range volcanoes during the past 4,000 years, and future eruptions are certain.
During the 1980s, measurements of subtle changes at Mount St. Helens took on new meaning for scientists as the volcano demonstrated that patterns of change could help them forecast eruptions. Since then, tools for tracking the movement of magma have evolved rapidly from the use of isolated instruments to networks of ground-based sensors that measure earthquakes, surface swelling and gases. Satellite-based instruments also detect patterns of change on Earth’s surface.
Technological revolutions in low-power instrumentation are fueling a new era of volcano monitoring systems capable of collecting and transmitting real-time data with increased precision and resolution for improved eruption forecasting.
During the past decade in Washington, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network have expanded monitoring networks on Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier, and plans are in development now to augment sparse monitoring on other hazardous Washington volcanoes including Mount Baker and Glacier Peak.
While hiking in these areas, you might see these instruments on a volcano’s slopes. These instruments are hard at work for communities downwind and downstream of the volcano.
How to prepare for volcano eruptions
When volcanoes are quiet, they aren't high on people’s daily list of concerns. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be aware.
- Learn about the location of volcano hazard zones near your home, schools and places of business.
- Inquire about community evacuation plans, and follow official advisories to help you survive with less disruption.
- Prepare your home with extra supplies and an emergency communication plan to reduce losses and help your family live with greater peace of mind.
For more information on volcano awareness and preparedness information, visit:
This article originally appeared in the May+Jun 2013 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Join WTA to get your one-year subscription.
Think about the awesome mom (or moms) in your life. Think about how much she did for you. She showed you how to lace up your shoes and boots. She introduced you to basic first aid. She taught you to move through the world safely (don't walk too close to the edge of that cliff) and with care (pick up your trash).
Moms are the best. So, plan to take her hiking using our easy-peasy 3-step guide below.
1. Pick a great hike
- Want to give her sunshine and wildflowers? Head to the desert. (And use the May-Aug wildflower guide below to help you identify flowers.)
- Take her to a waterfall.
- Make it more of a stroll with one of these easy hikes that are great for families with kids.
- Is your mom of the intrepid variety? Take her backpacking on the Olympic Peninsula.
2. Pack her a picnic. A proper one.
- Keep it simple or pour your love into homemade granola bars.
- Surprise her with an unexpected treat, something you wouldn't usually find on trail, like ice cream or strawberries . (Just be sure to pack out ALL your trash.)
- It may weigh a little more when you add it to the ten essentials in your pack, but a picnic blanket makes everything feel fancy.
3. Capture the moment
- Don't forget your camera! These are moments you will want to remember.
Have you already made plans, but love the idea of giving your Mom a hike for Mother's Day?
- The gift of hiking. Give her a gift membership to Washington Trails Association.
- The gift of reading about hiking. Guidebooks are a great way to give an IOU to her about your future hiking adventures.