It's that time of year again - time to start thinking about skiing! So far it looks like we are getting the La Nina weather patterns that some had predicted, because we have had one wet storm after another so far this fall. There is already snow starting to pile up in the mountains, and chances are there will be much more to come.
Skiing is a great outdoor winter activity, but it does not come cheap. Every fall we share some of the best ways we have found to save money, and the first one on the list is the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap.
This is a chance to pick up used gear at bargain prices, and it is the largest event of its kind in the entire region. It is coming up in just 10 days over October 29-30th at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. So, if you are looking to find good deals on some equipment for your family, check out their website for more information: http://skipatrolskiswap.com/
So if you live anywhere near the Spokane Valley, you owe it to yourself to check this place out. See the map below.
By Abby McAllister
If you haven’t tried them you should! They are easy to learn on, meaning wimpy moms like me and smaller children can join right it (or sometimes get pulled along on a sled if too small for the snowshoes). Although you can find snowshoes priced all the way up to $300 and even more, you can also get started for much less (in the $80 range) whereas skiing of any sort can be expensive as you have to buy lift tickets, trail passes and expensive special gear. Snowshoeing has a very low financial threshold to get started. You also won’t need expensive and time consuming lessons either! Once you know how to strap on your snowshoes and take a few minutes to practice (being careful of turning and trying to back up) you will be ready to go!
A few tips before you take off. Make sure to follow a marked trail or take a GPS unit with you as places you are familiar with in the summer will look dramatically different wen covered in snow! Many State Parks, ski areas, and winter Sno-park areas will have designated trails for snowshoeing. At then end of this post we will tell you how to get out in the Spokane area this coming weekend! Another pre-trip tip is to review our list of how to make the cold weather endurable for wimpy moms and younger children. Staying warm is key to having fun in the snow so make sure you are prepared. Finally, remember, if this is your first time out take it easy. Pick a trail with little elevation gain, a shorter distance and give yourself plenty of time.
This weekend you can get out on snowshoes with the parks department for a hike for #firsthike. Following in the very successful footsteps of #optoutside on Black Friday, State Parks are offering free admission to all parks on New Year’s Day with additional fun activities. On Mt. Spokane you can join a ranger led hike of 2-4 miles round-trip as part of #firsthike. Click here for more details! You will need your own snowshoes for this adventure. If you don’t own any yet you can rent them from various places around Spokane like Mountain Gear or REI. You will also need a snow park pass. You won’t need the normally required Discover Pass because Jan 1 is also a free parks day!
If you aren't ready to strap on the snowshoes yet, check out the other #firsthike being offered in Riverside Park. Details are available here.
The first thing you need to be aware of is the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap, and it is coming up in about 10 days over Halloween weekend (Oct 30 - Nov 1st) . This ski swap has been going on for over 50 years, and it is the largest event of its kind in the region. Entry price is just $5 for adults and kids 12 and under are free. Once inside you will find over 20,000 new and used items for sale by individuals and local stores - skis, boots, poles, clothing, etc. You can find used skis and boots - the most expensive items when purchased new, for really low prices. There are volunteers there to help the uninitiated get started and to make sure the equipment fits your kids so they actually will have fun and not just be cold and falling down all day. So if you want to get your kids started in skiing, this is a great place to start!
Click <here> to go to the Ski Swap home page.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we share more ideas for getting your kids started with skiing.
By Abby McAllister
We stayed, once again, at Harper House, a guest house in the Eastsound area. Our hosts John and Suzanne make the time so enjoyable! Their guest suite is well thought out, spacious, restful and full of whimsy. I especially loved the outdoor shower! Because they are friends of ours we also got to take advantage of their super-hospitality with a little time out on their boat. We went shrimping and whale watching-so exciting! We caught limits of gorgeous prawns and saw 3 species of whales-Orcas, humpbacks, and minky whales. After we had exhausted ourselves on the boat we went home and feasted on delicious prawns. It was an amazing day.
On our second day we stayed closer to "home" and explored a bit of Eastsound. We wandered the beach area at the edge of town and checked out some of the storefronts. It is a sweet town, quiet and restful. There were no crowds that Sunday and we basked in the sunshine and the beauty.
There are so many more things to do on Orcas and in the San Juans in general. If you think you might like to visit Orcas yourself, please check out our trip report for more details on other activities and how to get there. We hope you can get your kids out there exploring soon-it is a trip they won't forget!
In the last week of June the WDFW released 255,000 Steelhead smolts of 6-9" in length into Rock Lake, which lies about and hour and fifteen minutes south of Spokane. These fish were intended for rivers in the Puget Sound until they were blocked by a lawsuit requiring an Environmental Impact Statement - something that can take years. But if you live near Spokane it is to your benefit! Since these fish are not in a stream that reaches the ocean they are now classified as trout - not as Steelhead (a fact that I confirmed with WDFW)
We went there on July 11th with the intent to head out in our raft (not a great fishing rig), but when we pulled into the parking lot at 7am there were lots of trout rising in the narrow part of the lake right at the gravel boat ramp. Rather than rigging the boat we simply rigged up our rods and started casting. For the next 90 minutes the action was constant, and even with releasing a good number of fish we soon found ourselves with three limits of trout. Now, these weren't big fish, but they were gullible and hungry so the kids had a blast.
If you are interested this is about as easy an intro to fishing as you can get. The boat ramp is a free public access (bring the parking pass that comes with your fishing license), and kids 14 and under don't even need a fishing license. A simple spinning rod with 4-6 lb. line should suffice, and just about any modest size spinning lure would work - Mepps, Rooster Tail, Panther Martin, Blue Fox, etc. These fish aren't selective.
If you plan to release smaller ones I would recommend finding a lure with a single hook instead of a treble hook, or at a minimum crimp your barbs. In our rush to get going we failed to do this and were reminded how hard it is to safely release a fish that has taken a treble hook, causing us to keep several smaller fish that we would have rather released. There is no minimum size for trout in this lake, but still we would have rather waited for some bigger ones.
If you are really new to fishing but anxious to get started don't be shy about heading to a fishing shop and asking some questions. Everyone I know loves to share their wisdom and help new folks get started, especially where kids are concerned.
Finally, try and cook your kids catch up someway special and right away. It will make them feel proud and help make connections to he resource that provide valuable lessons. It doesn't have to be fancy to be special, just make a big deal of eating what they brought home.
And on your way home drive through Turnbull NWR - maybe you'll spot the same mother and calf moose that we saw!
Harley & Abby McAllister
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