Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On the Mountain Loop Highway
The View is Good-
but the Outlook is bleak!

This weekend over in Granite Falls and Darrington, Washington folks from the Forest Service, the local communities, local dignitaries and recreationists will be out celebrating the Grand reopening of the Mountain Loop Highway. It is about time this road which leads to so many fine trails and campgrounds is once again open and in full swing.

Unfortunately, what is not in full swing are that the trails radiating from this road. Nearly three-quarters of them are inaccessible! You heard me correctly- inaccessible! And no, I'm not talking about snow covered- I'm talking about washouts on spur roads leading to these trails that render them off limits to only the hardiest of hikers. Never in the history of local hiking are we in such danger of losing so much access to our backcountry. They are going fast! With no money to maintain roads and trails they are quickly being reclaimed to nature.

Just look at this partial list of incredible hikes off of the Mountain Loop Highway that are off limits right now due to washouts-

Bald Eagle Mountain
Bear lake
Big Four Ice Caves
Independence lake
Lost Creek Ridge
Walt Bailey Trail
North lake
Monte Cristo
Pass lake
Pinnacle lake
Squire Creek
Silver Lake
Crystal lake
Meadow Mountain
North Fork Sauk River
Red Mountain
White Chuck Bench
White Chuck River

So, head over to the celebration this weekend and corner a few government officials and demand that they support funding our trails. The cost of abandonment is high. It includes contributing to a nation of inactive beings and to a public land abandoned by legitimate users making it rife for neglect, crime and other nefarious uses. The current inaction of Congress when it comes to funding our trails represents a complete failure of our government to provide adequate avenues for recreation through our public lands that have been supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans from all walks of life throughout the ages.

(photo-the summit of Mount Pugh, one of the few trails off of the Mountain Loop Highway that is still acessible)

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