The Benchmark of all Alpine MeadowsRoad washouts suck! And we here in Washington State are in real danger of losing permanent access to so many of our hiking trails because of the large number of them. Take a look at the Skykomish and Darrington Ranger Districts' lineup of accessible trails. Not much, uh? And no wonder trails like Dickerman are even more crowded than before. Some of our trails have been de facto closed now for over five summers. Enough! This country has the money to fix roads and hiking trails. When are we going to make this a priority? Boy do I long for another president like Teddy Roosevelt. He'd get the job done and there wouldn't be much red tape in the way either!
I only hope that whomever replaces the less-than-environmentally stellar W; McCain or Obama, that they make public lands and public funding of public lands a priority again. And that goes too for our governor. Give me another Dan Evans any day. Ms. Gregoire has nearly bankrupted our state and her budgets are forcing state parks to raise their fees again-new parks have been put on hold-and DNR was given no funding for trails. So much for Washington Democrats caring about public lands and providing adequate public funding so that the public may enjoy these lands. And Washington Republicans-here's your chance to win over some folks. Do something postive for the environment like what Mr. Evans was so proud of doing. And Dino, in 2004 properly funding our state park system was part of your campaign platform? Is it still?
In the meanwhile however-here's something positive-kind of. If you are tenacious enough to bike past some of these road closures you will be guaranteed an amazing wilderness experience in our backcountry. I recently spent a couple of days at the end of the North Fork Skykomish River Valley and hiked back up to Benchmark Mountain, one of my absolute favorite places in the Central Cascades. The meadows are stunning! The views are breathtaking! And the trail is in excellent shape! No one up there except me and the bears. If you can work up the extra energy to bike 3.5 miles of closed road with one mile of it being covered in downed trees- this wilderness can be yours! Enjoy-and remember to hold your public officials accountable-maybe even try to get some of their sorry butts out on our trails so they can see this mess they've left us with!
(photo- Benchmark Mountain-August 2008)