Sunday, October 25, 2009

Washington's Canyon Country
The view from 6,379-foot Diamond Peak, the highest summit in Garfield County, Washington's least populated county ( population 2,060) is unlike any other in the state. It's a view of deep canyons and barren hillsides and huge gorges cuts by snaking rivers. Here in the extreme corner of southeastern Washington is the Evergreen State's Canyon Country. And aside from deeply-cut canyons, you'll also be granted views of snow-capped jagged peaks in Oregon (the Wallowas with summits reaching nearly 10,000 feet) and cloud-piercing peaks across Hells Canyon in Idaho. The Blue Mountains along with the Kettle River Range in northeastern Washington are perhaps the loneliest and least explored mountain ranges in Washington. They're two of my favorite places and I have lined up four fantastic adventurous hikes in my upcoming Backpacking Book to help entice you to make the long trip to explore these peaks. And while a good portion of the Blues are protected within wilderness, the Kettle River Range still remains unprotected. This guidebook author would love to someday write about a Kettle Crest Wilderness when describing the area. Perhaps the reality of an expansive Eastern Washington wilderness system may come soon--but only if you are willing to let your elected representatives know that it is something that you want to see happen-something that you believe in-and something that you are committed to achieving.

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