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Know Before You Go: Wildfires, Hunting Seasons

Posted by Loren Drummond at Sep 13, 2012 04:05 PM |

With crisp air, ripe berries and fall foliage starting to turn, late summer/early autumn is one of the best times to hike in Washington. But with wildfires burning in several parts of the state and hunting season gearing up, it's important to check more than the weather forecast as you plan your hiking, backpacking, climbing or trailrunning adventures.

With crisp air, ripe berries and fall foliage starting to turn, late summer/early autumn is one of the best times to hike in Washington. But with wildfires burning in several parts of the state and hunting season gearing up, it's important to check more than the weather forecast as you plan your hiking, backpacking, climbing or trailrunning adventures.

Wildfires in the Cascades: call ahead

On Sept. 8, more than 3,000 lightning strikes ignited fires in Washington, most of them on the eastern side of the Cascades.

With so many of the wildfires still burning across the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, it's a good idea to contact a ranger station if you are planning to head to the east side of the Cascades. Better yet, choose a hiking destination away from the fires altogether: near Mount Baker, on the western side of the North Cascades, in the Olympics or in the Colville National Forest.

The Cle Elum Ranger District will likely be issuing a closure order for the Stafford Creek Area and Forest Road 9703 in the Teanaway Area on Sept. 13 (which includes access to Standup Creek, Earl Peak, Navaho Pass, Stafford Creek, and Miller Peak trails).

Forest officials have also closed a portion of the Entiat Ranger District for public safety reasons. The closure includes the following campgrounds, roads and trails:

Campground closures:

  • Cottonwood
  • Three Creeks
  • Spruce Grove
  • North Fork

Forest road closures:

  • 5100
  • 5606
  • 5900
  • 112
  • 125
  • 5608

Trail closures:


The Cascade Creek fire also continues to burn near Mount Adams, keeping trails closed and threatening additional closure for a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

As of Sept. 13, the northwest corner of the fire was within 3 miles of the PCT. Officials said that was a possibility that a portion of the PCT might close in the next few days. They encouraged PCT hikers to plan ahead and call the Mt. Adams Ranger District at (509) 395-3400. The most likely closure would be the portion between Forest Road 23 and Riley Creek Trail #64 junction near Sheep Lake.

For the latest information about closures due to wildfires in Washington, visit InciWeb.

Hiking during hunting season: wear orange, make noise

Hikers on Ridge Trail Chucknut Mountain.
A hiker in orange is more visible. Photo by j brink on Chucknut Mountain.

Saturday, Sept. 15  marks the start of a new deer hunting season in some parts of the Alpine Lakes, Glacier Peak, Pasayten, Olympic Peninsula, and Henry Jackson Wilderness Areas and Lake Chelan Recreation Area.

Below are some tips to stay safe on trails during hunting season, the first of which is to know when and where you might encounter hunters on your hikes:

  • Know when hunting seasons are. Bear season begins in August, followed by grouse, deer and several other species in September. October is the high point of hunting season. Check more hunting season dates.
  • Wear bright clothing. Make yourself more visible. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or green, and avoid blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. You can purchase safety-orange backpack covers and vests here.
  • If you hike with a dog, keep your pup on leash and consider having them wear a brightly-colored pack, coat or an old, orange t-shirt.
  • Make noise and make yourself known. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence. Sound carries well across mountain basins, and hunters should be listening for any sounds of animal movement. If you do hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are in the vicinity.
  • Know your own comfort level. If hunting makes you uneasy, choose a hike in a location where hunting is not allowed, such as a national park or a state park.

Comments

campfire not put out 9/1/12, PCT Holman Pass

May I rant?
If you camped at Holman Pass 9/1/12, 100 yards W of the PCT jct., you did not put out your campfire. Well-established campsite and fire ring. I smelled the smoke. The stones were still hot at 2:00 PM. I found dry ashes and coals hot-to-touch between the rocks that had never been touched by the meager water you put on it. I put almost all my water on it (no water source nearby). Passersby contributed their water. The woods were a desert-dry tinderbox. Had a wind come up, it could have fanned this into a wildfire. That’s how Big Hump Fire started last year. As I write this (9/13/12), over 50 wildfires are burning in Washington. You can smell the smoke in Seattle. Red sunrise/sunset. There was no need at all for this substantial campfire. I spent that night at 6590’ comfortably with no shelter, no tent, no wind, no fire. Summer weather. You built a large toy fire where there was no water to control it, when you did not need it.
Regrettably, this is not the stupidest campfire behavior I have seen in my life, but it’s a contender. Get a stove.
I took off for Rock Pass with 1 pint of water left and no idea where the next water would be. Thanks. [end of rant]

Posted by:


"Cascade Liberation Organization" on Sep 14, 2012 04:17 PM

Great tips!

Thank you WTA for all the fall hiking safety reminders. I can report that even hiking in the Goat Rocks last weekend was pretty smoky, thanks to all the wildfires.

Posted by:


Zanner on Sep 20, 2012 06:22 AM