If you can see Mt. Baker, you are part of The Experience

Newsroom, summer 2021


New hiking app to help avoid crowds

A new hiking trail app provides outdoor enthusiasts with real-time trail and recreation data.

The new TREAD Map App pilot program, released in partnership with the Washington Tourism Alliance and Dharma Maps, offers up-to-date recreation maps, custom layers, trail conditions, current safety information, community events and volunteer opportunities in central Washington.

The app currently provides trail data for Kittitas, Grant, Douglas, Chelan and Okanagan counties — areas that often get heavy public land use during the summer. It was a response to last summer, when many people flocked to the outdoors in the midst of the pandemic and some public lands were overused.

For more information or to download the app, visit tread-cw.com or find it in the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

Whatcom World Cup

Sunset at Galbraith. Evan Skoczenski photo

The Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC) is hosting Wednesday night races at Galbraith Mountain until Labor Day.

Online registration for each week’s race can be found on the WMBC website. It’s $15 per race and there is a one-time $5 fee for a plate, which will be reused each week. Must be a WMBC member to race. There is limited space so registration will close if it’s full.

The course changes each week and will be announced Tuesday afternoon. The winning time of the first race was 3:06.6.

Age categories range from 8 to 10-year-olds to 60 plus. The youth race starts at 4:30 p.m. with chip and plate pick-up by 4 p.m. at the race finish. Adult race starts at 6 p.m. with pick-up by 5:30 p.m.

Racers will self-seed, with 30-second gaps between each racer. If you think you need more time, ask and you will be given a “ghost rider.”

For more information, visit wmbcmtb.org/whatcom-world-cup.

State parks offer free day access

Fort Warden Historical State Park in Port Townsend, Wash. Louise Mugar photo

Washington state residents will be allowed free day access to state parks on Wednesday, August 25, in celebration of National Park Service Day. After this one, there’s three remaining this year, as the majority fall in spring and early summer.

Vehicle access to state parks usually requires a Discover Pass, which costs $10 for the day or $30 for the year. On free days, visitors can enter any state park without a pass.

Free access only applies to state parks; a Discover Pass will still be required on lands managed by the state department of fish and wildlife and the department of natural resources. Free days also do not apply to overnight camping or sno-parks, which require their own pass.

This is the eighth of 12 free days in 2021, with the next happening Saturday, September 25.

Here are the remaining free days in 2021:

• Wednesday, August 25 (National Park Service Birthday)

• Saturday, September 25 (National Public Lands Day)

• Thursday, November 11 (Veterans Day)

• Friday, November 26 (Autumn Day)

The parks commission manages over 100 state parks, including Birch Bay State Park, that make up 120,000 acres of land in the state.

Wildfire and forest health funding bill

House Bill 1168, which will provide $125 million every two years to boost wildfire response, accelerate forest restoration and support community resilience, was signed by the governor on May 13 and will go into effect August 25.

A top legislative priority for Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) commissioner of public lands Hilary Franz, the bill comes on the heels of a historically destructive 2020 fire season in Washington. Over 800,000 acres burned in more than 1,600 fires and 298 homes were destroyed last year, according to DNR press release, costing the state more than $342 million. For two of the last three years, Washington has experienced the worst air quality in the world due to these fires.

File photo

“Washington is on the brink of breaking the cycle of inaction that has created our wildfire crisis,” Franz said in the release. “With this historic funding, we can make the transformative investments in wildfire response and forest health that we need to change the trajectory we are on. We are one step closer to protecting our communities, our forests and the air we breathe.”

The bill was developed by a wide-ranging coalition of firefighters, fire chiefs, tribes, environmentalists, public health advocates and forest products companies.

Take it easy out there, folks (especially you gramps)

This spring, a right-of-way altercation between a 69-year-old hiker and 66-year-old mountain biker ended in a stabbing, and the mountain biker having to be flown to Harborview Medical Center.

Dake Traphagen of Bellingham was hiking along a trail off of Y Road when a mountain biker attacked him with his bike and the two fell to the ground, he told Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office deputies. Traphagen said during the altercation he pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed the mountain biker in self-defense.

The mountain biker had a different story. He told deputies he was riding up hill on the trail at a slow speed when he came upon a group of hikers and requested that they move aside. He said a male in the group grabbed his handlebars, causing him to lose balance. He and his bike then tumbled onto the hiker and became tangled up as he was still clipped into the bike.

The hiker began hitting him and everyone was yelling for him to get off of the man, he told deputies. He then noticed that it wasn’t hitting, but that the hiker had a knife and was stabbing him in the arm and the leg. Once he was able to get up, he fled the scene.

Later, the mountain biker, who suffered multiple stab wounds and loss of blood, was transported to the hospital for treatment and later airlifted to Harborview in Seattle due to the severity of his injuries.

As it stands, Traphagen turned himself in to the sheriff’s office and was booked into Whatcom County Jail on charges of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and the possession of a dangerous weapon. He was released on bail and has a jury trial set for the end of July. x