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Safety tips for enjoying outdoors

Trout Lake News for May 19

By the

Trout Lake Newswriters

Sandi Thygesen, 395-2318

Pat Arnold, 395-2233

Bonnie Reynolds, 395-2527

Laurie West, 395-9330

With an early spring and our valley alive with new spring growth and wonderful weather, many residents and visitors alike are getting outdoors to ride their bicycles, take a hike in our forests, or raft or kayak on the fast flowing White Salmon River. For many residents, staying safe while enjoying their recreational activities may be second nature, but for some of us a little guidance might help prevent injuries to ourselves or others. So it seems appropriate to mention some fundamental safety tips to ensure everyone enjoys these outdoor activities.

As the snow level rises many trails are becoming available to hikers. This year wild flowers in the mountains surrounding the valley are expected to be in full bloom within 2 to 3 weeks. The Mt. Adams Ranger Station will be open every day starting on Sunday, May 29, from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m and their rangers are up to date with the conditions on our local trails. They will also advise if you need permits on the trail you want to hike and provide information about surrounding campgrounds. You can also check out trail conditions before heading to Trout Lake by visiting the Forest Service website at

John Nakai at the Mt. Adams Ranger Station suggests hikers should also look on the internet for an article called "10 Essentials" written by Susan Berger, a respected Seattle area hiker. Her article advises all hikers to consider carrying the following items to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike: compass, water, extra food, rain gear and extra clothing, firestarter and matches, first aid kit, army knife or multi-purpose tool, flashlight and extra bulbs, as well as sunscreen and sun glasses.

As an avid hiker I also suggest taking your cellphone (even if it only works in some places), mosquito repellent and wearing hiking books that are comfortable even when hiking downhill on the return trip.

With all this spring rain, the White Salmon River is flowing at a fast pace and is at a high water level. River kayakers and rafters are already braving the very cold waters to experience the popular rapids. The Columbia Gorge Wildlife and Scenic Area controls an 8 mile stretch of the White Salmon River between Buck Creek near Northwestern Lake to Gilmore Creek just north of BZ Corner. This department also provides a host family during the kayaking/rafting season. They can be located in their motorhome on Forestry Service land adjacent to the White Salmon River in BZ Corner. This location is also a public launch site for kayakers and rafters alike. The host family can provide information on local river conditions and basic safety tips while on the White Salmon.

Sue Baker, the public safety officer for the department, offered these essential safety tips: Check the river level before putting yourself onto the river. Never kayak or raft alone. Always wear a substantial well-fitted life jacket. Carry a whistle which can be heard above the river's noise. Carry a sharp knife to set up and cut safety lines across the river and make sure you know how to do so. Become familar with the classification for the river rapids' ease or difficulty for kayakers/rafters, i.e. measured from 1 to 5 with 1 being the easiest and 5 indicating the increased risk of injury or possible death. For example, Husum Falls is considered a 5. Be sure to check the indicators each day as it changes from one day to the next. Always wear a helmet when on the water. If entering the water above Husum Falls, understand the hydraulics of the water, i.e. the river's flow and how an eddy can affect the river's currents, get information about areas containing boulders, and understand which waterholes along the way are safe.

Sherri Zoller of Zoller Outdoor Odysseys in BZ Corner advises there are notices posted on the Husum Falls Bridge and in BZ Corner with daily river conditions. She also suggested that anyone wishing to try out the river at the present time should stop in for first-hand river conditions on the day as it is early in the season and conditions vary daily. They keep track of safe areas and where any debris such as logs may still be present in the river. Finally, if you are an inexperienced kayaker or rafter, consider taking a trial run with one of the several local outfitters located in Husum and BZ Corner. They specialize in teaching basic skills for both kayakers and rafters, as well as providing all the necessary safety instructions. The water is still very cold so wet suits are a must.

For more information go to websites:, or, or

Recently, my close friend, Debie, delivered my new hot pink mountain bike. As we set out to ride along our valley roads I realized I did not know Washington State Bicycle Laws. Debie gave me some pointers but I decided it important to know the official rules of the road. I discovered that bicyclists' rules are much the same as those for car drivers and as such, they share the same rights, duties and responsibilities as car drivers. Even though my inclination was to want to ride towards the traffic, you must ride with the flow of traffic and use hand signals when turning left or right and when stopping, as bicyclists can be ticketed for failing to follow the rules. You can ride alongside another bicycle but there can be no more than two riding alongside. Where possible ride in designated bike lanes. Helmets are not required in Trout Lake but if you intend to ride in other areas you should check online at:, for their road rules.

Since I haven't ridden a bike in many years, I will definitely put on my multi-colored helmet each time I pedal throughtout the valley, just in case I accidently hit the pavement.

If you have not already visited Trout Lake's own offical website,, you should take a look and mark it as one of your favorites. There you will find current local valley news including the Trout Lake Newswriters' weekly Enterprise articles, event schedules with a form attached for adding your upcoming event, outdoor recreation activities, business information, plus complete agendas and minutes from recent Community Council and Sub Area Planning Committee meetings. Your input as well as submissions are most welcome on this website. Contact webmaster, Dave Wampler, for additional information about the site.

Laurie West


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