September 2015
News from the Trail
AN UPDATE FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST TRAIL ASSOCIATION

This photo of firefighters sharing a laugh is going viral on Facebook.  We recently saw the photo captioned with "It's raining!  It's raining!"  They took the words right out of our mouths.
Good Morning!

Wet weather has brought relief to fires, drought and heat across the Pacific Northwest, but not before fires burnt nearly 7.2 million acres across the western U.S.  To keep our users safe and informed, we've made a new page on our website, Trail Alerts, to help you connect with the right agency or authority.  

'Trail Alerts' also hosts our new interactive PNT fire perimeter map.  The map shows current fire perimeters and can also be directed to show past year fire data, current weather, USFS roads, USFS topographic maps and USFS trail heads and campsites.  

Explore the map at www.pnt.org/trail/trail-alerts.  

Our interactive PNT fire perimeter map was created with the help of volunteer Joseph Elfelt at Gmap4.  Learn more at http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html. 

Federal Advisory Council

In August, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appointed 23 non-federal members to the inaugural Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council.  The non-federal positions are comprised of citizens with diverse backgrounds and the council will advise the Secretary, through the Chief of the Forest Service, on management of the PNT in Montana, Idaho and Washington.  Over the next three years, the council will discuss and provide recommendations on topics such as trail signage and use, the establishment of a trail corridor and project management.  

"We're excited to assemble such a diverse group of volunteers to collaborate with us to write a plan that will improve recreational opportunities and experiences and support our unique mix of gateway communities," said Matt McGrath, the Forest Service program manager for the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.  "The strong interest in the council demonstrates the significance of the Pacific Northwest Trail as a truly natural resource." 

The first Federal Advisory Council (FAC) meeting will be held the weekend of October 14-15 in Sandpoint, Idaho.  Meetings are open to the public with more information coming as October approaches.  Our own Jon Knechtel will be on the FAC, as will 2014 thru-hiker Jeff Kish, staff of the PCTA and CDTC, representatives of land management agencies, city councils, universities and school districts to name a few.  For more information, visit the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Advisory Committee page at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/pnt/working-together/advisory-committees.  
A Week on the Pacific Northwest Trail
What do you do when you're 50 miles from the nearest shelter, it's been raining for hours and everything on you and in your pack is wet?  You find a highway and stick out your thumb.  

Jared Kennedy, PNTA friend and COO of Outdoor Project, shared his experience of a week on the PNT.  Jared and thru-hiker Michael Sawiel met up at Ross Lake and hiked to Baker Lake.  Jared's blog post details the rest.  Read more at www.pnt.org/blog. 
PNT Days
Thru-hikers Stumbling Norwegian and Honeybee.

Board members Dough (left) and Bruce (center) prepare food for guests. 
This year's trail celebration, PNT 
Days, was great fun!  Many thanks to all that made it out to celebrate with us in Oroville.  We visited with old friends and new, enjoyed local food and music and spent time out on the trail.  A huge thanks to all board, staff and volunteers that pitched in to help out; to the Oroville  PNTA Chapter for planning logistics, to the Camaray Motel for hosting us, and to our friends that hosted informational booths.  

A special shout out to thru-
Camaray Motel owners Clyde & Sandy Andrews enjoy watermelon while visiting PNT Days.
hikers Freebird, Stumbling Norwegian, Honeybee and Bean for stopping by and answering questions.

Our first PNT Days celebration was a success and we can't wait to see you all again next year!  For more photos, make sure to check out our Flickr page.  





Stephanie (staff person) and Aaron (board member) plan a hike. 
Join the Conversation
August 26 was National Dog Day!  How did you and your furry friend celebrate?

Are you on Facebook?  We're always posting trail updates, hiking tips and inspiring pictures. In case you missed it, here are some of this month's top articles:
  • With wildfires comes smoke and air quality issues.  What does that mean for your health?  A recent article by Outside Magazine details all that you need to know to stay safe.  Read more on their website
  • Who says animals can't entertain themselves?  This Grizzly in Denali National Park sure knows how to have fun!  Watch the video and count the bear-el rolls. 
  • 2015 thru-hiker Ashley Hill just finished her hike of the PNT at Cape Alava.  Read about her adventures at her blog Sobo Hobo.
  • Signing the PNT is an ongoing task.  Samantha, our Marketing and Communication Manager, headed out with DNR staff and volunteers to sign sections in Skagit and Whatcom Counties. See the photos on our Facebook page.  
To join the conversation and keep up on the latest news, make sure to like us on Facebook. Have something to share?  Tag us, or send it to [email protected].

News from Idaho & Montana

 
In August, Stephanie joined US Forest Service and Idaho Conservation League staff while trail scouting in the Idaho Selkirks.  Photo Credit: Stephanie Campbell
 
On the eastern end of the trail, Stephanie has been busy with regional travel and making new community connections.  In mid-August, she met with our agency partner, the US Forest Service, and one of our regional partners, the Idaho Conservation League, to scout potential trail routes in the Idaho Selkirks.  From their vantage point at the summit of Myrtle Peak, Stephanie and companions could see the intense descent from the current route on Parker Ridge to Lion Creek and equally intense ascent to Lookout Mountain.  They marveled at the incredible physical strength and inner resolve of PNT hikers to take on this particular traverse of the Idaho Selkirks while pondering alternative routes which would provide equal beauty yet greatly improved trail tread sustainability.  

Over the next few years, as we finalize the route with the Federal Advisory Council, this section of trail traversing the Idaho Panhandle will be of special interest due to the heightened protections for the threatened grizzly bear population in the area. Federal mandates for the protection of threatened wildlife as well as the preservation of multi-use recreation opportunities creates a challenge for land managers who are mandated to balance these and other diverse priorities.

As can be expected, Stephanie has been busy in off-trail meetings with fellow regional trail management staff such as those who work to promote and protect the adjacent section of the Continental Divide trail.  She is also getting connected with regional chapters of the Backcountry Horsemen of America who serve as excellent allies in caring for hard-to-reach trail segments.

Wildfire season is always tough, yet this month tested the resilience of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association and our community like never before.  It is with heavy hearts that we join the Methow Valley community in mourning the loss of three firefighters: Andrew Zajac, Richard Wheeler and Tom Zbyszewski.  Tom was the son of Jennifer Zbyszewski, Recreation, Wilderness & Facilities Program Manager for the Methow Valley Ranger District out of Twisp Washington.  Jennifer has always and continues to be a cherished and important part of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association community.  The Pacific Northwest Trail Association and its members express our deepest condolences to the families of the Andrew, Richard and Tom of this tragedy and we continue to support those who are risking their lives to keep our community safe.  

Our thoughts also extend to the many other communities in the Pacific Northwest affected by fires.  With evacuation orders and loss of homes and other infrastructure looming on the horizon, our community needs to rally together now more than ever.  Please consider giving in any way that you can, whether it be well wishes, a place to sleep, a meal to share, time volunteered or monetary donations; everything counts. 

As always, the thoughts of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association and its members are with you.   

Well wishes, 

The  Board and Staff of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association
If you've got photos or stories that you'd like to share with the Pacific Northwest Trail Association community, contact Samantha at [email protected] to be featured in the next addition of the newsletter.