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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Senior Hiking # 376 Mineral Point and Lost Lake


Nov 1, 2010…Mineral Point/Lost Lake…tr #81 & 82 …
hike # 376 by Betsy

Rain with 70% probability was predicted and they were right but the weather gods were kind to us today by not dumping on us till we were almost back to the truck.

We have done this hike several times before, it being one of our three rainy day hikes, and all of which are mountain bike trails. This recently built trail is an extension of the Mineral Point trail, which goes straight down to the lake…the extended part starts from the same point at top but meanders thru the woods, full of ponderosa pine and cedars, over to the Lost Lake trail offering many nice views of the lake. It is very beautiful.

The last time we did it though, we found a fork in the trail with no indication as to which way the trail to Lost Lake went…we took the one on the right and found a lake but we both had no recollection of this lake…it didn’t look like the Lost Lake we remembered before the new trail was built and it didn’t have any sitting benches. Hmmm. So this time we took the trail on the left and voila! We found the real Lost Lake and it was as we remembered and we now know the other lake is Mud Lake!

We met a couple of mountain bikers, one of whom was a member of the Pend Oreille Pedalers, the group who built the new trail. Again we caught up with them at the lake…they pedaled on and we ate lunch and took pics.

We saw the biggest mushrooms ever today, some were pizza sized. Never have we seen such an oddity, and so many in one particular spot.

There was a sad story in the paper this week…a 56 year old experienced hiker out for a day hike near Priest Lake…his car was found unoccupied for three weeks after his family reported him missing. Search and Rescue tried for 24 hours to find him but called off the search due to 3’ of snow. They said they would resume the search in the spring or if the predicted big snow winter comes thru, it won’t be till July 2011. My assumption is that he fell off a cliff and is gone. His family has hope that he will come home. The mountains are not very forgiving some times.

Left home 9:35Started up 10:30
Got to lake 12:30Turned around 12:40
Got to truck 2:00Total miles hiked 7 miles
Total hiking time 3 hours, 30 minutes

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Senior Hiking - How it all began!

Posted: Sunday, November 7, 2010 10:00 am

Updated: 9:48 pm, Sat Nov 6, 2010.

Newspaper article By DAVID GUNTER
     SANDPOINT — Together, they have hiked nearly 3,500 miles over the course of about 360 trips to the trailhead. For Betsy and Jim, these hikes are more than a passion for the outdoors. They are the weekly remembrance of a love story that plays itself out on the trail.
     For this couple, a romantic walk means spending the day exploring wildflower strewn meadows, scrambling over boulders to find hidden mountain lakes or stepping into snowshoes for a climb that leaves them standing breathless and awestruck on the highest peaks the region has to offer.
     They have been together for some time, but this chapter of their love story started seven and a half years ago, at a time when Betsy was recuperating from a battle with breast cancer. After a year that included two surgeries, a half dozen rounds of chemo and seven weeks of daily radiation treatments, she found it difficult to climb the stairs at the library, much less anything as rigorous as a hike.
     Jim, though, sensed that the outdoors was just the medicine his wife needed. He’d been spending part of his Sundays fly fishing and discovered the trail up to Harrison Lake on one of those outings. Somehow, he knew that asking his wife in person to join him the following week would result in a “no.” With that in mind, he made the invitation via e-mail.
     “He was right — my first instinct was to say ‘no way,’ ” Betsy recalled.
     After mulling it over, she decided to drive into town and find a pair of hiking boots to replace the ones she had long ago given away.
     “Then I e-mailed him back with a ‘yes!’” she said. “He was shocked.”
The first hike was scheduled to last 15-20 minutes up the Harrison Lake trail to a good view spot, where they would call it a day. Betsy, however, wouldn’t turn around at that point.
     “I told him, ‘I’m going to the lake — I didn’t go into town and buy hiking shoes for nothing,’” she said.
     On the way back to town after the hike, the couple stopped into Buck & Edna’s — it was still standing on the Pack River Road at the time — for what Betsy described as “one of the coldest beers I ever had.” Still on a hiking high, she asked Jim what the plan was for the following Sunday.
     They have been hiking together every week since that time.
     “Fifty-two weeks a year — rain or shine, fog, cold, blizzards and 40 mile per hour winds,” Betsy said. “We’ve been out in it all.”
     There are some great trail guides available for those who want to hike the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains, but none have quite the personal touch of the “hiking reports” Betsy logs after each trip. They recount the time the couple left home, when they arrived at the trailhead, GPS readings, mileage covered and the time they got back to the truck, all interspersed with personal reflections and weather reports.
     “As you can tell, I’m a perfectionist,” Betsy said as she thumbed through the indexed and very organized notebook of reports.
     When asked if she has a favorite hike, she responds: “Do you have a favorite child?” Still, when pressed, she does list Fault Lake and Big Fisher Lake as two locations that get high marks, along with Bee Hive Lake, Chimney Rock and the one that started it all, Harrison Lake.
     Getting her to name a trail she’d never want to hike again turns out to be an easier proposition.
     “Goat Mountain,” Betsy said without hesitation. “The elevation gain is 4,000 feet in three miles. I’m happy we did it, but I never want to do it again. It’s a killer.”
     That trip, like all the others, is listed in great detail in her reports. Other day trips include attempts to summit Silver Dollar Peak — a still-elusive goal — and successful hikes to the top of Scotchman Peak, the summits of three of the Seven Sisters and the highest peak in Boundary County, which has no name at all, just a map listing as “7709 feet.”
     While most of the hike reports recall trails that have proper signs and guidebook listings, there is also a category for unmarked trails in the notebook. Once done, those trips, too, receive some sort of a name to commemorate their completion.
     “Those are the trails that only exist in Jim’s mind,” Betsy said, flipping the report pages until she finds her notes on one particular hike. “Here’s a good example: This is one I named, ‘Bushwhack to Nowhere.’”
     One of the more memorable climbs took the hikers to a remote spot that has come to be known as Miracle Mountain. On the rocky slopes beneath its peak, those who have the tenacity to find the place can still see the crumpled remnants of a plane crash.
     “We couldn’t find it the first time,” said Betsy, who, with her husband, learned about the site from Royal Shields. “It’s up in the boonies on a ridge above Little Harrison Lake, between Sister Four and Sister Five. I swear, it seemed like nobody had ever been there before.”
     On their second hike to find the plane crash, they encountered Royal and Jana Shields, who led them to a sign above the wreckage. Amazingly, the wooden marker tells of a family that survived the crash almost 25 years ago.
     Under the words “Miracle Mountain” the sign reads: “Irwin family of four walked away from plane crash of C-70040. 4-20-86. Praise the Lord.”
     “We’ve talked to other avid hikers and nobody — I mean nobody — knows anything about it,” said Betsy, who later researched the crash and posted a plastic-covered newspaper clipping under the sign for those who might want to know the whole story.
     When she went to the Bonner County Historical Society Museum to look up press accounts of the accident, volunteers asked her if she was a lawyer or a member of the Irwin family.
     “Neither, I told them. I’m a hiker.”
     Along with the written reports, Betsy chronicles the couple’s hikes with her camera. Her requirements are simple but non-negotiable: The unit has to be small enough to fit into her waist pack and be able to handle both close-ups and panoramic vistas with ease. Readers of the Daily Bee see her work regularly in the “Your Best Shot” feature slot, a venue that has become a stand-in photo gallery for her more than 100 published shots of wildlife, plants and mountaintop views that can only be earned the hard way.
     “I love doing both — hiking and photography,” said Betsy. “And they just happen to complement each other.”
     On some of their early hikes, Jim opted to scout ahead on the trail when Betsy stopped to collect photos of a flower or batch of huckleberries that caught her artist’s eye. Now that she has become known for her photos, he has started to help her scout new images — sometimes, it seems, with a little too much enthusiasm.
     They started hiking together in the early 60s. Now 70, they take their weekly outings so seriously that they close their business — Mountain Spa & Stove — on Mondays to allow time to get to some of the more remote trailheads. On average, each hike totals about 10 miles, though several have gone considerably farther.
     “We’ve only missed about six times in seven and a half years,” Betsy said. “I’m so happy that we do this, that we have our health and that we live here.”
     Betsy 's photographs can be seen in the Daily Bee, while selected hike reports and images can be found online at by clicking the Outdoors tab and going to the Mountain Walkers column.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time to Make Those Family Get-Togethers Productive!!!

With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, it is time for you to think like a Family Historian. Figure out your game plan for collecting and sharing your genealogy.

Some ideas for gifts could be: calendars, family history books, videos of your family, a trip back to your heritage (that one sounds like something I want to do), personal journals or family journals, family history quilt, oh, the list can go on and on.

To prepare for some of these gifts, you will need to get organized. First begin by collecting the pictures and information you will need for the gift you wish to make. Remember, time goes by way too fast and your life may get way too busy for too detailed of a project. If you think your project will take a week to do, you are probably wrong. I always plan to do this huge project and as time flies by, I reorganize and take it down a few notches and end up with a far more simple idea.

Most very detailed projects should have been in the works long before now. You can do some simple projects though. Make a Living Journal for your parents/grandparents/children. Put some pretty paper with lined pages and plastic protectors in a loose leaf binder. Put some cute pictures on the outside cover and have some divider pages for categories like - life story, hobbies, school, etc. Make it specific for the person you are giving it to.

Instead of making a whole quilt with family photos, make a pillow or a picture frame. Personalize it by putting your family photo in the middle. Use ancestor photos all along the outside. Use good materials and be neat and careful with your work.

Make an apron for grandpa or grandma using hand prints of the kids. Use your computer to print on transfer paper to be used on material.

Get the kids to help make a fun video of your family. Have each child do some narration.

Have each member of the family write a special something about their grandparent (maybe something they did with them or something they love about them). Put it in a nice book with some family pictures (you can do this online at many photo sites).

So maybe you are not planning to make a family history gift this year but maybe you are planning a family reunion later in the year and want to have something special for that. Now is the time to begin gathering information from all of the relatives. When you have your family dinners and get togethers, bring a recorder or video camera. Take tons of pictures. Ask your family to bring some memorable items with them to the dinner then bring a portable scanner (I just bought one and it is awesome!). Look through photos (be sure to get the names of those in the photos and places and dates are good too). Take down details - names, date, places. Don't be shy...ASK!

Several years ago my mom had Thanksgiving dinner at her house. She had my grandmother (dad's mom) there. I had taken my video camera to take family pictures. At one point I got my grandmother into the living room and started asking her questions. I quickly got the video camera and started asking her to tell me things about her past - her life. Before we knew it, I had her life story on tape (these were the old days of VHS). I was excited to hear these wonderful stories. One story was about the only Christmas present she got as a child (that was something other than useful stuff like clothes or food). She got a locket. Inside the locket was a picture of her mother and one of her sisters.

Three days after Christmas my grandmother was telling her neighbor all about our Christmas together. She started to say something then closed her eyes and was gone. Just like that...just that fast. She was in great health and we had no idea that she would be leaving us at that time but within one instant she was gone. The will stated that mom was given everything inside my grandmother's home and my uncle would get the home (my dad had already passed on). My mom and I went to grandma's home and collected many of her things (she had nothing of real value except for sentimental value). I got a little box that she had on her dresser all of the time I can remember. Inside the pretty box was a little box holding a locket - the very locket that my grandmother had talked about in the video at Thanksgiving. My video became a real treasure to me and how very close I came to not having anything of her. I not only got the locket but the story in her own words telling about that special day that she got the locket.

As you get ready for the holiday festivities, don't forget to take along your camera (and use it), and any other items you may have to help record stories, pictures, family treasures, etc. Be sure to get the stories that go with the items you collect. Remind your family about their heritage by giving gifts from the past or help them to preserve the present for the future by giving gifts that will continue.