IATC History- Chapter 24- Trail Work Issues Predominate



By Doug Simpson

January – March:  Trailwork Call of Action

Scott Semans reported that the huge windstorm last December, reaching 70 miles per hour, caused “massive damage to trails on Tiger and Squak mountains.”  He foresaw weeks of trail work on Saturdays to rectify the damage. “Many trees rooted next to trails have fallen, leaving large craters, and structures such as retaining curbs and steps have taken hits,” he reported.  Semans also updated his regular crew’s work on the Licorice Fern and Bear Ridge trails on Cougar Mountain.

Hikes Coordinator Fred Zeitler commented on the record year of 2003 for hikers, with about 1500 hikers on 160 hikes and work parties.  He said that the core of 18 leaders was insufficient and that new hike leaders are needed.

Marvin Pistrang, author of the club’s “Bedrock and Bedsoles” geology booklet, passed away last May.  He had been an active hiker and a member of the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Native Plant Society and Mountaineers as well as IATC.

Bill Longwell explained the history of Squak Mountan’s Phil’s Creek Trail, named for his close friend Phil Hall, who did much to clear and develop the trail, which in its primitive stage had been known as the “No Name Trail.”

April – May:  Trail Work Heroes

Chief Ranger Longwell wrote in depth about IATC’s tradition of doing trail work.  The club has two active crews—Scott Semans’ volunteer outings mostly on Cougar and Squak spent 661 hours working on the Bear Ridge Trail and 326 on the Licorice Fern Trail.  The Longwell/Zeitler crew of seven regulars worked on 65 different trails in 2003.

“I’m astounded by people’s willingness to work,” said Longwell.  Covering 65 trails in the region takes much dedication and planning.”  One volunteer drove over 5000 miles to work 44 different days on seven trails.  Longwell pointed out that his crew walked a total of 3001 miles “just to get to the trail work sites.”

Trail workers put in 3612 hours in 2003, which translates to 451 eight-hour days.  If paid the $11 per hour the Forest Service pays its crews, the IATC crew donated about $39,000 worth of volunteer work.

Ava Frisinger, Issaquah Mayor, wrote to thank IATC for its efforts to repair the damage caused by wind and ice storms.  “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the Issaquah Alps Trails Club, and each volunteer who helped to clear the storm damage and downed trees from the Issaquah Alps trail system.”  A similar response was received from Doug Sutherland, the State Commissioner of Public Lands.

IATC took an active role in June’s Greenway Discovery Days, sponsoring hikes by Frank Gilliland, Dave Kappler, Ken Konigsmark, Doug Simpson, David Langrock and Ralph Owen.

Noted writer and hiker Robert R. Wood passed away last December 1.  Wood, who wrote “Olympic Mountains Trails Guide,” climbed Mt. Olympus 18 times.  He wrote six guide and history books on the Olympic mountains.  Wood was also active in the early years of IATC and is credited with planning and implementing the Old Griz Trail connector from Phil’s Creek Trail to Squak’s Central Peak.  Wood was known himself as “Old Griz.”

July– August:  “Our Alps Are Number One”

Reacting to tributes to Portland’s Forest Park as the largest park within a city limits, club founder Harvey Manning, while not putting down Forest Park, claimed number one for the Issaquah Alps with Seattle’s metropolitan area as not near a major metropolitan area, but “smacking inside.”  Manning pointed out that whereas Forest Park has a public motorway and bicycle trails running through it, the parks on Cougar and Squak are wheelfree.  And the land units in the Issaquah Alps total some 12,000 acres, dwarfing Forest Park’s 5,124 acres.

In my “President’s Column” I pointed out the advancing ages of most of the club’s leaders and encouraged efforts to reach out to younger hikers to revitalize the club for years to come. “We need to get younger,” I wrote.

After years of applications, permits, negotiations and lawsuits, on March 4 four miles of the interim East Lake Sammamish Trail were opened.  The full trail between Issaquah and Redmond on the old railroad bed was a little closer to completion.

IATC celebrated its 25th anniversary in May with a barbecue at Gibson Hall.  Efforts were made to reach out to club members from the early years of the organization.

Hikes Coordinator Fred Zeitler reported that after record turnouts in 2003 the first quarter of 2004 also had strong participation.  The club’s 38 hikes (with only three weather cancellations) drew 355 hikers, 9.4 per hike.

The state’s NOVA program (funding from 1% of the state’s sales tax) was altered favorably, decreasing the percentage of funds allotted to motorized projects and more for education and enforcement projects as well as hiking trails.  The Fair Trails coalition, including IATC, had lobbied long and hard for those changes.

Bill Longwell wrote a lengthy article about the 25 bridges on Tiger Mountain, including the club’s original construction projects and his efforts to find and use old spikes and wood to refurbish the bridges as needed.

October – December:  Anti-Bypass Efforts

A draft of the Taylor Mountain Public Use Plan and Trails Assessment was issued in July.  Trailwork renovation was underway, and Taylor was planned to be a multi-use recreation area; equestrians and mountain bikers will have extensive access, though mountain bikes were excluded for areas that go into the Cedar River Watershed.

The club president reported that the IATC board voted unanimously to publicly oppose the long-proposed Southeast Bypass, which would skirt Tiger Mountain.  The club’s four-page letter outlined the problems and objections to the Bypass proposal.

Susan Duffy reviewed the club’s new book, “Squak Mountain, an Island in the Sky” by Doug Simpson and David Langrock.

Interagency Coordinator Margaret McLeod outlined efforts to gain grants for numerous projects, covering areas on Mount Si, Rattlesnake Mountain, West Tiger, Squak Mountain and Twin Falls.  Also planned were use of NOVA funds for several offroad projects.

As part of its Community Town Hall program, the King County Council met in July at Marymoor Park in Redmond to discuss outdoor recreation projects.  Several speakers cited problems and progress.  Bill Chapman of Mountains to Sound Greenway, pointed out that 128,000 acres (200 square miles in the I-90 corridor) are now protected under public ownership.  “Over 500,000 trees have been planted,” he stated, “and 25 miles of trails have been opened or restored.”

Gene Dubernoy of the Parks Advisory Task Force said, “People want the foothills preserved and they want parks nearby.”

King County Parks announced that a new parking area and trailhead was in the works for the lower Nike site in the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.

New hike leaders for 2004 were Skip Geech, John Johnson, Richard Mann and Mary Nolan.

Hannah Wheeler