The summer season is well under way, and beautiful things are happening inside the Scotchman Peaks. Even though sometimes I feel like I live in the office, watching our summer programs develop and exploring the Scotchmans has made for a wonderful summer thus far.
One FSPW’s programs that I’m most excited about is the “Take A Kid Hiking” series that the Friends are running in conjunction with the Transitions in Progress (TIPS) Blue Haven house, which provides housing to families transitioning between homes. The volatile living and family situations that many of the children living in the TIPS home have dealt with through their short lives have prevented opportunities for them to explore the abundance of wild lands near Sandpoint. Because the children are being introduced to the wild, the “Take a Kid Hiking” program offers the opportunity to provide a transformative experience over the course of a day.
A few weeks ago, Sandy and myself met with Tamie Martinsen of TIPS to take some of the kids from the Blue Haven home, along with a few other children from the Sandpoint area, up the Morris Creek trail. Over the course of the hike, we had the pleasure of watching the children turn from reluctant participants to eager hikers. One of the boys, a five-year-old named Russell, started the hike terrified that every plant was going to jump out and scratch him. By the end of the hike, (while riding on my shoulders,) he began to embrace the touch of the soft pine needles and thimbleberry undergrowth. When Sandy talked with Tamie later that week, she told him that Russell had asked her every day when they would be going hiking again. Experiences like these cannot be assigned a price – the opportunity to introduce the wonders of wilderness to a child is invaluable and provides a powerful reminder of why I work so hard to protect the Scotchman Peaks.
Speaking of our nominal peaks, the reroute of the first mile of the Scotchman’s Peak trail is well under way. After getting an early start to beat the heat, a solid group of volunteers and staff finished about 500 feet of tread and dug rough bench for another 200 feet. When the heat of the day got to be too much, trail captain Laddy (Sandy’s dog) called it quits and we all descended the newly built trail.
More recently, we had an exciting weekend of work in the Montana side of the proposal. FSPW staff, along with the USFS Cabinet Mountains District trail crew, and a contingent of volunteers, worked on the junction of the Dry Creek and Napoleon Gulch trails. Sitting in one of the most difficult to access portions of the proposal, these trails had fallen into disrepair over time. The junction is now clearly defined, and I got a chance to discover the beautiful trail in Napoleon Gulch, which I will be returning to soon.
Coming up, we have a rotating schedule of trail #65 build days and “Take-A-Kid-Hiking” days, continuing our mission to save legs and change lives. As the summer goes on, we have a few more things happening of note – FSPW will be hosting a couple more work weekends around the proposal, and outdoor educator Brian Baxter will be teaching a few classes about the ecology of some diverse areas within the proposal in September.
An exciting new project that I’ve recently taken on landed in your inboxes last Monday. A weekly newsblast titled the “FSPW Insider” will contain a regular dose of event and volunteer opportunity info, along with other important bits of information that we think you might find valuable. In fact, here are a few right now – FSPW has started participating in a passive support initiative called Welzoo, which donates 3 cents to the Friends every time anyone visits the Welzoo page. All you have to do is go to Welzoo.com, make it your home page, and select Friends of Scotchman Peaks as your organization. Then, every time you open your browser, we get 3 cents. It’s not much, but pennies add up, and after you set it up, you don’t have to do anything. Also to keep in mind – we will be starting a monthly donation campaign soon. We think it’s a great way for people who have busy schedules to show their constant support of the Scotchman Peaks. Without your continued support, we wouldn’t be able to work so hard for the Scotchmans.
As the summer continues, we will keep working for the natural treasure that we all love and cherish. I still have a lot of exploring to do, so if you see me out in the wild, don’t hesitate to say hello.