Creating section has spawned many adventures

jeff.mayor@thenewstribune.comDecember 29, 2013 

The other day, coworker Craig Hill and I were exchanging ideas for upcoming stories.

As the conversation unfolded, I found myself thinking of how easy it has been for us to develop new stories for the Adventure section week after week.

Then my thought process went back to the very beginning, when Adventure made its debut 10 years ago. For the 520 weeks since then, Craig and I have strived to inform and encourage our readers to enjoy the outdoors — in places near and far.

Sometimes another coworker has written our lead story, other times we have used stories from other newspapers or news services. But for the vast majority of sections, Craig and I have shared our adventures.

We have written about local excursions such as exploring Tacoma’s Titlow Beach at low tide and discovering geocaches along the trails at Tolmie State Park. We’ve reported on regional destinations such as Pacific Beach, the snow-covered slopes of Cascade ski areas and taking a charter salmon fishing trip out of Ilwaco.

In the last decade, we’ve also been lucky to travel farther afield. We have written about destinations such as northern Vancouver Island, Hawaii, Guatemala, the Oregon Coast and the Beartooth Highway in Montana and Wyoming.

Yet thinking about the past 10 years, some favorite stories came to the forefront.

When it comes to hunting, my favorite type is bird hunting. So when I was invited to join some local folks for pheasant hunting in South Dakota in 2005, I jumped at the chance. I had the opportunity to hunt some private and public land, and I actually hit some birds. But the memories I recall first are the people I hunted alongside.

One of my best fishing trip stories was about fly fishing for monster rainbow trout on the upper Columbia River in Northport. Casting heavy flies on weighted lines, we landed hard-fighting rainbows that averaged 20 inches long. I also hooked my first bull trout and a cutthroat trout tagged by Canadian fishery biologists miles upstream. How successful was the fishing that day? I remember my casting wrist and elbow being sore for several weeks after returning home.

Like so many other outdoorsmen, the reality of my trips often falls short of my expectations. That happened in the 2012 story I told of my attempt at the role of a guide on a fly-fishing trip on the Yakima River. I took two friends who were novices at the sport and tried to get a fish on the end of their line. Our trip didn’t start well when I ran the boat under the one tree with branches hanging over the river, 25 yards downstream from the boat launch. Somehow, despite my efforts, we managed to land a few fish.

In 2010, Craig wrote a story about a 12-day family road trip from the South Sound to Colorado. In his story, Craig related the eight rules he and his reluctant family adopted. Among them were the recommendation to adopt your inner kid to make the trip more fun for everyone, embracing the mishaps that occur along the way, be willing to take the scenic route and the final admonition to know when to forget the rules of the road. They are rules anyone who has taken an extended road trip can appreciate, and use the next time adventure calls.

Craig is the mountain climber, and has been to the top of 14,411-foot Mount Rainier. His willingness to take on a physically demanding challenge like that, and to write about it for our readers, will always be appreciated.

In what has become an annual sojourn, Craig has tackled a multiday backpacking trip late in the summer. He has written about the Enchantments, the Olympic Coast and most recently hiking the Wonderland Trail — an epic 93-mile trek he covered in the newspaper and online.

Because we try to cover as many topics as we can, Craig and I have split how we cover the multitude of outdoor activities. So it is rare that we are in the field working on the same story. But in 2009, Craig and I worked on a story that involved spending as much time as we could outdoors during the long days of summer. We hiked through Bresemann Forest, fished at Silver Lake, rode our mountain bikes in Pack Forest, snowshoed at Mount Rainier National Park and looked at wildflowers and boulder hopped at the end of the park’s West Side Road.

Another joint story we did was traveling to the four corners of the state, also in 2009. I drew the west side of the state, playing at Cape Disappointment State Park and then hiking the 3.4-mile trail out to Cape Flattery on the Makah Indian Reservation. Craig took the east side. He floated the Snake River from Heller Bar to Asotin, and then hiked to the top of 6,784-foot Molybdenite Mountain.

It is hard, sometimes, to believe the Adventure section is now 10 years old. Craig and I have had the good fortune to travel across the Northwest, and farther. As we enter our second decade, we are already planning trips to new locations.

Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640 jeff.mayor@thenewstribune.com thenewstribune.com/outdoors

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