Photo courtesy of  Jason Paulsen  Participants picked up a card at one stop along the Conservancy’s “Poker Cycle” event.

Photo courtesy of Jason Paulsen
Participants picked up a card at one stop along the Conservancy’s “Poker Cycle” event.

By Ashley Lodato

I recently heard that someone is trying to put together a group of volunteers to cut downed trees on the Oval Lakes trail. I am happy to report that such a need does not exist. My family took a quick weekend trip to West Oval Lake this past weekend for a last hurrah in the mountains before school starts. The trails to the lake, as well as the trails to Oval Pass and Middle and East Oval Lakes, are entirely clear.

Many of the cuts seem to have been done fairly recently and some of those big logs must have taken a substantial amount of time with a crosscut saw (no chainsaws allowed in the wilderness).  

We apparently have the Back Country Horsemen (BCH) of Washington to thank for all this trail work, although I didn’t see the Oval Lakes trails on the list of eight trails that the BCH spent a week clearing in early July. Thanks! Also, if you were horse packing in that area over the weekend and you lost three of your yellow electric fence poles on the lower half of the trail, you can find them where we left them leaning against the trailhead sign.

Eighteen people (including 2-year-old Fiona Naney in a bike trailer) showed up for the Methow Conservancy’s free “Poker Cycle” event in Mazama on Saturday afternoon. Participants ranged from long-time valley residents (the Naneys, Casey Kutz) to new residents, to seasonal Outward Bound instructors, to even some German visitors!

Bikers followed a roughly 13-mile course with five stops at conservation easements along the way.  At each stop, they were challenged to do some task (e.g., a water balloon toss, a salmon life cycle dice roll, the shell game, hula hooping, or tracking) and learned a little bit about the land protected and the work of the Conservancy. They got a playing card at each stop. After the fifth stop, participants had a chance to trade in one card, and then the best hand of the day (a straight) won the grand prize: an eqpd bag full of cool Methow goods.

The event concluded with ice cream sandwiches and dinner at the Mazama Store’s Brat Night. Conservancy event organizers say “It was a great chance for the ‘next generation’ of conservationists to meet each other,” and although this year the event was aimed at inspiring the next generation of conservationists, participants had so much fun that the Conservancy is considering offering the event to a wider audience next year.

Some people hiked this weekend, others biked, still others ran the Cutthroat Classic. But the hardcore-people-of-the-weekend award goes to Leah Fisher and her now-husband, who ran the Cutthroat Classic on Saturday morning and got married that afternoon. Leah and Aaron split this award with her parents, who put on the wedding, and father figure Mike Pruett, who was instrumental in orchestrating both the Cutthroat and the wedding. I think there are some tired people in the Fisher-Pruett household this week!

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