Who Hid A 115,000 Acre Playground Next Door?

Discovering new places and new ideas with the Lewiston Park and Rec Hiking Club.

imageIt’s one of those areas on the map that you start to think you know because you drive by it at 65 mph everyday on your way to somewhere else. That little hill? That’s just Craig Mountain. But you know what they say about assumptions.

It turns out that Craig Mountain is only part of a greater 115,000 acre Wildlife Management Area sitting right at the intersection of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It’s managed by five different agencies and includes some Tribal and private ownership as well. You can have a lot of fun in there camping, hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, and hunting. There’s boat access from the rivers, as well as Lake Waha and the Soldier Meadow Reservoir to play and fish in.

I can’t believe all of this has been sitting just across the highway from me!

imageI drove in from the south on Westlake Rd and met up with the Lewiston Park and Rec hiking group at the Kruze Meadows parking area. From there we caravanned to the trailhead about a half mile further down Zaza Rd, just up from the Administrative site. There were a few campsites where we parked, and two or three options for trails. We headed out past the Administrative site along an old dirt road now closed to motorized traffic.

It was a great day for hiking. It was warm with a strong breeze, and the trail took us over easy terrain with stretches of shade among the trees. We hiked up onto a ridge where we had glimpses of the Snake River and could see out to the hills behind Anatone, Washington. Eventually, the trail looped back on itself and returned us to the trailhead.

imageOther members of The Clearwater Trekkers have ventured out with the Lewiston Park and Rec group, but this was my first hike with them. It has truly been my loss! I found a group of people who were connected to me in more ways than just hiking. I shared a Midwest history with some, having gone to school in Bloomington, MN. And Don had just hiked El Camino de Santiago in Spain this past spring. Boy, did we have stories to share!

Eventually we got to talking about returning to the Camino – which route we would take, how soon we would want to repeat the experience, that sort of thing. Then he tells me about a lady in the Seattle area who trains pilgrims through the winter and then hikes the Camino in the summer each year. And I thought, “That’s exactly what I want to do!”

But, as much as I love the Camino, I wouldn’t want to focus on it exclusively. I would enjoy sharing the adventure of exploring thru hikes and pilgrimages all around the world. Locally, I would like to develop “Rite of Passage” expeditions for area youth, giving them the chance to face the limits of themselves and redefine who they are in their own eyes. I remember the powerful feeling of standing on the shores of Finisterre, Spain, realizing that I had just walked 500 miles across an entire country. I respected myself on a new level that day, and I would love to share that experience with others, especially our youth who need a rite of passage to cross that threshold between childhood and adulthood.

I truly hope that the Clearwater Trekker can help create a space for personal and spiritual growth. Whether that’s through casual day hikes for fun and health, extended hikes for adventure, or even thru hikes and pilgrimages for discovering the ends of ourselves and redefining those limits. This is what our Go page is all about. If you haven’t checked that out yet, I encourage you to have a look and see if there’s anything there you’d like to be involved in. They’re just ideas right now, but together we can make the incredible happen!

imageI look forward to hiking with the Lewiston Park and Rec group again; unfortunately, this will be the first and last time I get to this season. Saturday, September 17th will be their season ending hike in McCall, Idaho. For details on that trip contact Lynn Welch at the Lewiston Park and Rec Center. They’re phone number is: 208-746-2313.

While the Lewiston group is in McCall, The Clearwater Trekkers will be hanging out at the Stanley Hot Springs just off of Highway 12 in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. It’s about a five mile hike in, and we plan to spend the night in order to enjoy the hot springs for a bit. Stay tuned to our Explore page for more details. If you’re interested in joining up with us, you can contact us below, or connect with us on Facebook. See you on the trail!

Explore the Clearwater. Discover yourself. Go.

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