The Washington Outdoor Report -week of Jan. 11

New Year’s resolutions for the outdoors enthusiast

Whitewater rafting on the White Salmon River. Courtesy Zoller’s Outdoor Odysseys

Call it the silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic…People are discovering or rediscovering the great outdoors. This means the outdoors will likely be a crowded place in 2021 as well. This means now is the time to plan your outdoor adventures for the year. With that in mind, what will you resolve to do outside in 2021?
 Try Something New – If you haven’t gone fishing or hunting before, this is a great year to try both and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife along with local sportsman’s groups host events throughout the year meant to introduce newcomers to these sports. If you are already an angler or hunter resolve to go after a new species. Perhaps you are a trout angler? If so, learn how to be a walleye angler. Trust me, after you taste fresh walleye, you’ll thank me for this. Maybe you are a deer hunter. In that case, consider going turkey hunting for the first time or invest in a bird dog and take up waterfowl or upland bird hunting. If nothing else, you’ll get a dog out of this resolution.
 Be A Thrill Seeker – You can enjoy some incredible adventures in the Pacific Northwest at any age. One of those involves whitewater river rafting. Whether you raft relatively tame streams like the Skagit, Methow or Grande Ronde, reliably fun roller coaster rides found on the Wenatchee or Tieton Rivers, or want to plunge over a small waterfall on the White Salmon, there are numerous companies that will take you out for the day and no experience is required. What you do need is a positive attitude, just a little bit of courage and the ability to paddle when your guide tells you to do so!
 Want some more thrill-seeking adventures? They may not be in Washington, but they are within a day’s drive. They include cave explorations at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Montana or at the Oregon Caves National Monument, though COVID-19 restrictions will likely impact the guided tours at these caves for part of this year.
 How about a 20-mile bike ride, all downhill, along an old rail line? You’ll find that on the Route of the Hiawatha just off of I-90 at the border of Montana and Idaho. If you can pedal a bicycle, you’ll love this experience which incorporates great scenery, a whole bunch of history, and a real sense of adventure.
 Push Yourself – Resolve to go deeper into the woods or wilderness this year. If you are a three-season hiker consider becoming a year-round one with the purchase of a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis. Maybe you enjoy simple day-hikes. Resolve to get away from the crowds by exploring new, less popular trails or going a bit further than most do. Better still, invest in a lightweight tent, stove, sleeping bag and pad and go on a backpacking adventure.
 Don’t want to lug all of that stuff on your back? Then put it into a canoe or kayak. There are all sorts of lakes, rivers and backwaters to explore and paddling for the day or for an overnight boat camping getaway makes for a unique experience.
 Go Somewhere New – Last but not least, resolve to break the bonds of the familiar and go to a new place or two this year. Don’t limit yourself to the destinations most people head to or one’s you have visited or experienced for years. Instead of going to that popular state or national park, consider going to a county park, Department of Natural Resources or Bureau of Land Management Recreation Area. Explore national wildlife refuges and state wildlife areas you have never been to before. Try to find somewhere out of the way and under the radar. You’ll may just fall in love with your new destination away from the crowds if you do.

John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com

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