Local outdoor activities have sprung
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The snow is gone, the wind is back and spring quarter is in full swing once again. The change in weather opens the door for many outdoor activities available to CWU students within an hour of Ellensburg.
Ellensburg is within an hour drive of Vantage, Blewett Pass, Leavenworth and the Enchantments, which are home to world-class hiking and rock climbing, according to Walter Lackey, Outdoor Pursuits and Rentals (OPR) employee and senior in mechanical engineering technology.
“If you want to get in the mountains, you can head up north and check out the Stuart range,” Lackey said. “Which is right there with some of the biggest granite slabs in the world right in our backyard.”
CWU is home to a valuable resource for students who are looking to pursue hiking who might not have the experience or gear needed to take trips.
Through OPR, students can rent everything they need to take a backpacking or car camping trip.
If someone is inexperienced, OPR has trips that include all the gear needed and experienced people to guide them to and from the destination.
“That’s the entire purpose of OPR is to help you guys be aware of what’s out there. We’ll equip you, send you out and give you a game plan as to where to go and have an adventure and connect with people that have been doing it for years,” said David Higgins, OPR employee and senior in supply chain management.
Aside from their bi-weekly sunset hikes that will start on Apr. 13, OPR’s next trip will be a Snow Lake day-hike on May 20.
Snow Lake is on the edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, located on Snoqualmie Pass, and is a suitable hike for all experience levels, according to the Washington Trails Association.
Following the Snow Lake hike, they will have another dayhike up Thorp Mountain on May 27.
If you have a trip suggestion, bring it to OPR and they will figure out all the logistics to set up your trip.
In Ellensburg, there are three very popular hikes among students: Manastash Ridge, Umptanum Falls and Rattlesnake Ridge. All three of these hikes will bring you to the top of the foothills and provide scenic views of the Kittitas Valley. But there are many more hiking areas within a short drive from the CWU campus.
Salmon La Sac in Cle Elum and the Teanaway River Valley are both within a 45-minute drive from downtown. They include all ranges of hiking, ability levels and accessible car camping with miles of forest-service roads to explore, according to public relations major and avid hiker, Hunter Ventoza.
“You’d be surprised at how a single trailhead can lead to a vast number of different areas,” Ventoza said about the Salmon La Sac and Teanaway River Valley areas.
An often-underrated place to go hiking is Blewett Pass, which is home to popular trails including the Wenatchee Crest Trail, Swauk Discovery Trail and Ingalls Boulder Field Trail.
In the winter, Blewett is known for easily accessible snowshoeing and cross country skiing, making it an often overlooked spring hiking destination.
Every hike at Blewett Pass starts at over 4,000 feet, with trails going up to 5,800 feet,providing views of the wild country of the Cascade Crest and the open desert of Eastern Washington.
“If you’re looking for big mountains and beautiful scenery, hit up Blewett Pass on Highway 97,” Higgins said.
Whether you are an experienced outdoors enthusiast or just getting into it, Ellensburg is a hub for outdoor recreation in the spring and summer. There are multiple trails and different scenes to see within an hour’s drive of downtown and OPR is a valuable resource for getting everyone outside.
“Don’t be afraid to come in and talk to us,” Higgins said. “It’s what we do It’s our lifestyle.”