Jim Goodwin on February 20th, 2011

The top of Flagstaff Mountain looking down the Columbia River

February 12 was a beautiful day for a snowshoe trip.  We met at the community center in the middle of Northport and headed for Flagstaff Mountain.  Temperatures were in the upper 20’s as we headed up the mountain.  The snow conditions were excellent with 16 inches of crusty snow. 

We weren’t very far into our trip when we began to see wildlife.  We saw several groups of deer, both mule deer and whitetail as well as turkeys as we progressed up the trail.  A little after noon, we crowned over the saddle to enjoy a great view up the Columbia River valley.  We settled into the hillside for lunch and enjoyed the view of Northport in the distance nestled against Silver Crown Mountain.  After eating lunch at this vantage point and taking advantage of the photo-op, we heading back down the mountain. 

On our way out we spotted some moose tracks and followed them down a different course than we had ascended.  We were hoping to find some deer antlers on our way, but were unsuccessful in this endeavor.  The whole trip covered about 3 miles and took about  three hours.  The trip was deemed a success and fun was had by all.

Continue reading about Adventure Report – Snowshoeing Was Great

Jim Goodwin on January 19th, 2011

View of the Columbia River from Flagstaff Mountain during winter

On Saturday, February 12 a group of 20 or so people will be ascending the base of Flagstaff Mountain to enjoy the fresh air great views and wildlife.  With any luck, the day will be filled with sunshine, fun, nature’s beauty and picturesque views of the Columbia River Valley.  We will start the day at 10:00am by meeting at the Community Center in Northport across from Tony’s Market.  This will give you a chance to buy any last minute snacks or all-important water for the trip.  We will then carpool to the base of the mountain and begin our ascent.

The climb will be a gradual one initially, suitable even for beginners.  In a mile or so the old road we shall follow will steepen to a grade more suitable to challenge someone of moderate skill.  We will crown out at a saddle which should offer a great view of the river valley below so bring your camera.   At this point, we will take a break, eat some snacks, maybe heat some water for hot chocolate or tea, and just enjoy the scenery.  I will bring a small stove for heating your water if you will bring a cup and a tea bag or hot cocoa mix.  After this, the strong of heart can proceed another mile or so to crest a small knoll, or we could turn back, returning in the tracks we made on our trip in. The trip is expected to take from 2 to 4 hours and cover 3 or 4 miles depending on the options we choose after our snacks.

Remember, this activity is limited to the first 20 people who sign-up for it on the Registration Page. You will need to provide your own snowshoes.  Also remember to dress appropriately in layers.  Ski poles, snacks and camera are optional.  If you happen to have an extra pair of snowshoes, please bring them also, if you are willing to share them with others.

Hope to see you on February 12!

Continue reading about Snowshoeing: A Fun Family Activity

Jim Goodwin on December 16th, 2010


Do you remember those days from your childhood of rushing down a snowy slope on a runner sled? The air rushing past your face, the twinkle of the sun off the ice crystals on the surface of the snow, the thrill of passing someone just before you reach the bottom? Well, Jim Goodwin and his wife Karma remember it vividly, as if it was just last weekend.

In fact, it was just last weekend for them! I guess some people just never grow up, even when they are adults. But adulthood has its advantages. Today, Jim buys and rebuilds sleds so they can handle more speed and weight, and then he and Karma load the 15 sleds they own onto the back of the travelall, and fill several vehicles with local kids and head out to Johnson’s Grade, a back road south of Northport that the county no longer maintains during the winter. So Jim took over the maintenance of part of it for sledding. If you know the road, then you are aware of the two hairpin turns half way up the grade. All beginners are trained starting below these corners. They are taught how to steer the sled with their hands, but are not allowed to go above these turns until they learn how to use their whole body to turn and until they have learned the many safety rules which Jim teaches. Once these things are mastered, then they can experience the entire mile-long run.

A fire is often built at the bottom of the hill, and if the event is an all-day affair, hot dogs are brought to cook over the fire. Many a graduate from Northport High can attest to the fun times they had on Johnson’s Grade. A caution sign is placed at the bottom of the road to warn motorists who might venture up the road and the travelall always follows the sledders down. At the bottom, sleds are loaded onto a hitch-mounted hauler, snow is brushed off the sledders and they are loaded back into the travelall and hauled back to the top of the run.

Have we rekindled any childhood dreams? If so, you are welcome to join us. The sledding happens nearly every weekend in winter and is open to anyone whether you have a sled or not. If you get on the call list, Jim will let you know when he is heading out. Otherwise you could call him at 732-6175, or just look for the "Caution Sledding" sign set up near the bottom of the hill. We will be back down in a minute or so. HAPPY SLEDDING!!

[editors note: Sledding is not an official SMOS function]

Continue reading about Johnson’s Grade Sledding: Adrenaline Rush of the North.

Jim Goodwin on November 15th, 2010

View of Black Sand Beach

For many decades, the Columbia River was used by the smelter in Trail B. C. as a convenient way to dispose of glassified slag.  An estimated 9100 tons of the material was disposed of into the river from the 1930’s until 1995 when the disposal process was changed to a land-based format.  Early on, no one really cared about the slag.  Later, we were told by the smelter’s owners, Cominco (presently Teck America) that the material had traces of heavy metals, but that it was inert (harmless) in the present glassified form.

When I moved my family to Northport in 1989, I heard of Black Sand Beach and learned that it was a great place for some fishing and a picnic.  I really didn’t realize what it was made of, but after my first visit with my young son, I knew something wasn’t right.  The first thing I noticed was that the water would turn rust red when my son would dig at the waters edge.  Later, we had to remove tiny slivers from his hands.  I later learned it was the glassified slag material.

In the 1990’s it was realized that this material wasn’t inert as we thought.  Since then, the site has still been used actively, but there became a grassroots push to get the site cleaned up.

Evidence of fire on Black Sand BeachThrough the help of the Washington State Department of Ecology and others including Citizens for a Clean ColumbiaTeck America was convinced to clean up the site.  This process was completed this fall.  9100 tons of slag material were removed and hauled to Canada for reprocessing and disposal.  New clean material was hauled in by the  Colville Valley Cement company and the site was rebuilt to its original grade with CLEAN rock, cobble and sand.  The sand is a little coarser than the previous slag material, but having examined the site myself, I feel it was well done.  Even the locals have accepted it, as is evident by the fire building materials found on the site in my recent visit.  If you had any reservations about using the site, rest assured it is much cleaner and safer now, so get out there and enjoy nature!  The beach is located on the east bank of the river above Northport.  Just ask a local and they can give you directions.

Continue reading about Black Sand Beach Clean-up Project