Winter Activities

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.