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outdoors

A clutch of barnacles waits to allure you this summer.
Flickr Photo/NOAA Photo Library (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/fUQNZx

Welcome to the beginning of Seattle summer! Don't worry if you didn't make trail and camping reservations months ago - Seattle has a lot to offer procrastinators.


The starting gun fires bright and early Thursday morning for the fourth annual running of the maritime Race to Alaska. The 750-mile adventure marathon has been compared to the Iditarod but with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or getting eaten by a grizzly bear.

Colleen Echohawk-Hayashi and Gyasi Ross.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

You know the drainage pipes you sometimes see sticking out from underneath a road? They're called culverts. And they're creating a division between Washington tribes and state attorney general Bob Ferguson. The sovereign nations claim that Ferguson is failing to uphold their treaty rights; in response, he's escalated the lawsuit to the Supreme Court of the United States.


Coastal erosion is chewing away at one of the Northwest's most popular recreation areas. It's threatening the main campground and other amenities at Cape Disappointment State Park, which has the second most camper visits in the Washington State Park system.

If you’re looking to get outside on Memorial Day weekend, you might first check your phone. The U.S. Forest Service launched a mobile app this week that provides trail maps and updates on wildfires and road conditions for all of the Pacific Northwest’s national forests, a national grassland and one scenic area.

The cougar who killed SJ Brooks while they were mountain biking over the weekend.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Isaac Sederbaum, badly bloodied, finally connected with 911 on the fourth call.

“I got attacked by a mountain lion,” he said. He was breathless. “My friend did too.”

Charlene Lieu
KUOW photo/Gil Aegerter

In the world of climbing, a climber without a partner is like a jockey without a horse.

Which is why, for women climbers, talking about sexual harassment can be dicey.


The cougar who killed SJ Brooks while they were mountain biking over the weekend.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Two Seattle residents were biking near the Cascade foothills this weekend when a cougar attacked them. 

Lava from the Kilauea volcano is pouring into the Pacific Ocean off of Hawaii's Big Island, generating a plume of "laze" – which Hawaii County officials describe as hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles — into the air. Officials say it's one more reason to avoid the area.

"Health hazards of laze include lung damage, and eye and skin irritation," says the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency. "Be aware that the laze plume travels with the wind and can change direction without warning."

A rare cougar attack east of Seattle left one bicyclist dead and another seriously injured over the weekend.

Another fissure has emerged on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, bringing the total to 21, as authorities handed out protective masks and local officials warned that toxic ash and sulfur dioxide gas are the biggest health concerns for people near the mountain.

The new fissure was discovered at Leilani Estates, the neighborhood in Puna where the first new fissures were seen this month when Kilauea suddenly became more active. Since then, more than two dozen homes have been inundated in slow-moving lava flows.

Volunteers joined emergency crews this week to brace for the possibility of major flooding on a number of rivers in north central and eastern Washington state.

The combination of a near-record snowpack in southern British Columbia and temperatures soaring into the upper 80s has caused flood watches starting at the U.S.-Canada border running south along the Okanogan River.

Correspondent Emily Schwing is on the scene and sent back these photos.

  

A nearly 100 year-old dam near Leavenworth, Washington, is under heavy pressure from melting snow this week and officials are warning downstream residents to be prepared to evacuate if the dam breaks.

It’s a record year for flooding in northeastern Washington as spring runoff makes its way into the region’s rivers.

The southwest side of Mount St. Helens as viewed from a USGS helicopter crew.
USGS Volcano Hazards Program

While Hawaii's Big Island braces for another potential volcano eruption in the coming weeks, volcanoes in the Cascades are rated "normal," meaning the likelihood of hazards is low. The most activity we see from those  mountains right now is small earthquakes, said Seth Moran at the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory.

Lyme disease was once unheard of in western Pennsylvania, where Barbara Thorne, now an entomologist at the University of Maryland, spent time as a kid.

Thorne knew that if black-legged ticks are infected with bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, they can transmit Lyme to people and, that if untreated, symptoms can range from fever, fatigue and a rash, to serious damage to the joints, heart and nervous system.

Some Trails Closed By Eagle Creek Fire To Reopen This Summer

Apr 29, 2018

The U.S. Forest Service plans soon to reopen some of the trails in the Columbia River Gorge that have been closed since the Eagle Creek Fire last year.

According to Lily Palmer with U.S. Forest Service, the trail to Benson Bridge at Multnomah Falls will be the first to reopen early this summer. Trails east of Cascade Locks, including Starvation Creek Ridge Loop and Herman Creek, Mount Defiance and the Pacific Crest Trail should reopen later in the summer.

Last summer's Eagle Creek Fire burned more than 48,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge. Conservationists estimate that it may take years for some areas to reopen to the public. But despite the devastation, some areas in the Gorge are seeing their first signs of rebirth. 

Enter, the humble mushroom. The charred wood and decaying organic matter in the wake of a fire create the perfect environment for several types of fungi to thrive. Oregon's mushroom hunters are forecasting a mushroom bonanza this spring — including a bumper crop of the coveted wild morels.

Patrons walk along a path next to rows of red tulips on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at RoozenGaarde near Mount Vernon.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Spring is in the air! The tulips of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival are in full bloom. The festival, in its 35th year, runs through the end of April. 

Our series Take A Number is exploring problems around the world — and the people who are trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

The autographs of people who have stood atop the world's highest mountain line the walls of the Rum Doodle Bar and Restaurant in Kathmandu. The best known is the late Edmund Hillary, half of the two-person team that first reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953. His climbing partner, the late Tenzing Norgay, was a member of Nepal's Sherpa ethnic group.

The Interior Department is abandoning a plan to more than double entrance fees to some of the country's most popular national parks, opting instead to apply a "modest" fee increase to 117 parks beginning this summer in an effort to raise funds for park maintenance.

The announcement Thursday comes after an outcry from the public and from lawmakers, who were concerned that certain large increases that were initially proposed would price people out of the nation's parks.

On Sunday, April 8, 2018, 7,000 cyclists braved wind and rain to get the last ride across the viaduct.
KUOW Photo/Casey Martin

If you were driving through Seattle Sunday you may have noticed the Alaskan Way Viaduct was closed all morning.

Well, closed to cars that is. The bridge was open to bikes.


A report out last month says visitors spent nearly $740 million in communities near U.S. Forest Service lands in Washington and Oregon. The number of visitors and dollars coming into the region hasn’t changed much in nearly two decades.

L.L. Bean's outdoor gear — including its signature Bean Boots prized by campers and hipsters alike — is no longer guaranteed for life.

In a letter to customers Friday morning, the company said it has updated its return policy to give customers one year to return purchases, with a receipt. The previous lifetime guarantee, which enabled customers to return products years — or even decades — after purchase, has long been a selling point for the company.

'The Legend of Bigfoot' is a store along Highway 101 in northern California.
Flickr Photo/Amit Patel (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/dAdW3o

Bigfoot might not be real, but he's a heck of a fundraiser. We are forever fascinated with that critter and now a Washington state senator wants to harness that fascination to help maintain Washington state parks. 

Human skin is a cornucopia of fragrances.

The bacteria living on our skin emit more than 200 odor chemicals.

"Many of these molecules smell quite pleasant," says biologist Jeff Riffell at the University of Washington. "They smell grassy or a little bit like mushrooms. Some human scents are the same ones found in flowers."

Other chemicals — well — they aren't so nice. "They're pretty funky," Riffell says, like an overripe Brie cheese or a musty basement.

Gardener Marcia High of Seattle's Kubota Garden overlooks the landscape in front of Moon Bridge.
KUOW Photo/Angela Nhi Nguyen

If you’re looking for something outdoorsy yet tame to do, there’s a free place to visit this winter: Seattle's Kubota Garden. 

NASA, Scientists Want Help Measuring The Snow

Dec 5, 2017

Cities, farmers, and conservationists all need to know how much water is in each winter’s snowpack.

But there aren’t many weather stations that measure the snowpack, and “they tend to be at lower elevations,” says David Hill, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Oregon State University.

That’s why a team of Northwest scientists and NASA are looking for help. They’re asking snowshoers, snowmobilers, and skiers in Washington and Oregon to measure snow depth in the backcountry.

 

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is calling for one of the Northwest’s national monuments to be reduced in size.

 Zinke released a months-old report Tuesday making recommendations to President Trump on the fate of national monuments that previous presidents had established or expanded. Among the recommendations: that the president roll back at least part of the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National monument.

The Historic Multnomah Falls Lodge opened its doors to visitors Wednesday for the first time since the Eagle Creek Fire prompted its closure in September — peak visitor season.

Remnants of the fire remain, leaving popular areas off-limits to visitors including the lower viewing platform and trails surrounding the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon.

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