This summer has been an adventure and a learning experience. As an avid hiker, spending my summer exploring and researching National Parks and other natural and cultural sites in Washington is a dream come true. I was not only fortunate enough to travel to multiple parks and sites in Washington State, but also gain a thorough understanding of the opportunities available for youth in the Evergreen State (most of which I did not know about when I was a “youth” myself). Although the number of opportunities that were available at parks and cultural sites amazed me, I realized that there are several components that hinder middle and high school-age students from accessing these opportunities.
In the Shadow of the Mountain: Mount Rainier
For most perceptive Seattleites, Mount Rainier is a familiar sight. On a clear day the picturesque mountain graces our views. Mount Rainier National Park is a fabulous location for day hikes. Some of the In My Backyard team members went there for a day of hiking and research. There are several visitor centers at the park that serve as good starting points for hikes. We went to the Sunrise Visitor Center for our trip, but the Paradise Visitor Center is also a great location to begin a hike. Both of these visitor centers are starting points for many hiking trails that range in difficulty. Some of the hikes are super easy (even for me) and some of them are more challenging. At Sunrise, many of the hikes intersect so you can jump from hike to hike if you want to go to multiple locations.
During our four-day trip to Olympic National Park, the In My Backyard Team headed to the Elwha River. Beforehand, we, the SCA interns had put together some research to share with the group about the history of the Elwha, the construction of the dam, and finally the dam removal which is scheduled to conclude in September 2014.
To give you some background information, the Elwha is a 45-mile river on the Olympic Peninsula, intersecting the beautiful Olympic National Park. The river flows north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In 2012, the Elwha River dams, which had directly caused a dramatic decline in the salmon population, began to be removed.