Out & About

By Al Thomas, Columbian Outdoors Reporter



Guided snowshoe hikes offered by Mount St. Helens Institute

AMBOY — Eight guided snowshoe outings will be offered in the southern end of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest this winter by the Mount St. Helens Institute.

The trips are rated easy to moderate and range from about three to seven miles.

The schedule includes: Jan. 19, June Lake, 7 miles; Jan. 26, Old Man Pass , 4 to 6 miles; Feb. 2, Kalama trail, 4 to 6 miles; Feb. 9, Mount Adams Ice Cave and Natural Bridges cross-country ski outing, 8 miles; Feb. 16, Ape Cave, 3.3 miles; Feb. 23, Elk Rock, 5 to 7 miles; March 2, South Marble Loop, 4 to 5 miles, and March 16, Mount Adams Big Tree, 7 miles.

To register, and rent snow shoes, go online to www.mshinstitute.org/index.php/programs/guided_adventures.

Participants need to provide their own state sno-park permit, lunch and transportation to the trailhead.

The institute also offers guided climbs of Mount St. Helens on selected Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday. Climb dates include Jan. 13, Feb. 10, March 10, April 14, May 12 and June 2.

State wildlife agency puts freeze on master hunter applications

OLYMPIA — Washington has stopped accepting new applications in its Master Hunter Permit Program until further notice.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has almost 2,000 master hunters, an increase of almost 30 percent in the past four years, said Sgt. Carl Klein, program manager.

Master hunters are used to participate in hunts designed to remove problem animals that damage property or threaten public safety.

To maintain their certification, master hunters are required to participate in volunteer projects ranging from maintaining elk fences to restoring wildlife habitat.

Mike Britton, chair of the master hunter advisory group, said the freeze is needed for the department to prioritize volunteer needs and to engage master hunters in meaningful work.

Application period open for Coldwater Lake paddling permits

CHELATCHIE — Applications are being accepted by the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument for outfitter-guide paddling permits for Coldwater Lake.

The lake was created by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

The Forest Service has established a pool of 400 weekend service days and 600 weekday service days between May 1 and Oct. 31 for up to five outfitter guides.

If a guide takes five clients out on a Friday, it counts as five weekday service days. Guides can receive a maximum of 200 service days.

Applications will be accepted through Jan. 4. Applications will be accepted until the pool of available service days is allotted or the maximum number of permits have been awarded.

For more information on how to apply, go online to www.fs.usda.gov/main/mountsthelens/passes-permits.

State Parks Centennial calendar on sale for $18.50

OLYMPIA — Copies of the Washington State Parks 2013 Centennial commemorative wall calendar are available for purchase.

The park system turns 100 on March 19. The calendar commemorates the date by featuring historic photos and graphic images from every decade.

The large-format calendar measures 14 inches by 9.875 inches when closed and is 14 inches by 19.75 inches when opened for display. It sells for $18.50 plus tax.

Purchase is through the Washington State Printer’s print-on-demand program, online at myprint.wa.gov, or call State Parks Headquarters at (360) 902-8500.

A link also is provided on the State Parks’ website at www.parks.wa.gov/specialoffers.

Mount Hood Skibowl open for winter season

GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. — Mount Hood Skibowl announced Wednesday it is open for the winter.

Holiday operations are in effect, with the ski area opening at 9 a.m. midweek and 8 a.m. on weekends. Skibowl is open until 10 p.m., except 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The area will close at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

On Wednesday, Skibowl reported more than three feet of snow. There are 65 day runs and 34 lighted runs for night skiing.