Looking for the perfect fall day trip from to take in the colors of the season? Well, this may be it. Drive up to Ione, Wash., in the forgotten corner of the state, for the AUTUMN COLORS TRAIN RIDE. With the warm September this year, the trees should be at peak color for the October rides.
The 90-minute ride starts in Ione and follows the Pend Oreille River north through the scenic Pend Oreille Valley to Metaline Falls. There it stops only long enough for the engine to switch ends before returning to Ione. Along the way, the train passes through the spectacular scenery of the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway, crossing a trestle spanning Box Canyon. With the river to the west and the Selkirk Mountains to the east, passengers will experience the beauty of the region from the comfort of their seats.
"The colors are finally starting to kick in," says Nancy Davis of the North Pend Oreille Valley Lions Club, who organizes the excursions. "It should be pretty fantastic for both weekends coming up."
Fall Colors tours run on Oct. 6-7 and Oct. 20-21. Davis says there's no food served on the train, but refreshments are available at the depot and passengers are encouraged to bring a picnic on the train.
The Pend Oreille Scenic Byway is a destination in itself. Plan to spend some time in the area with some side trips. Maybe check out the bighorn sheep at Sullivan Lake, or see the stalactites and stalagmites at Gardner Cave in Crawford State Park. On your return trip, try the less-traveled road on the east side of Pend Oreille River. Along the way, a stop at Manressa Grotto is definitely worth the time. Bring a flashlight and your sense of adventure, and you'll be duly rewarded.
The North Pend Oreille Train Ride
takes place Oct. 6-7 and Oct. 20-21
at 11 am, 1 and 3 pm. Tickets: $7.
With Indian summer days reaching 80 degrees, it's easy to live in denial of winter's looming presence. Much like a Carrot Top commercial, most people just pretend it never happened and hope never to see it again. Then there are snowboarders. They're people who feel it's never too early to talk snow and think that plummeting down the sheer face of a frozen mountain is a good idea. If you share that idea of fun, make plans to be at the Met on Friday for SNOWBOARD MOVIE NIGHT.
It's just the thing to get stoked for the season: two films that will showcase some of the top riders in the world pushing the limits with stunts that sound really dangerous. "You got 70-foot gaps in there, switchback nines, all kinds of stuff," says Marshall Powell from Mountain Gear, who along with Snowboy Productions is sponsoring the event. The two films include Optigrab TB10, which is the 10th video in the Totally Board series by Standard Films. Powell says "this is by far the best one yet."
The other is Still Struggling, which will be a U.S. premiere showing. Shot mostly in Canada and Alaska, riders like Kevin "Snack-A-Lot" Sansalone and Jon "Cartwheel" Cartwright attack some of the steepest terrain imaginable. Powell says the footage is sure to get the adrenaline pumping. "You have the No. 1 big mountain rider in the world scared out of his mind going down a chute in Alaska with a helmet-cam. There's lots of good Alaska shots, just a perfect mix of backcountry and freestyle." The soundtrack helps sustain the energy of the film, with bands like Modest Mouse, the Pixies and Weezer.
Powell, who along with Taylor Shaffer manages the new board shop at Mountain Gear, says he sees the sport continuing to grow in popularity. Still, Spokane has a long way to go to become a snowboarding hotspot. "This area is so far behind some other places as far as snowboarding. There's a lot of good riders but not a lot of competitions or shops. We have a great area, and when we have a good winter, this place is hard to beat. There are seven mountains within three hours, and every one of those have great riders. There's no reason those guys shouldn't be getting hooked up with the big companies like they do in Seattle. That's our overall [goal]: to get people to go out and do this kind of stuff."
Organizers promise lots of door prizes and "tons of swag" from the vendors like hats, T-shirts and gloves. Yes, it's been a warm, sun-drenched fall, but after watching these extreme riders, you may be thinking like Marshal Powell. "Pray for snow," he says. "If we get a good snow year, it's gonna be fun."
The Snowboard Movie Nite takes
place at the Met on Friday, Oct. 5, at 7 pm. Tickets: $5. Call: 325-9000.
Running on Half a Tank
If you're running along, trying to keep a good pace in Riverside State Park a week from Sunday, and a young man wearing a necktie but no shirt jumps out at you, then you'll know you're on course in the SPOKANE MARATHON.
Despite such antics at the water stations (more on those later), the October 14 trio of races -- there's a five-mile run and a half-marathon (13.1 miles) to go along with the full marathon --attracts a fairly intense bunch. Since the start of this sixth-annual event, area runners have usually chosen among long-distance runs on three successive autumn weekends: the Portland Marathon, the Colbert half-marathon and the trio of Spokane races.
"Some people do all three," reports Spokane Race Director Lori Shauvin, estimating that "out of roughly 400 members in the Bloomsday Road Runners Club, probably only six to 12" actually attempt all three runs. She notes that the Spokane races are challenging: "We tell people who plan to do our marathon, this is not for first-timers. There are lots of hills, and you shouldn't expect to set any PRs [personal records] on this course."
But the feature of the race that gets Shauvin most excited, clearly, is the water stations, which are located every two miles along the run courses. "They're manned by our local high school cross-country teams," she says.
Here's where that wild child in unconventional attire jumping out at runners comes in. To win prizes, you see, these kids need to get noticed. Shauvin laughingly recalls that last year, "the Rogers girls put on veils, and they were the Running Brides. The Rogers boys painted letters on their bare chests. The Mount Spokane boys went without shirts, but with ties on. The University girls were the Swedish ski team and they wore goggles" and (presumably) wielded ski poles. "We have people go out on a bike along both courses, with a Polaroid, both the marathon and half-marathon courses, and they take pictures of the water stations and bring them back to the finish line. Then afterwards, runners can look at the pictures and vote for whoever they think was best. Last year, we gave away $5,300 in awards. I think it's great -- first of all, for the adults who are in the race to see the kids so involved, and also for the teenagers, to be in on the giving side of things."
Hmm, social services provided by berserkers. I'd keep running, if I were you. And don't drink the water.
The Spokane Marathon and the five-mile run both start at 8 am on Sunday, October 14, at the Riverfront Park turnout at Howard and Spokane Falls Blvd. The Half-Marathon begins at 8:45 am. Call: 624-4297.
To volunteer, call: 448-8642.