National Public Lands Day & the North Cascades

Adopt-a-Crag event at Newhalem climbing crag, Washington.

What do our public lands mean to you? For many they are a place to recreate. Others go to find solace from the stresses of life, while some people identify public lands as their workplace. Although we may have different reasons for heading out to these lands, we all share one commonality: we all own them and have a stake in making sure that these lands remain healthy and accessible for future generations.

This year, National Public Lands Day occurred on Sept. 26. To celebrate this day, the indoor climbing team kids from Vertical World a climbing gym in Seattle, Wash., came to North Cascades National Park to volunteer for a stewardship and restoration project at the Newhalem climbing crag.

“It's great to have kids out working to take care of their national park," said Chip Jenkins, superintendent of North Cascades National Park Service Complex. "The kids have fun, while learning how important it is to be a steward of our public lands.”

The kids and adults at the event reconstructed an access path to the Newhalem climbing crag in North Cascades National Park that had been damaged by rockfall the previous winter. Using pickaxes, shovels, Pulaskis, hoes, and other trail maintenance tools, the trail received a complete overhaul and is now clearly delineated and free from rock debris.

The climbing team also removed an invasive plant species, called Herb Robert, which is taking over the homes of native plants in the area. (Fun Fact: A member of the geranium family, “Stinky Bob” can shoot its seeds as far as 20 feet in order to reproduce!)

“While the work is being done now, this is really about tomorrow,” said Jenkins. “These kids will — more quickly than we realize — be leaders in their community. By being in the park, having fun and learning to be stewards, they will pass these experiences on to their friends, families and future generations.”

After the restoration work, the kids had fun exploring the crag, climbing routes from 5.10 (moderate difficulty) to the very difficult 5.13 rating.

“The work was really fun,” said Elly McClane, a member of the Vertical World team, “I like working with my friends and seeing the difference we can make together, plus climbing after was awesome!”

The event was co-sponsored by The Wilderness Society, North Cascades National Park, Access Fund, Vertical World, Washington Trails Association and Washington Climbers Coalition.

photo: Adopt-a-Crag event at Newhalem climbing crag, Washington.