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Human Interest

Try streaming a creek instead of a movie

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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The Halloween rains last weekend put a real damper, pun intended on my hiking plans.

Today's drumming of raindrops on my roof is a harbinger of soggy shoes to come. Bring on the mink oil.

From now until March, I am my own enemy, my own inner sloth. No one but me can muster the enthusiasm and willpower to lace up the leather and put the toes to the trail.

Fortunately, this past summer I've acquired some happy memories (and photos!) of new and exotic places to explore.


In this week's column, you'll see a summertime photo of parents with young kids walking up a shallow creek.

Note the smiles. Smiles were vital feedback because I had enrolled my own family to find out if my canyo-neering ideas made any sense for real parents in the real world.

It was a "trust walk" of the highest order. As much as we use the cliche, we humans are truly programmed for not getting our feet wet. Ever.

Well, we passed with flying colors. Kids are natural scramblers and big rocks simply replace your living room coffee table as an object to conquer or jump from.

Young boys, in particular, will motor up a mile or two of daunting, rocky streambed, as long as they stay engaged with the here-and-now challenge of the next tiny set of rapids to explore.

Creek walking also makes it legal to splash your sister. Continually.

Go only with the following gear: gripping footwear (ideally, rubber-soled sandals); walking sticks; and day-packs stuffed with high-energy food and water. If you can manage it.bring along a blanket or thin tarp for lying in the sun.

Parents will need engagement, too. Surely much of that comes from a watchful role, supporting hand, or lifting a youngster over a fallen tree now and then. Also, the sheer joy of watching an 8-yearold scale a tiny tumbler of white water — photo fantastico!

Think of it as Disney on steroids or better yet, water slides of the real world.


Kids move very slowly, however. Slack water makes for monotony. So to keep Mom and Dad fired up, you'll need the promise of an incredible swimming hole or waterfall just around the bend.

Choose your rivers wisely.

The long dry summer proved to be, ironically, a watershed for many new discoveries of fun places to play. I am convinced the Olympics, and Mason County, in particular, can become the birthplace of a whole new sport.

See if you agree. In the weeks ahead we'll keep knocking off new hikes or visiting rainy-day favorites, but we'll also be sharing gorgeous, summery waterfall and swimming hole photos in future columns, too.

Let's face it, winter weather makes it natural to look forward to the future. If you snow-shoe or ski, no doubt you're listening to the forecast every day.

If you're a summer outdoors enthusiast, you simply have to wait a little longer. Soon enough you'll be back. So will paradise, awaiting your return.

Correction: Last week I claimed the Skokomish Tribal Nation had taken ownership of Big Creek Campground. Not true. It is still a National Forest Service campground. However, Tacoma Public Utilities (a.k.a. Tacoma Power) is picking up the tab on its facelift as a provision in their legal settlement with the tribe.

Mark Woytowich is a writer, photographer and video producer who lives in Potlatch. He can be reached at

Copyright 2015 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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