by Tina Wynecoop
‘There is so much to explore right here,’ Jack Nisbet says of his policy of keeping his subject matter all within a day’s drive from his south hill home.’
The Inlander, May 14, 2015
In spring 2015 FLSRV sponsored a hike, led by Jack Nisbet, to the Saltese Uplands Conservation Land. It overlooks Liberty Lake to the east and Saltese Flats to the west and is surrounded by mountains bordering the Washington/Idaho state line (including Mica Peak in Idaho) and spectacular southerly views of the second Mica Peak (in Washington). Looking westward we could see all the way to the Reardan area. Mt. Spokane’s bald top loomed to the north. With a simple twirl of the feet in one spot all views were visible from this recent conservation land purchase. These vistas, though, competed with the equally wonderful minutia of the upland landscape we were exploring with Jack that sunny day in May.
Midway through the hike we gathered for lunch at the top of the uplands and our gaze shifted north across the Spokane valley. The destination for the next spring hike with Jack unfolded before our eyes: the recent Conservation Futures acquisition of Antoine Peak land – comprising 1,076 acres of foothills rising from the valleyfloor and part of the Columbia Range within the Selkirks (which are older than the Rocky Mountains.)
These annual hikes aren’t strenuous. Children are welcomed. They delight Jack with their inquisitive exuberance. Although the terrain varies with each yearly hike the pace is really determined and defined by questions, ‘What’s that flower?’ Or, ‘How did that outcrop form?’ Close observation leads us from one feature to the next. Insects, shrubs, old growth trees, spring blooming wildflowers, aboriginal presence, wetlands, history, birds, and mammals, Ice Age floods — all take on new importance thanks to his knowing explanations. The Antoine Peak parking lot has ample room for cars. Do place all your valuables in the trunk or out of sight.
Do notice the old Douglas fir tree with its ‘No Trespassing’ sign nailed to the trunk years ago. It is still visible but partially obscured by thick bark. Our CF taxes took the ooomph out of the warning it sends when Antoine Peak became public land. It is a reminder that speaks of logging days and old homesteads Do be aware of your surroundings since Antoine Peak is part of a vast wildlife corridor, and caution is in order: the week prior to our hike last May a cougar was seen stalking hikers.
One of the highlights for me was finding a towering non-native old rosebush along the trail. I took a cutting and have successfully started new rose plants from it. I look forward to seeing their blooms next year. Jack suggested the Spokane Rose Society be notified in case it is an uncommon species. Other than that, I’ve misplaced the field notes I took while on the hike and am bummed because there were many things I wanted to remember and research when the hike was over — and most importantly share in our newsletter.
Hike 2017 hasn’t been announced yet but in the meantime here is an announcement worth sharing:
Four Spokane authors have been nominated for the prestigious 2016 Washington State Book Awards. In the history/general nonfiction category, our author/naturalist/teacher/hike leader is nominated for his recent book, Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest. The award is given annually based on a book’s literary merit, lasting importance, and overall quality, to an author born in Washington State or a current resident. Jack has lived in Washington State since 1971. Ever since he has opened our eyes to its natural wonders thanks to that special lens with which he views our region and then generously shares – whether we follow him on the trails, or, are armchair hikers accompanying him in the many books he and his wife, Claire, have authored.
The award ceremony will be held at Seattle Public Library in early October. Our FLSRV organization recognizes, appreciates and honors Jack year-round — year after year! In anticipation of the Spring 2017 hike, and his next book.