By Tina Wynecoop
Once again author and naturalist Jack Nisbet showcased a new world for a troop of eager followers of the Friends-of-the-Little-Spokane ‘tribe’. This year he led about 25 of us to another local valley’s unique landform in our Spokane River drainage – property which Spokane County Conservation Futures monies purchased in 2011: a 552 acre rise of land west of Liberty Lake near the Washington/Idaho border.
The Saltese Uplands property hovers over what was formerly an extensive shallow lake (it had been ditched and drained over the years for agricultural use.) Its namesake, Cd’A tribal chief Andrew Saltese/Seltice (Below; Idahoans spell his name Seltice), who was married to a Spokan Indian woman, and their family, once lived on Saltese Lake’s eastern shore. Nestled between Mica Peak (Washington) and Mica Peak (Idaho) this homeland his family inhabited had rich natural resources to sustain them.
With his characteristic familiarity of the land, coming from years of immersion in the history of the region, Jack drew our attention to the native plants, the geology of the Ice Age floods, and the view sheds. On a gentle path, shared alike by hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers, we ascended to the crest of the uplands where Liberty Lake came into view. Off in the distance loomed Mt. Spokane to the north, Signal Point to the east, and 20+ miles to the west two buttes within our view jutted out of the wheat fields north of Reardan. It was a soul-satisfying three-hour hike capped by a communal lunch atop a rocky outcrop.
Meanwhile, until next spring when another Nisbet-led hike sponsored by FLSRV will be offered, the reader may immerse themself in the historical landscape of his most recent book: Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest (May, 2015). We extend special thanks to the friendly hikers, to the children who learned new things along with the adults and had just as much fun, to Jack, and to Harla Jean who organized and promoted the wonderful excursion.