By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
DARRINGTON — Ginny Green’s daughter, Raina Hubbard, got to raft the Skagit River, bike around a campground, and join a hike led by a National Forest Service guide on a trail surrounded by trees up to 250 years old.
Both Green and her daughter, who live in Clinton, were participating in an annual event May 11 called Hike, Bike and Boat. The event was coordinated by the Wild and Scenic Institute, based in Mountlake Terrace.
More than 100 kids, teens and young adults, some of whom had never before had a wilderness experience, got a chance to smell fir- and cedar-scented air and bump through rapids on a federally designated Wild and Scenic River.
Participants included children with autism, homeless kids, those from low-income neighborhoods and some with disabilities.
Raina Hubbard, 21, an Edmonds Community College student, has cerebral palsy, is deaf, and communicates with American Sign Language. Special rigging was used to secure her wheelchair to the river raft, her mom said.
“She said it was fun to … see all the beautiful trees and she loved being in the water,” Green said.
The two-hour trip took place on an unusually warm, sunny spring day. Campers saw hawks and a beaver dam at the river’s edge.
“It was spectacularly beautiful,” Green said. “You could look back and see way up into the mountains, the Cascade Pass area.”
After their river run, campers traveled to the Clear Creek Campground, three miles south of Darrington, for biking and hiking.
“Some of the kids had never ridden a bike before,” said Sara Sokolowski, president of the Wild and Scenic Institute.
Adaptive bikes allowed some of the campers to propel their bike using their hands to peddle, she said.
Nearby, Phil Kincare, who works with the in the U.S. Forest Service’s Skagit Wild and Scenic River program, led 45-minute interpretive hikes along the Sauk River trail.
“There are some really big trees along the Old Sauk Trail, bigger than anything they had ever seen,” Kincare said.
It was hard for some of the campers to imagine that the nearby towering, 250-year-old trees started with one seed from a Douglas fir cone, he said.
Janet Jeng of Lake Forest Park said her 5-year-old son, Boon Dumrong, had been to area parks “but not out in the woods.”
Boon, who is blind, loved smelling the trees along the trail, she said, comparing the scent of the Douglas fir to cedar.
“He really loved it,” she said. “He’s very adventurous. He loves talking to people and exploring.”
Hunter Hendrickson, vice president of the Wild and Scenic Institute, said the group has been organizing the annual trips for at least the past decade.
Each year, the number of campers increase by about 20 percent, he said. This year, it took more than 40 adult volunteers to coordinate transportation, events and feeding of the campers.
Campers were “thrilled…definitely all smiles,” at the end of the river float trip, he said.
“It was perfect,” Hendrickson said. “A huge success.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org