Jake Sharpe, owner North Cascades Nursery, has been collecting used skis for his highly visible fence since 2007. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Jake Sharpe, owner North Cascades Nursery, has been collecting used skis for his highly visible fence since 2007. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Is that a snow fence? No, a picket fence — of 1,450 skis

These used boards, 200 yards’ worth, have been dropped off over the years at a garden store in Sultan.

SULTAN — It’s that colorful fence made of skis on U.S. 2 on the way to Stevens Pass that makes you go, “Now that is cool.”

The panel of 1,450 old skis stretches roughly 200 yards.

What’s up with that?

The happiest fence in the state.

It’s in front of Jake Sharpe’s North Cascades Nursery between Sultan and Gold Bar.

“Can you imagine how many people said ‘Yah-hoo!’ on their skis?” Sharpe said. “How many ‘Yah-hoos!’ are hanging on that fence. That’s what I see when I look at it. Everybody had their skis and they all had fun on them.”

Behind the ski fence are 3.5 acres devoted to ornamental landscape plants in the summer and potted evergreens in the winter. A few plants grow in ski boots on the fence, for show. It is, after all, a garden shop.

The nursery has been a ski depository and roadside attraction for a dozen years. He’s not the first guy to upcycle discarded skis as fence pickets, but his creation is among the most visual in this region.

“Everybody knows my fence,” he said.

What most don’t know is why the fence got started.

It’s because of three barking dogs in 2007.

“The guy who lived in the trailer next door had dogs that barked at customers,” Sharpe said. “The dog barking was just driving me crazy.”

Sharpe, an avid skier, had some old skis lying around. “So I put some on the gate so the dog couldn’t see the customers.”

He was three skis short of creating a barking barrier on the 10-foot gate.

“So I put the sign up that said, ‘Leave old skis here,’ ” he said.

Jake Sharpe, owner North Cascades Nursery, builds chairs from donated skis. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Jake Sharpe, owner North Cascades Nursery, builds chairs from donated skis. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

It worked.

“People just started dumping skis like crazy,” he said.

Sharpe extended what was once a three-rail horse fence. And kept going.

He hired a helper. It gave a guy who was on work release a get-out-of-jail card during the day.

“He got a job out if it,” Sharpe said.

So, too, did Sharpe.

“When I started building the fence, somebody asked if I had skis to rent,” he said. “I was like, well, maybe I should start renting skis. So many people would stop.”

He opened a ski rental shop, Jake’s Hiway 2 Sports & Shuttle, a few miles away in Gold Bar. Not with the castoff skis. “I have brand new K2 equipment,” said Sharpe, who has bus service to the slopes.

People kept leaving skis at the garden shop.

“I had so many skis. I was like, ‘What am I going to do with these?’ ” Sharpe said.

He started making chairs out of them.

“A friend of mine, Ski Chair Bob, those are his designs. It’s a unique design. They come apart in three pieces,” he said.

“We make them at the ski shop. That’s what we do to kill time.”

Sharpe has another 1,500 skis ready for a second chance at life, whether on a fence or a chair.

About 10 years ago he put up a sign atop the ski fence: “Pay Up Sucker!” It’s still there.

Ever wonder about that?

“A friend of mine owed me money, which he still does,” Sharpe said. “He lives in Gold Bar. I put up that sign so every day when he goes to work he can drive by and see it. He doesn’t like it, but that’s exactly what it was for. The dude owes me money.”

It was for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

The nursery is open most weekends and “hit or miss” during the week. Better call first before you go, unless you want to just admire the fence.

“A lot of people stop. I’d like to figure out a way to get them to come inside. People don’t stop to take a picture of a ski fence with plans of taking a plant home,” Sharpe said.

Does the fence keep people out?

“You can’t really climb over it very well. The tops are uneven. It’s kind of a nuisance, I tried it,” he said.

The fence captured the lens of photographer Jim Corwin, who sells the image on Alamy and other stock agencies.

“It was one of those things where you’re driving by and I looked over to my left and I saw that fence,” said Corwin, of Marysville. “It caught my eye. I’ve seen a lot of others but nothing that came to that level of color. It was the colors that got me. It was such an unusual thing to see. I had to stop.”

Sharpe, 50, grew up in Monroe on the family farm. In college he majored in economics and history.

“I thought maybe I would go to some sort of law school,” Sharpe said. “I wanted to grow trees.”

He was on the wrestling team in college.

“They dropped their program and I got skis and started skiing. The whole reason I live in Sultan is because there was not a stoplight between me and the ski area. I could get off work and go skiing,” he said.

“Everything is about skiing because I like skiing.”

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Dominic Wilson looks at his mother while she addresses the court during his sentencing at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Grief remains after sentencing of Marysville teen’s killers

Dominic Wilson must serve 17½ years in prison, while his accomplice Morzae Roberts was given a sentence of four years.

The Washington State University Everett campus on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
WSU ends search to buy land for future branch campus in Everett

The university had $10M to spend. It tried for four years but couldn’t close deals with Everett’s housing authority or the city.

Former Opus Bank/Cascade Bank building in downtown Everett on Thursday, March 16, 2023 in Everett, Washington. It is proposed as the new home of Economic Alliance Snohomish County. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Economic Alliance asks Everett for $300K to move downtown

The countywide chamber of commerce and economic development organization also would reform the Everett chamber.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace leaders weighing federal ARPA fund options

Bathrooms, body cameras, generators, radios, roadwork, roof replacement, sidewalks, trails and more loom for the $4.5 million.

Vehicles on Soper Hill Road wait in line to make unprotected left turns onto Highway 9 northbound and southbound during the evening commute Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens development prompts Highway 9 signal change soon

Turning left from Soper Hill Road can be a long wait now. Flashing yellow turn signals could help with more traffic.

Everett Public Schools chief information officer Brian Beckley, left, and state coordinator for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Ian Moore, right, pose for a photo in the server room at the Everett Public Schools Community Resource Center in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Schools are ‘target rich’ for cyberattacks, fed agency helps fight back

A Cascade High School grad is heading up the effort in Washington. This week, he checked in with Everett school leaders.

Defense attorney Natalie Tarantino gives her opening statement in the trial of Richard Rotter at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on Monday, March 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Police give emotional testimony at Rotter trial

On the second day of trial in the slaying of Everett officer Dan Rocha, witnesses described a hectic scene after the shooting.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Monroe in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
‘He still lives on through others’: Teen charged in fatal Monroe crash

The crash north of Monroe left Szander Pouv, 20, dead. An 18-year-old faces vehicular homicide charges.

The Walmart Store on 11400 Highway 99 on March 21, 2023 in in Everett, Washington. The retail giant will close the store on April 21, 2023. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Walmart announces Everett store on Highway 99 will close on April 21

The Arkansas-based retail giant said the 20-year-old Walmart location was “underperforming financially.”

Most Read