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

Arlington woman dies in crash on Highway 530

The Washington State Patrol says a Stanwood man ran a red light, striking Zoey Ensey as she turned onto the highway.

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event" that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)
Monkeypox case count rises to 6 in Snohomish County

Meanwhile, cases in the state have roughly doubled every week. Most of those have been in neighboring King County.

Farmer Frog employees sort through a pallet of lettuce at their new location on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Farmer Frog’s new pad, nonprofit helps feed 1.5M Washingtonians

The emergency food distribution network began amid the pandemic. Demand was high — so high, the truck volume led them to move.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish County, cities announce $9.6M for mental health, shelter

Projects span from Edmonds to Sultan. Each city is using American Rescue Plan Act money, with the county contributing, too.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Suspect in custody after man’s gunshot death, standoff

Deputies responded to a domestic violence call and found the suspect barricaded on the property near Snohomish.

A view of the proposed alternative station location to Everett Station located east of the current BNSF rail tracks in downtown. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could light rail station under Pacific Avenue and over railroad work?

A group representing people around Everett Station wants Sound Transit to study the idea.

Jon Elmgren, president of the Everett Rock Club, talks with two club members while out searching for olivine and other minerals on Saturday, July 22, 2022, along the Nooksack River near Deming, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett rockhounds dig in for shiny, rare, ‘ugly as sin’ treasure

This club has been around for 83 years. They’ll tell you what rocks their world — and how to identify “leaverite.”

State Representative Robert Sutherland, left, gives a thumbs-up to passing drivers as he and a few volunteers wave flags and campaign signs along the side of State Route 9 on July 22, in Lake Stevens. Sam Low, right, talks with seniors on July 20 in Lake Stevens. (Sutherland photo by Ryan Berry / The Herald, Low photo by Kevin Clark / The Herald)
In GOP battle of Sutherland vs. Low, Democrats may tip the scale

The state lawmaker and Snohomish County council member are vying for a House seat. Democrats make up roughly 40% of the vote.

Two students walk along a path through campus Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. The college’s youth-reengagement program has lost its funding, and around 150 students are now without the money they need to attend classes. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Monroe nixes college program, leaving 150-plus students in the lurch

For years, the Monroe School District footed the bill for “U3” students, who have gotten mixed messages about why that’s ending.

Most Read