Maryhill, Spring Creek Hatchery, Doug's Beach, and Columbia Hills
June 2, 2015 by Rob
So, for Day 17 we had four parks to tackle: two of which are beaches primarily used by windsurfers, and two are camping parks that each have a unique mix of history and recreational opportunities. Staying the night in Maryhill State Park, where the constant wind and sound of the trains rolling through added to the otherworldly environment of river and barren basalt cliff sides. Oh, and there is also that replica of Stonehenge… yep, there is a Stonehenge in Washington.
From there, it was onto the beach! First, to Spring Creek Hatchery where we ran into Rob Warwick, a professional windsurfer on the Dakine Team, who was gracious in letting us snap a few photos and roll on some video of his impressive moves on the water.
After that, we moved on to Doug’s Beach, where the weather was a bit clearer and the crowd was a bit bigger.
For most of the afternoon, Megan and I reflected on how beautiful the area is, and that we both want to come back and try windsurfing. Of course there were windsurfers out there hitting waves and flying through the air, but for the more relaxed participants it seemed like a very peaceful and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon on the water. We’re totally going back.
Washington State Parks manages over 120 parks, although some parks are more diverse than others. Many parks are like the two beaches from this afternoon where there is a particular focus (in this case, catering to one recreation group), while on the other end of the spectrum are the parks that host a variety of recreational users, while also maintaining cultural and historical sites. I was privileged enough to spend my time as a Park Ranger at Riverside State Park here in Spokane, a park that is very diverse in the recreation groups it serves, as well as being rich in cultural sites and local history. As a steward of a park, ultimately what you’re doing is trying to balance recreational use and historical preservation. On public lands where we have the least amount of regulations and active management you will see the areas where people go dump their old appliances, and where other people then come by and put bullet holes in said appliances… not an ideal use for public land. The best way to preserve a site is to lock everyone out, which is also not ideal. For these diverse parks, it becomes a balancing act of how much use can the park take, and how are different user groups impacting it. Our last park of the day was one of these parks.
Columbia Hills State Park is host to an old ranch, a variety of recreation activities from boating to rock climbing, and is also home to some of Washington’s best preserved Native American Petroglyphs.
Sadly many of the petroglyphs have been vandalized, and the area is now gated and toured by appointment only. I’m thankful that the vast majority of our tour of Washington State Parks has been positive, with parks that are well-maintained and have support from the community. However, this did serve as a reminder to the struggles that many of our parks face. There are bad users that cause problems like vandalism, but the best tool park managers have in combating bad users is good users. People generally only do bad things when no one is looking, so if you have a healthy attendance from good users in your park, just the presence of people using the park the way it is meant to be used will eliminate a lot of problems you would otherwise face. So get out and use your parks! Volunteer. Recreate. Camp. Travel and tell stories.
I know you’re probably tired of seeing me in photos… that’s Megan’s fault, and since I’m usually filming I don’t get a chance to snap photos often, but here is a little behind-the-scenes footage from the road.