Vet­eran hiker up­dates clas­sic Wash­ing­ton trail guide

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Living - BY RICH LANDERS Spokesman-Re­view

Over more than 30 years de­voted to ex­plor­ing, hik­ing, doc­u­ment­ing and pub­lish­ing through­out the North­west, Craig Ro­mano of Mount Ver­non has be­come per­haps the top ex­pert on Wash­ing­ton trails. His goal has been to set foot on ev­ery trail in the state.

“I’ve logged about 25,000 trail miles in Wash­ing­ton alone,” he said.

Who bet­ter to up­date and ex­pand a third edi­tion of the ven­er­a­ble “100 Clas­sic Hikes in Wash­ing­ton” guide­book (Moun­taineers Books, $21.95). The book was first pub­lished in 1998 by award­win­ning con­ser­va­tion­ists Har­vey Man­ning and Ira Spring.

Don’t throw away old copies of the first two edi­tions; Ro­mano’s ver­sion re­tains only about half of the orig­i­nal hikes. For ex­am­ple, Man­ning/ Spring fea­tured 28 hikes in the North Cas­cades, while Ro­mano nar­rows it down to 21 to help make room for ar­eas the orig­i­nal edi­tion ig­nored, such as the Co­lum­bia Gorge and sweet spots in Eastern Wash­ing­ton.

“The orig­i­nal book was West­ern Wash­ingtonori­ented, while I’ve re- vamped it to rep­re­sent the en­tire state,” Ro­mano said.

The book still fea­tures stand­out hikes in the North and South Cas­cades (in­clud­ing Mount Rainier), the Glacier Peak and Alpine Lakes wilderness ar­eas and the Olympics. But Ro­mano has used his wide-rang­ing ex­per­tise to sin­gle out trips in other spe­cific ar­eas – with full­color maps – from the San Juan Is­lands to the Mount Mis­ery Trail in the Blue Moun­tains south of Pomeroy.

Users get the full fla­vor of what Wash­ing­ton has to of­fer. While the 93-mile Won­der­land Trail around Mount Rainier is a clear “clas­sic,” Ro­mano also has added the 3-mile trail on Kamiak Butte to in­tro­duce hik­ers to the Palouse.

“I sought out trails that high­light the beauty and unique ar­eas of the en­tire state,” he said.

Some of the “clas­sic hikes” are bet­ter known than oth­ers. Mount Si, be­ing just off I-90 near Seat­tle, is per­haps the most pop­u­lar trail in the state.

“Pop­u­lar­ity doesn’t mean it’s the best, but it’s a clas­sic, the Mount Fuji of Wash­ing­ton,” he said.

Among the many much more re­mote hikes in the book is Ea­gle Cliff, a 3mile route on Cy­press Is­land, which re­quires a boat for ac­cess. Cy­press is a San Juan Is­lands na­ture pre­serve that nar­rowly es­caped megare­sort plans filed by Spokane de­vel­oper Ray­mond Han­son.

Fol­low­ing the lead of Man­ning/Spring, many of the se­lec­tions for “clas­sic hikes” owe to po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions for ar­eas that need pub­lic aware­ness for preser­va­tion.

Tif­fany Moun­tain in the Okanogan-We­natchee Na­tional For­est is an ex­am­ple of a beau­ti­ful area that’s sig­nif­i­cantly pro­tected but wor­thy of the more solid per­ma­nent preser­va­tion af­forded by wilderness, Ro­mano said.

While some of the hikes rank as easy, some are ex­tremely chal­leng­ing. One of his fa­vorite work­outs for an eye-pop­ping re­ward is Sour­dough Moun­tain in the Ross Lake Na­tional Recre­ation Area. The 11-mile roundtrip trek gains a daunt­ing 5,100 feet of el­e­va­tion to a fire look­out site.

But the views are “worth ev­ery ounce of sweat you’ll ex­pend,” he said.

A list of 100 hikes is a life­time goal for most peo­ple, yet Ro­mano knows the trips only scratch the sur­face of what Wash­ing­ton has to of­fer.

“I also work to get peo­ple onto trails less trav­eled,” he said, not­ing that an­other one of his projects is a series of books on ur­ban hik­ing.

Re­gard­less of what trail he’s de­scrib­ing, Ro­mano usu­ally in­cor­po­rates his back­ground in his­tory to give read­ers much more than di­rec­tions to a pretty view.

“I do a lot of re­search, check­ing out historical texts if avail­able, and, of course, the fun part, which is get­ting out there,” he said.

Moun­taineer Books

The third, and new­est edi­tion of “100 Clas­sic Hikes in Wash­ing­ton.”

Craig Ro­mano

Hik­ing guide author Craig Ro­mano has logged more than 25,000 miles trekking across Wash­ing­ton re­search­ing his books.

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