Secure the essentials, and you’ll go far.
When summer arrives in the Inland Northwest, a sunny day is all the reason you need to get outside. But what will you do? And what gear will you need to do it?
The answers are simple and affordable. Fun, rewarding outdoor activities are a stone’s throw away. As for equipment? You probably already have everything you need. There’s no better reward for so little investment than the day hike, says Mark Beattie, an assistant manager at STCU partner Mountain Gear.
Whatever summer activity you choose, though, you’ll want to strike the right balance to avoid under- or overpreparing.
At Mountain Gear, Beattie says, “we do get people who have a list of things that they intend to purchase. If they’ve been watching Portlandia, they feel they have to buy all the gear. Sometimes we just talk them down off the perch because they just don’t need to spend that much money.”
But don’t neglect the essentials, he says: “A small backpack, water, a basic first-aid kit, a compass, a map. With a decent pair of shoes, a sun hat and a backpack, you can go pretty much anywhere.”
To learn about nearby trails and their challenges, Beattie recommends two books.
“Day Hiking: Eastern Washington, by Rich Landers, gives you tremendous opportunity for all kinds of different hikes — anywhere from 2- to 12- or even 15-mile hikes that are all within an hour’s drive of Spokane,” Beattie says. “The hikes in Seabury Blair Jr.’s The Creaky Knees Guide Washington are all geared specifically to people who might not have done much hiking, or are coming back from injuries.”
Close to Spokane, an afternoon at Palisades Park, a day trip to Palouse Falls, a quick jaunt on the mile-long interpretive trail through Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, or a bicycle ride on the Centennial Trail are all low-cost (or zero-cost) options.
If day hikes and bike rides seem too tame, but you want to appease your inner thrill seeker while sticking to a budget, there’s river rafting with ROW Adventure Centers.
“There’s a whitewater trip on the Spokane River that leaves from downtown Spokane. … It’s really fun but fairly inexpensive and gives you an experience in whitewater rafting,” Beattie says. “And then you can step it up from there.”
Moving on to more advanced activities means finding the right gear at the right price. Mountain Gear and REI rent backpacks for overnight hiking and camping. EWU’s Epic AdventuresThis link opens a third-party website that is not affiliated with STCU. and North Idaho CollegeThis link opens a third-party website that is not affiliated with STCU. also offer outdoor equipment at good prices. Tent rentals from Epic are just $9 for non-students.
An underutilized resource for rock-climbing, mountaineering and backpacking equipment: the spring and summer gear swaps hosted by the Spokane Mountaineers.This link opens a third-party website that is not affiliated with STCU.
“They recommend you be a member,” Beattie says, “but it’s only $30 a year. And that also gives you access to a lot of people who have things you may be able to borrow, as well as expertise on how to use it.”