Outdoors

Memorable South Sound adventures from 2014

Sometimes it starts with a dream. Sometimes it starts with curiosity. Sometimes it’s a desire to inspire.

Sometimes it’s all of the above.

Whatever it is that plants the seeds for adventure, South Sounders have proven pretty good at growing those ideas into some pretty impressive exploits.

Here’s a look at some of the 2014 adventurers of the year:

EDWARD LYCHIK

Edward Lychik of Puyallup made his mark on the running community in 2014.

He qualified for the Boston Marathon. He finished the Tacoma Marathon a few weeks later. He was profiled in Runner’s World. He threw out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game.

And he did it all on one leg.

Lychik was shot in the leg on his 21st birthday while serving as an Army combat engineer in Afghanistan. His leg was amputated at the hip.

Now 24 and living California, Lychik has emerged as an inspiration for runners, amputees and others with challenging circumstances.

He seemed to reach celebrity status in running circles at the Boston Marathon in April. He speaks at schools and received a raucous reception when he spoke at the Puyallup School District elementary school track meet in June.

He relishes his opportunity to inspire others. “If I can be out here as a hip amputee doing this,” Lychik told The News Tribune moments after he finished the Tacoma City Marathon, “what can people with two legs accomplish? They just need to have the dedication and the perseverance and really believe in themselves.”

THE JOHNSONS’ EPIC ROAD TRIP

A Federal Way family’s 51 capitals in 51 days adventure started with a dream that woke Alisa Johnson on Jan. 5.

She dreamed she and her sister, Dina, had loaded her two sons, Tristan and Nicholas, into a van and visited Washington, D.C., and every state capital in one fast-paced road trip.

She went straight to the computer and mapped it out. By Aug. 17 they’d lived the dream. Not only did they visit every capital, but they did a volksmarch and found a geocache at each location.

Tristan, 15 at the time, was able to drive in every state before he was old enough to get his license. (He’s 16 now but still doesn’t have his license, Alisa said.)

The trip ended with a wild four-day stretch that included round-trip flights from Seattle to Alaska and Hawaii and the the final volksmarch in Olympia.

“It was a great adventure and we’re happy we did it,” Alisa said.

The family has enjoyed a little celebrity status since their return. When they were profiled in the current issue of The PEO Record magazine, a PEO member at a local geocaching event asked them to sign a copy.

Alisa says the most common comments they receive are “I wasn’t sure if you could do it, but you did” and, “Think of all the memories you’ve made.”

She does, and she says they’ll last a lifetime.

ENCHANTED CHALET MOVING CREW

Early this year, hikers warned Olympic National Park officials that the East Fork Quinault River was threatening to undercut the Enchanted Valley Chalet. By spring, the river had undercut the structure by 8 feet.

Initially, park managers said they could do nothing to save the structure 13 miles up the valley and took steps to preserve some items before the building would collapse into the river. But in July, with some pressure from the state historic preservation office, park officials changed their minds, and in August awarded a $124,000 contract to Monroe House Moving, Inc., of Sequim.

In September, using a team of mules, steel rails and liberal doses of Ivory soap on the rails, the six-member crew moved the chalet almost 100 feet from the river bank.

While some individuals and groups argued for dismantling the building, constructed in the early 1930s, moving the structure saved a bit of the area’s pre-park history. Also, moving the structure buys the park some more time to develop a more comprehensive plan to protect the chalet.

OCEAN SALMON ANGLERS

There are a lot of South Sound freezers filled with chinook and salmon caught off the coast this year. Some experts say the fishing was the best it has been in more than a decade.

According to data from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, 259,155 coho salmon were caught this summer by recreational anglers fishing out of Westport. There also were 22,264 chinook salmon caught during the 15-week season. There were 51,200 angler trips taken from Westport.

At Ilwaco, there were 55,724 angler trips, and the catch was 10,748 chinook and 75,343 coho.

With more than 106,000 anglers heading out after salmon, that meant full charter boats, busy motels and restaurants, and lots of snacks and gas bought at gas stations. So, while freezers are full, so too are the economic coffers of these small-town ports.

OAR NORTHWEST

OAR Northwest, a group of rowing adventurers, followed up its abbreviated 2013 Atlantic Ocean crossing by rowing the 2,340-mile Mississippi River.

The trip was inspired by their earnest desire to help educate youth and to challenge themselves.

The four men, three of whom are University of Puget Sound graduates, stopped along the way to talk to students and collect research samples for a Louisiana State University professor.

The crew consisted of Pat Fleming, Jordan Hanssen and Greg Spooner (the UPS graduates) and British Columbia filmmaker Markus Pukonen.

The adventure started in canoes on Sept. 2 in Lake Itasca, Minnesota and should have finished Nov. 25 when they reached the Gulf of Mexico. However, their ride back to Venice, Louisiana, fell through, so the next day they rowed 22 miles back up river.

Along the way they spoke to 2,000 students, made 21 presentations and collected 39 samples for Louisana State University professor Cameron Thrash, who is studying microbiology on the river.

The men hope to make this an annual trip for OAR Northwest in hopes of inspiring students to experience adventure and understand the environmental impacts of their actions.

The trip was the latest in a rapidly growing list of rowing adventures for the group. Hanssen and Spooner were part of a foursome who earned a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records when they rowed across the North Atlantic in 2006. Two years later, they circumnavigated the Olympic Peninsula.

In 2012, Hanssen, Spooner and Pukonen rowed around Vancouver Island. And, last year, Hanssen, Fleming and Pukonen came within 900 miles of rowing from Africa to Miami. Unfortunately, a wave capsized their boat. They were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

After completing the Mississippi project, most of the crew returned home. Hanssen and friend, however, continued rowing to Mobile, Alabama, where Hanssen was born.

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