Outdoors

The good, bad and ugly of summer’s heat

Summer is upon us, and so is the heat.

As we head toward the Fourth of July weekend, the thermometer will get close to the 90-degree mark all week.

Some will see the heat wave as an opportunity for fun, while it will be cause for concern for others.

We offer ways to beat the heat, as well as identify some of the concerns it will cause in the outdoor world.

TAKE A DIP

Metro Parks Tacoma will offer free admission at two of its swimming pools Saturday. That would be a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July and cool down from temperatures expected to be in the low 90s.

The park district is offering the free admission from noon-5 p.m. at Kandle Pool, 5302 N. 26th St., and Stewart Heights Pool, 402 E. 56th St.

The capacity at both pools is limited, park district officials caution.

In Lacey, you can take a dip in Long Lake. The beach at Long Lake Park will be crowded, but any water has to feel good when it’s this hot.

If you want another free option, there is always Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean.

Water temperatures in the Sound are about 64 degrees. While that is certainly refreshing on 90-degree days, it is cold enough to cause trouble. Swimmers can begin experiencing hypothermia in as little as 30 minutes.

At popular beach destinations such as Ocean Shores and Westport, the ocean water is 57-60 degrees, according to data from buoys operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

CAMPFIRE CONCERNS

This is not the time to stack wood on your campfire so high that the blaze can be seen by passing satellites.

The state Department of Natural Resources has already imposed burns bans on both sides of the Cascades. The ban applies to state forests, state parks and forest lands under the department’s fire protection. It does not include federally owned lands such as national forests, national parks and national wildlife refuges.

Campfires, for the time being, are still allowed in fire pits at designated campgrounds.

Olympic National Park has banned all open fires in the park’s wilderness areas, including all locations along the wilderness coast. Campfires are allowed in existing fire grates at frontcountry campgrounds.

It also is illegal to shoot off fireworks on lands protected by the state agency.

GAIN ALTITUDE

With lowland daytime highs expected to be in the 90s, Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park just might feel like paradise.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for high temperatures to be in the mid-70s at the park’s most popular destination, sitting at 5,400 feet.

A cooler option would be Sunrise, in the park’s northeast corner. At 6,400 feet, it is the highest location you can drive to in the park. The forecast says the high temperatures there will be about 3 degrees cooler than at Paradise.

Both locations have picnic areas. It might not be a bad idea to pack a dinner, hit the road in the afternoon and spend the hottest part of the day at the mountain. By the time you come home that night, perhaps after an ice cream stop along the way, temperatures will have started to drop.

If you want to take a hike in relatively cool temperatures, the Skyline loop is a good option, according to ranger Curt Jacquot.

“We do lose about 3.5 degrees per thousand feet of elevation. The high Skyline Trail gets up to about 7,100 feet, so hiking that 5.5-mile loop should get you up to higher and cooler territory,” Jacquot said.

If playing in the snow is what you want, prepare for a serious climb if you are at Paradise. Visitors will have to take the Skyline Trail until it ends at Pebble Creek, climbing 1,600 feet above Paradise to reach the Muir Snowfields.

At Sunrise, there is some snow on some of the trails, according to park rangers.

If you want to get below freezing, you’ll have to find a friend with a small plane. The freezing levels is expected to be at 16,000 feet early this week, well above the 14,411-foot summit of Mount Rainier.

RIVER ANGLER WORRIES

Temperatures in the coming week are forecast to be over 100 degrees in Ellensburg and Yakima, and will turn the Yakima River canyon into a convection oven.

That will cause water temperatures on waters such as the Yakima and Naches rivers to rise. That will put stress on the trout that attract anglers every day.

“We are very carefully monitoring it every day,” said Craig Hettinger at Red’s Fly Shop, located in the middle of the Yakima canyon.

The biggest concern right now is the Naches River, where water temperatures are already approaching 70 degrees during the day.

“If someone is hooking fish in 70-degree water, the odds are 60 to 40 against that fish surviving,” Hettinger said.

What is keeping the Yakima fishable now is the water being drawn from the cool lakes behind the upstream dams. Last week, day-time high water temperatures were still below 60 degrees.

To avoid stressing hooked trout, guides working for Red’s are recommending half-day trips, early in the morning or late in the afternoon until dark.

“When we see temps get up to 68 degrees, we’ll stop fishing in the afternoons,” Hettinger said. “It isn’t worth it to us. We’re harming the resource and damaging the fishing for the next five years.”

Besides, he said, the Yakima fills with tubers and rafters every afternoon. That makes fishing a little difficult.

“The Yakima fills up with anything that’s rubber and can float. They’ll tie 30 to 40 inner tubes together and go down as one giant rubber flotilla,” he said.

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