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A Wild Day with Michael Brune

Last week my husband and I were happy to learn that Sierra Club's director and his family were coming to our very tiny town of Index, WA on their way to visit the Wild Sky Wilderness. As members for over 30 years, we had never been invited to meet the Sierra Club’s national director! Eager to meet Michael Brune and his family, we decided to jump on the invitation to join them and a small crew of Wild Sky advocates for lunch and a hike to Barclay Lake – a popular destination surrounded by the Wild Sky.   

Wild Sky Wilderness_2

A decade ago my husband and I had the opportunity to see the beginning of a proposed wilderness, practically in our back yard.  The Wild Sky Wilderness was designed as a different type of wilderness, preserving low-elevation forest easily accessible for young families to enjoy hiking, camping and all kinds of outdoor recreation.  While the heavy lifting was done by others, we lent support locally through writing letters and staffing information booths at local events.  We were thrilled to see the wilderness bill passed and signed into law six years ago.  Our state has been heavily logged and it is right that we save some wild places for our kids and grandkids to enjoy. Our excitement to show the Brune family this backyard treasure and tell old stories about conservation was only surpassed by our eagerness to get outside and hike with the family. 

Sitting on a deck at the Outdoor Adventure Center’s River House in Index on an uncharacteristically warm and humid afternoon, we talked about matters from local to national import.  It was energizing to speak with others who never stop thinking about the health of our planet.  I was struck by the friendliness and openness of this group; their interest in our local efforts and the sharing of successes and challenges. 

After lunch we drove to the trailhead.  Michael and his wife Mary have three great kids, who are total troupers on the trail.   Ferns, nurse logs, and a shady trail led to Barclay Lake, a cold mountain lake that is surrounded by the towering peaks of Mt. Index and Barring Mountain. Volunteers and staff loved splashing in the afternoon sunshine, while socializing and strategizing together. Watching some of the seasoned activists explain the importance of snags, or the characteristics of the great Cedar trees was a real treat. We passed countless young families taking their kids to Washington’s newest wilderness, demonstrating the deep attraction people have to these wild places.

Our time with Michael and his family was a treat. It was with great satisfaction that we were able to share the beloved Wild Sky Wilderness with him and his family, and hope the family will keep returning to this special place.

-- by Susan Cross, Washington Sierra Club member 

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