IMAGINE YOURSELF SETTLING down for the night, perhaps dozing in front of the TV or curled up in bed reading a book, when suddenly you hear blasts from shotguns, explosions so loud your ears ring, and the sky becomes filled with whistling missiles exploding into colorful stars before disappearing into the night. Through it all, you’re filled with thoughts like, “Am I in the middle of a war zone?” and “Where can I flee to safety?”
Most of us are familiar of the sights and sounds from Fourth of July celebrations, which can be fun — in moderation. At my house, I heard and saw the fireworks go on for more than five hours.
For those suffering from PTSD, along with domestic and wild animals and birds, it can be a time of absolute terror.
In June, both Clallam and Jefferson counties issued burn bans because of extra dry natural fuels. It’s a fact fireworks have the potential to cause fire, which is why exploding fireworks like bottle rockets, firecrackers, missile rockets, cherry bombs and M-80s are now illegal in both counties. Yet, I heard and saw many go off during the Fourth of July weekend.
Must the counties enact laws to ban fireworks completely, as many Peninsula towns have? Or can those who party in excess learn to be considerate of their neighbors and nearby animals and limit their fireworks to 30 minutes or less? Can folks abstain from fireworks completely when a fire ban is issued? It’s my hope they can for the safety and well-being of all of us living on the Olympic Peninsula.
Equestrians, did you know if you contact your local chapters of Back Country Horsemen and ask for someone to show you local trails that you’ll likely find someone to guide you? You may even be invited to share in a chapter trail ride. Peninsula Chapter members Judy Dupree and Linda Morin were delighted to host three guests to the Olympic Peninsula on three different 10- and 12-mile rides.
The first began at Layton Hill Horse Camp, where the group set out to explore the miles of available trails. The second was to Miller Peninsula State Park, which has a small access to a beautiful but rocky beach. Finally, they enjoyed the Olympic Adventure Trail, starting from the Dan Kelly trailhead.
“We’re always willing to guide rides from people coming up from other parts of the state or Oregon or wherever,” Morin said. “They can contact us on our website to let us know when they’re coming, and we can take them to different areas and trails. It’s a great opportunity.”
Morin said one highlight of the Miller Peninsula ride was meeting the local Washington Conservation Corps crew as they finished brushing and clearing out the Yarrow Trail. The WCC volunteers build and improve urban and backcountry trails statewide. Current wildlife projects are focused on thinning out forests and increasing natural breeding habitants. For more information, view the Washington Conservation Corps’ Facebook page.
“It was great to be able to thank the hardworking volunteers in person, and they were thrilled to receive heartfelt thanks and praise for a job well done,” Morin said. “As a Peninsula Chapter member, I am so grateful for the relationships we have established with the federal, state, county and private land managers providing the cooperation necessary to keep trails maintained and open for all hikers, bikers and stock users.”
New riders and members are always welcome in Back Country Horsemen Chapters. Families and singles are encouraged to join.
The Peninsula Chapter’s next get-together is its annual President’s Picnic on Saturday, July 24. On Saturday, Aug. 7, they’ll be taking part in the Joyce Day Parade. Its group ride and campout at Salstrom’s Ranch in Joyce is Aug. 13-15.
For more information, visit the group’s website at pbchw.org, visit its Facebook page or call 360-461-9774.
For more information on Jefferson County Buckhorn Range, visit its website at buckhornbchw.org. its Facebook page or phone 360-385-6364.
The Mount Olympus chapter covers west Port Angeles and the West End. You can find more information about this group at www.mtolympuschapter bchw.org or by phoning 360-460-0882.
The Mount Olympus chapter ride is set Sept. 10 at Littleton Horse Camp.
Mount Olympus member Sherry Baysinger reminds all that summer heat brings the wasps and bees out onto the trail. She suggests carrying some blue ribbon to mark the bee areas and to carry bee spray if you can.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.