Monday, August 3, 2015

Beware the Hoary Alyssum!

Hoary Alyssum is a pasture weed that can cause toxic symptoms in horses. It is a member of the mustard family and has a slender tap root capable of deep soil penetration in dry climates. Hoary alyssum is adapted to the temperate continental climate characterized by cold winters and hot, dry summers. It thrives on dry and disturbed ground on limestone and calcareous substrata with poor fertility. It is commonly found growing along roads, and trails, gravelly stream and lake banks, in lawns, farmyards, and vacant lots. It can also be found in pastures and hay fields. Generally initial exposure will cause swelling of the lower limbs, sometimes with fever and/or loss of appetite. In more severe cases, laminitis may develop. In its most severe form, laminitis can result in the loss of the hoof structure and the death of the horse.

Most hoary alyssum toxicity in horses is the result of the plant being baled in hay. Generally, horses will refuse the plant in pasture if other more palatable options are available. However, there have been some horses affected by what appears to have been hoary alyssum poisoning from ingestion of the plant while on pasture. Hoary alyssum has white flowers. Each flower has 4 petals. The petals are deeply divided to form 8 half-petals.

The Twisp River Drainage Trails Work

Turn west off Highway 20 in Twisp on to the Twisp River Road and within 25 miles you can reach a dozen or so trailheads strung along the Twisp River and its tributaries. These give access to some of the most wonderful trails in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest including the Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness.

Last year, during and after the fires, these trails were shut off for four or five weeks. At the beginning of the 2015 season some of them had not been cleared of downfall from the 2013/2014 winter and some were further damaged by the storms that followed the 2014 fires. This has led to considerable challenges for opening the trails in 2015, especially as the Forest Service (FS) Methow Valley Ranger District Trail team has declined in numbers down to four people.

The efforts of volunteers from trail user groups such as MVBCH, Bike Alliance, and Washington Trails Association (WTA) have become increasingly important over the years. This year, if we want to be able to use a trail, we may have to cooperate in clearing and maintaining it. The latest update on these trails, which describes the work done this year to date (mid July 2015) to keep the Twisp River Trail System open to users may give some idea of the size of the task. The system consists of one low level trail and over a dozen back country trails. Click here to review the most recent information in the section titled "Trails in the Twisp River Drainage Update".

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Each year a group of Washington Trails Association (WTA) volunteers comes to our area to work on clearing trails... the hard way... all hand tools. So we wanted to show our appreciation by hosting a dinner for them at Poplar Flat on June 24th. We served a great BBQ of Flat Iron steaks from Thomson's Custom Meats in Twisp, plus lots of our homemade pot luck dishes. Thanks again to all you WTA folks!

2015 Frazer Creek Ride

On May 28th Betty Wagoner was the Trail Boss leader for Cathy Upper, Kathy Bader, Terry Dixon, and Susan Lagsdin. MVBCH members Sally Nelson and Dick Freitas came up from Chelan to join the group for the ride. The Frazer Creek Fish & Wildlife area has a magnificent view of the Methow Valley and Cascade Range, and everyone was looking forward to seeing it. Unfortunately, the excursion was cut short due to the gathering ominous dark clouds accompanied by thunder and lightening. Everyone made it back to their rigs without incident before the rain began, but that afternoon it was those same dark clouds that unloaded their rain on lower Texas Creek, causing it to flood with water and mud. 

2015 Boulder Creek Ride

On Sunday June 7th President Cathy Upper led a group on the (rescheduled) Boulder Creek Ride, going up a steep old “wagon” road to arrive at spectacular vista across the Chewuch River valley. Jill Calvert, Betty Wagoner, Terry Dixon, Kathy Bader, Betty Ruff, Sue Robbins, and Julie Hensley were along on the ride, and Cathy and Terry cut out the old road on the way up. All enjoyed their lunches after arriving high up on the mountainside, and had a beautiful day.