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Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County

WEDNESDAY, February 19, 2014  VOL. 47, NO. YY  75¢ 

A lone trekker on the Pacific Crest Trail by CALI BAGBY Staff reporter

Contributed photo

River Malcolm while hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail.

At age 65, River Malcolm decided she was going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It was a lofty goal, considering the trail is about 2,000 miles. The goal was made even loftier by the fact that Malcolm is a self-described “not a super athlete” and being “good at getting lost.” “My goal was to do the whole trail, just not in one year,” said Malcolm, a long-time Orcas resident. The Pacific Crest Trail, known as the PCT to avid hikers, starts in Mexico and finishes in Canada. The trail travels through California, Oregon and Washington. Hikers experience desert, forests, the Sierra Nevada and views of the volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range. The diverse wilderness of the PCT is what attracted Malcolm to her goal, but there were also two experiences in Malcolm’s life that led her on a mission to heave on her back pack and set off on a 2,000-mile long walk. The first was the death of one of her beloved animals. When her dog was dying, he made it clear he wanted to be outside. Malcolm couldn’t bear to be separated from him, so she followed him outside and lay down with him as he passed on. “I felt the wind and the smell of the pine and the feeling of the earth beneath us,” she said. “And I thought, ‘That’s how I want to die – with the earth beneath me,’ but then I thought, ‘No that’s how I want to live, to be connected to the natural world.’” The other experience happened several months later in May, when she hiked 350 miles of the Camino del Santiago with her partner. The 550-mile trail is known traditionally as a religious pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain.

“I was changed by it,” she said. “During all that time walking I had a sense of stillness.” The Camino del Santiago gave Malcolm a chance to reflect on what her life meant and what she wanted to accomplish before her life was over. It was also on that ancient trail that she saw many lone female trekkers and thought, “I could do that.” For her, the ultimate pilgrimage would be the wilderness of the PCT. So last February, Malcolm retired from her job as a family and marriage counselor, and started getting in shape. Training consisted of numerous hikes up Mt. Constitution with more weight on her back each time. Malcolm describes herself as a real novice as she flew to San Diego in late March to start her first day on the PCT. Luckily, PCT volunteers, also known as “Trail Angels,” met her at the airport, let her crash on their couch and dropped her off at the trail head (near Campo, Calif.,) the next day with two other hikers. Her plan was to complete 210 miles and arrive in White Water, Calif., in about three weeks. The first night she camped with the other hikers, but on the second night she spent her first evening alone in the wilderness. It was also only her second night ever pitching a tent in the great outdoors. She had set up her tent in the back yard to practice, but had not been out on a backcountry trail. “I was scared,” she said. The wind blew so ferociously Malcolm was afraid that her tent would blow away. Every sound was strange and disturbing. But camping got easier. Malcolm started using earplugs at night to ease herself into dreamland.


School’s campus overhaul to start by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Editor/Publisher

Orcas School’s campus renovation is ready for lift off and it’s been many years in the making. “Two years ago the community passed the capital construction bond,” said School Board Chairman Scott Lancaster. “I am looking forward to the start of a project which will not only improve our facilities district wide, but will enhance our students’ education.” After two bond rejections, voters eventually approved a scaled down, $11.9 million version. Voters also approved a two-year general technology capital projects levy that will pay for modernizing the school’s technology facilities.

The design and permitting for the bond project has been finalized and this summer will mark phase one of the construction plan. The project will be entirely done by September 2015. “Any time you work on an occupied campus, there is a lot of planning that goes into it,” said Project Manager Liz LeRoy of Alliance Construction Management in Seattle. “And it’s really a partnership with the contractor.” The $7.5 million construction component of the project is currently being advertised for bids from general contractors, who can be from any city as long as they are licensed in Washington state. Legally, the district has to go with the “lowest, most responsible” bidder. The due date is Feb. 26.

“Any time you work on an occupied campus, there is a lot of planning that goes into it.” — Project Manager Liz LeRoy

“We’ve made good outreach with local contractors, so we really hope they participate in the bidding process,” LeRoy said. “In addition, the district has encouraged and supported the general contractors to engage island contractors for any subcontracting work. On-island partnerships as well as partnerships with the community including San Juan County, Eastsound Water Users Association and many others have

made this project possible.” The architectural firm Mahlum has designed plans that keep the existing foundation and calls for extensive remodel work in the elementary school, library and cafeteria. In addition, a satellite building will be constructed for career tech education. That site will also be used to house students during the school year when construction is taking place. The first stage starts this April and will be completed by September 2014. The elementary building will be remodeled to create room for the new middle school. The second phase will begin this June and completed by February 2015. It is the most ambitious


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Islands' Sounder, February 19, 2014  

February 19, 2014 edition of the Islands' Sounder

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