A few steps from the Mount Si trailhead, a memorial goes largely unnoticed by the thousands of hikers who stream by it on any given weekend. Those who stop to read it are introduced to a person without whose efforts, the popular trail might not exist.
Such monuments are not uncommon along the trails of Washington State. Some, like the one to Frances North that greets hikers on the Mount Si trail, are official; some are informal – heartfelt tributes to loved ones who frequented the area. Some are more obvious than others – the Ira Springs Trail shouts the name of the writer whose guide books have helped countless people get out hiking; McClellan Butte stands as a tribute (or, more accurately, a claim staked by the man himself) to General George B. McClellan.
These are a few of the stories hiding in plain sight.
Persevering State Legislator Frances North
To anyone born in the last several decades, it seems hard to imagine the Mount Si Natural Resource Conservation Area as anything but the wilderness it is today; but in the 1970’s, the acres surrounding Mount Si were being actively logged and mined. The trail that today sees tens of thousands of hikers each year was used by off-road vehicles.
A group of local conservationists was working to protect the area, when one of the private mining companies began blasting for a quarry on the face of the mountain. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, sending the conservation group rushing to King County government for a stop to the demolition and eventually catching the attention of Frances North, newly elected representative from the 47th District, which included North Bend.
[This is the beginning of a longer article. Look for the full article either here or in another publication, if it gets picked up.]