A mid-summer’s day adventure in the Valley
July 1, 2009
By Laura Geggel
Luke Talbott was raised in Richmond, Virg., and still laments that he had to drive a ways to reach any hardy trails growing up.
“Nothing compares to Snoqualmie,” Talbott said. “There, we had to drive like two hours to get to fun trails, whereas here I can literally roll out of my garage and be on trails in five minutes.”
The former Snoqualmie Elementary fifth-grade teacher has decided to share his love of the outdoors with people ranging from elementary school students to adults who want to hike, bike, swim and discover Snoqualmie Valley.
“What I’m trying to do is weave a lot of the outdoor experiences together that are here in the Valley,” Talbott said.
After moving to Snoqualmie with his family six years ago, Talbott could arguably be found on the trails as much as he was in the classroom. Last summer, he started Compass Outdoor Adventures for fifth- and sixth-grade students from Snoqualmie Elementary and Cascade View Elementary. Of his 12 campers, 11 are returning, and the 12th is trying to enroll, depending on summer plans.
“We mountain biked and we went hiking and we went swimming at Rattlesnake,” said Cameron Heimbigner, who will be a seventh-grader next year at Twin Falls Middle School.
The camp went so well, Talbott decided to resign from Snoqualmie Elementary and invest all of his time in Compass Outdoor Adventures. He said the teacher cuts from this year’s dismal budget had little influence on his decision to resign.
“I realize that me leaving the classroom allows someone else to stay in the classroom, but it also allows me to follow my passions in the outdoors,” Talbott said.
This summer, Talbott will lead three all-boy outdoor camps and one all-girl camp.
“It’s a nine- to four-week-long adventure,” Talbott said, listing off a spate of activities like crystal digging, geocaching, swimming, hiking, biking and navigating a ropes course.
To add to the geocaching hype, Talbott will have his first-week campers place their own geocaches and have his later campers find them using GPS technology. Heimbigner remembered geocaching as a fun challenge.
“We found these really old toys and stuff that had been there for a couple of years,” Heimbigner said.
Talbott is not only offering his outdoors expertise to youth, but for adults looking for adventure or even a romantic getaway. Talbott offers $120 family trips on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and $150 birthday parties for up to 10 children. Older participants can sign up for trail running or mountain biking classes, the first of which starts at $20 per class.
Talbott has already partnered with local businesses, such as the Salish Lodge & Spa.
“Our goal is to keep people in the Valley,” Talbott said. “Instead of staying one night, we want them to spend another day here and experience what we have.”
He already has an appointment with a “guy from Philadelphia who wants to do a hike off the beaten path.”
Next school year, Talbott will work with retired Snoqualmie Elementary teacher Bill Hayden to make interactive fieldtrips for students at local schools. Under their guidance, students will learn about local ecosystems and history, wading through the muck and learning at the same time.
“He has a teaching background so people can put their kids in the camp with confidence,” said Diane Morris, co-owner of Singletrack Cycles. “He has such a passion for teaching, not traditional teaching, but a more hands-on teaching. More kids learn better from that style.”
The $295 summer girls’ camp is already full, but there are several spots open for boys in weeklong camps starting July 20. Visit www.compassoutdoor.org to learn more.
Reach reporter Laura Geggel at 392-6434 .221 or email@example.com.