A:Here's the thing about planning big, outdoorsy group trips for friends of varied fitness levels: it sucks. Setting aside the whole matter of budget, you've constantly got to plan everything to fit the lowest common denominator, adventure-wise. If you've got even one dude moaning and complaining because he's got a blister or he's missing Sports Center, it brings the rest of the group down. So to keep everyone happy, you have to thread that tiny needle of finding some option that would appeal equally to a guy who's bagged all of Colorado's 14ers, and a beer-guzzling buddy whose idea of an outdoor workout is carrying the trash to the curb once a week. These are my two suggestions for outings in your neck of the country.
Fly-fishing lodges are the perfect wilderness weekend getaways for a group. Your angling skill level doesn't matter, you can be as active or sedentary as you want, and the lodge you choose can be rustic, luxurious, or anywhere in-between. There are two world-renowned ones within a day's drive of Seattle. The first is Northern Cali's Clearwater Lodge. This seven-bedroom, 90-year-old retreat on the Pit River boasts one of the best fishing schools in the West among a fertile crescent of legendary trout waters. (Rates start at $175 per room, and a two-night, two-day fishing package including accommodations starts at $999 per person.) The second option is Morrison's Rogue River Lodge, in southern Oregon, built in 1945 as a summer retreat for a timber industry mogul. You can driftboat fish for chinook in the spring, and cast for world-class steelhead in the fall on the Rogue. (Rates start at $69 per room, and a three-night, two-day fishing package, including meals and accommodations, start at $1,117 per person.)
Even your indoorsiest of friends can appreciate a few days on a river, descending deeper into the wilderness than their tender feet will ever carry them. In April and May, you can float along the Class II and occasional Class III rapids of the John Day River in north-central Oregon. Get a large enough group, and you can monopolize an entire boat and oarsman for yourself as you meander along the buttes of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument down the 45 miles of river between Service Creek and Clarno. Just bring some warm clothes, because the average high is about 60 degrees at this time of year. Ouzel Outfitters offer trips on the John Day for $555 per person, all-inclusive.