How can you lose a lake? In the Chuckanut Mountains south of Bellingham you just bury the thing in a deep valley beneath a high sandstone cliff and ring it with lush Douglas-fir, hemlock, and cedar forest with a dense groundcover layer of salal, sword ferns, and low Oregon-grape. Add a muddy trail and you’ve got a perfect place to lose yourself for an afternoon.
That’s just what I did this afternoon under a sodden gray sky and chilly temperatures. Well, I didn’t actually get lost, but I did pay a visit to Lost Lake. Here’s the DNR map of the Chuckanut trail system I carried in my pack. You definitely want a map for the maze of trails up there, but it’s definitely worth it. Continue reading
Thick, leathery, glossy, evergreen foliage makes salal (Gaultheria shallon) desirable both in the garden and in the florist’s palette. This time of year you won’t find either flowers or fruit on salal — those will come in the warm months — but the foliage provides a comforting green layer at the edge of woodlands. Salal is particularly common along the Pacific coast from southeast Alaska all the way down to Santa Barbara county, California. It also grows up into the middle elevations of the Cascade and Coast Ranges. Continue reading
January 1st, New Year’s Day, I donned shorts and boots and headed for Oyster Dome. That’s the prominent rock outcropping rising a couple thousand feet above Chuckanut Drive at the south end of the Chuckanuts or the north end of Blanchard Mountain. It’s a popular hike, despite being steep and muddy. I went for exercise and to rekindle old friendships with the inhabitants of the winter forest.
The view from the top out over the San Juan Islands is spectacular. I made this photo handheld with my little Canon G12 pocket camera, planning to stitch the frames together later in Photoshop. Continue reading