Plan B

Snow-covered Mountain Hemlock boughs
Snow-covered Mountain Hemlock boughs

Sunday promised to be a nice day in the mountains following a long period of heavy rain in the lowlands and lots of snow at higher elevations. Brian and I hadn’t been out on snowshoes yet this winter so we figured it was a great day to hike up to Artist Point and enjoy the grand views of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. However, we ended up executing Plan B when we got to the Mt. Baker Ski Area and found there was no place to park. Cars were jammed along the road all the way around Picture Lake and the ski area lots were full. Continue reading

Winter’s Green

Forested slope
Forested slope along Pine & Cedar Lakes Trail

Brian and I hiked up the Pine and Cedar Lakes trail to Cedar Lake on Sunday during a break in our current rainy spell. It’s a steep climb, starting right from the trailhead on Old Samish Road and quickly gaining 1400 feet with 1000 of that in the first mile.

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Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve

Douglas-fir and Western Hemlock forest w/ Sword Fern understory
Douglas-fir and Western Hemlock forest with Sword Fern understory

Last Saturday morning Brian and I decided to explore the new trail system on the Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve overlooking Lake Whatcom near Sudden Valley. I’d never hiked there, and Brian hadn’t been there for a long time.

The trail system is newly expanded, thanks to the work of Washington Trails Association. The property is a Whatcom County Park, made possible in part by the efforts of the Whatcom Land Trust. It’s part of what’s known to some as the “reconveyance,” which put large tracts of forest into county ownership to provide both recreation and protection for the Lake Whatcom Watershed. We were there to recreate. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Snow-crusted Mountain Hemlocks overlooking Swift Creek valley
View from Artist Ridge to the Swift Creek valley and Baker Lake

I’ve long felt that what I choose to do on New Year’s Day will set the tone for the year to come.

This year Brian and I checked the weather forecast the decided it would be a great day for a snowshoe hike up to Artist Point. I’ve been going up there every winter since 1990-1991 and I never get tired of it. As Brian reminded me yesterday while we were hiking, it’s different every time. Continue reading

Color My Fall

Vine Maples and Thimbleberries
Vine maples and thimbleberries near Leavenworth, Washington

We’re in that glorious transition time, the period between summer’s greens and winter’s soft palette of browns and grays. As the days grow shorter and fog blankets the ground on many mornings, a lot of us like to get out and celebrate the turning of the leaves. Fall color is all around us now in varying degrees. Where do you like to go to enjoy the show?

While New England and Appalachia can rightly claim the best fall color on the continent, we Pacific Northwesterners can enjoy brilliant autumn hues without making the long journey across the continent. Continue reading

Sheep Lake & Sourdough Gap Wildflowers

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This past weekend, July 20-22, 2018, I hiked up to Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap with a bunch of friends on the Washington Native Plant Society annual backpack. It’s a short hike to the lake, just an easy 1.8 miles from the trailhead at Chinook Pass. Go for the flowers, not solitude, as it’s a popular place. My impression was that the flowers were a bit pre-peak, but still lots of things in full bloom. We checked plants off a list of some 170 species, although we didn’t find all of them.

This video slideshow features some of my favorite images from the trip. These were photographed with my Canon 5D Mark III, a Canon 100mm macro lens, a 16-35mm wide-angle lens, and a 24-105mm lens. It’s a short hike, so I carried a lot of gear.