Exploring Nature

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What Are The Ten Essentials?

The Mountaineers Ten Essentials™ dates back to our climbing courses of the 1930s. This widely respected safety and packing system was formalized in the third edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, released in 1974. Each of the nine editions of Freedom, as it is affectionately known, was written entirely by volunteers and reflects the collective wisdom of hundreds of outdoor skills instructors. The list has always sought to answer two basic questions: Read more…

How To: See Golden Larches This Fall

Crisp days and bright fall foliage call hikers out onto the trails each autumn, but few trees draw crowds like our much-loved larches. Located primarily on the sunny eastern slopes of the Cascades, larches are deciduous conifers whose needles turn a rich gold each year. Their stout frames and bristling branches dot hillsides with color each October, and make alpine scenes all the more magical. Read on to learn more about these unique trees and the best hikes to spy them on. Read more…

Did You Know? Birding Basics: Start a Lifelong Journey of Bird Watching

The Black-capped Chickadee flitted through the fir branches. It was about the size of two ping-pong balls, and nimble – it twisted, turned, and darted through my Seattle neighborhood. This bird is common across much of North America and always brings a sense of joy each time I see one. In fact, it may be one of the first birds I learned to identify when my mother caught me sitting in the kitchen sink, watching birds coming to her feeders. I was five, and she patiently stood behind me naming each species. Almost 65 years later I remain delighted by these incredible creatures, and I would like to share with you some of the lessons I have learned in my many (well-spent) years of birdwatching. Read more…

How to Start a Nature Journal

Nature journals are often recommended as a great way to get in touch with the outdoors and become more intentional with your time outside. Which begs the question: what is a nature journal, and how do you start one? Read more…

Discover Mushrooms of the PNW - August 26

What do Chantrelles, Morels, Lobsters, Oysters, Shaggy manes, Cauliflower, King Boletes and  Matsutake have in common? They are all wild edible mushrooms found in Northwest forests. If you would like to start gathering wild mushrooms or if you are looking for a refresher, this one evening seminar is for you. Read more…

Embracing the Slower Side of Life

There’s something truly wonderful about not knowing what lies over the next ridge, or how to get there. If I climb down into the creek bed, will it connect? And if so, will I be able to climb back out? Or is it better to scramble up the talus and hope things aren’t too steep on the other side? Read more…

Trip Report: Mima Mounds Preserve Trail

The word "Mima" in Mima Mounds is derived from a Native American language meaning “a little further along” or “downstream.” Modern scientists argue about what causes these unusual land formations, but what I find fascinating is that the Mima Mounds are not unique; mounded forms are found across the United States. In California they're called “HogWallow Mounds,” and New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming have “prairie mounds.” In the Northern Great Plains they're known as “Pimple Mounds.” Read more…

A Sense of Hope

The black eyes glared right at me, a penetrating stare that seemed to pierce my flesh. He then opened his mouth and flexed his shoulders, leaning toward me. His red epaulets glowed in the sun as his song rang out; a sharp two whistles, trill, and then another whistle. At the same time, he expanded his tail and flared his wings slightly, and all the while those eyes scowled. Read more…

How To: Micro-Adventure Ideas

Popularized by Alastair Humphreys, a micro-adventure is "an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding. " As summer arrives, many of us want to maximize our time outside. But it’s not always easy to get out after work or on a busy weekend. Fortunately, opportunities for outdoor exploration are right outside your door. Join us as we take a look at a few of the micro-adventures you can take any day of the week. Read more…

Canyoning in the PNW

In November of 2001, my friend Stacy and I began our regular journey eastward, heading home to our respective states of Tennessee and Connecticut after a season of teaching Outdoor Education in California. We were both excited to visit Zion National Park on the way home for a few weeks of exploration. Both climbers in our 20’s, Stacy and I hoped to rappel through a slot canyon. Read more…