Exploring Nature

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Exploring Swift Creek and the Lake Ann Trail at Mount Baker

"See that ledge that runs to the right from Lower Curtis Glacier?” Stewart pointed to the far slope behind him. “That is the intersection of two terranes. Shuksan greenschist is above the line, and Darrington phyllite is below it. A thrust fault runs between them." Stewart (his geology training evident), stood in front of us, pointing at diagrams in his notebook and then the cliff. We had stopped for lunch near Lake Ann. I stood off to the side, letting him talk. He teaches several courses for The Mountaineers, and I’d hoped he’d come on my trip. He could master this geology that I’d found so confusing. We’d seen so much thanks to him. Read more…

Did You Know? Fall Colors of the Northwest

Although you’ll likely need to bring your rain shell, fall is a great time to hike. The cool air, colorful foliage, and snowcapped mountains are an appropriate sign-off to the glory of summer. Learn about the plants dotting our mountainsides and lighting up our trails, and the best places to see them before winter snuffs out the candle. Read more…

Thirst to Belong

My thirst to belong outdoors started early. I was just in elementary school and I was being bussed across town from one district to another. I didn’t know why at the time, but I did notice that few students looked like me. My new school was awesome. It had everything I could hope for: musical instruments, better playgrounds, rad field tips, and cool teachers. We even had periodic visits from Mr. McFeely from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. My old school paled in comparison. Read more…

Did You Know? Teely Creek Trail

The Teely Creek trail has much to offer hikers: fishing, camping, swimming, geocaching, and a relaxing atmosphere amidst an old growth forest. Read on to learn more about this incredible area, and how you can make the most of your trip if you decide to explore the trail.  Read more…

Last Word | The Wilderness Act at 50

My wife and I hiked up to Rachel Lake last week. The hike hurt. I felt old. But what a glorious way to pain — a stroll through an incredible old growth forest, then a scramble up a steep hillside to a beautiful mountain lake in the amazing Alpine Lakes Wilderness. What a gift it is, to be able to hike through wilderness, just an hour or so from the urban core. Read more…

The Little Things: Moss Blankets and Raining Lichen

As the mountains brighten with a blanket of fresh white on its highest hills, and evening alpenglow illuminates the distance with shades of pink and orange, we are allured by snow: tossing on snowshoes and skis to venture into the fantastic. Naturalists, searching for flora and fauna, turn to the foothills — and their manuals. We flip past the names of flowering meadow plants, summer mammals and autumn berries. We're reminded of the little things that flourish year-round in the temperate rainforest that makes up the Pacific Northwest — and especially in its wettest seasons — moss and lichen. Read more…

Making the Most of Your Ancient Forest Hike

Going for a hike in an ancient forest is a lot more interesting if you are armed with an inquisitive attitude, a little knowledge and context, and some extra time to enjoy the special place you are in. Here are a few tips that can help you have the best experience. Read more…

Did You Know? Butte Camp Via Loowit Trail

I’ve been slowly marking off the 100 hikes that Ira Spring and Harvey Manning published in their book 100 Hikes in Washington: South Cascades and Olympics. I recently completed my 40th hike from this well-used and much-loved trail book, enjoying a beautiful trip from Butte Camp to the Loowit Trail. Read more…

A Trip on Island Time

Recently, Mountaineers Richard Burt, Lynn Graf, and I took a canoe-camping trip to Long Island in Willapa Bay, an uninhabited five mile long, one mile wide National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Washington. Despite bucking a headwind as we paddled for an hour or so on an outgoing tide, we became ensconced in a sheltered, secure waterfront site that allowed us to observe the endless mudflats that are exposed after the tidal retreat. Read more…