Wildlife Wednesday 03/18/2015

Harbor seals at Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

Harbor seals at Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

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Harbor seals at Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island, WA

During a recent visit to Lopez Island, WA my husband and I made a stop at the Shark Reef Sanctuary even though we had already been there once before.  Knowing this was a great spot to view harbor seals we welcomed the short hike once more. The trail brings you to the westernmost edge of the island looking across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca to the southernmost tip of San Juan Island.  We were pleasantly surprised to find several dozen harbor seals sunbathing on rocks just off the coast.  This location is perfect for wildlife viewing where we had the opportunity to see harbor seals, eagles, Canadian geese, seagulls, and other various bird species.

 

Teneriffe Falls (Kamikaze Falls) Day Hike

6 miles roundtrip / 1420′ elevation gain

With another beautiful weekend in the forecast for the Pacific Northwest my husband and I were anxious to get outdoors.  We woke up before sunrise Saturday morning and headed to Teneriffe Falls for a day hike with friends.  Even though our strategy was to reach the parking area early enough to beat the crowds, we barely arrived at the trailhead in time – parking in what appeared to be the last space!

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View from Teneriffe Falls (Kamikaze Falls) trail

Our journey up towards Teneriffe Falls began by hiking up Mount Teneriffe Road; a slowly ascending, wide dirt and gravel service road.  The road winds through the forested mountainside for the first mile and a half of our journey which allowed for an easy hike with great conversation.  After the first half of the hike we arrived at a fork in the road with a sign pointing us towards Teneriffe Falls.  As we made our way along Mount Teneriffe Trail it became much more steep, slowly switching back and forth towards our destination.  We made our way along the narrow, rocky trail opening up at times showing panoramic views and abundant sunshine.  As we neared Teneriffe Falls the trail became very steep and finding a viewing spot among the crowds was not easy.  After soaking in the view and snapping a few photographs we were ready to find a resting spot.

Teneriffe Falls (Kamikaze Falls)

Teneriffe Falls (Kamikaze Falls)

We headed back down the trail a few yards below the Teneriffe Creek waterfall, and were thankful to rest our aching muscles from the climb we had just made.  Once chilled from the cold mornings air, we were now happy to have the shade of our forested surroundings cooling us from our heated exhaustion.  We enjoyed the sound of cascading water in the distance as we refueled for the return trip down Mount Teneriffe.  Once well rested with renewed energy it was time to leave the sound of the the rushing waterfall behind.  Our journey downwards was easy as we swiftly made our way across the rocks and boulders along the trail.  Within no time we reached the wider portion of the trail back on Mount Teneriffe Road.  We passed many hikers throughout the day also enjoying the outdoors in the unseasonably warm weather on the last day of January.  As we reached the parking area we were glad to hand over our parking space to adventurers just about to start their own journey for the day.  The memories of the warm sun atop Mount Teneriffe that morning lingered as we made our way back into the foggy Puget Sound area that afternoon.

Wildlife Wednesday 01/28/2015

A marmot enjoying the view of the Olympic mountains

A marmot enjoying the view of the Olympic mountains

During a trip to Olympic National Park in August 2012 my husband and I took a day hike near Hurricane ridge.  As we  made our way along the trail I noticed a marmot that appeared to be enjoying the view of the Olympic mountains just as much as we were.

Mount Baker Snowshoeing / Nooksack Falls

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Mount Baker near Artist Point

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest I have been interested to try snowshoeing.  Growing up in Texas I was never really exposed to any snow activities.  I assumed snowshoeing would be just  like hiking in the snow; therefore, if I love hiking then I will love snowshoeing.  With an REI gift card burning a hole in our pockets, my husband and I decided we were going to rent snowshoes and head to the mountains.  We loaded up the car mid-afternoon and after a quick trip to REI we headed north towards Mount Baker.  Our evening was spent in a charming cabin in Deming, WA.  The only heat source for the entire cabin was a wood burning stove that warmed us as we spent the evening reading by the fireside.  We woke up the next morning chilled as the fire from the previous night had died out hours before.  We were filled with energy as we packed up for the less than an hours drive to the Mount Baker backcountry ski area.  Within an hours drive we went from a green, lush environment to a winter wonderland in the North Cascades.

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Mount Baker near Artist Point

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Mount Baker near Artist Point

 

We were geared up and hitting the trail by 10:00 am.  Right away snowshoeing was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  After reading trips reports from recent visits to the area I learned that when travelling up the trail we needed to stay to the right of the roped-off downhill ski area.  Following this guideline we spent the morning and afternoon snowshoeing around the snow filled valley watching the skiers and snowboarders fly down the mountain zig-zagging through the fresh snow.  Several feet of light and fluffy surrounded the area for miles in every direction.  At times we would follow tracks created by other people and sometimes we would choose destinations and create our own pathways through the snow.  As beginner snowshoers we decided not to attempt the hike to Artist Point and instead we spent the day familiarizing ourselves with the equipment snowshoeing around the valley.

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Snowy treetops on Mount Baker

 

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Wind blowing the snow from the trees on Mount Baker

 

Exhausted from our days efforts hiking through the snow, we headed to the parking lot to load up and picnic in the car before heading down the mountain.  As we left the snowy mountaintops behind, a sign for Nooksack Falls lured us off the highway for a short side trip.  We made the quick trip the the waterfall viewing point, but the perspective from the fenced area near the top of the falls gives you just a peak of Nooksack Falls.  I enjoyed the landscape looking downstream as a light fog hung over the valley in the distance.

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Nooksack Falls, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

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Nooksack Falls, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

 

The cold air urged us to head back to the warmth of our car and we continued our way back towards Seattle.  As we drove away from Mount Baker and the North Cascades all I could think about was when I’d be back again.  Soon I hope.