Photos from recent trips I've led for Everett Parks and Recreation. Photo captions are under each picture. Navigate through the photos by clicking the arrows on the sides of the photo. Clicking on photo will expand the size. Enjoy!
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Snowshoe 1/31 Heather Meadows- Bagley Lakes
We closed out January with a pleasant midweek tour at a very quiet Heather Meadows area. With few skiers and almost no backcountry travelers around, we had the place nearly to ourselves. Sunshine was scarce, but views were still nice to the surrounding peaks and valleys. The nearly solid snow surface made for fairly easy travel, and we were able to cross between the Bagley Lakes and snowshoe up to a nice vista point for lunch. By tour's end, we had done about 2.5 miles and covered a nice counter-clockwise loop route.
Walk 1/30 Skagit Wildlife Area
Just a couple miles off the freeway near Conway in the Skagit Valley is a state wildlife area with a delightful flat walk teeming with birds and scenery. Dikes have been built around the marshes of Skagit Bay, and in mid-winter, all kinds of shore birds congregate here. Eagles, herons, mergansers, kingfishers, cormorants, a variety of ducks and geese-- we saw all of them. Throw in a nice clear day with views of both the Olympics and the Cascades (from baker to Rainier) and the cameras handly stopped clicking. After walking 2 1/2 miles at the wildlife area, we drove along Fir Island Road and were lucky to come upon a massive field full of snow geese-- thousands upon thousands of them. Quite a sight to see (play videos below), and the cap to a spectacular Wednesday morning walk.
Ski 1/27 Lake Wenatchee & Kahler Glen
Ski conditions were very nice at the Lake Wenatchee State Park and adjoining Kahler Glen Golf Course. Brilliant blue skies and mild temperatures allowed for jacket-less skiing, and t-shirt skiing in some areas. About half the group skied out on the Nason Ridge Road/Trail, and logged nearly 9 miles on the day. The more relaxed-paced skiers found plenty of fine trails at the golf course and state park.
Snowshoe 1/26 Introductory Tour to Lake Wenatchee State Park
I was joined by a group of 8 new snowshoers on a nice sunny day at Lake Wenatchee. We did a 2-mile-plus loop in the North Park area, mostly following the marked snowshoers trail. Snow conditions were a little bit thin in some spots, but mostly fairly nice with up to 2 feet on the ground in some places. Views of the lake and Dirtyface Mountain were especially sweet on this nice mild January day.
Snowshoe 1/25 V.E.S.T. (Very Easy Snowshoe Tour) to Icicle River Trails
Headed across the mountains to Leavenworth and out on the Icicle River Trails for a nice and gentle tour. There's about 18" of snow on the ground there, and an easy-to-follow snowshoe trail through the open forest and along the river. After about 2 miles of walking, we finished up and went to lunch across the street at O'Grady's Pantry (at Sleeping Lady Resort).
Hike 1/20 Point Defiance Park
We took a trip to Tacoma on a cloudy Sunday with 13 defiant hikers to explore the 760-acre area that is among the nation's best urban parks. The 5 miles or so that we hiked included some nice waterfront strolling, plenty of time on old growth forest trails, and frequent views across the bays and channels of Puget Sound. Even on a chilly winter day, lots of runners, dog-walkers, families, and others were out in force to enjoy nature and get some exercise.
Snowshoe 1/19 Gold Creek Valley in the Moonlight
I suppose it would be more accurate to call it Gold Creek in the Dark, since the moonlight was not making an appearance on this overcast and showery evening near Snoqualmie Pass. Still, we got out to walk around the Gold Creek Pond and explore the snowy terrain in this pretty valley.
Walk 1/17 Greenbank Farm and Lunch
The historic Greenbank Farm on Whidbey Island has been converted into a pleasant place to visit, with some shops, a wine tasting room, cafe, and a few miles of trails on it's 550-acre grounds. We ferried over from Mukilteo to check them out on a showery gray day. There's nice walking through the open fields on the hillside above the farm, and some forest trails as well. After about a 2.5 mile circuit, we returned to the Whidbey Pies Cafe for lunch. It was a fun little outing, and the loganberry pie was delicious.
Snowshoe 1/13 Kachess Lake
It was time to explore a new snowshoe tour, this time along the shore of the 10th largest lake* in Washington. We started from a sno-park a few miles off I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass, and did a route to the Kachess Campground by following roads and occasional off-trail bits. The morning fog gave way to mostly sunny skies by afternoon, and the enlarged snow-covered "beaches" of the less than full Kachess reservoir made for excellent roaming in the sunshine. Many thanks to my group for bearing with me as I extended the tour, which I advertised as 2 miles round trip, into what turned out being a 5 mile round trip. There's a few sore legs on Monday morning (including mine), but we'll be back in business in no time.
* 1. Chelan. 2. Washington. 3. Ozette. 4. Moses. 5. Osoyoos. 6. Crescent 7. Whatcom. 8. Sammamish. 9. Cle Elum. 10 Kachess.
Snowshoe 1/12 Heather Meadows / Artist Point (alternate for Mount Rainier / Reflection Lake)
It was full-on 5-star bluebird sunny weather at Heather Meadows, so our group joined the multitudes out enjoying the snow and views. The snowpack there in the Mount Baker area is roughly normal for this time of year-- 9 feet on the ground, and the surface was fairly solid so it was easy to track almost anywhere you wanted to. We climbed from the edge of the ski area to the top of Artist (Huntoon) Point, roughly a 1000-foot gain and 4 mile round trip. Views from Baker and Shuksan to Glacier Peak and up into Canada-- it was a fine a day out in the snow as one could ever hope for, and a welcome consolation for having to miss out on the scheduled trip to Mount Rainier, cloosed due to the government shutdown
Snowshoe 1/10 Icicle River Road (alternate for White Salmon Road)
Some days it just doesn't pay to fight the weather conditions, so after studying the forecast for the Mt. Baker / White Salmon Road area (rain, gusty winds), it was decided to re-route to a similar tour over near Leavenworth. We were paid off with some bright sunshine and great views of the river and surrounding mountains. Fog rolled in and out, but we were able to soak up the sun nicely while it lasted. We covered about 4 miles, mostly on the easy wide road with a short detour onto some adventurous off-trail terrain.
Hike 1/8 Franklin Falls
Normally a trip like this, entirely on snow, would be done with snowshoes, but in this case, the well-beaten route to Franklin Falls is perfectly fine as a hike, with winter traction devices being worn over our boots to aid with the footing on the inclines. This trip has the distinction of being entirely between the west- and east-bound lanes of I-90, and much of the time you're not even aware of the proximity to the freeway. The route starts at a barricaded road just off Exit 47, and is a fairly simple but somewhat lengthy hike (round trip 7 miles) to the falls and back. Only a couple dozen other people out on the trail today on what sometimes sees hundreds of visitors. Windy and chilly weather at the falls kept our stay brief, but the coming and going was quite nice, and the fresh snow surrounding us gave the landscape a winter-wonderland quality.
Ski 1/6 Crystal Springs Sno-Park
It was our first cross country ski tour of the winter season, and we had a nice day out on the Erling Stordahl Trails near Crystal Springs, east of Snoqualmie Pass. A few inches of fresh snow had fallen overnight, which nicely covered the older dirty snow underneath. The grooming machine hadn't run over the trails, presumably because a few places were thinly covered and had water melt out alongside the trails. Still, we created our own tracks and managed to ski quite nicely. Most of the terrain there is gentle tree-lined corridors, making for a relaxing few hours gliding through the snow. Some skiers logged as much as 7 miles for the day.
Snowshoe 1/5 Introductory Tour to Gold Creek Valley
I was joined by a diverse group of 13 brand new snowshoers for a tour of the gentle terrain in Gold Creek Valley near Snoqualmie Pass. Arriving early to be ahead of the crowds, we made about a 3-mile route that included a trip around Gold Creek Pond and numerous little side trips to experience the different snow conditions. Skies were cloudy but views were still great, and scenery going around the pond was especially nice. A special treat was the rare sighting of a snowshoe hare in its all-white winter fur. Been a couple years since I saw one of those.
Walk 1/1 Dungeness Spit
This marked the 10th consecutive year I've offered a New Year's Day walk or hike at a beach area. Once again, we were fortunate to have pleasantly dry, calm, and partly sunny weather which made for an excellent day to visit this landmark area near Sequim. The narrow sand spit extends over 5 miles out into the Strait of Juan deFuca, with the historic 1863 lighthouse perched near the tip. To my delight, all 9 participants made the trek to the lighthouse and back, getting quite a workout covering all those miles of sand and stones. Along the way, we enjoyed great scenery and wildlife watching, and spotted numerous species of shore birds.