Photos from recent trips

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Hike 5/7 Thunder Creek

This hike in North Cascades National Park was noteworthy as my first (of hopefully many) trips as an officially approved national park guide service company. We had plenty of clouds and a few showers, but also had plenty of pleasantly surprising highlights. We started by taking advantage of the partly sunny morning with a stop at Diablo Lake Overlook. Spectacular views! Then, on our 5-mile hike in in the rain forest, it seemed to be a continual parade of amazing sights, soothing sounds, and other sensual treats. Thanks to my "Ladies Day" group for a fun day out.

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Hike 5/6 Lower Big Quilcene River Trail

We headed over to the Olympics to enjoy a trail alongside a wild scenic river in the foothills above Quilcene. Trailheads at both ends of the trail allowed us to make a one-way, mostly downhill trek of about 6.5 miles. The way led through beautiful mossy forests, made frequent approaches near the gentle cascades of the Big Quilcene River, and provided a few obstacles to contend with as well. The rain showers didn't dampen our spirits, and made the fresh air feel even fresher.

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Walk 5/4 Yakima Greenway

Spring is always a nice time to head over the pass on I-90 and see the area east of the Cascades. With this trip, we decided to check out part of the 20-mile-long Yakima Greenway Trail. It is mostly a nice gentle paved path, wide and easy, that follows the Yakima and Naches Rivers. We walked the southern section, going by some nice parklands, several lakes, and wetlands full of all kinds of birds. Our 4.5 mile walk ended at the El Mirador Restaurant, where we enjoyed a fine lunch on Quatro de Mayo.

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Bike 5/1 Palouse to Cascades Trail

On a perfect spring day east of the Cascades, we had a small but determined group ride the wonderful Palouse to Cascades (formerly John Wayne) Trail from near the town of Kittitas all the way to the Columbia River at the town of Beverly. Recent improvements of the trail include a 2000-foot tunnel and two spectacular bridges, most notably the Beverly Bridge, a nearly 3/4 mile span over the Columbia that just had it's grand opening in April. The ride was about 26 miles through the sagebrush country, and a nice accomplishment for the riders on the trip. 

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Hike 4/30 Heybrook Ridge & Lookout

There has long been a short trail to the Heybrook Lookout from Highway 2 near Index. Then in the late 2010's, another trail was opened nearby thanks to the efforts of private donations and the Snohomish County Parks Department. Both trails have become quite popular in recent years, but few people have discovered the way to connect the two trails into a fun one-way hike. We did that on Saturday, going up the Lookout Trail and connecting to the Ridge Trail, covering both trails on a cloudy, showery day.

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Walk 4/27 White Rock Promenade & Lunch

Traveled to Canada, well, just barely, for the first time in 2+ years to walk along the scenic waterfront in White Rock, BC. The Promenade is a 1.4-mile path popular with locals and tourists alike. The centerpiece is the 500-meter long White Rock Pier, which is repaired and reopened after a damaging storm in 2018. The sun was kind to us for the entire day, which was capped by a nice fish-and-chips lunch on the waterfront. No problems with the border crossings-- just do your homework and show up with all the required documents.

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Hike 4/26 Sauer's Mountain

On yet another crazy weather day on the west side, we slipped over to the east side for a beautiful sunny hike near Leavenworth. Sauer's Mountain is a 3100-foot-high hill east of the town, named for the man who built the trail up its slopes, Leonard Sauer. The Sauer family owns the land at the foot of the mountain, and graciously allows hikers to use the trail. In the springtime, it's a gem of a place to hike, with wildflowers in bloom, amazing sandstone outcroppings to admire, and views back toward the high Cascades that are simply breathtaking. Mr. Sauer passed on in 2021 at age 90, but his legacy is a treasure for hikers who make the journey here. 

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Bike 4/24 Whitehorse Trail

We had a perfect sunny day for the first bike trip of the season, a ride on the wonderful Whitehorse Trail between Arlington and Darrington. Our group of 7 rode various distances, beginning from the Trafton Trailhead a few miles east of Arlington. A few even made it all the way to Darrington, a distance of nearly 24 miles. 

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Hike 4/23 Little Mashel Falls

Sunshine and (finally) seasonally-appropriate temperatures graced our hike to these spectacular waterfalls outside Eatonville. The river is called "Little" Mashel, but theres nothing little about the falls, especially during the spring runoff. Our 4-mile-plus hike included three dazzling falls, plus plenty of other nice scenery along the way.

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Hike 4/20 CCC Trail/Blowout Creek

This was a fun trip near North Bend that I jokingly referred to as our "stream crossing practice" trip. The  CCC built a road above the Middle Fork Snoqualmie valley back in the 1930's. It was used mainly for logging for a few decades, but was eventually abandoned and has now evolved into a pleasant trail that offers a peaceful forest walk with occasional views out across the valley to the jagged mountain peaks in the area. We did a 7-mile round trip, crossing over countless streams, both large and small, along the way. 

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Hike 4/17 Manastash Ridge- Westberg Trail

Over the years, I've led groups to this trail near Ellensburg as a springtime ritual to take in the views and the wonderful wildflower show, but I've never seen it anything like this year. The recent cold, wet spell meant that snow lingered on the slopes of Manastash Ridge, and the flowers were mostly still lying dormant, with weeks to go before their blooms color the hillsides. Still, we were granted a nice sunny though chilly day, and our strong, experienced group made the trek up the 1,300-foot climb to the ridge top in spite of the snowy, muddy, slippery trail conditions.

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Walk 4/15 Whitehorse Trail

An energetic group of walkers turned out and did a 5.5 mile stretch of the Whitehorse Trail between Arlington and Darrington. A few showers mixed with occasional sunshine-- typical spring day around here. Our walk on this fine rail-trail started near Oso, and finished at the site of the 2014 slide, where a nice memorial park honors those lost in that tradgedy.  Scenery along the trail is nice, even though the low clouds kept the surrounding mountains hidden.

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Hike 4/9 Ginkgo Petrified Forest

It's that time of year-- time to head east for the sunshine and the wildflowers. This was the first of several trips I'll be making to the open sagebrush country for some great springtime hiking. On this trip, we explored the unusual petrified wood samples found here in the state park near Vantage on the Columbia River. We also hiked to a spectacular plateau above the river which had endless views and wildflowers. Unfortunately, a strong storm in the mountains closed the passes and delayed our trip back by 5 hours(!), but the memories of the sun and scenery at Ginkgo weren't diminished.

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Hike 4/7 Orcas Island - Turtleback Mountain

We journeyed to the San Juans to spend some time exploring the Turtleback Mountain Preserve on Orcas Island. It was a pleasant sunny day as we hiked a 3-mile loop up to 900-foot-high Ship Peak and enjoyed the views from the open, rocky top. Plenty of interesting trees, soaring raptors overhead, and nicely-maintained trail to enjoy. Bad news was that we missed our returning ferry and got delayed by several hours coming home, but good news was that gave us time to drive up Mount Constitution, and to make a dinner stop in the town of Eastsound.

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Walk 4/5 Mercer Slough Nature Park

Most people speeding past downtown Bellevue on I-405 have no idea what a pleasant natural area exists just a few blocks south of all the office towers and busy 6-lane highways and arterials streets. This City of Bellevue area has beautiful trails and boardwalks that lead you easily through wetlands, forests, and even a blueberry farm. The centerpiece is a wonderful campus of buildings that house the Environmental Education Center. We walked about 3 miles or so on a pleasant Tuesday morning.

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Hike 4/3 Echo Mountain

Not sure that Echo MOUNTAIN is the deserved name for this modest 900-foot high hill near Maple Valley, but as the centerpiece of an 800+-acre natural area managed by King County Parks, it's a fine little spot to hike.  Our group of 8 made a 5-mile route on some wonderful forest trails, and although the clouds denied us the Rainier view from the top, we still enjoyed many delights, like the blooming spring wildflowers, glimpses of nearby landmarks, fascinating nurse logs/stumps, and a little wildlife too.

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Hike 3/29 Two Dollar Trail / Fiona Ridge Trail

Took a journey along Chuckanut Drive just south of Bellingham to find this pair of contrasting trails that meet at Frangrance Lake. We made a roughly 5-mile loop hike by taking the Two Dollar (a smooth, well-maintained) trail to the lake, then circled the lake, had a lunch break, and returned on the Fiona Ridge (a rugged, primitive, unmaintained) trail. Highlights of the day were the lovely forests, striking sandstone cliffs near the lake, and the serene setting around Fragrance Lake.

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Snowshoe 3/27 Heather Meadows - Artist Point

Wonderful spring-like weather graced our snowshoe trip to spectacular Artist Point near Mount Baker. Temperatures hovered near 50 degrees, even above 5000 feet in elevation, and views were great.  My group was very strong and capable, and everyone successfully reached the 5247-foot summit of Artist (aka Huntoon) Point.

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Hike 3/26 Mount Erie

We had an overcast but pleasant day for our hike to the "Annapurna of Anacortes." Our 5-mile trek began at Heart Lake and climbed about 1000 feet to the summit of Mt. Erie. The trails were in good condition, but had a few rugged sections that offered a bit of challenge. After reaching the top and taking in the views, we descended to Whistle Lake and came out at the trailhead just beyond it. Special thanks to Kurt and Ana for moving the van between trailheads so that we could explore more of the trails in the wonderful Anacortes Community Forest Lands. 

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Walk 3/24 Trillium Community Forest

This was a pleasant walk on Whidbey Island in a 700-acre forest preserve near Freeland. There are no spectacular sights to see here-- it's just a nice wooded area that was saved from development and offers a quiet escape in the midst of so much hustle and bustle. We just about had the place to ourselves for our 4-mile circuit around the area. The ferry was running on time (yea!) and gave us some nice views on the way to and from the island.

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Hike 3/20 Washington Park (Anacortes)

We marked the equinox on the first day of spring with a visit to the crown jewel of Anacortes Parks, Washington Park at the western tip of Fidalgo Island. Our 3-mile loop route sampled many of the trails on this often rugged headland area that juts up about 200 feet or so above Rosario Strait. Among the delights on this cool, blustery day were the blossoms of some early season wildflowers, and plenty of fine viewpoint s toward the San Juans and Olympic Mountains. For good measure, we drove back through the Skagit Valley to peer at a few daffodil fields and a few hundred snow geese.

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Hike Niqually National Wildlife Area

This is one of the premier bird-watching sites in the northwest, located at the estuary of the Nisqually River near Olympia. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, along with coorperation from many local agencies and companies, has developed an outstanding area that is great for the wildlife, and great for the human visitors. We walked 4+ miles on the paths and boardwalk and had a great sample of the enormous variety of waterfowl and other wildlife found here.

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Hike 3/15 Sauk River Trail

A rainy day in the rain forest--imagine that! Yeah, it pretty much rained on us from start to finish for our 3 hours or so out along the Sauk River near Darrington, but it didn't diminish the beauty and granduer of the fine old growth forest we walked through. There were mossy canopies of alder arching over the trail, the rushing sounds of the restless Sauk River sweeping past, and the sight of tall firs soaring over 200 feet straight toward the sky. This and much more made it a pleasant 5-mile stroll on a relatively easy, well-maintained trail. 

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Snowshoe 3/10 V.E.S.T. Lake Keechelus

Nice sunny weather for our easy snowshoe tour at Snoqualmie Pass. We parked at the Hyak Trailhead and went out on the Palouse to Cascades Trail for about a mile before heading back. Good views of the lake and surrounding mountain peaks. After the walk in the snow, we capped off the day with lunch at the nearby Summit Pancake House.

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Walk 3/7 Gene Coulon Beach Park

An overcast but dry morning was the setting for a couple of leisurely walks in the city of Renton. We began at the city's signature park on Lake Washington, Gene Coulon Beach Park, covering about 2.5 miles along the waterfront. Plenty of birds and other wildlife to see, along with an interesting array of trees, and some nicely designed trails over the water. With an extra half-hour or so at the end, we checked out nearby Waterworks Park, a King County Metro project that features paths through wetlands and some creative art projects.