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Photos from recent trips

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Snowshoe 2/6 Heather Meadows - Bagley Lakes

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Well, what would you expect at one of the snowiest places in the northwest? Heather Meadows was full of snow, both on the ground and in the air, as we toured the slopes near the Mount Baker Ski Area. We snowshoed the gentle terrain leading out to Bagley Lakes, and later did a circuit of Picture Lake, totaling a little over 2 miles. 

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Snowshoe 2/4 North Mountain Lookout

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This was a strenuous snowshoe trip near Darrington that turned out to have a relatively small amount of actual snowshoeing. North Mountain is a 3824-foot high foothill with a lookout tower on top. There are numerous roads and trails on its slopes, as it has been developed for mountain biking in recent years by the state DNR. We started from a trailhead at around 1500 feet and had to hike up quite a long way before sighting even a little bit of snow. Eventually the snow was deep enough to necessitate using the snowshoes, but our progress was slowing, the hour was getting late, and the weather didn't look promising, so our trip turned back a short ways before the lookout. We still wound up doing about 6 miles, 2200 feet of elevation gain.

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Snowshoe 2/2 Salmon La Sac

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I returned with a group for the first time in three years to one of my favorite east slope snowshoe tours, in the forests and along the rivers at Salmon La Sac. The combination of mostly easy terrain, almost total solitude, pleasant scenery, and abundant sunshine made this a very enjoyable day.  We snowshoed on old frozen snow, and hardly ever dented the surface more than an inch, but it made for fairly trouble-free (if a bit noisy) snowshoeing. We covered a bit over 3 miles on the day.

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Walk 1/26 Rattlesnake Lake - Palouse to Cascades Trail

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It was a gray January day outside North Bend for our outing at Rattlesnake Lake, and although the clouds blanketed the mountains, out spirits were still high as a friendly group of 10 enjoyed this interesting and scenic area. This was a triple feature: a walk on the Palouse to Cascades Trail for nearly 4 miles, a walk along the shore of Rattlesnake Lake, and a tour of the Cedar River Watershed Education Center. 

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Snowshoe 1/21 Grace Lakes

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It's highly unusual for an outing of mine to finish before noon, but that was the case for this A.M. special snowshoe trip at Stevens Pass. On a Saturday, one needs to arrive EARLY at the pass in order to get the precious parking space one wants, so we were on our way from Everett around 6:30, and in the lots at the pass not long after 8:00. Another 15 minutes or so, and we'd have been parking at least 1/2 mile away. But once we got away from the crowds and into the backcountry, it was a delightful scene of fresh snow, nice vistas, and even the last gasps of sunshine prior to an incoming weather front. The group was small, experienced, and proficient, so our nearly-3-mile tour was completed a bit before noon.

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Snowshoe 1/17 Icicle River Road

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We did a later than normal start for this one, and snowshoed in the mid and late afternoon under partly cloudy skies about 8 miles outside Leavenworth. The tour was fairly simple--just following an unplowed road on packed-down snow, but the setting and the scenery were sublime. The Icicle River rushed by alongside us, views of towering peaks were overhead, and the roadside rock formations were festooned with icicles. We covered about 3-4 miles on the snow, then returned to Leavenworth for a celebratory birthday dinner at Gustav's.

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Snowshoe 1/15 Teanaway Butte

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Ahh, snowshoeing on the sunny east slopes of the Cascades... except, not quite.  We certainly did some snowshoeing-- a lot of it, to the tune of almost 10 miles round trip. And we were on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, making it all the way to the 4760-foot summit of Teanaway Butte, north of Cle Elum. But sunshine, uh, no. And views, well, not quite. The cloud ceiling hung very low all day, and the summit had near zero visibility. Still, we persisted through fog, snow flurries, wind, burned-over forest, and all those miles to have a successful and fun (yes, fun) day. Many kudos to the 5 strong snowshoers who made this trip with me. 

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Skiing 1/13 Cabin Creek / Crystal Springs

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Oh, I love those days when you go in with low expectations (probably gonna rain, conditions won't be good, it's Friday the 13rd, blah, blah) and the day turns out to be just great. Actually, by the time we headed for the mountains that morning, I had a good sense that things would turn out, but that's not how it looked a couple of days previous. We got to ski on nice, freshly groomed trails at two different areas east of Snoqualmie Pass. The rain seemed to quit once we crossed the pass, and we never had a drop. The only downside was only 4 skiers got to enjoy it with me! Oh well, skiers, you'll have another chance to join me on February 11 at Plain Valley Trail.

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Walk 1/10 Reifel Bird Sanctuary, B.C.

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A short ways across the border into B.C., before you reach Vancouver, the mighty Fraser River concludes it 900-mile course by reaching the sea near the appropriately named city of Delta. The broad, flat estuary area is a haven for all sorts of birds, both resident and migratory. The Reifel Sanctuary and a nearby wildlife area were created in 1972, and are a fascinating place to view and study the over 250 species of birds that can be seen. We did a roughly 2-hour stroll along the trails at Reifel, and were constantly enthralled by the abundance and variety of birds. A nice lunch afterward in nearby Ladner, BC capped off a very enjoyable day.  BTW, border crossings were quick and painless.

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Skiing 1/7 Lake Wenatchee Trails

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The conditions for cross country skiing were excellent as I was joined by a fun group of six for the first ever ski tour I've led since starting my own guide service. Snow was falling for most of the day at Lake Wenatchee, and the setting was just gorgeous as we made our way around the trail systems. Most people skied about 5-7 miles on the day, getting a good winter workout.

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Snowshoe 1/4 Gold Creek Valley

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This was an enjoyable snowshoe tour in the gentle valley just north of I-90 at Exit 54 near Snoqualmie Pass. The easy terrain made for a relaxing outing that sampled some roads, trails, and off-trail routes in the area. It was a bit windy and overcast, so we kept a fairly steady pace and stayed warm as we trekked around the Gold Creek Pond and saw the sights of the valley, totaling almost 3 miles by the time we returned to the Sno-Park. 

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Hike 1/1 Dungeness Spit

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I decided to renew a New Year's Day tradition, leading a beach hike, this time to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge near Sequim. The weather cooperated nicely, and we enjoyed some great views and excellent wildlife watching. Several people made the journey all the way to the Dungeness Lighthouse, an 11-mile round trip.

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Snowshoe 12/30 Lake Wenatchee State Park

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Fresh snow, and plenty of it at Lake Wenatchee State Park. There are beautiful trails for snowshoeing and cross  country skiing at the park, and we got to enjoy them in near-perfect conditions. We snowshoed a loop route around the south unit of the park, totaling close to 3 miles. It was a nice mixture of forest walking and sections that followed the banks of creeks and the shores of the lake. This capped off the year in style, my 111th and final trip led in 2022. Thanks to everyone for making this trip, and the entire year, a great success!

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Walk 12/28 Lake Padden Loop

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We managed to dial up a dry day for our walk around this Bellingham park--or at least a dry couple of hours. There's a nice wide path the encircles the lake, covering a little over 2.5 miles, plus we added in a short segment along the Padden Creek Gorge adjacent to the lake. There were numerous waterfowl sightings, including a not-so-timid heron just a few feet off the trail, and plenty of nice scenery and quiet.

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Snowshoe 12/17 Smith Brook Valley

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Very nice snow conditions and comfortable weather (for December anyway) made for a pleasant snowshoe tour around Smith Brook Valley near Stevens Pass. About 3 or 4 feet of snow sits on the ground in this area, and the surface was nice and powdery, which is always a plus. We had some nice views alongside the creek, plenty of animal tracks to examine, and enjoyed plenty of quiet and solitude. A great day out on the snow. 

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Walk 12/14 Bellevue Botanical Garden D'Lights

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This was a fun late afternoon and evening walk around Bellevue, finishing up at the botanical gardens to view the Garden D'Lights. We walked about 3 miles before dark, exploring Wilburton Hill and Kelsey Creek Parks. It's surprising how much quiet green space there is in the heart of Bellevue! Then at the botanic gardens, we got to see the delightful and unique displays of lights, mostly in replicas of typical plants, flowers, and animals that one can see around the PNW.

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Hike 12/8 Boulder River

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The Boulder River Trail, a few miles from Darrington, is a low elevation old growth forest hike that you normally expect to be snow-free, but not this time. We had a few inches of snow all the way, making the scenery extra special. Particularly nice are the two waterfalls that we visited, with the snow and ice framing their graceful beauty. In all, we did close to a 5-mile round trip, enjoying the seasonal touches added to this always impressive wilderness.

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Snowshoe 12/4 White Salmon Road

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The first snowshoe trip of the season could not have gone much better. We traveled to this area below the Mount Baker Ski Area, where we had nice fresh snow, crystal clear skies, and knockout views. Most people did about 4 miles, 500 feet elevation gain.

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Hike 12/3 Maury Island Marine Park

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After a week of cloudy weather with off and on snow in the lowlands, Saturday turned brilliantly clear and gave us a stellar day of hiking some King County Park trails on Maury Island (connected to Vashon Island) in the south sound. The eastern shores of Maury contain the largest stretches of undeveloped land anywhere on Puget Sound, and some fine trail systems are found there. We had great views toward Mount Rainier and the Cascades, and some nice scenery for the ferry rides too. A rare treat for December.

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Walk 11/30 Osprey Park (alternate for Preston-Snoqualmie Trail)

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As luck would have it, the snow started falling in the Puget Sound region almost precisely when this trip began. We were heading toward the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail when icy road conditions on a hill in Duvall proved too slick for my van, so I turned around and we went with a safer option in Sultan. The trails there in Osprey Park on the Sultan River were beautiful in the fresh-fallen snow, so we made a nice 3-mile route on the level trails there before heading home. All turned out safely.

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Hike 11/27 John Tursi Trail

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John Tursi was an Anacortes area resident who came here in the 1930's to work with the CCC. He helped build Deception Pass State Park, was a lifelong advocate for conservation, and donated land for public parks. His trail, opened just a few years ago, makes a nice route through the forest from Campbell Lake to Pass Lake, just south of Mount Erie. It's a well-maintained, up and down trail that is especially nice in the fall and winter. We had an unexpectedly sunny day for our 5-mile round trip, with a nice variety of scenery all along the way.

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Hike 11/25 Hex Mountain

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This is a 5034-foot high peak above Cle Elum Lake north of Roslyn. We started from the Cle Elum River Road at the foot of the mountain and climbed steadily for 2600 feet to the top. It was a challenging day, with a whole assortment of weather-- fog, rain showers, gusty winds, blowing snow, and even a rainbow. There was snow covering the ground all the way, but only a few inches of it, so even though we took snowshoes, they weren't needed. All seven participants made the summit, and we managed to return to the van just before dark.

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Hike 11/19 Racehorse Falls & Nooksack River

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This was a double feature of hikes along the waterways in Whatcom County. We started out on this cold, clear morning by discovering a little-known waterfall tucked into a side valley on a dead-end road off the Mount Baker Highway. Racehorse Falls is a lovely 4-tiered drop of over 140 feet, and required some careful footwork to get to all the best viewpoints, but everyone managed very well. That was a short hike, only 1 mile, so we filled out the day by hiking the Horseshoe Bend Trail along the Nooksack River just up the highway from Glacier. It was interesting to see that trail in recovery from flood damage that occurred a year ago.

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Walk 11/16 Chambers Bay Loop & Canyon Trail

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We traveled to University Place, south of Tacoma, to enjoy a sunny November walk near the shores of Puget Sound in this unique Pierce County Park. The site of a large former gravel pit was transformed into a first class golf course in the style of the traditional Scottish links courses. Surrounding the course is a scenic parkland for all the people to enjoy. We walked a 3-mile loop trail around the course, plus a wooded trail through a nearby creek canyon that would make a fine hike in its own right.

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Hike 10/25 Bridal Veil Falls

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We were fortunate that the dry, smoky conditions of September and October relaxed their grip on western Washington, and this trail near Index, which had been closed due to its proximity to the Bolt Creek Fire, had recently reopened. The day was overcast, but that hardly impacted the experience of seeing and feeling the many segments of Bridal Veil Falls up close. We hiked about 4 miles or so in total, stopping at several viewpoints, and enjoying a peaceful day out on a fine trail.

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