The twisted resilience of enduring remains

Nature often plays with our imagination, leading our wandering minds to double take and circle around, checking to both look closer at details an observe the widest landscape. We notice the natural developments of trees, bushes, rocks presenting the beauty of patience, giving a long story to how its ecosystem builds itself, coexists until practical use comes to an end, then very slowly comes apart.

And even them remains stories in the shapes of old, long after life, passing on its place for some new telling. So goes forth, what you make of the enduring remains, leading to new inspirations. And like much of what I have written on this twisted resilience, is not exactly clear yet.

– Orion T

The above pictures are from a recent hike at Whatcom Falls Park, near Bellingham, Washington. Highly recommended for casual hikers and satisfyingly short-term wanderlust.

The summer view from Rattlesnake Ledge

The view from Rattlesnake Ledge nearly atop Rattlesnake Mountain, is worth the medium level hike from Rattlesnake Lake.

I love the Pacific Northwest mountain areas, with its many hikes offering forest blanket views. The trail to Rattlesnake Ledge is a most popular one among visitors to the Seattle area, with easy access parking and the lovely small town of North Bend nearby.

Rattlesnake Ledge, located in the Snoqualmie Forest, takes about 2-3 hours with good pacing with 6.5 km (4 miles) total. The peak is 2078 feet high (about 1/3 of a mile). Much of the trail is stead uphill workout, a good starter for those less experienced with mountain hikes.

However, it’s not a place I best recommend on the best, sunniest days. It’s a spot that tourists hit often, and the very top can be dangerous when there’s two many people. The rocky area has no rails, no flat platforms, and no room to be reckless and stupid. It’s better to go here on a weekday, maybe more on the morning. People have slipped and fell to their death from this ridge. Take your time, have shoes with good traction, and stay cautious of where you step.

Other details…

See those little dark spots through the water of Rattlesnake Lake? Those are mostly tree stumps, as that lake was a small, short-lived logging town over a century ago, eventually flooded out. When the water level is much lower, the stumps are visible and otherworldly to witness. I wrote and took pictures from a previous visit, here.

That’s the view from the other side of the lake. Over there is Mount Si, a place I have hiked many times, but never made it to the top. Someday for sure!

Beautiful up close texture of the the ledge’s rock side. Surely, a geologist can share stories of this spot, just from studying details here.

A little plant, growing out from the side. Alone and enjoying the view for the rest of its life.

A very deep crevice within the ledge. You can climb through it to get to a small, personal view from the ledge. But, be extra careful getting through and don’t bring attention to yourself to others above enjoying the view. The little crack can only handle 2-3 people at a time and can be very dangerous and problematic for others trying to get back.
Just me, taking a selfie. I was with visiting friends from Los Angeles, taking the time out to enjoy the best of the Pacific Northwest!

That’s all for now. I have more pictures from more recent adventures, with some surprises. I also have some video, but need more time to sort through clips and edit. Keep adventuring in the meantime, and enjoy what nature offers you!

– Orion T

Back to the Kubota Japanese Garden

2020 isn’t over yet as we we have one last month, and a stressful for many holiday season to go.

Meanwhile, I have the perfect place to wind down for those in the Seattle area, to decompress outside and away, socially distant and pandemic-mindful. That is the Kubota Garden park in the Rainer Beach area.

The Kubota Garden is one of the few curated Japanese gardens, with much greenery and sights reminiscent of the timeless natural scenic beauty of Japan. It’s free to enter, but with current pandemic restrictions (no big gatherings!).

I’ve written more about this place before, of which you can read here.

But for now, here are some pictures I took from a recent visit. For location and more information, click here.

– Orion T

Advice about Lost Things…

“People give the worst advice about lost things. Retrace your steps. Pray to Saint Anthony. Think about where you last saw it. But that doesn’t apply to the things that matter. Those are right in front of you, except they can’t be found by looking for them. Only by looking at everything else.”

― author Kristen Lepionka, The Last Place You Look

The picture above is from a recent hike near the base of Mount Si, far east of Seattle. I think it was on the Talus Loop trail. The story behind the jacket is unknown, as far as I know.

But feel free to make something up, and share!

Leaving Summer 2020, in wholesome hindsight…

Summer 2020 was a little weird but full of beautiful moments.

I was a bit worried on its end after a week of nasty fires in the Pacific Northwest, bringing darkened skies of smoke and ash throughout. That’s so very 2020, pushing me back into home isolation.

But yet, I felt great times during the season under the troubling, continual circumstances of the year. Such are the pandemic and continual dread for the future of my world, with social unrest and shared economic stress. What does one do, for feeling the necessity of the news, yet not ignore the constant frustration and trouble that the headlines bring?

One great answer is to reach out, accept the reaching out of peers to make the best of what’s out there. The weather was great most of this season, at least for the Pacific Northwest (sorry friends in California who endured over 100 F). I feel blessed with good friends that shared my hunger for adventure, and that we did.

We shared many weekends all over midwestern Washington in Tacoma, Bellingham, Anacortes, Issaquah, and the Seattle area. We hiked, we ruminated, we explored, we eat, we enjoyed nature and the somewhat the surroundings while being pandemic-minded and safe.

I had a great time throughout but also unplugged much from the social media and pleasures of modern digital technology. But, I am also terribly sorry for not sharing such beautiful experiences in a timely fashion. Much of it was also for me talking, helping, discussing life, and current happenings with friends in between. Personal time was my priority.

But, I will share on memories recent and fresh when I can, especially as the new Fall season sets in. I have the feeling it’s going to be a longer, colder, darker time ahead. With that, more time to share but in a different way.

– Orion T

The above pic is facing Mount Rainier, from the top of Mount Burroughs, taken from one of the many trails from the Sunrise Visitor Center deep within and high above. It’s closed to the majestic peak, the best view I think one can get by hiking after a lengthy two-hour drive deep within the Mount Rainier National Park. The entirety spent with friends, very worthwhile.

The Depth of Nature

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“A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” – Henry David Thoreau

The picture was at Killarney Lake, in the middle of Bowen Island. This was during my stay in Vancouver, Canada in middle of a nice group hike. It’s a nice, short walk for those who can spare an hour or two (the extra hour for the trail that goes around the lake).

But right now, I wish there was a calm lake easily accessible to my current situation, living in a noisy city. Staring at this picture will have to do, for now.

– Orion T

The Destructive and Constructive Work of Beavers

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A beaver is a hard-working, very intelligent mammal engineer.

When beavers work, they produce noticeable results. There is a grand notice on the materials they use, mainly wood from trees. The environment used, is forever changed.

The above picture is from my group hike on Bowen Island in Vancouver, Canada. This is one forest section well-stripped by beavers, using their powerful front-teeth (unsure of how many beavers, but do work in small numbers). Much of that wood is used to create a lodge; a dome-like house made from sticks, grasses and moss-plastered with mud. One lodge is sufficient for a whole family of beavers, to live comfortably and produce/raise their offspring. Such lodges are built slightly above water level along river and pond banks, like the one seen here.

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Beavers also use that wood to build dams, to better manage and trap water to create large ponds. Beavers also feed off the trees for food, eating the leaves, roots, and bark. They also digest some surrounding aquatic plants. Nothing seems wasted in a beavers world.

I did a little research and reading on the conflict between the tree-raiding troublemakers and the human settlers of Bowen Island. The dam work of beavers has in the past, disrupted homes and yards of private areas, with flooding. The early actions by locals were to trap and kill the little critters. But in the last decade, a more humane solution popularized, to build special fences to prevent the beaver-building of dams in needed areas for water to flow.

That protection, and other solutions to help the island’s natural habitat creatures have been put forth by the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, or Fur-Bearers. For more on beaver fences and the volunteer work of the Fur-Bearers, visit thefurbearers.com.

Meanwhile, here is a fascinating BBC video on the hard work and rewarding results of those busy beavers.

 

– Orion T

The Warning Signs

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I’ve been a little late in my postings lately, as this summer is busy and full of unexpected happenings.

But, I did take some time out for a few little adventures, while i stayed for week in Southern California in late July. One place there in particular, had my attention for a half day, Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, a wonderful stretch of coastal preserve north of Long Beach, close to San Pedro. Once there, much of the area is easy to miss with the road access high and paralleling the clifftops, with small parking lots and vista points. The trails down to the waters are not obvious.

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Yet, with a little exploring and walking further from the parking area and picnic tables, there are signs of access and danger. One just needs to needs to heed the warnings and find the right access point, and continue to heed the warnings…

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I did go with a few friends, of which some were familiar and knowledgeable of the area. The whole time, very worthwhile and lots of fun. Most of the danger was just being careful and being very aware of the your surroundings, weather and tides.  I shall post more on this, sometime this week.

– Orion T

Along the way, deep into the forest trail

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I recently posted about my hike to Annette Lake, a serene lake high in the mountainous region of the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie forest.

The lake being serene and amazing, was enough to behold for its own posting. Now, I would like to share a bit more on its trail to and back. It’s a path as awesome as its destination.

The 7.5-mile round trip Annette Lake trail has wonderous sights, rich in the best of the Pacific Northwest nature land preservations, and another reason I love the Washington State. Here, dedicated hikers will step across towering huddled trees, fallen trees with new life taking upon, rocks of all ages, countless waterfalls, old wooden bridges, and patches of snow along the top in this late spring.

The sunlight through the blue sky intensified the green, illuminated darker pathways partially covered full-grown branches, and gave sparkles to the streams of water running down. You can also enjoy the sounds of the trail varied from noisy waterfalls, chirping birds up high, and peaceful void of preserved stillness.

Here are some choice pics along the path…

 

Overall, the Lake Annette Trail is a good hike I highly recommend for those physically able to withstand a moderate uphill exercise binge, with a worthwhile destination of the lake itself to rest for a bit.

My tips for the trail: go early, so you’ll have time to rest and enjoy some views. Bring a water bottle or two, with snacks of nuts and dried fruit. Go in a group, and maybe bring your dog (allowed on the trail). Wear good hiking shoes fit for stepping over small rocky pathways and snow patches. Don’t rush, as parts of the path are narrow, and other hikers will be frequently passing on the good days. Much of the path is upon step hillsides, with an easy fall into deadly grounds. Rest easy at the lake for a good time before heading back.

For more on the Lake Annette Trail, visit the official Washington Trails site at www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/annette-lake.

– Orion T

The stunning sight of Annette Lake

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Recently, I set upon a long hike in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Regional Forest with a group, to Annette Lake.

The sight itself deserves my special posting as an amazing visual spot, high up in the mountainous regions of the middle Washington State. The lake is medium size, with much of its surrounding area closed off to visitors. There is no man-made developed shore area or plank, just some natural spots for viewers to appreciate the still serene beauty and untouched landscape. Stepping in the water at this time felt icey, as we heeded warnings to not proceed further in.

Here is a low-grade panoramic shot from my phone:

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The only way to reach Annette Lake is through a 7.5-mile round trip trail. Half the hike is uphill through a deep forest mountainside over switchbacks, small waterfalls, and a little snow up high. The elevation gain is about 1800 ft, where the lake signals the peak and destination of the trail.

I advise good hiking boots for the path, and for the current time while the snow sits up high..bring trekking poles. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow, though one should take it slow with its rocky parts and slippy elevation. Dogs are welcome on the trail, as many brought their canine companions.

My friend’s dog Ruby joined our group, who enjoyed the snow part very much.

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The Annette Lake trail itself offers more interesting distant views, of which I will share in another posting, soon.

Meanwhile, to anyone interested in checking out Lake Annette and the trail to it, visit the official site for more info, at www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/annette-lake.

– Orion T