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Wanderings: Gold Creek Pond

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Snowshoeing was a much noisier endeavor than I'd expected. A snow-covered landscape is usually associated with soft silence and muffled noises, the sound of spoken words extinguished as the vapor of your breath dissipates in the chilly air. Instead, as our group tromped along the path toward Gold Creek Pond last Sunday, we were accompanied by the sounds of swishing snow pants, excited voices chattering and laughing, and of course, the loud scrape-crunch of boots and snowshoes themselves, rasping against the icy crust of snow.

By happy coincidence, my birthday fell on the same day as our January book club outing. I had looked forward to this day for awhile, and was eager to finally try my hand (foot?) at snowshoeing. Heavy mountain snow prevented me from attending this same outing last year, and this year I'd been keeping an eye on the weather, warily reviewing the expected snowfall totals as the day approached. However, with the blessing of a favorable forecast, it was amid t…

Looking back at 2018

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It's the time of year to reflect on the past twelve months, and to look ahead to what the New Year might bring.

I'll be honest. There was not much excitement in my life in 2018... but you know what? After the last few years I've had, I'm completely fine with that. The year wasn't punctuated by any significant highs and lows, but cruised steadily along, even-keeled and with little rocking of the boat. 2018 was a year of brief local excursions, backyard puttering, canceled plans, and a few last-minute adventures.

Here's a look at the paths my feet wandered this year. And a few they didn't.

January [Insert photo of snowshoeing outing I missed due to a winter storm in the mountains]

March I FINALLY rejoined my friends in the Alpine Trails Book Club for a hike to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie in North Bend. It was a chilly day, but the fresh air, companionship, and gorgeous scenery were blissful.





And also... my trillium bloomed again. I obtained this trillium during…

Climate Change in the Northwest: the Fourth National Climate Assessment

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While the rest of the country was black Friday shopping, opting outside, or still digesting their Thanksgiving turkey, the US Global Change Research Program quietly slipped an early Christmas gift (or lump of coal?) into our stockings. The Fourth National Climate Assessment was released last Friday, and as one would expect these days, the news isn't great.

After reading the chapter pertaining to the Northwest, which exhaustively parses out the climate challenges facing our region in the remainder of the century, I left with one takeaway: if you didn't like 2015, you're not going to like the decades to come.

Those of us who lived in the Pacific Northwest during the year 2015 are unlikely to forget - however much we may want to - the cascade of record-breaking events that left us all wondering what had happened to this place we call home. A winter with temperatures 6.2 degrees F above normal caused more precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow, leaving the mountain sno…

Musings by the River: Tipping Points and Climate

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We pull into the near-empty gravel lot and park the car in front of a clump of snowberry bushes. Extracting ourselves from my compact vehicle, my husband and I pull our son Lucas from his carseat, bundle him up, and set him loose on the trail on this foggy October morning, hurrying through the dew-wet grass to keep up. After being sick and stuck in the house for the past four days, an acute case of cabin fever sent us running for the outdoors, even though all of our noses were still running as well. That's what sleeves are for, right?

We made the drive out to the Chinook Bend Natural Area in Carnation, a place I'd long wanted to visit after regularly driving past it for years. This 59-acre area wrapped on three sides by the Snoqualmie River is popular with birders and fishing enthusiasts, and is also a nice place to walk and stretch your legs. Once a piece of land degraded by cattle grazing, Chinook Bend is now an example of how thoughtful restoration can bring back the land&…

Wanderings: Blue Lake (again)

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More and more of my Wanderings are including (again) in the title, and I'm grateful to have found so many lovely places to which I can return over the years. I first hiked to Blue Lake in September of 2015, and since that first magical trip into the land of larches and fall colors, I've longed to go back for a second experience.

My chance came when my sister asked if I'd like to hike Blue Lake with her, because she HAD to see the larches. She'd been eyeing the trip reports for the last few days, and those much-pursued trees were now sporting their golden foliage in the North Cascades. A scant few days later, we were on the road at bleary-eyed 6am (okay, 6:30am after the obligatory stop for coffee and the return trip home to retrieve the lunch I'd forgotten in the refrigerator) headed north on the long 2.5 hour drive to the trailhead. After traveling north on a nearly-empty I-5, we cut eastward and drove toward the sunrise on highway 530. As we moved upward in lati…