Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...

Rainy day hike to Blue Lake - one of my favorite hikes of 2015!
The last few days of December are often spent reflecting on the waning year now drawing to a close, with the sadness of the year's passing tempered by excitement for the coming new year and its memories and adventures yet to be realized.

Carrying on the tradition I started last year with the final Nature Nerd Wednesday post of 2014, in this final post of 2015, I'm taking a look back at the paths my feet wandered this year. With two excursions to alpine lakes (a new feat for me!), several hikes on alarmingly dusty trails thanks to the historic drought, and many other adventures in places both new and familiar, in 2015 I truly did travel deeper than my feet have ever wandered before.

Some of these photos may look alike... the typical Pacific Northwest forest of hemlock, Doug fir, western red cedar, sword fern and salmonberry... but each place is unique in its history, atmosphere, soundscape and smells. Each place offers a different experience of Pacific Northwest nature at its finest. Each place refreshes the mind, challenges the body, soothes the weary soul and fills the lungs with clean air. Each place is threatened by environmental issues like pollution and climate change. Each place needs protection and conservation.

There's a common perception that one needs to adventure into the far-flung wilderness to find nature, but this couldn't be further from the truth. You can find nature anywhere... State Parks, National Parks, city parks, walking trails, the office park courtyard, and even your own backyard.

In 2016, make a resolution to get outside and experience, enjoy, and protect these places!

Wallace Falls State Park - First Day Hike - January
Rockport State Park - February
Redmond Watershed Preserve - March
Saint Edward State Park - April
Cedar Butte - April
Redmond Watershed Preserve - May
Saint Edward State Park - July
Cedar River Watershed tour - August
Snow Lake - August
Cedar River Watershed - Forest Ecology class - September
Blue Lake - September
Redmond Watershed Preserve - November

What a year! Stay tuned to A Day Without Rain in 2016 for nature breaks every Wednesday, Going Green tips, and a few musings and wanderings in between.

Need plans for New Years Day? Start a new tradition and participate in a First Day Hike at a State Park! I'll be heading out to a State Park here in Washington to celebrate the first day of 2016. Check out the Washington State Parks website for details on all of the First Day Hikes.
 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Looking Back at 2015 - Top 5 Most-Read Posts on the Blog This Year

Chester Morse Lake in the Cedar River Watershed. Lainey Piland photo

Here we are, already counting down the last few days of 2015... where has the year gone?! Looking back over the past 12 months on the blog brought up fond memories of new places explored, new friends made, adventures and hikes aplenty, and musings on drought, climate change, and our place in nature. Here's a roundup of the top five most-read posts on the blog this year:

1. Conifer Confusion? Learn to identify these PNW trees

2. Deciduous Determinations: Learn to identify these PNW trees

3. Wanderings: Cedar River Watershed

4. Musings: Missing Washington

5. Nature Nerd Wednesdays - Earth Day Edition

Stay tuned to A Day Without Rain for more writing on Pacific Northwest nature and environmental issues. Here's to a shiny new year, and many more adventures in 2016!

You can also follow along on Twitter @LaineyPiland, or on Instagram @a_day_without_rain_blog.



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...



It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. ~John Burroughs, "Winter Sunshine"

The solstice has passed, and now we have the cold winter season to look forward to, with its sparkling landscapes of frost and ice. During my hike at the Redmond Watershed Preserve the day after Thanksgiving, I passed by many shady spots along the trail that hadn't been touched by the warm sunlight, and the leaves were covered in needles of frost, sculpted into glittering artwork by the icy breath of approaching winter. It was interesting to study how the frosty coating defined and accentuated the leaf structure.

Once again, I'm trying to take a cue from Thoreau and "live in each season as it passes..." Winter might be a time of year known for its dark, cold dreariness and seemingly lifeless brown landscapes, but even in this season, it's possible to find beauty, to feel "the fire of the frost" permeating the air.


Be sure to get outdoors and soak in the season during this holiday week. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...

Acadia National Park. NPS photo

Waterfalls, crashing waves, bald eagles, vivid fall foliage... these might be reminiscent of our beloved Pacific Northwest, but these sights are also found on the opposite coast of our country, where the mountains are a little rounder and less rugged, the forests are more deciduous than coniferous, and where the sun rises over the ocean rather than sets. The newest film from More Than Just Parks features all the loveliness of Maine's Acadia National Park during the dazzlingly colorful autumn season.

Watch the film below and escape to the serene beauty of Acadia National Park.



Yet another fantastic film from More Than Just Parks, celebrating each of our nation's 59 national parks. Check out their website here to view their other four equally stunning films.

Fellow blogger Alpine Lily recently took a trip to the northeast, and I've enjoyed reading about her adventures. For more loveliness from this gorgeous region, check out her blog here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...

Snowy trees in the woods around my childhood home.
"The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake."
~Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
The sound of snowfall in the forest is truly matchless in its serenity and sense of complete solitude. The insulating blanket of snow absorbs every noise, so the only thing to be heard is the tinkling, scratching, rustling sound of snowflakes settling all around. It's a singular sound that conjures many memories; of adventures in the mountains, sledding down steep hills, snow days when I got to stay home from school and play in the woods blanketed in deep white.

This Nature 365 film features a quiet forest and falling snow, plus the sweetest gray jay I've ever seen. When I first watched this film, I think my exact words were "OH MY GOD, SO FLUFFY!"

Take a look for yourself, turn up the volume, and escape to the peaceful, snowy woods:

Nature 365: March 10, 2015 from FollowFocus on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...

Larches get a lot of the glory this time of year, but I think there's something to appreciate about late-autumn cottonwood leaves against a blue sky...

Each time we set foot outdoors is an opportunity to see the world around us in a new way. When I'm hiking, there's usually one thing that captures my attention, one thing that I really notice and focus on for the duration of the hike, whether by accident or on purpose. Sometimes it's the size of venerable old growth trees, sometimes it's the delicate little flowers blooming in springtime, sometimes it's the birds chattering in the brush just out of sight alongside the trail, sometimes it's trilliums, sometimes it's rain.

During my hike in the Redmond Watershed Preserve the day after Thanksgiving, it was the cottonwood leaves. Whether clinging to the uppermost branches and glowing against the brilliant blue sky, or carpeting the trail beneath my feet with their golden, heart-shaped forms, these leaves were by far the subject of most of my photos from this outdoor excursion. I was drawn to their cheerful yellow-gold warmth - the color of the autumn sunshine itself - shining in the midst of a shadowy forest already feeling the cold grip of the coming winter, with all of the associated shades of brown and decay.


This experience was a good reminder that during those times in our lives where things aren't going right and there seems little to be grateful for, when beauty is scarce and hope has faded, you can still find glimmering bits of sunshine amid the shadows.