Showing posts from 2016

Looking back at 2016: Top 5 most-read posts on the blog this year

We've already arrived at the final week of 2016. It was a year of Wanderings, of exploring new places, meeting new friends, and reaching new heights. This year, my wanderings led me to reflect on our place in the world, our impact upon it and our responsibility to it. As the year winds down, let's take a look back at the most popular blog posts of the year.

1. Wanderings: Sauk Mountain If the world ends, let me be here... a place that inspired a true feeling of gratitude and exhilaration.

2. In the News: Wildfires in Western Washington Wildfires made an appearance in Western Washington this spring, and may become a regular occurrence with our changing climate.

3. Wanderings: Fragrance Lake The first meetup of the Alpine Trails Book Club led to this tranquil lake surrounded by a forest full of history and interesting geology.

4. Wanderings: Mount Si My biggest challenge yet, climbing Mount Si gave me a whole new perspective on my own abilities, and on my home valley far below…

Wanderings: Lord Hill Regional Park

Black Friday dawned cool and sunny, with blue skies that offered a welcome respite from the heavy clouds and incessant rain we'd seen for days on end. What better day to join the growing number of people choosing to "opt outside" on Black Friday, rather than hitting the sales at the shopping mall and big box stores. The Opt Outside movement was initiated by outdoor retailer REI last year, as they gave their employees the day after Thanksgiving off to spend time outdoors, and encouraged others to do the same. I'm not one for crowds and long lines, so it didn't take much convincing for me to make Black Friday hikes a new tradition!

Last year, my husband and I took a walk at the Redmond Watershed Preserve on Black Friday. The year before that - before opting outside was even a "thing" - my sister and I hiked to Coal Creek Falls on a particularly rainy and cold day after Thanksgiving. Despite arriving home soaked to the skin and freezing cold, the experien…

Wanderings: Lime Kiln Point State Park

Whales. That was the one thing on my mind as my husband and I pulled into the shaded parking lot at Lime Kiln Point State Park in early October. This small park located on the western shore of San Juan Island is known to be one of the best whale-watching locations in the state.

Earlier that day, as we wandered among the exhibits at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor and marveled at the massive skeletons of those majestic cetaceans, a small note caught my eye on a whiteboard shoved into a corner of the room. Just last night, it said, a few Southern Resident orca whales had been sighted cruising past Lime Kiln Point. Well, our afternoon excursion had been decided! Off to Lime Kiln we went, in hopes of spotting those beloved killer whales in person.

After hanging the Discover Pass from the rearview mirror, we bundled up against the brisk wind that had stolen the warmth from this brilliant sunny day and set out for the trail to the whale watch site. It was just a short jaunt - a hundred y…

Musings: Last Chance Tourism

Last chance tourism is the latest trend for globe-trotting travelers. The "last chance" doesn't refer to getting in on a good deal on airfare at the last minute, or scoring a seat on an overbooked expedition after being on the waitlist forever. Nope, last chance tourism is something a bit more somber: it has to do with climate change.

As Earth warms, we're witnessing the face of the planet change forever. Some areas are melting, some are parched, some are drowning. Ecosystems are shifting and changing and many species are in decline. Unique and irreplaceable places are being lost at an alarming rate, and it is to these places - the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, low-lying tropical islands like the Maldives - that tourists are flocking, in order to see these places before they disappear forever. Because let's face it: once the ice fields of Antarctica melt, they're not coming back anytime soon.

A recent article from the Sierra Club explains the paradox of la…

Wanderings: Among Ancients in the Cedar River Watershed

Early on a Saturday morning that would later become a scorching August day in the mid-nineties, my sister and I headed for the shady refuge of the forest. Old-growth forest in the Cedar River Watershed, to be exact. The Cedar River Watershed Education Center is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to visit.

I've already attended one of their signature Watershed Tours and an Adventures in Forest Ecology class, and I was eager to sign up for their old-growth forest ecology class called Among Ancients. For only $15, I got to spend the entire day in the company of ancient trees, on an educational outing led by Clay Antieau, Seattle Public Utilities scientist and self-titled "plant guy" who truly has a wealth of knowledge on his subject.

After exiting I-90, we drove up Cedar Falls Road and passed the already-full parking lot at Rattlesnake Lake. This is a popular destination, for the lake itself as well as the well-known trail to Rattlesnake Ledge. Cars were already sp…

Wanderings: Sauk Mountain

If the world ends, let me be here.

Those words from Terry Tempest Williams' recent book The Hour of Land raced unbidden to my lips as I rounded the corner of the trail and gasped at the panorama spread out before me. At 5,500 feet on top of Sauk Mountain, I stood before verdant subalpine meadows, their graceful slopes descending down, down, down to the valley below; and rolling away into the infinite western horizon were the rocky Cascade Mountain peaks. A near-cloudless dome of blue sky stretched overhead, and fragrant wildflowers all around buzzed with honeybees.

Yes, if I had a to choose a place to watch the earth's last moments before being subsumed by whatever the coming apocalypse... I could choose no place better, no place closer to heaven on earth, no place with better views from which to bid farewell to everything I know.

I had not anticipated the splendor that waited at the summit as our book club hiking group navigated the winding and crater-ridden gravel road to th…