This week, the National Park Service released the latest in a series of videos celebrating wilderness, this time in Olympic National Park wilderness. (The last one was a spectacular look at the North Cascades).
The soundscape and images from the wild Olympics couldn't have come at a better time. If rain, school or social obligations have interfered with your weekend hiking plans, you can take a virtual walk through one of our state's most diverse land- and sound-scapes.
Take five minutes and watch. You won't regret it. It will take you back through an incredible summer hiking season (the sounds of bees buzzing in a lupine-filled meadow evoke it best). Plus, if you've never heard the yip of a coyote or the distinctive whistle of a marmot in the wild, you'll be inspired to seek out the sounds yourself after you watch.
About the series: The two videos are part of series created through a collaboration between the National Parks, Harpers Ferry Center and film students at American University in anticipation of the upcoming 40th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act in 2014.
What's your favorite wilderness sound?
What sounds say wilderness to you? Do you have a favorite? What's your favorite Washington wilderness? Share in the comments below.
Hiking on a rainy day can be a delight, especially in fall when mushrooms and fall foliage more than make up for views hidden behind clouds. But with the National Weather Service calling for heavy rain (up to 10 inches in the mountains) and high winds in areas of Southwest Washington, including the coast, hikers should probably take their autumn hiking elsewhere this weekend.
Be sensitive to storm dangers, and consider a change of plan
When heavy rainfall is called for, steep drainages, steep hillsides, some shorelines and snowfields are more hazardous areas to hike. Rain can loosen hillsides and flood streams and creeks, even in autumn, when water levels are typically lower.
During high winds, the danger of trees coming down also increases, especially in areas thick with dead trees from wildfire. These areas are best to avoid during any windstorm.
One of the most important safety tips for hikers is to stay flexible. Be willing to change your plans when bad conditions are called for, and don't be afraid to turn around. Just make sure you keep someone informed about your plan changes and backup itineraries.
Some National Public Lands Day events rescheduled
Due to the incoming storms, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest has cancelled their National Public Lands Day events.
WTA has also cancelled our Saturday workparty at the soon-to-open Ape Cave Viewpoint Trail.
You can sign up to help out on the rescheduled dates below. Please come lend a hand if you can! The final push to complete the trail will the the weekend of Oct. 19/20 with an optional Saturday potluck/campout at Marble Mountain Sno-Park and a ribbon cutting on Sunday!
Join us on upcoming Ape Cave Viewpoint work parties:
Public lands are lands we hold in common. They are ours to enjoy, to explore, to steward. Washington state is rich in the variety and beauty of our public lands -- something we can all be proud to celebrate.
This Saturday, Sept. 28, marks National Public Lands Day, a national day honoring public lands across the country. Coming at the very end of summer, it's the perfect day for hikers, climbers, trail runners, birders, and nature photographers to get outside. Below are a few great ways to spend your Saturday.
Try out a new hike, for free
With so much funding slashed from public lands budgets in recent years, the parks need your help, and the pass will make it easier for you to explore the 100+ state parks that stay open all winter long.
Visit a National Park. Pack an extra fleece, grab your camera and a thermos of hot chocolate or spiced cider, and get ready to fill your lungs with cool, crisp autumn air and take in a wonderful palette of Washington’s fall color (fee-free) at Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park or North Cascades National Park.
Hike on National Forest Lands. From aspens in the Colville National Forest to larches in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the huckleberries bushes in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, there are no shortage of spectacular autumn trails to try, fee-free, on Saturday.
Update: The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has cancelled it's National Public Lands Day events due to a severe weather warning. Take extra precautions and check with a ranger if you had planned to visit trails on this forest.
Give back to public lands on a WTA work party
From Mount Rainier to Wallace Falls, we're hosting six work parties on National Public Lands Day. WTA volunteers give back to trails all year round, but Sept. 28 is the perfect opportunity to come together with other volunteers all across America and give back to trails!
Join other hikers and trail users at one of these beautiful locations. You'll meet other great folks, have fun and spend the day learning how to maintain one of Washington's trails, helping to keep it hikable and safe for trail users all over the state.
Updated Sept. 27, 2013.
Whether you expected it or not, somehow you've ended up with a Disney princess-obsessed child. Maybe that means wands and tiaras wedged into the backseat of your car. Maybe it means a heavy rotation of sparkles in the laundry.
Well, if you're a parent who wants to expose your kid to the natural world (and have them fall in love with it) you can turn that princess-obsession to your advantage.
Step. 1 Bedtime reading
Buy this book and read it at bedtime.
- Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?, by Carmela LaVigna Coyle and Mike Gordon (Rising Moon, 2003)
Spoiler alert: princesses do wear hiking boots.
Step 2. Outfitting your prince or princess for the trail
You'll need the 10 essentials in your pack, of course, but there's no reason your child can't hike in a tutu (they're nylon and shed water!) or a tiara. If you're the elaborate type, take inspiration from this woman who hiked Mount Rainier earlier this year in one serious ballgown.
Just make sure to pack extra layers of clothing, rain gear and treats to keep your kids warm and fed. Consider bringing a thermos full of hot chocolate or soup for autumn's chilly days.
Step 3. Pick a princess, choose a hike
Washington is home to so many ecosystems with kid-friendly trails that you could hike your way through the entire Disney vault and still find more hiking to do. Use the few suggestions below as a starting place for finding some great fall hikes that will inspire a deep love of nature in your little one.
Tiana, The Princess and The Frog
Washington may not play host to a proper bayou, but we do have some very cool approximations, in the form of swamps and damp rainforests. And if you want to help build a passion for wildlife watching in your child, imagine that every frog or toad you encounter might just be a super-smart princess in disguise.
- Look for frogs in East Tiger - Silent Swamp
- Explore the wonder of the Hall of Mosses nature loop in the Hoh Rainforest (below)
Tough, outdoorsy and adventurous, Merida epitomizes a hiking princess. She spends practically all of Brave tromping around the Scottish Highlands getting dirt and leaves in her iconic hair. While the Scottish Lakes might seem like a natural choice, you'll do better to tackle a more accessible lake.
- Hike to Blue Lake (below) a 5-mile roundtrip to a stunning lake ringed by stands of golden larches.
- Barclay Lake is a great first overnight-in-the-woods backpack adventure for kids.
Ariel, The Little Mermaid
Sing, "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat," while you play a nature scavenger hunt in a city park. Or you can go the distance and head to one of the following three coastal hikes, where your little mermaid or merman can play in the tidepools, looking for their own ocean friends.
Aurora, Sleeping Beauty
The real sleeping beauty on this hike is of the volcanic kind. Views of dormant Mount Adams await the family that makes this 3-mile climb on a clear day. Sing to woodland creatures, look for lingering berries and teach your child how to stay safe in the woods on a hike to great views in southern Washington.
Leia, Star Wars
Don't forget that Princess Leia is now a Disney princess, too.
- Follow in the footsteps of forest Leia. Search out Ewoks (and intergalactic justice) on the Forest Moon of Endor, otherwise known as the Quinalt Rainforest Loop.
- Head to Central Washington's White Bluffs (below) to rescue Han Solo among the sand dunes of Tatooine.
Have the kids look for different kinds of pine and fir cones on their scavenger hunt. Photo by Miranda Everitt, Flickr.
After an incredibly active summer of hiking, camping and backpacking with my family, we've now hit the brakes with fall. The kids are back in school and soccer is eating up our weekends. Like many parents, I've wrestled with how to keep my kids connected to nature when all of our school activities compete for attention.
Fortunately, I've hit upon something: scavenger hunts. My kids (4 and 8 years old) love them. We've done scavenger hunts at their grandparents' house, having them look for animals in the artwork both in and outside their home. And earlier this month I put one together for my son's birthday party. The boys raced around our yard, working together to cross the items off the list.
Outdoor fun, without going too far afield
As my family scavenger hunts have proven, you don't have to go far afield to connect kids with nature.
From your backyard to the neighborhood park, scavenger hunts provide an opportunity to get everyone outside and exploring their environment. And when families are so busy on the weekend with sports and activities -- and simply the need to relax -- sometimes a full day hike is simply not possible.
Take the checklist to a forested park for an hour
WTA has created a scavenger hunt that you can take to a forested city or regional park. Take a hour after school or on a weekend to look, listen, touch and explore the environment. You can look for different sizes of pine and fir cones, ferns and bugs, or things that are scented, smooth or curly. You don't need a bucket to collect items; just have the kids spot them and check them off the list. Have fun and let us know how it goes.
by Tami Asars
Bird: Great Horned Owl
Who gives a hoot? It does! Besides being the most widely distributed owl in the United States and having the most recognizable facial profile, the great horned owl hoots the familiar call of “ho-ho-hoo-hoo”—almost the exact answer a child would give when asked, “What does the owl say?”
In late fall, when mating season begins, owl calls are often heard at dusk or dark as the males and females begin their breeding cycles. Interestingly,this big owl does not make its own nest, but rather, it takes over one previously created by another bird. Keep your eyes upward as you walk through the forests this season, and look for “whitewash” and pellets on branches and rocks as clues to help spot them.
Beast: Western Toad
It’s so ugly, it’s cute.
Known by the white- or cream-colored stripe down its dry, bumpy spine, the bulbous western toad is found throughout riparian landscapes across our region. These toads are true hibernators,snoozing for three to six months out of the year, waking to feed and mate during seasons when temperatures are warm and food is plentiful.
Use caution when hiking with Fido. When stressed, a toad can secrete a white poison that can cause problems when it hits a would-be predator’s mouth. Inflammation, nausea and, in extreme cases, death may occur if your dog tries to play.
Despite this amazing defense mechanism, western toads are docile creatures, just waiting for a juicy beetle to walk on by.
Bloom: Chanterelle Mushroom
There is fungus among us! It’s the season for chefs in the Northwest to roam the forest under story near and far in search of their very own secret patch of chanterelles.
Found in clusters under mossy, moist forests,these gourmet delicacies are high in vitamin C, potassium and vitamin D. Having a woody or earthy flavor, chanterelles are savored in soups and sauces and added to veggies and meats, making foodies, flavor connoisseurs and choosy aficionados swoon with each spoonful.
If you are lucky enough to find your own chanterelle patch, make a positive ID,then gently cut them instead of pulling. Cutting ensures that the base remains intact and allows for continued propagation. Hungry yet?
This article originally appeared in the Sept+Oct 2013 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Join WTA to get your one-year subscription.
Super-star hikers and trip reporters Bob and Barb recently spotted the Red Juice Tooth Fungus on the Silver Falls Loop and included a close-up of the unusual specimen in their trip report.
Spectacularly creepy, the fungal find (which seems like it must be related to the fictional Weirwood tree in George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones series) highlights something hikers all over the state are seeing: mushrooms and fall fungi are really starting to show off, in all their freaky glory.
Winter is coming...
But for now, we're still in the early stages of Washington's fall hiking season. That's great news for hikers who love to discover and photograph the spectacular spread of mushroom varieties that thrive in Washington state. So don't forget to look down when you hike.
And if you're a photographer with an eye for macro, you might want to consider entering the Flora and Fauna category of our annual photo contest with your favorite fungi photo.
Where trip reporters spotted cool fungi in the last few days
Reported by: Bob and Barb. (You could do worse than following these two around the state.)
Reported by otterbhikin
Reported by Andy and Angela analonthetrail.
More reading about mushrooms
This week, the National Park Service released the latest in a series of videos celebrating wilderness. The 5-minute video focuses on the North Cascades, and it's an excellent introduction to the wonders of one of Washington's most spectacular hiking destinations.
Whether you already love the North Cascades or haven't made it there yet, it's worth taking a tour of seasonal ranger Masyih Ford's North Cascades in the video below.
"It was a family tradition to go camping at one of the National Parks every summer. Those are probably some of the best memories I have with my family," Ford says.
Some people, like Ford, fall in love with the wilderness because they grew up with it. Others come to hiking through school programs or because a friend took them hiking. Others found their way through trail work with WTA.
How did you fall in love with Washington's wilderness? What's your favorite Washington wilderness? Share in the comments below.
Remember the days when you had to forage around for a walking stick as you hiked your favorite trail? It helped sturdy you on the uphills and took some of the load off the downhills, and of course they were ideal on tricky creek crossings. But they were heavy and often broke easily.
These days, you may still choose the natural route, but companies like Black Diamond, Helinox, MSR, and Leki are giving hikers lots of trail stabilization options with ultra-light weights, gender-specific styles, ergonomic grips, powder baskets (for hiking in snow or snowshoeing) and even anti-shock suspension. With so many styles available, it can be tough to decipher what’s worth investing in, but there are some standouts you should look for when shopping for your next set of trekking poles.
Three hiking poles that pass the test
Of the variety of trekking poles I tested, the Leki Cressida Aergon poles were a real winner. They sport an insanely comfortable grip, with natural cork handles that didn’t make my hands sweaty. As I worked them in, they naturally conformed to my hand shape making them even more comfortable to handle. Extending them was a literal snap with the benefit of the SpeedLock mechanism—no pinched fingers from push-buttons, and no breakable plastic twist-locks. Top that off with their lightweight, sturdy frames, and their ability to collapse down to a good size to fit on the side of my pack and I was set. Available in men’s and women’s styles. $159
Also worth mentioning are the Helinox Passport poles. Weighing in at a scant 11.2 ounces, these were the lightest of the styles I sampled. Constructed of DAC Anodized aluminum, they easily locked in place with a TensionLock system. As a smaller, lighter hiker, they offered great support—and at their price point, a real bargain. $99
Washington Trails magazine editor, Eli Boschetto, tested the Black Diamond Ultra Mountain Carbon Z-Pole. They're a fixed-length model that extends with an innovative, lock-free connecting system for use, then folds down to a mere 16 inches, making them easily stowable. He found them to be ultra-light and ultra-sturdy over all types of terrain, with two-tiered foam grips for choking up or down as needed. Available in a variety of styles and sizes for men and women. $99–$169
Why hike with poles: stability, safety, and stress off your knees
So do yourself a favor and pack a pair of poles on your next hike. They’re so much more useful than just making you look sporty. They help balance heavy loads, easing the weight on your back; they take a great deal of stress off your knees on those steep downhills; and they help support you when crossing talus fields and streams—all to help keep you safer and hiking longer.
This Saturday is WTA's 20th anniversary of trail work, and we're celebrating all over the state. If you haven't had a chance to sign up yet, never fear - there are still spaces on these work parties and we would love to see you there!