Tag Archives: hiking

Hiking With Elephants – Wk 1 – Holidays

Had to think about this. I spent my New Year’s on a two hikes in low 30 degree weather. We each have to define what a holiday is. I think walking a beautiful trail and seeing a driftwood elephant in the process (who I have since named Fee Fee, and yes there is more to that one) made it a wonderful holiday. I also saw hawks and herons and eagles and little brown birds playing peekaboo from the bushes. So, this is my first offering for the year.

Iverson Spit 01/31/2015

Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-81The second half of the day with the Sierra Club was brought onto my little island where I discovered another trail that I didn’t know about, Iverson Spit.  The interesting thing is that my grandparents were Iversons.  I may have to look into that further at some point.Coming around the bend in the road, there were some Canadian geese in the field.  There were a couple of bald eagles just before that and I was stopping to get some shots of them, but the guy behind me started honking his horn and they were veering off.  Not sure if it was because they didn’t want to hang around the jerk who couldn’t appreciate their majesty or some other reason.  But, I guess it did prove that Sierra Club and appreciation for nature did not always go hand in hand or it did so selectively depending on how great what the sheep’s need to follow.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-82The herons are wonderful to see regardless of where they are found.  Though I must admit that I prefer those rare occasions where they are found fishing.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-85It seems I am slowly starting to learn to identify even the little birds.  This is and Anna’s hummingbird.  I was told that they are quite stunning to catch in the sunlight (of which we had pretty much none of that day).  This one was quite content to just hang around this one tree.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-86A little bit of proof that they are not always moving.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-89I do like the driftwood beaches that line my island.  I believe I was told its because they funnel through the bay and they come in but don’t go out.  But, it does make for some interesting fancy footwork along them to get to the water’s edge.  And they can get very slick.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-90Kinda looks like a seed pod, doesn’t it?  Its probably for one of those giant trees on the other side of the world that you can wrap 50 pairs of arms around and the itty bitty tops on them.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-93Red holly???  Does that mean the mistletoe will be purple?  That would be cool!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-94
Just cuz it look ethereal!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-96
I have always know these as Manzanitas, however, it seems no one up here knows that name.  I think they use Madrone.  Or something like it.  Difference is, up here, they are HUGE!!!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-99Blackbird singing in the dead of night!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-104
They’re our redwing blackbirds.  My understanding is the male has multiple mates and the stay in family units.  The female is much drearier looking as is with most of the bird species save the raptors.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-107
And here the Patriarch is catcalling, uhm, birdcalling the single females flitting about.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-112
Just some pretty lichens that look like big snowflakes on the branches.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-116
See????  Snowflake!!!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-118Particle snowflake!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-120
Oh, I forget what they said this little brown one was.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-124
Its a doorway to another realm.  I peeked inside.  They were having lunch, so I will go back later.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-138Isn’t that a cute little bridge?
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-140It looked really cool sticking up from the grasses.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-143Thought it made an interesting formation and has some nice lights and shadows in it.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-145
The miniature world around here is just as lovely as the big world.  But, I have often noticed that many people will walk right by such things without even seeing them.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-146
They’re just sooo cute!!  And they can generally be found most of the time.  Unlike a lot of the mushrooms that are generally only seen in the fall.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-148Little did the unsuspecting travelers know, but they had entered the darkness forest and the trees were reaching out to claim more victims for their evening meal.  It was proving to promise quite the feast.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-149And the long spindly hand reached out from the bowels of the earth toward their cowering forms.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-152Now bow to your partner on the left, then bow to your partner on the right!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-153Though it does look cooler in grayscale!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-155We were pretty sure it was a Cooper’s hawk.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-157Yup, that’s what it seems to be.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-162And the darkness opened before them, daring them to enter.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-164Pretty colors, aren’t they?
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-169No one else seemed to find this as stunning as I did.  I still find it stunning.  The reflection was just perfect.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-173Irresistible, one would think.  Alas, it will have to wait for another day.  The ground was so we that my boot got sucked in to the ankle on the firs step.  Its been a wet year!  But, I will be back for this one.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-174Now, That’s a spider plant!!!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-176I so love the color of these trees after they shed their bark.  Almost looks like wounds in some places.
Celebration!Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-181
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-194Ahhh!  And the little hummingbird is still there.  A bit closer this time.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-196And he did a little flutter-by for us.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-197Liftoff!!!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-198Wow!  I’m pooped!

Port Susan Bay 01/31/2015


Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-2Alas, it was a very overcast day when I went with the Sierra Club to Port Susan Bay.  These are Snow Geese, though its hard to tell because of the gray skies.  They come all the way from Russia to spend their winters with us.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-3I’m thinking I need to head over to Fir Island before they leave and see if I can get some shots of some really big clouds of them taking off.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-6I have absolutely NO idea what this thing is, only that it was old and the metal parts were rusty and it looked very cool.  So, I did what any shutterbug does, I took a picture.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-7And to think the last time I was over here, this was dirt.  Now its a cute little pond!
 Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-10Although the small monolith in front of the prickly vines looks like it might be an unmarked grave, it isn’t.  But, we’ll just pretend that it is.  Or maybe it really is and we shouldn’t mention it.Look at the pretty plants in the front of the picture!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-14
Oh, just because I like things like this.  And no, I do not know what kind of plant it is.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-16I considered noting a few things that can be found in the curves and shadows of this driftwood root, but thought it would be more fun to make it a visual treasure hunt for everyone else.  Do enjoy!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-18
This is actually a prehistoric saddle for a mastodon.  They used to be prolific on these shores and the native tribes had domesticated an entire herd of them for their use.  Needless to say, they rarely had to raise a bow in battle.  The warring tribes took one look at their woolly steeds and ran the other way.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-19From a distance its a Rorschach block.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-23
One lovely thing that can be done to take advantage of what would otherwise be dismal pictures on an overcast day is to drop them to tinted shots like this.  I rather like this one.  And the wetlands in the distance are quite cool, I think.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-27 This is actually an ancient instrument reportedly used by Hades to attempt to woo the Goddess Persephone before resorting to conspiring with her father to set an example for centuries to come, and simply abduct her.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-32
Silhouettes on a misty moor.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-35And now you know giants really did walk the earth.  And this is a toothpick grove they left behind.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-38They stood in fear as the Goliath began to emerge from the murky depths of the bog.  But the curiosity overrode their fear as they wished to know what the final creature would be in its full glory.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-39Its a moat!No its not.  Its where the critters had their party last night and danced in circles till dawn with their rain dance.  It was a successful dance, as the furrow is now full.Its still a moat!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-42
And flap!  And flap! And FLAP!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-44
Naner! Naner! Naner!  You can’t catch me!!!!  Plllttthhhzzzz!!!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-48Up, Up and AWAY!!
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-50
Yes, to most, it looks like a desolate wasteland.  But wait!  There’s life down there!  Where?  You ask. . . . .
There!Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-51
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-52
I dunno.  Its a little brown bird sitting on a wire.  Oooh, Bird On a Wire, wasn’t that a movie?  Maybe its a movie star?
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-53
Its so easy to find your own little private island in some places.  Okay, you may not be able to build a home on it, but its the thought that counts.
Just cuz its cool!Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-65
 Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-72
How they put nitrogen back in the soil up here.  And they’re pretty too!  Though I hear they will take out the electrical lines sometimes.
 WARNING!!  The next shot is not for those of a squeamish demeanor that only want to see live critters.
Port Susan Bay and Iverson Spit-75
There’s a dead flicker in the middle of the road.
Dead flicker in the middle of the road.
Dead flicker in the middle of the road.
Never again flying to heaven!For those that want to know more, its a Northern Flicker.  I couldn’t help it.  The colors were pretty.  I was talking to my daughter when I saw it and told her to hold on. There was a dead body and I wanted to take pictures.  She laughed and said she love me cuz I was so weird.  Well, yes.

Padilla Bay 07/05/2014

Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-2Padilla Bay is one of those rare hikes in Western Washington that has something like 0, as in ZERO, none, till flatter than the christian rendition of earth, elevation.  Well, maybe there are a few inches in one direction or another.  However, it is the home of many interesting birds and plant life.  Though it seems someone notified them of our arrival prior to our getting there and they decided to play a prank by being virtually non-existent the entire time we were there.  Or it could also have been a lucky fishing boat off to the other side of the hill that they were getting a free lunch from.  Either way, it became more of a nature hike with a few interesting sightings during the course of it.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-3There were a few encounters, like this one.  I believe it is a Cooper’s Hawk.  Pretty little things.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-5These tracks, we were able to successfully identify as belong to a distant relative of the Dodo bird which is now extinct.  The Didit bird, though rarely seen, has been known to leave tracks as it prowls for tidbits to share with its companion, the Sasquatch.  Its a symbiotic relationship and adds to the mystery of Sasquatch sightings.  Its also where the bird got its name.  When seen, people will point to it and stutter, “he diditditdit”, which eventually got shortened to Didit.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-6Looks like this one was engaged in the mysterious two step hippity hop mating dance where they first jump one foot forward, one foot back, then straight down and bow to their prospective partner.  We didn’t see any other tracks in the other direction, so she must have been playing very coy and hiding behind the reeds.  Which they often do as they chortle a beckoning call to the suitor.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-7The aliens found many areas of this region to be difficult to leave their calling cards and had to improvise.  So, where the Midwest has crop circles, we have wetland tribal markings.  The decision was reached after a long negotiation process with the local tribes of the region, who, unlike in other areas of this country, did not lose all their lands and rights, came to an agreement that they could mark the land, but they had to use ancient tribal symbolism.  It is rumored that it wasn’t tobacco that was in the peace pipe they handed the aliens and this is the reason for the rather unique interpretation of the tribal marks.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-9And it seems the aliens also left another gift on their visit to our wetlands.  One might believe these small puffs to be fallen pieces of moss, but on closer inspection, it is noted that they completely encompass the branch they are attached to.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-10And here, their nefarious intent becomes apparent.  The obvious blood on this batch shows them to be a alien carnivorous dust bunnies of the vamperical extraterrarium family.  A highly invasive species that will need addressing and eradicating.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-12And here we have one of the alien all terrain vessels in submarine mode posing as a stick.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-16Little does it know that the Earth protects herself and is readying herself for a light snack of alien kabobs by opening her gaping maw of doom.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-17After a quick bite, she returns to her normal and serene demeanor.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-24This tiny island, surrounded my vast expanses of mud was once home to a tiny band of mud people.  It took them hundreds of years to build their mud moat around the island.  A feat for which they generally get the last laugh as most people are unaware of the extreme danger that mud presents.  One can swim through water.  But, mud will suck you down as effectively as wet cement.  Which is probably where the gangsters first got that idea from.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-28Proof that everything is made of star stuff.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-29Although they may look like the tusks of a mastodon skeleton, the closeness of them is more indicative of a rarer species of the Beelociraptor.  As the vegetation began to shrink in size, so did this creature evolve to meet the ever smaller orifices it had to probe, until it became the honeybee we know today.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-30See?  On closer inspection, you can see the tubular opening at the other end where this voracious creature sucked in massive amounts of nectar.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-33
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-37Remember a while back when it was stated about the dangers in the mud zones?  Well, this poor unsuspecting creature thought nothing of her trusty canines wanting to wander into the mudlands and when she saw that they were unaffected by the terrain, allowed them to venture further.  The end results speak for themselves here.  Poor thing forgot that god spelled backwards is dog, thereby giving them near deity abilities to walk on watery surfaces that are denied to most other creatures.  You can see them having a grand laugh over the joke on their human companion.  Thankfully, she also had a great sense of humor which almost got her laughed even deeper into her sinkhole.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-38Lesson number 2.  Dogs that will drag you into the mudflats to begin with will NOT pull you back out if you ease up on their leash.  When you tell them to come on, they think you want to go play farther out.  And that is just where they will take you.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-40She did finally extract herself from the mud after releasing the dogs to their own devices.  Though the bog monster did demand the sacrifice of one shoe before releasing her.  That made the end of their adventure in the bay for the day, but gave them plenty of material to fill the pages of their journals that night.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-41Eureka!  We found the entrance to the Bog Monster’s Lair.  And people said it didn’t exist!
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-43Damn!  Wasn’t wearing the overalls.  Probably doesn’t look the same to dangle one out of your teeth in hiking clothes.  I’ll just admire them.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-44Tiny little starbursts in a sea of gray!
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-46Well, at least the plovers didn’t go into hiding like the rest of the birds.  Or, at least this one didn’t.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-48Lookie!  Its a little fairy parasol!  Bet they are hiding in the rock crevices.  Though it could be trolls which can be really mean and have very sharp teeth!
Little splatters of gold just jump out in this terrain.Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-51
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-56Yeah, that would be a find I will keep a safe distance from.  Not sure I have ever seen them build a home in a driftwood tree before.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-61Keep looking.  I am sure there is a hidden picture in there somewhere! 
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-63This is the fairy dust runway where the pixies fly low over to collect the dust from the tips of the waving tendrils for use in helping young children to fly and bring back to Neverland to keep Peter company.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-67And those black pods below?  Those would be the pods of zombie walking death that must not be consumed, no matter the cajoling from the fairies.  Never forget that one should never eat or drink of a fairy’s offering.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-70Wow!  That’s REALLY pink!
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-71There!  Much better!
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-73And that is not a smudge in front of the mountain.  Its the damn raptor that has been evading me all day.  And there is no doubt in my mind that it is the same raptor!
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-74Oh lookie!  BUTTERFLY!
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-75Not a dandelion.
 Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-76Party poopers.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-77Oh lookie!  Its a secret chest hidden in a stone tomb.  Can it be claimed as a treasure hunter’s find?  Cool enclosure though.  Bet the person who forgot to put the stone back in in trouble.  Hmmm?  It could be a gateway into another realm.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-80Its the contemplation bridge.
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-86I think this came out quite nicely!
Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-87See above. 
 Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-96Well, swifts ARE birds.  The are NOT raptors.  But when the raptors are playing hide and seek, you have to accept what you can catch.
 Padilla Bay 07-05-2014-102What lies under these murky depths???


Deception Pass 05/24/2014

Deception Pass 05-24-2014-1Its like a house of mirrors that just seems to go on and on and on and on.  Welcome to Deception Pass.  And one of a set of bridges that gets you across it.  We didn’t get here quite as early as I had hoped we would.  First thing in the morning is one of the most magical times to see the pass as the morning mists hang over the water and hills.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-4
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-7Holy Bat Monsters Robin!  That’s the biggest fish I’ve ever seen!  Doesn’t this thing go any faster?  I think he’s gaining on us.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-8Have crack or crevice, will grow.  Stony mountainside?  Not a problem.  If there’s the tiniest fissure, green will happen.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-9Tiny lichens hanging on the branch.  Tiny lichens grabbing any line to cling to.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-12And when you find that the forest floor is too populated for your liking, you can always take root on the side of the trail.  The added benefit of this is to create worry of crushing by the hikers that walk alongside.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-20For those that need to know if they really want to take on a hike of a certain magnitude.  One is, after all, a daunting .7 miles distance.  Of course, what they don’t tell you on these signs is the elevation gain and drop on any of these.  So, the .1 mile could potentially be .1 of cliff climbing.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-26Can’t you just close your eyes and imagine those roots reaching up and wrapping around your ankles to drag you screaming into a gaping maw of earth before closing in over your head??
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-30It just looks more ancient when you strip the colors, doesn’t it?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-32There really, really needs to be a swing from the center of this!!!  That would be an E-Ticket ride if ever there was one!!!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-41And it looks much the same after a trip backward in time.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-47And way off in the distance, you can see the prodigal son.  Looks like he is trying to figure out some fancy setting on his camera to show his mother up.  But, he is missing the gaping maw before me, which no fancy setting is a match for!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-52And there is even a treasure hidden deep in its depths.  They may look like simple beach stones to the average person, but they are really coins dating back to the caveman days and still used by our local Sasquatch communities.  They have found that the exchange value isn’t quite as good as they like when trading with the locals though.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-55Bout all you can say about this little plant is Oooooh, Ahhhh!!!  Pretty!!!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-57One more time – Ooooh!!!  Ahhhhh!!!  Pretty!!!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-60Filters are fun to play with!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-63They’re even pretty in shades of gray!  Ooooh!  Ahhh!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-67Gotta love those determined cliff clinging trees!  Its nature’s way of showing off and letting you know She can put her trees anywhere and they will be fine.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-69As it rises from beneath the rocky shores of the island, reaching out its green mandibles for unsuspecting bare toe blood sport!
He’s just a shell of his former self.Deception Pass 05-24-2014-72
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-76Okay, now if this doesn’t look like something from a scene in Dune, I don’t know what does.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-82For those who are wondering where it is the flower fairies hide when the humans are around, they have these little clifftop retreats.  This also explains the tiny acorns that get dropped on your head even though there is no wind nor oak trees around.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-85What luck!  It seems we have the fortune of being witnesses to the ever elusive dance of the wood nymph!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-91And they are known for dancing to full exhaustion.
Cute little guy, isn’t he?Deception Pass 05-24-2014-97
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-99And the nurse tree that had the boy so fascinated.  Next time, I’ll have to take him to one of the old growth trails.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-105Blends quite well with the natural wildlife, doesn’t he?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-108Peek-A-Boo!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-111Breathtaking, isn’t it?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-113Pretty little flowers, all on a vine.  Pretty little fan leaves, following close behind.
That quite a long way down!!Deception Pass 05-24-2014-120
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-122Wild roses!!!  Pre-thorn era.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-124Now you didn’t think you’d get through one of my wanders without a shot of something dead or decaying, did you?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-127Its a miniature little land within the great above.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-132Rollin, rollin, rolling down the river!!
 Deception Pass 05-24-2014-137And this was where I learned that my son has issues with heights.  Now, I am sure I never dangled him out of a window, so I am innocent for implanting that fear in his mind.  But wait!  He flies all over the country.  He doesn’t have an issue with that?  Well, that could be because it brings back fond memories of his first plane trip where he threw his tray of food all over the stewardess.  Yes, there was a time where they did feed people full meals on flights and not just in first class.
 And yes!  The water REALLY is that color!Deception Pass 05-24-2014-141
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-143

Its one of those linear things again.  But, it does gt you to the other side!


Big Four Ice Caves 06/19/2014

Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-1Day two of Blunami’s visit to my little corner of the country and I thought we would go on a hike somewhere that is unlike anything she has down in the land of beige.  So, we went to Big Four Ice Caves.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-4Even without the caves, it is a beautiful hike.  Old growth with windfalls, towering skeletons and lush growth.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-5You have to stand in awe of a storm that can rip a tree out of the ground of this size and just lay it down.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-7And to get a sense of just how big it is. . . . . .
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-11And the Road is Long, with Many a Winding Turn . . . . . . lalalalalalalala!
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-16And pretty skunk cabbages all in a row!
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-21A peek at one of the surrounding mountains.  And no, I don’t know the names of the various mountains.  That’s on my to learn list. So rest assured, there will not be a quiz at the end.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-30So, it begs the question.  If you fold it just right, could a body be stashed here???
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-46I am relatively certain that the plant on the left is wild ginger.  But, since I am not 100% certain, there will not be a quiz on this one either.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-49And you though it was all in the minds and imaginations of people like the Grimm Brothers to come up with a haunted forest populated by laughing evil trees.  Well, it actually was.  But, many of us understand that such tales are cautionary tales that have their foundation in reality.  Or at least the perception of reality that exists after a night of drinking ale and whiskey and passing out on the forest floor where you wake up to this hovering over your body.  (Makes you want to rethink that next drink, doesn’t it?)
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-54Never fear!  For just a short way down the trail is this nice tree offering a safe haven from the evil flesh rending tree that was laughing at your pitiful countenance.
 Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-56The lesson to be learned from these beautiful evil darlings is that when you see them first coming up from the ground to always check and realize they are NOT dandelions.  Though their leaves can somewhat resemble them, they are NOT.  Do NOT with your bare hands attempt to extract them from the ground.  They will embed their little prickles into you as badly as will nettles.  They will show up everywhere, even in cracks in the cement where they are especially difficult to remove. Other than that, they are just beautiful throughout their entire life cycle to photograph.  Which is probably why I have left one monster plant growing in my back yard.
I just liked the way it split three ways.Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-57
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-97One of the surrounding hills when you reach the clearing to the Ice Caves.  As opposed to a desert island, its more like a desert hilltop.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-99And here we have the Emerald Palace.  Doesn’t it just look like a castle made of trees sitting up there.  Or it could be trees imitating Meerkats looking out over the valley.
The clouds make this hike so much prettier! Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-62
And for that Timeless Look!Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-66
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-70Now, how cool is that?  A coffin shaped stone and it was even covered with some dirt.  It was a bit heavy to heft out of there, so we left it.  Who know, maybe someone would want to bury someone under it.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-74One of the fascinating things in this valley is the walls of sheer rocks with tiny waterfalls all along them.  These are also the source of the ice caves.  And the closer you get to these walls, the colder the air gets.  You might be wearing a tank top before entering the valley area, but you will be reaching for a bit more covering as you make your approach.
 Ooooh, Pretty!!!Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-77
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-84I’m thinking she was a bit fascinated.  Alas, it was a bit early in the year for the true ooh-aah of the caves.  I now understand why we always went in the fall to these.  Guess Blu will have to come back then to see how wondrous they are!
The staircase of falls!Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-88
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-91You can just feel the frigidness of the water falling down these steps
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-94
 Just makes the breathing deeper when you look on scenes like this.  Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-165
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-168You just have to be careful of the pacific gators hiding in the waters.  They tend to particularly like the skunk cabbage.  They find it hides their scent from the prey.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-110Pretty tiny purple flowers.  Yeah, I should identify them.  Maybe later.
Wild leaf day?Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-113
Beautiful Solomon’s Seal.  They are all over this trail.Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-119
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-120
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-121The winds ONLY stripped one side of the tree?
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-126She almost looks reluctant to be heading back down the trail.  Guess she’s going to have to come back!
 Lonely little bell.Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-129
 Nature’s yo-yos!!!  Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-133
Queen’s cup, Bead LilyIce Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-135
Dance of the woodland ferns.Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-139
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-141And in every crevice, you can find life taking up residence.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-144
Sweating tree mushrooms.  They form the most interesting shapes. Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-149
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-154And then we have the infamous alpaca tree.  Legend has it that wild herds used to roam the hills till the white man came where they began to capture and tame them so they could sheer them of their soft piles to make socks for their tender feet.  But, they missed one, the king of the alpacas.  When they realized he had been missed, that his coat was rumored to be softer than that of any of the others, they set out on an expedition to find him.  The Spirit of the Forest felt they had taken enough and asked the Alpaca King if he wished to stay and become one with the forest.  He heartily agreed and was transformed just before they threw the net over him.  Well, they had no use for a moss-mop, so they took back their nets and he stand next to the trail to this day, mocking the passing humans for being outsmarted by an alpaca.  And once in a while, he has been known to spit on a passing human.  Though, it is generally one that doesn’t show sufficient respect for the forest.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-157Many a sacrificial victim has met its end at the maw of this ancient spirit of the forest by the little forest sylphs within.
Ice Caves with Blu 06-19-2014-161Okay, all together now – Oooohhhhh  – Aaaahhhh!!!Pretty!!


Franklin Falls 05/24/2014

Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-1So, we decided that a single falls hike was not enough for one day, so we added a second trail to the list.  I have never been to Franklin Falls, but it was a very nice, mellow low elevation hike.  We didn’t hit the trail at the beginning of it, because after driving halfway through the park area and not finding the trailhead, we went back out and asked at the ranger station.  They told us that we could park anywhere that there was a pullout and could see the trail and start there.  So, that’s what we did.  And that’s where I got my first shot from the trail.  Combination waterfall stream and snow stream.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-3There is something deeply amusing to me that one of the first blooms in the forest is the skunk cabbage.  This plant never ceases to amaze me.  The leaves are just massive, but it seems that they don’t get so very huge until after they have bloomed.  But, the blooms are just so unique.  I am guessing it only qualifies as a single petal that forms a hammock cup that shoots out what appears to be a corncob spathe on a stalk.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-7Love the mossy covered branches!!
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-10And they take on a surreal look when you strip them of the color.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-11Seems like there may be more than one set of falls here.  This one is for the smallest of the fey creatures.  The dark crevices alongside are part of a complex network of pathways that weave through all areas of the forest for them to monitor the conditions.  Rumor has it that there are additional pathways that will spirit them to the neighboring forests and possibly all of them.  This has not been proven though.  The entrances of many of them are guarded by a particularly viscous sect of trolls whose teeth are not only barbed and sharp as razors, but also have a caustic bile in their mouths that can dissolve every known fabric.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-25Beware gifts offered by the spirits of the forests.  Especially if they are black and and the hand offering them is protruding straight up out of the ground.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-29 And for those that are wondering how they keep those little fairy outfits so clean and stain free, please observe the community washing stream.  It is equipped with old growth agitators, stone tumbling action and no need for water softeners with the patented pure glacier fed water system.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-37There were some issues between them before emerging from the ground.  Consequently, even though they were conjoined at the hip, they stubbornly stared of into other directions.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-40Tiny bells, ringing in the forest.  Tiny bells, ringing through the silence.  Tiny bells, sounding just like Yuletide.  Tiny bells, ringing wings onto fairies.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-49Rounding the corner, we find the little alcove where much panning for gold, or silver, or maybe it was agates.  Well, they didn’t have much luck till they got back into town where they opened up a store to sell off their tools to the burly men heading up to Alaska where for a small additional sum, they included a map to the homestead where it is reputed that you can see Russia from the back porch.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-62Ahhh, a quartet of skunk blossoms.  Just looking at that lovely shiny petal and cob-like center, you are certain they will work so well with any of a number of those recipes you were looking at in that new cookbook over the weekend.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-70This is what is known as a forest ruins.  All that is left is a mere shell of what was once a majestic tree.  However, unlike the ruins of humans, life still prevails in the ruins of the forest.  Look closely and you will see the dripping hills of moss, the ferns peeking from the crumbling bark.  Tiny insects make it their very own gingerbread tree house that they will live in and eat their way through.  Its a termite foodie wet dream!
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-73Nature reclaims all.  From the death and ruins of even the skeletal remains of a tree, there emerges new life.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-83And for those that were wondering what ever became of Ratatoskr?  Well, he made a wrong turn and found himself in the PNW forests where he foolishly attempted to convert the heathenish fairies that inhabit these lands.  They laughed at him and called him names, such as squirrel-zipper-nut-catcher.  Well, he couldn’t resist reacting with the anger the Norse are known for and raced up and down the trees spewing threats of calling down the anger of his gods till he ceased to be an entertainment and moved into annoyance  On his next scurry up a tree, he was caught by the sap and by the next morning had been sucked into the bark, an eternal warning to any who came upon him that one should use caution in dealings with the spirits in the trees.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-80The guardians of the forest.  They were here before you came.  They will persist after you have gone.  Just walk up to one of these Golliaths and breath in its magnitude.  Quietly waiting, being, watching.  And you cannot but be filled with their soft peace when you stand next to them and breath in the spikey green of their perfume.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-106There she is!  First glimpse which brings a swift drop in temperature.  The slick rocks from the spray serve to hold back all but the most determined of the hikers.  Alas, my son was not wearing shoes that allowed him to count himself in their numbers.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-89Stripped of color, you can almost feel the chill of her presence.  The falling locks of the Ice Queen.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-110The truth is, it was very easy to convince me to go on a double hike given they both involved waterfalls.  Its yet another of those things that my son and I share in common.  Our love of falls.  He has always been my favorite running around with buddy.  That hasn’t changed.  He still is.
Just stunning!Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-113
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-116Oh my!  There’s a lady in this falls too!  A bit heavier than the one at Boulder River.  And she might be expecting.
Yup, she’s still there!Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-118
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-124And a rather surprised little monster at the base of the rotted trunk.  Okay, I have a wild imagination, but you can see it there.  Two eyes over the gaping mouth!  He’s kinda cute, don’t you think?
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-127This IS my idea of worship.  I don’t know that I believe any of the Gods really exist, but if any of them do its not in a building you will find them. Its in “this” that they will call any earthly home.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-138And there he is!  That’s my son!  Geek to the core.  Even wears his Google goggles out on the trails.  But, at least he is mostly able to tune out the outside world and enjoy the woods.  I did really good.  He is a success in his life and doesn’t work himself into a grave doing it.  He makes sure he enjoys life.  And not waiting to do so.  I am proud.  And I still don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing son.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-148Just cuz it was cool looking.  That’s why!
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-153Love these mushrooms!  Sometimes they can get absolutely HUGE!  Of course, the tree is generally dead that they are on.  I’m not sure if they grow on dead trees or kill the trees.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-155You can just hear the tunes from Little Shop of Horrors playing in your head as you look on it.  Maybe that’s what sucked the squirrel into the bark.
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-160Black branches stretching out from the trunk like dark lightening issuing from the depths of the tree.
Reclaiming as nature always does.  Nurse trees on a fallen mother.Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-163
Franklin Fals 05-24-2014-179And yes folks, that is indeed snow at the end of May.  We almost forgot to stop and get a few shots of that on the way out.  Luckily, we didn’t have to walk back too far when we found a place to park.
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Camano State Park February 1, 2014

Camano State Beach-1Saturday, I ventured out to take my first hike of the year, sticking close to home and going to the Camano State Park.  Though the morning started off brisk and cloudy (around 34 deg at the start), the weather people has assured me that the clouds would clear and provide a beautiful day.
The park is a very lovely place with lots of little trails scattered Camano State Beach-3throughout it.  I only made it through a partial of them, so will have to return on another day or three or dozen to finish them off.  The trails take you through the woods and down by beaches.
Camano State Beach-5Wandering along one of the beaches I saw this guy just plowing along through the water.  I couldn’t make out what he had in his beak till I got home and blew the picture up.  I wonder if he’s going to decorate the nest with the starfish after he is done dining on it?
Okay, the twisted part of me looks at these (they were littered all over Camano State Beach-8the beach!) and thinks, “Now that’s a projectile weapon to scare the most seasoned warrior”
Camano State Beach-12Just have to love the gelatinous creatures that issue from the foaming mouth of the ocean!
Someday, his ship will come in.  And I shall be here to greet him. Camano State Beach-17
Camano State Beach-25How can you not love an old tree?  Especially one with a yoni in it?
Then we have the hag tree.  “I’ll get you, and your little dog too!Camano State Beach-35
Camano State Beach-40Love the little mushrooms that litter the trees and ground.  These were so delicate and lacy looking.
Camano State Beach-44Allright, I saw this and saw a witch on a broom.  And thanks to some charming friends of mine who saw “something else”, I shall now not be able to look at this without seeing what their perverted minds conjured.  *sigh*
Tiny bubbles, tiny bubbles on the tree!!!  Camano State Beach-50
I don’t think I shall ever tire of the clouds.Camano State Beach-53
Camano State Beach-56I personally thought it was very thoughtful of the park authorities to place this near the community center so parents (and other affected adults) would have a place for poorly behaved children.  Why, you could leave them there safely tucked away while you explore the trails without worrying about them taunting the wildlife or falling into a ravine.  Now, that’s intelligent Huzzah!
Now, don’t you just feel like you stepped into a time machine and Camano State Beach-75went back to the old west days??  Black and White does so much for the ambiance of some pictures, I must admit.
Camano State Beach-82I couldn’t get enough of this one.  How I hated those signs ordering me to stay on the trail.  And though I am not one for being “obedient”, I understand these signs are to protect the nature.  And so, with a sigh of regret, I comply.  But, to stand in the center of that ring of trees!!  Oh my!
Little mushroom, little mushroom growing in the moss.  How the microCamano State Beach-88 life loves you for the shelter you bring!
Just cuz it was pretty!Camano State Beach-97
See?  The clouds did clear!  And what lovely colors they painted as Camano State Beach-101they slipped away.
Well, these were a bit slower at moving off.Camano State Beach-106
The colors!!  And in the dead of winter!Camano State Beach-123
I’m thinking its the tree’s version of warrior pose.Camano State Beach-133
Just cuz it caught my eye!Camano State Beach-137
Camano State Beach-147Leaving.
Camano State Beach-145What light through yonder tree line break?
The curious sculptures trees make when they get boredCamano State Beach-149.
Camano State Beach-151Spider webs in golden leaves sparkling like diamonds in the sunlight.
The lonely marsh.Camano State Beach-157
Camano State Beach-159Can spend some time finding some interesting things in this on.
My Bokeh shot of the day.  I ratheCamano State Beach-160r like the way this one came out!
Camano State Beach-163Maybe he was looking for the same ship as the gull?
*Happy Sighs*Camano State Beach-164
Camano State Beach-171I believe they are loons.  The loudly announce they are coming in for a landing the entire time until they touch down.  Was very entertaining!
And then they did a repeat performance!Camano State Beach-172
I do love the sleeping plants of winter!Camano State Beach-175
And these little ones were just having the time of their life playing in that puddle!Winter Water Play
Camano State Beach-183Coming home, I had to turn down to the wetlands and get a few shots.
Aren’t they just the cutest couple??Camano State Beach-189
Fuzzy butt!!!Camano State Beach-190
Marsh againCamano State Beach-192
And one more before heading home.Camano State Beach-195

Fir Island 02-01-2013

Fir IslandOne of the amazing things about living here is the diversity We have everything from heavily wooded old growth forests to quiet beaches to marshy wetlands.  Fir Island is one of those wetlands that is favored by many of the local and visiting birds, from bald eagles to swans and snow geese.  According to Wikipedia, over 180 species of birds have been sighted in this area over the last year.  It also says there, “Important internationally, this population and one that winters in California, are the only Snow Geese that migrate between Eurasia and North America and the only remnant still extant in Eurasia.”
Fir+Island-3-2348660255-OUpon entering the area, one first casts eyes on the barren trees reaching up from the marshy pools under them.  A wooded dancer in a private ritual to entice the sun to join her in her silent revelry.
Fir+Island-5-2348660678-ORounding a bend the sun had broken through the clouds, a small family of ducks tracing the edges of the sparkling reflection.
Fir+Island-7-2348661223-O  Diamond spark of the sun breaks through the winter bare branches straining to see if their reflections have begun to show even the smallest hint of spring on their edges.  
Fir+Island-24-2348665978-OStripped of color, the barren branches ignited by the sunlight draw thoughts of an alien terrain and ghostly wanderings.
Fir+Island-35-2-2348669984-O  The first sighting, a heron gazing about its home and bathing in the warmth of the sun.


Spencer Island – Almost

Almost seems to be a common occurrence for me, particularly when I am trying to go somewhere.  I was looking for somewhere to go for my first hike of the new year.  So, an estuary with a bird sanctuary sounded like a wonderful place.  And it is not as if I got lost.  I didn’t.  I actually found it.  But, I reached a point in the gravel road where it said it would dead end and there would be no parking which meant I would have to backtrack to find the parking lot.
spencer island almostAs I turned the car around to head back to the parking areas, I had to make a pre-stop and grab the camera from the trunk and get a few pictures of the mist hanging over the ground and the muted colors of the vegetation.
The parking lot was part of Langus Rivespencer island almost-16rfront Park and it looked like a pretty good place to start.  So, I parked, grabbed my gear and gave a quick look at the thermometer.  28 degrees.  Okay, this could be a bit nippy.The lack of wind was going to be such a blessing for shots here.  The water was just glassy, the mirror images showing the alternate univers in the watery depths.
spencer island almost-19The dying strands of the river weed, stripped bare of their color and kissed with frost made such a stark comparison to the surroungind landscape.
spencer island almost-22 (1)Winter blooms reached out to the frost from their branches along the river’s edge.
spencer island almost-34The soft light of the sun ignited the ice speckles on even the finest branches and leaves, melting tiny drops of water not quite heavy enough to pull away in release.
spencer island almost-37 (1)The rotting tree trunk had such a spectral look to it and became even more start when I got home and pulled the color from it.
spencer island almost-47One of the fascinating things about living in the Seattle area is how you can travel trails that seem to be in remote nature and turn a corner and get a glimpse of a corner of the city.  Even more breathtaking when the clouds decide to dip and hug the buildings in the distance.
spencer island almost-71This towering giant was amazing on her own.  Imaged in color did not do her justice but brought to light and shadow, its easy to see her reaching her branches up to the heavens.
spencer island almost-49Rounding another corner, I got another glimpse of the mist dotted hillside.  And the birds were starting to come out to play now.
spencer island almost-73This was a stunning view.  Between shots, I just stood and stared and allowed the beauty to wash over and through me.
spencer island almost-72I just couldn’t decide which of the two pictures to use.  After going round and round trying to decide, I made it easy and placed both of them in.
spencer island almost-77As I came around a bend in the trail, I came across this man that I had seen earlier on the trail.  I was looking around the area seeing what begged to have a picture taken and he was sitting on the bench eating his lunch.  I snapped a couple pictures of him, not thinking much about it.  But, when I got it downloaded, I was rather pleased with the way this one looked.
spencer island almost-82Around another bend, and the terrain shifts yet again.  The river snaked through the distance with the trees and brush reflecting in the mirror surface of the still water.
spencer island almost-94What a truly amazing site overhead!  I had to get home and blow the shots up and do some checking to find out what they were.  I knew they were raptors, just not what kind.  The skies held the majesty of young bald eagles.  I was told this adolescent was about a year old.
And another one!spencer island almost-107
spencer island almost-108The bridge going over to Spencer Island.  It took a couple hours of wandering and shooting pictures.  The mistake was a double one.  Wearing new mud clompers and not wearing double socks had produced a blister on my foot that had been hobbling me for probably the last half hour or better.  I was tired and knew I needed to put an end to this day.  But, there, right in front of me was the gateway to the destination I had set out to find.  The bridge into Spencer Island.  *sigh*
spencer island almost-114Well, I couldn’t come this far without at least venturing inside.  So, I cross the bridge.  And immediately I am not disappointed.  There, on the tree in the middle of the muddy expanse is a majestic red tailed hawk.  Yes, I have seen them from the window as I drive down the road.  But, this was close.  This was his home.  This was where he ruled.
So very beautiful!spencer island almost-115
spencer island almost-129And still, after this many hours the frost was still there.  How lovely the fragile sheets of ice spanning the dry weeds.
spencer island almost-126Another turn in the road and another look at the river or a stream shooting off from it.
spencer island almost-130And a flock of Canadian geese coming in for a landing.  Hopefully, they know better than to go near the lake with the duck hunters.
spencer island almost-142As I near the parking lot, I spied this old structure, logging house, fishing shack, something.  But, it just looked off and yet right nestled in before all the new dwellings.  A stark portrait of an area where there is a place for the old to live alongside the new.
spencer island almost-149One final shot before getting in the car.  Next time I will wear the right shoes.  next time, I will tour Spencer Island.