Friday, July 14, 2017

#Snoqualmie Tunnel Trek - #SaturdaySnapshots

I've hiked along city streets beside Lake Union, on paths in Mount Rainier National Park, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, and more, but yesterday was my first time to hike through a tunnel. What a great experience! The Snoqualmie Tunnel (part of the 110-mile-long John Wayne  Pioneer Trail) was cool -- both in awesomeness and in temperature. The high temp at Snoqualmie Pass was probably in the mid-70s, but inside the tunnel I needed layers of clothing - 
a t-shirt, long-sleeved cotton shirt, and light jacket. Just right for the damp and breezy hike. 
[Click on photos to enlarge.]

That's me, looking dorky with my headlamp,
trekking poles, and waterproof jacket.

The tunnel is 2.3 miles long and was originally used by trains. The tracks have been removed, of course, and the walking surface covered in asphalt. Occasional drops of water seep from overhead. We all wore headlamps so we could see in the darkness, and the far end of the tunnel was visible as a tiny light far ahead. I had been concerned about feeling claustrophobic, but that wasn't a problem at all. 

Here's the view as I neared the tunnel's end.



Literally the light at the end of the tunnel.

Afterwards, we all stowed our coats and other gear in our backpacks and looked back at the mountain we'd walked under. 



Wow! We walked underneath a mountain!

Nice view for our lunch break.


Not a single cloud, and the sky really was this blue.

At trail's end I experimented with my camera's shutter speed a little bit to see if I could capture the movement of flowing water. 


First attempt:


Slower shutter speed:



I'm not sure which photo I like better. Any comments?

Video too:
video





More info:  Snoqualmie Tunnel

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Port Gamble Beaver Dams - #SaturdaySnapshots

My FitBit says I walked 7.25 miles on June 16th, and 5.5 miles of that distance were logged in the magnificent Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park, located on Hood Canal, Washington. 

Although we walked through towering trees, up and down hills, and through the biggest collection of ferns I've ever seen, the most memorable parts of the hike for me were the beaver pond and dam. We didn't see the shy inhabitants, but we found ample evidence of their presence. Looks like they've been as busy as ... well... beavers! [Click on photos for a closer look.]

Downed trees.

Their dam.

Freshly gnawed building materials.


One of the men on our walk educated us about ferns, and we learned to identify several varieties. The ones in this photo are predominantly sword ferns, but we also learned about bracken ferns, lady ferns, deer ferns, and licorice ferns. Who knew there were so many kinds? 

This forest may soon become a residential neighborhood unless money is raised to purchase the land as a refuge and for recreational use. The following video tells more about the situation. It also includes gorgeous photos of the beauty I saw on my hike.





More info about the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park and a map of hiking trails: HERE

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mercer Slough - #SaturdaySnapshots

I have to admit that the June 13th walk along Mercer Slough wasn't my favorite, mainly because of the mosquitoes! But the nature park was lovely, and the weather was nice and cool. It's amazing that such a quiet, serene green space exists right next to the intersection of two of Seattle's busy freeways -- Interstates 405 and 90.
[Click on photos to enlarge.]

Our path took us along a stream...



Among skunk cabbage...

And over the slough.



Raised walkways kept our feet dry.

Portions of the park were closed for renovation and we couldn't visit the Blueberry Farm, but we explored what we could and had a great time.

From the Bellevue, Washington, Parks & Recreation website:
Nestled in the heart of Bellevue, the 320-acre Mercer Slough Nature Park offers a tranquil setting for a variety of recreational experiences: biking, hiking, canoeing , blueberry picking, and environmental education. The Mercer Slough is Lake Washington’s largest remaining wetland, containing hundreds of plant species and an abundance of water resources. The park provides a diverse habitat for over 170 species of wildlife. Interconnected boardwalks, soft surface trails, and asphalt paths transport visitors through this unique urban wetland.

More info:  Mercer Slough Nature Park


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Friday, June 9, 2017

Twin Falls #Hike - #SaturdaySnapshots

Seems like every hike and walk I take has something that sets it apart from the others. Last week's out-and-back trek started off at Olallie State Park and followed along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River in western Washington. I love the sound of a roaring river. 


We then veered inland and hiked up, up, and up some more to the top of Twin Falls. The view was worth the effort! The area had a lot of rain this past winter and spring, so the river was full and so were the falls. I took lots of photos of the upper falls. Here are two from different angles.



We continued upward to intersect with the John Wayne trail, so our hike ended up being around five miles. The trail was well tended (washouts had been rebuilt) and lined with ferns, bleeding hearts, salmonberry bushes, and other lush foliage. This isn't a great photo with that big tree smack-dab in the middle, but I wanted to show the ferns, switchback trails, and the hikers down below.



And here's the lower falls:

We walked down 104 wooden steps to reach the viewing platform where I took this picture. Of course, then we had to walk back up! My legs were quivering by the time I reached the top, but the dramatic view of the 135-foot plunge made it all worthwhile.

I hope you're able to view my video to get an idea of the roar from the falls:

video


The various hiking websites I visited described this as an easy hike. Maybe it would be if I were 20 years old! Although I was able to complete the whole thing, easy isn't a word I would use to describe the trek; but I'm sure glad I went.

For more info: Twin Falls Hike


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Friday, May 26, 2017

Bonsai! - #SaturdaySnapshots

The senior center walk on May 23rd took us to Weyerhauser Company's former 130-acre corporate campus in Federal Way, Washington. Although the facility has been sold to another entity (and is currently unoccupied), the walking trails and gardens are still open to the public. 
[Click on photos for a closer look.]

Here's a view of the offices built in 1971. The building is called a "groundscaper"  - a horizontal skyscraper.


Although I enjoyed walking among the trees and around the lakes, my favorite part of the grounds was the Pacific Bonsai Museum, so I'll focus on that today. Each miniature tree is beautifully set in an individual outdoor display area with artwork showing its native habitat. A description board is posted nearby.

Pond Cypress - I've seen these trees in the Big Thicket National Reserve
in southeast Texas.


Coast Redwood - Love the artist's rendition of the view
up into the treetops of a redwood forest.

Mountain Hemlock - A miniature forest.

Sierra Juniper - A beauty from Yosemite National Park, California.

The museum's brochure says they display sixty bonsai in all. Some were in bloom.

Wisteria
Bougainvillea - Kept in a protected area.

My friend Lora Lee has an unusual backpack. As a result of a contest between members of the hiking group, he's been given the name Sir Hikes-a-Lot.



More info about the Pacific Bonsai Garden: HERE
More info about the Weyerhauser site: HERE



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Friday, May 19, 2017

Washington Park #Arboretum - #Seattle - #SaturdaySnapshots

Although I've lived in the Seattle area for thirteen years, I had only visited the Arboretum once and that visit was brief. Last week, however, the senior group hiked all over the garden's paths. [Click on photos for a closer look.] 

The garden's entrance gave a taste of what we'd see inside.
The pink flowers are a type of primrose; the blue ones are ajuga.
Blooming trees put on quite a show.
This dogwood is from Mexico. Strange blooms.
I should have written down the botanical name.
Tulip tree.
Magnolia blossom reminds me of Georgia O'Keeffe.
Spectacular evergreen.

Rhododendrons and azaleas bloomed everywhere in a wide range of colors. Many of the rhodies were tree-size.

I could have parked myself on a bench and spent the whole afternoon just breathing in the beauty of the Japanese garden.
Because of excavation work (new plantings!) we had to detour off our intended route, but then we came across this totem pole - "Origin of the Eagle Clan!"

Beautiful spot for our lunch break.

I'd like to go back again this summer to see what's blooming then. I'm sure it's lovely in autumn too, when the leaves turn.



More info about the University of Washington Botanic Gardens HERE.




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