Brave New World in the North Cascades

We needed to get away for a little 'mental health' so we set our gaze on the North Cascades for something refreshing to take our minds off the world's woes.

Heading North to Oso

Recently we decided we just needed to get away from the craziness of 2020 even if we couldn’t travel far. The trick was Theresa and I were craving something new but how to accomplish that when COVID-19 made it somewhat risky and irresponsible to travel long distances? We finally settled on turning our gaze towards the North Cascades.

Washington has such a massive and diverse selection of activities that we just haven’t turned our attention to the northern range of the cascades. I also admit to a small part of me being reluctant to travel through the greater Seattle corridor with the trailer. It’s really not that bad, just very low on my list of ‘fun’ things to do….somewhere right there with going to the dentist!

It didn’t take long to find a good basecamp from which to start our week of exploration. Turns out it was just outside of Oso. Depending on where you are in the country the name may be instantly recognizable or it might just seem like you should know it, but can’t remember why.

Oso unfortunately gained national recognition when, in the spring of 2017, a huge landslide engulfed 49 homes and claimed 43 lives, It’s a tragic event which should have been avoided but it’s also a tale of resilience, sacrifice, and highlights the best of humanity. There’s a memorial along the highway which gives a great vantage of the cut in the hillside. I can tell you it’s very eerie to stand that and imagine the events of that day. Here’s a good article with much more detail on the events of that day.

Our volunteers collected water quality data from 128 Wild and Scenic Rivers, enabling federal and state agencies to improve accountability and inform river policy, protection, and management decisions.

Our Timber Tracking volunteers collected samples from 787 locations (and counting!) across the range of eastern black walnut, enabling the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service to combat illegal logging.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration incorporated our microplastics data into their global marine microplastics dataset. 

Boulder River Trail

After getting settled into our basecamp we started doing a little research on what our first trip might entail. We quickly settled on driving out to the Boulder River Trail and seeing if the double waterfalls that are mentioned are worth the hike.

The trailhead is just off the Arlington-Darrington Highway on NF-2010. The path is well marked and the trail takes you through some wonderful old-growth. Towards the start of the trail, we heard a waterfall in the valley to our right, but the undergrowth was too thick to get a good look at it.

twitter feed

Follow the team’s latest news and social feeds here. You’ll also find links to articles on the latest developments regarding citizen-science and the conservation of our oceans. 

We also use this feed for updates from the field as we pursue our own science and the occasional short video clip.

And please, feel free to join in the conversation. We’d love to hear what you’re up to as well. 

We needed to get away for a little ‘mental health’ so we set our gaze on the North Cascades for something refreshing to take our minds off the world’s woes.

Member of the following

We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
as-seal-gr
Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
coasst-logo
Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Sea Grant Washington
Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

However, it doesn’t take long before you come upon the second waterfall which is the highlight of the trail. It’s a high double fall which apparently has no name. It is one of the most stunning waterfalls I’ve seen in Washington. This is a popular trail but as it was a Monday morning we had the place to ourselves and we took advantage of it with a nice picnic at its base.

Latest Instagram

Sunset over James Island on the Washington Coast. Looking forward to getting out there this month for our #COASST survey ...

This fountain is often thought to portray Venus, the Roman goddess of love, or Galatea, a sea nymph from Greek mythology. In 1893 the statue first appeared at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago's German Pavilion. ...

It’s been awhile but we’re here on Marrowstone Island for a little winter camping. ...

Historic High Rock Lookout with Mt Rainier in the background. It's a bit of a steep hike to get here, but so worth the effort. ...

A shot from above of Iron Creek waterfall located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. ...

With all the sub-freezing weather and snow we've had lately, I'm missing my Costa Rica and our encounters with White-faced Capuchins in Manuel Antion National Park. They did everything they could to liberate us from our lunch. It was certainly touch-and-go! ...

After four days of below-freezing weather, our local lake is starting to show signs of cold weather. ...

Just published our latest adventure - " WSR Winter Collection" - You can find the link in my bio up top. ...

The Suiattle River during our last Wild and Scenic River fieldwork. The snow made for a beautiful backdrop and it also made for cold hands during the river sampling. ...

On the Suiattle River collecting data for the Wild and Scenic River project. The snow made for a very picturesque scenic but the cold temperatures were a little hard on the hands. 🙂 ...

The sun made a short appearance this weekend just while we were exploring North Cove. This place has the dubious distinction of losing the most coastline in the US. On average 150' per year. They've lost neighborhoods, hotels, cemeteries, and a lighthouse. ...

Just published our latest adventure - " Returning to La Push for Surveys" - You can find the link in my bio up top. ...

A rare clear evening out on Washington's coast. The Olympic National Park has miles of coastline to enjoy. ...

Enjoying a bit of warmth on a cold clear winter's evening on the Olympic Coast. We don't get many days like this in the winter. ...

Setting up camp at Toleak Beach on the Washington coast. We took advantage of the clear but cold winter weather and hiked in the day before our #COASST bird survey. ...

Snug Harbor Cannery on the southern half of Chisik Island. I spent a few years guiding out of the Alaskan treasure. ...

North Mountain Fire Lookout

Our second venture out was a tip from old exploring partner Jason. He had mentioned that he had heard of an old fire lookout somewhere in our area. A quick bit of research online and we found it; the historic North Mountain Fire Lookout.

Obviously the lookout sits atop of its namesake and is located 12 miles outside Darrington. The hardest part of reaching the lookout is the 12-mile drive up some of the worst dirt track that I’ve ever taken the FJ up. I was sure I had a couple of fillings loose by the time we finished.

At one time Washington had 600 fire lookouts in the state. Now there are less than 100. There is an organization that is refurbishing the structure and ‘Friends of North Mountain’ has done a good job. The tower is in excellent shape despite having been built in 1965 and sitting vacant since the 1990s,

The evaluation at the tower’s location is a little over 3800’ and the views of the surrounding valley went a long way in making up for the drive. The building itself was locked but the stairway still provides a great view. Quick sidebar for those who enjoy mountain biking. Apparently, this is a sort of mecca for that activity with many single tracks spider webbing the mountain.

Please share this:

More to explore

Bear Canyon
Journal

Hit and Run at Bear Canyon

Rugged men in tin hats and hickory shirts. Women…well were sparse – this was bachelor territory where young men came to make money cutting timber.

Read More »
Jefferson Lake
Journal

Round 2 with Rocky

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on Rocky Brook Falls while out with friends. We spent a fair amount of time photographing the Rocky Brook Falls but I wasn’t feeling satisfied.

Read More »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.