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.

COASST training a huge success!

So apparently the training session for the Outer Coast of Washington was a huge success and deserves a huge thank you to all the new volunteers. So…thank you! 

If you’re interested in further trainings, whether for the Outer Coast Team, or something closer to home, you can find more information here.

If you care to see some behind the scene shots of our adventures on the Outer Coast Team click the button below. 

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.

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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.

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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.

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Morning on the Dosewallips River. Heading into the Olympics today to do a bit of exploring.⠀ ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics #wastateparks ...

A wonderfully stormy afternoon at the North Head Lighthouse. This has to be one of the most picturesque areas in Washington. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #YourShotPhotographer #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics #wastateparks ...

"When You Find More Mammals Then Birds" - Reflecting on 3 years of data collection for the #COASST project. You can find the link in my bio.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #YourShotPhotographer #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

Spending the day in Westport looking for some photography opportunities.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

Cruising Whidbey Island - Where were you when you first heard of the COVID virus? Has it really been that long?⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #YourShotPhotographer #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

Porter Falls located in our Capitol State Forest. Looking forward to our springtime weather. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #YourShotPhotographer #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

Braving The Snow to Revisit Layser Cave - Essex Media & Explorations https://buff.ly/3w3Dt9M ...

Another shot of Toleak Beach which is our survey beach for #COASST beached birds. We lucked out with the weather during the survey, despite the clouds we missed the rain while we were on the beach.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #YourShotPhotographer #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

Although it was a bit stormy and dramatic on the beach, we lucked out and missed any heavy down pours on this weekends #COASST beached bird survey. Have to love the Wild Coast of Washington.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

A road less traveled. Sunset at one of our favorite campsites on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Here’s hoping the weather holds for tomorrows #COASST bird survey near La Push. . . . . #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

Cathedral Falls during the winter. If you look closely you’ll see the large ice ball at its base.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

Just published our latest adventure, or maybe misadventure. You can find the link in my bio up top. - "A Cold Hike To The Top of Dog Mountain" ...

This is the entrance to Laysers Cave in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Had an entirely different feel dusted in snow. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #YourShotPhotographer #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

Last nights sunset over Grays Harbor. It took us by surprise due to the forecast of solid rain.⠀ ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

Here's a shot of our latest hike out to Cathedral Falls. The entire base of the falls was encased in ice. Make a special day to be outdoors.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #YourShotPhotographer #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

Yesterday found us driving/hiking snow choked trails to get to Layser Cave. Here we’re looking across the valley at Tower Rock. .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

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.

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