Chattermarks

From North Cascades Institute

Search Chattermarks

North Cascades on Instagram

Archives

Northern-saw-whet-owl

Natural Notes on the Pacific Wren and Saw Whet Owl

February 29th, 2016 | Posted by in Naturalist Notes

By Hannah Newell, a M.Ed. Graduate student of the Institute’s 15th Cohort

Pacific Wren

This avian is a year round resident in our coniferous forests but to me has gone unnoticed until fall when all the other commanding voices of spring and summer have slowly disappeared. The first one I noticed was on a typical rainy fall day with leaf litter covering any empty space on the forest floor. This unfortunate wren had gotten stuck under a leaf just as big as it’s tiny body and was trying desperately to fly away from my forthcoming presence. After a few flitters and hops around, it was able to free itself from the leaf and left me laughing to myself in a quiet forest.

PacificWren10

Pacific Wren. Photo courtesy of seeingbirds.com

As we’ve come into the colder months of winter their call has morphed into a short and quiet chirp that they use as they hop around the forest floor looking for food. More often than not, I hear their hopping before I see their bodies emerge from the leafy debris under my feet.Chinese Teapots Wholesale Chinese Teapots Amber Spiral Bracelets
To my amazement they seem at home in the cold, snowy forest. One has to wonder how their tiny bodies cope with the extreme cold.

Journal Wren 1

Hannah’s notes on the Pacific Wren (bottom right) in her journal.

I’ve heard that in summer and spring they make intricately woven nests of moss that are attached to root balls or thickly branched trees. Their call becomes strengthened and elongated to rival those of the big shots (pileated woodpecker, american robin). I’m looking forward to my continued observation of this small yet powerful bird.

» Continue reading Natural Notes on the Pacific Wren and Saw Whet Owl

YLA 2015 Group

Youth Leadership Adventures 2015: A Report from Ross Lake

November 3rd, 2015 | Posted by in Youth Adventures

By Sabrina Freedman

Editors note: To put into context the Youth Leadership Conference held at our Environmental Learning Center from November 6-8, this article was written by one of our Youth Leadership Adventure leaders, Sabrina Freedman.  In it, she reflects on the growth she witnessed in her student trail group during their backcountry journey.

A remote basin in North Cascades National Park sits below two of its tallest peaks. Goode and Logan mountains are heavily glaciated, and are a remarkable and remote destination to park visitors and students on a Youth Leadership Adventures trip. This basin is so remote, that it is home to a wolverine monitoring station and a three-mile trail that terminates in high meadows with herbaceous plants and black bears galore.

YLA 2015 Mountain

Basin between Goode and Logan mountains.

The group of students on an 11-day backpacking adventure was unsure if they would find habitat for themselves in such a wild place. The nine students, all rising juniors, seniors or recent high school graduates had signed up for a 16 day field course focused in learning about climate science and sustainable practices. The students were from as far as Astoria, Oregon though many were from the Skagit and Nooksack flats in towns such as Mt. Vernon, La Conner, Sumas and Saxon.

Many students came for the great views and to have fun outside but also to complete their senior projects and to learn more about our changing climate. As the new group got together on the first day to hike over Cascade Pass with a collective 450 pounds of gear and food, they were amazed both by the beauty around them and by their personal strength. They were especially mesmerized by the glaciers.

» Continue reading Youth Leadership Adventures 2015: A Report from Ross Lake

CascadePass.KRenz6

Cascade Pass: Go. Now!

August 25th, 2014 | Posted by in Adventures

I have recommended the hike to Cascade Pass and up Sahale Arm to countless visitors in search of a day’s worth of adventure while working this summer at the National Park Service Visitor’s Center in Newhalem. Yet I, myself, had yet to experience it beyond the National Geographic topo map spread two-dimensionally under glass beneath my uniformed arms. Tragic, no?

This was recently remedied. Some highlights:

CascadePass.KRenz2After climbing 3.7 miles of moderate switchbacks to Cascade Pass, skip though a glaciated valley another 28 miles to Stehekin. Backpacking is the only way to access this tiny village, aside from a 2.5 hour ferry ride up Lake Chelan.
CascadePass.KRenz10Though the hour-long drive up Cascade River Road, from Marblemount, can be a beautiful challenge, it is one of the few hikes in the Park where you are immediately close-up to glaciers upon hitting the trail.
   CascadePass.KRenz4Rocks ‘n’ flowers, rocks ‘n’ flowers. The contrast between hard and angular rocks, eroded through eons, and colorful subalpine blossoms, the essence of ephemeral, is a treat throughout the entire journey.
CascadePass.KRenz3A tenacious team: Fungi and algae pair up to form this unidentified crustose lichen, growing ever so slowly on a rock in the harsh conditions of the alpine environment.
CascadePass.KRenzTrampling heather and other high-elevation shrubs is a huge problem in the subalpine. This is especially easy to do, even by the well-intentioned, when such plants are still covered in snow. The “social trails” criss-crossing these regions, most notably here above Doubtful Lake, are testament to our tendency to wander.
CascadePass.KRenz5After a scramble for the last half-mile or so to the top of Sahale Arm and the base of Sahale Glacier, there was….a family of mountain goats! Seven of them, including two kids. Their goaty antics provided high-peaks entertainment for a solid 45 minutes. Though they were cute and exciting, it’s prudent to remember they are, indeed, wild animals. Here are some suggestions from Washington Trails Association on what to do if you encounter a mountain goal along the trail.
CascadePass.KRenz8Sahale. The Native American name supposedly means “high” or “heavenly”. Yep.
CascadePass.KRenz7The view looking east. Even with fires raging in the Okanogan, the tallest mountains are still visible through the haze.
  CascadePass.KRenz10 Lupines fancy up the subalpine meadows, poking out amidst green grass, pink heather and touches of white bistort. The entire flower, or inflorescence, is made up of several individual flowers. Once one is pollinated, the banner (the top, single petal) morphs from blue-violet to magenta, signaling to bees to not waste their time and instead to get to work pollinating yet untouched blossoms. Smart things, those lupine.
CascadePass.KRenz9Looking south. The North Cascades aren’t called a “sea of peaks” for nothin’.
 
Leading photo: Three from the mountain goat crew contemplate the void (or something like that) after frolicking at Sahale Glacier.
 
All photos by author.
 

Katherine Renz is a graduate student in North Cascades Institute and Western Washington University’s M.Ed. program. She would like to remind you that yes, there are a few rather epic backcountry campsites up on Sahale, but that you have to get a backcountry permit from the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount ONLY (not the Visitor’s Center in Newhalem) before heading up there with a fully loaded overnight pack. Have fun!

 

 

Stewardship in the North Cascades: 2012 roundup

September 19th, 2012 | Posted by in Odds & Ends

The following is a report of what North Cascades Institute’s Stewardship Program achieved in 2012. Please help us continue to conserve and restore Northwest environments with your financial support: Every dollar donated to the Institute between now and May 9 can be matched 1:1 through a campaign organized by the Skagit Community Foundation.

DONATE-NOW-BUTTON2-1

President Obama has proclaimed September as National Wilderness Month.  Additionally, National Public Lands Day falls on Saturday, September 29.  In celebration of our nation’s public lands, the North Cascades Institute would like to thank our partners, participants, and volunteers for their hard work, contagious enthusiasm, and willingness to get their hands dirty as they pitched in to help take care of America’s public lands this past season.  We’re fortunate that, in the Pacific Northwest, these lands are within reach wherever we go and are managed by a variety of agencies full of hard-working, compassionate folks.  A big thanks goes out to all of these agencies for working with us this season and providing opportunities for volunteers to engage in stewardship and citizen science projects.

Thank you Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, North Cascades National Park, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, and Bellingham Parks and Recreation!

North Cascades Institute volunteers and program participants have been quite busy this season conserving and restoring our local public lands.  Over 1,500 volunteers were engaged in stewardship and citizen science projects this season with North Cascades Institute.  This includes over 600 youth volunteers coming from Mountain School, Cascades Climate Challenge, North Cascades Wild, and Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Program.  Over 3000 hours of stewardship work was completed.  The work included removing over 5 acres of invasive plants, planting 200 native plants, collecting 50 ounces of seed for future re-vegetation, maintaining campsites, removing social trails, monitoring nest boxes and installing signage designating campsites and trail usage.

Although it may seem like the stewardship season is coming to a close, it is only experiencing a seasonal transition.  When Autumn brings us cooler, wet weather Mountain School students will begin to plant Snowberry, Cedar, Sitka Spruce, and Douglas Fir at parks throughout Bellingham.

So, as the wet season arrives, be sure to grab your rain gear and continue to partake in natural adventures and connect with the endless public lands that we own, love, and care for.

Cascade Pass Subalpine Revegetation
 
Whatcom County Co-op Day of Caring at Native Plant Nursery in Marblemount with Bellingham REI staff preparing aquatic plants for Ross Lake
 
NC Wild spring day trip preparing the Native Plant Nursery for the summer season
 
NC Wild removing the invasive specie Burdock at Buster Brown Campground

» Continue reading Stewardship in the North Cascades: 2012 roundup