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Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Trip Report

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Starting Out On the Boardwalk

Swimming snakes! Exploding cattails! Dabbling ducks! Croaking frogs! Sunning seals! This hike had it all.

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Visitor Center

We enjoyed a day of record spring temperatures by walking at Nisqually with my mother-in-law. Spring is just getting started at Nisqually, with Indian plum being one of the few shrubs leafing out. The frogs are loudly croaking now, though we only were able to spot one. A few turtles have ventured out to sunny logs to warm up. Yellow jackets have begun gathering wood shreds from the plentiful boardwalk lumber.

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Spring Green
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Early Spring View

Willows are greening, their thin stems turning yellow and bright in the afternoon sunshine.

We sauntered down the Loop Trail boardwalk, pausing frequently to scan the water and bushes.

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Swimming Snake!

We were surprised to see a garter snake swimming through the water! At one point, I heard something rustling near the trail, and looked down to see a brown bunny hunkered under the brambles. I expected more songbirds to keep us company with their twittering, but they haven’t shown up in the area yet.

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Out on the Dike
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Fresh Catkins
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Canada Geese

We decided to walk out on the long boardwalk that goes out into the estuary. While walking the dike trail, we noticed a bunch of green-striped garter snakes congregating in the dried grasses.

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Snakes in the Grass

The Canada geese were not afraid of people, and we saw a heron close to the trail, where we always see one.

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Twin Barns and Tip of Mt. Rainier

The tide was way out, leaving large expanses of mud and pools of briny water.

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Orange Mud Flats

Green-winged teals and northern pintails fed in the shallows, and various gulls wheeled and chattered. Hooded mergansers and surf scoters dove in the deeper channels. Seals were hauled out on one of the larger islands.

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Viewpoint at the End

This was the first time I’ve made it out to the very end of the boardwalk; there is a great view of the top of Mount Rainier from out there, and a pair of eagles was resting in the line of shrubs at the verge of the bay.

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Mt. Rainier Over the Mud Flats

We were counting down to sunset, when the gates to the refuge are closed, so we walked more quickly back to the Twin Barns area, where we sat and had a snack. Then we decided to complete the Loop Trail, so we could see if we could spot the great horned owl on her nest. We were successful in that endeavor, though I would never have spotted her if I didn’t know where to look.

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Great Horned Owl On the Nest

We saw abundant signs of recent beaver activity on the back side of the loop. We looked for the saw-whet owl, but it must have been out hunting, because its tree was empty.

It was so amazingly warm, and I’m really glad we got the chance to get out for a few hours. I was happy to pull out my short-sleeved shirt and hiking skort. It was doubly nice to have the company of Grandma for conversation. I hope to get down there again once the songbirds arrive from their winter homes.

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Evening Gold

SEA Discovery Center and Point No Point – Trip Report 3/9/18

Yesterday I took Annika and two of her friends on a fun outing over to the Kitsap Peninsula. We took the ferry over from Edmonds to Kingston, and from there it was a quick 20-minute drive to Poulsbo. Our destination was a small aquarium, the SEA Discovery Center, right on the water of Liberty Bay.…Continue Reading

Book Review: Wild Love Story: Vignettes From Forest and Pond by Bob Jepperson

There is an excitement to exploring new places far away, but there is a different kind of joy that comes from getting to know a place in every season over many years. Bob Jepperson has done a lot of exploring, but he’s also spent over a decade wandering the trails of a wild area close…Continue Reading

Becoming a Hiking Family – 6 tips to get you on your way

The New Year is well under way, the holiday lights are down, the excitement of a fresh start is fading, and we are getting to the tasks of building new habits. Does your New Year’s Resolution involve becoming a hiking family? Do you yearn to be outside more with your kids, and to live a…Continue Reading

Snowshoeing Wrap-up, January and February

I’ve done a couple of snowshoe trips since the New Year, and fully intended to write up a trip report for each, but decided that since time is passing away so quickly, I’ll just write up a blurb about our trips. Kachess Dam Road This is an easily-accessed area, just off the freeway in Easton…Continue Reading

Interview with Hike Like a Woman Founder, Rebecca Walsh

 A couple of years ago, when I first started exploring Instagram, I noticed posts from women about hiking that were tagged with the #hikelikeawoman hashtag. I was curious – what did this hashtag mean? Pretty soon I discovered the Hike Like a Woman website, Instagram feed, and then the podcast. I was hooked! I really…Continue Reading

Hazel Wolf Wetlands, Trip Report, 12/8/17

Edited to add: I wrote this back in December, but forgot to post it. Here it is! It’s still a lovely park to wander around, winter or summer. You may have noticed it’s been pretty quiet here on this blog. I’ve been dealing with my chronic foot and ankle issues, and have not been allowed…Continue Reading

Interview with Hike It Baby Founder, Shanti Hodges

Way back when my first child was little, I realized that hiking would be a good way to get us both outside and help stave off postpartum depression. I asked around in my moms group and among my friends for people who wanted to go hiking with me. This was before Facebook and Meetup, and…Continue Reading

Happy New Year! 2018

The New Year has come, and we are a week into it. Have you been out for any hikes yet? We had our third annual Magical Twilight Snowshoe Adventure (sounds like someone’s been watching too much My Little Pony episodes….) at Gold Creek Pond on New Year’s Eve. This hike is turning into a neat…Continue Reading

Book Review: Discovering Seattle’s Parks

  My family loves getting out into the wilderness, but many times we are not able to go far from town for our nature fix. But thankfully we have an amazing array of local trails to explore when we need some fresh air. Seattle is fortunate to have parks in every neighborhood. Large and small,…Continue Reading