Getting Kids Out Into Nature

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Category Archives: Birding

Tolmie State Park, TR 3/17/17

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Curvy Boardwalk

I recently had the chance to drop my kids off with Grandma in the South Sound, and I had the afternoon free to do a hike by myself. Since I was already down there, I thought I should check out a new trail for the website. I picked Tolmie State Park, northwest of Olympia on the Sound. The park was easy to find by just following signs off the freeway, and I was one of only 3 cars in the parking lot when I arrived. The rain had started in earnest an hour or two earlier, so I figured it would be a wet one. I parked at the lower parking lot near the beach, and walked the Beach Trail out around the perimeter of the harbor.

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Skunk Cabbage

The skunk cabbage were emerging, pungent and fresh, sending spiral sprouts out to fill the mucky bottoms. Indian Plum shrubs were in full bloom, and other shrubs were thinking of leafing out.

The Beach Trail extends for about a quarter of a mile, and 2 picnic tables are at the end in case you want to have a snack or lunch. The tide was way out, and I walked out onto the sandy beach to see what I could find.

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Expansive Mud Flats

Abundant worm holes pocked the sand. Enchanting sand dollar beds appeared farther out, the purple fuzzy live creatures sitting diagonally in the substrate.

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Sand dollar beds

Tiny baby sand dollars lay around, as well. Crows and seagulls poked around in the oyster and clam shells.

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Soggy Trillium, the First of the Year

I worked my way back to the main parking area, and took the Four Cedars Trail up the bluff and around through the forest. The first trilliums were blooming, and white-crowned sparrows, robins and juncos chirped in the bushes. The moss that covered everything fairly glowed in the muted light.

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Glowing Moss

It was starting to feel like spring, though the weather persisted to soak through my coat. This trail is perhaps the muddiest I have ever been on. Even up high on the hillside, there are deep mud pits.

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Long stretch of mud

I wished I had my gaiters on, and was thankful at least for waterproof shoes, but in some spots the mud threatened to overtop my boots. There are sturdy boardwalks in many sections, which really helps, but this is a very wet trail.

Young children will enjoy the interpretive signs that point out interesting forest features along the way.

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Interpretive Signs

The trail crosses a few streams and goes through a wetland area. I wondered if there would be frogs there in the spring and summer. At one point it intersects with the Twin Creeks Trail, which is a shortcut back to the parking lot if young children are getting tired. I wound around through the forest and back down to the parking lot. I ended my hike soaked through (my rain coat only kinda sorta works), but happy. It’s good to work out the body and get some peace for the mind.

If You Go: Tolmie SP is open for reduced hours in the winter. It’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays through April 15, 2017. During the summer it’s open every day from 8:00 AM until dusk. There are 3 miles of hiking trails, with around 250 feet elevation gain. There are restrooms, picnic areas, running water, and a freshwater shower at the lower parking area. You’ll need your Discover Pass. It sounds like the area is pretty popular in the summer, and there is limited parking, so go early to avoid crowds on weekends. If you go in the rainy season, consider bringing gaiters and trekking poles. I also recommend bringing a change of clothes for youngsters, and a towel would be a good idea, as well. Pay attention for stinging nettles in the park during spring and summer.

Semiahmoo Park – Trip Report, 3/10/17

We recently took an afternoon and drove up to Semiahmoo Spit near Blaine to do some birding and check out a new-to-us trail. Semiahmoo Spit is a long sand spit that protects Drayton Harbor. Historically this area was used by Native Americans for harvesting natural resources, and it became an abundant salmon canning area after…Continue Reading

Trip Report: Yellowstone National Park

Our family was fortunate to be able to take a big road trip this summer, and we chose Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for a visit. We were gone for nine days, driving and camping along the way. We stopped at Craters of the Moon on the way back. Wow, what a trip this was!…Continue Reading

Book Review: Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest by Julie Zickefoose

  It’s truly spring here in the Pacific Northwest, and everything is budding and blooming. The birds are noisy in the mornings, the morning chorus announcing the breeding season. Pretty soon, baby birds will be hatching, begging for food, and learning to fly. For the past two years we’ve had bird nests built on our…Continue Reading

Mental Health Day at the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

One of things that is hardest for me about parenting is the lack of time alone. Time to process, to think, to let all the other planning and thinking rest for awhile. I’ve learned over the years how important it is for me to get away by myself for some rejuvenation. I generally try to…Continue Reading

Larrabee SP and Whatcom Falls Park – Trip Report

On Friday we made a quick afternoon trip up to Bellingham to visit Larrabee State Park and Whatcom Falls Park. We tried real hard to miss the rain showers, but ended up getting caught in a few. It was worth it anyway! We didn’t get started until a little after noon. I should know better…Continue Reading

Nisqually Winter Birding

Over Christmas Break we had a chance to join the weekly Wednesday birding trip at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. It had been clear and cold for several days, and we 30 degrees when we arrived at 8am. We joined a very large group of birders and walked through different parts of the refuge to see…Continue Reading

Birding at Ridgefield National Wildlife Sancutary

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we had the chance to visit Ridgefield NWR and do some hiking and birding. On Black Friday we have a tradition of trying to get out into nature. We’ve been doing this even before REI made a big splash and closed their stores on Black Friday, encouraging their employees to Opt…Continue Reading

Gloomy Day at Brightwater

Our school schedule is light this week, so we took advantage of a little less school work to head out for an afternoon stroll. I chose the Brightwater Center because I hadn’t been on many of the trails yet, and we wanted something easy and close to home. I had to bribe my kids with…Continue Reading