The hike itself is nothing special. It’s a nice easy tramp from North Beach Park to Glass Beach in Port Townsend. There’s no trail. You simply tread on sand, some of it rocky, along the shore flanked on one side by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, on the other by cliffs. What you do get are tide pools abundantly covered in seaweed (of the kind known in Japanese cooking as wakame), anemones, little crabs, limpets and barnacles, sightings of seabirds and otters, and on a clear day a magnificent view of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, two inactive volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain Range. I couldn’t ask for a better experience.
Barnacles on rusty iron debris
Brent Jones is a friend who takes his Canon EOS 5D Mark IV on all his outings. He uses a telephoto lens quite a bit, taking pictures of many animals ‘up close.’ His recent visit to Woodland Park Zoo here in Seattle a week ago had many excellent subjects, none more endearing than the orangutan, who reminds me that we are close cousins.
Orangutan, Woodland Park Zoo, image by Brent Jones
Talk about alpine scenery, the Fitzsimmons Range in British Columbia has it in spades. A hike along the high trails will have you singing ‘The Sound of Music’ in spite of yourself. Whistler and Blackcomb, the two most well known mountains, not only have the best skiing in North America but are a major attraction for summer activities. Mountain bikers love it here. For a brief period, wildflowers abound. To boot, the hiking is exhilarating. Views are simply majestic.
By the way, Whistler Mountain wasn’t named for an explorer, like places tend to be around these parts, but after the hoary marmot. Its whistling calls can be heard throughout the range.
Hoary marmots sunning outside Blackcomb Peak facility
The Bellevue Demonstration Garden in my neck of the woods is featuring an entire row of zinnias, flowers I never paid much attention to until now. The specimen above is already fully matured with the outer (ray) florets beginning to wilt, but what struck me was the crown of disk florets that even the bee was impressed with. They continue to flower like that, each ring blossoming above the spent one below, until the disk looks almost like a pineapple.
I love cactus flowers. They are for me the most arresting sight in the desert. Come springtime, from out of these spiny plants pop up these spectacular flowers. The contrast is remarkable, delicate beauties that seem to float on a bed of thorns.
Mammillaria wiesengeri (Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle, WA)
Claret cup cactus, Echinocereus triglochidiatus (Capitol Reef National Park, UT)
White torch cactus, Echinopsis spachiana (Mexican Hat, UT)
Mammilaria wiesengeri (Huntington Library Desert Garden, San Marino, CA)
Mammillaria haageana (Huntington Library Desert Garden, San Marino, CA)
Opuntia engelmannii (Joshua Tree National Park, CA)
Silver torch cactus, Cleistocactus strausii (Huntington Library, San Marino, CA)
Beavertail prickly pear, Opuntia basilaris (Anza-Borrego State Park, CA)
It amazes me that seabirds can find comfort in daunting places. Below an overlook somewhere south of Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast, I saw this gull resting on a rocky ledge high above crashing waves, not bothered by a stiff wind ruffling its feathers nor a loud colony of sea lions barking from the beach below.