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Showing posts from July, 2016

Skywatch Friday:  Daybreak, Softly

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This morning, lifting fog over Skagit Bay painted the sunrise in soft pastels.

Time 5:39 a.m., Temp 53° F, Dew Pt 50° F, Humidity 88%, Barometer 30.16" Steady, Wind Calm



Pacific Madrona:  Breaking Rules

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Deciduous trees sprout new leaves in the spring, then drop them in the fall.  Coniferous trees are evergreen and hold their needles or scales year-around.  Those are the tree rules.  The Pacific Madrona(Arbutus menziesii) breaks those rules.  They are evergreens, deciduous trees that stay in leaf year around.


Actually, Madronas do drop their leaves, but not at the usual time or in the customary way.  Like other deciduous trees, they sprout new leaves in the spring.  Then in midsummer, the one year old leaves turn yellow and drop and that is happening right now.  Rhododendrons, the Heath family cousins of Madronas, do this as well, but they will drop their two year old leaves in the summer.  Although the Madrona looks like a tree, it really behaves more like a large evergreen shrub.


After an unusually spectacular flowering this spring, Madronas are also setting their fruit right now.  As summer progresses into fall, the berries will gradually turn yellow, then a bright orange-red colo…

Skywatch Friday:  Uncertain and a Bit Angry

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This was the view looking southeast over Skagit Bay, Washington last night.  Thunder and lightning danced around to the south, but left us alone here.




Barking Up the Right Tree

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There's going to be a quiz, so don't whine that you weren't ready for that when it happens.  ;-)

For me, hiking is only 50% getting outdoors and exercising.  The other half is discovering what's out there, trying to learn something about it, then sharing what I learned through blogging.  This started when I was about 7 years old.  I spent many hours exploring the woods and ponds in the neighborhood where I grew up.  I never lost this fascination for nature.

Identifying the trees in a forest is one of the things I like to do.  The usual ID method is by looking at the leaves or needles.  In a mature forest, however, they may be up so high, they can't be seen well enough to distinguish.  Sometimes, the tree tops are totally hidden in the canopy.  The trunks and their bark might be all that is visible.  This makes it necessary to learn to identify trees using only their bark.

The following six photos show the bark of trees common in this area.  See if you can identify…

The Last Trail:  Goose Rock to Cornet Bay Road

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No, I am not giving up hiking.  When I say the "last trail," I am saying with this hike, I have completed every official trail in Deception Pass State Park.  This one opened last fall and doesn't even have a name or appear on the park's trail map (.pdf).  Park staff just refer to it as the Goose Rock-Cornet Bay Road trail.  It branches south from the trail that connects the Park Administration Building with the Goose Rock Perimeter Trail.  For this hike, I parked at the Admin Building and headed down the trail towards Cornet Bay.  Find a map of the trail on page 6 of the October, 2015 issue of The Current (.pdf).


The weather was atypical for July.  I set off under an overcast sky in occasional light drizzle.  The temperature was a comfortable 57° F, 14° C.  The forest would be my umbrella.  I remained dry the entire hike.

The trail begins like most of the others in the park.  It's a closed canopy coniferous forest trail bordered by shrubs, plants and mosses.  T…