Showing posts from January, 2012

Skywatch Friday: Low Ceiling

I have been able to catch a few interesting and Skywatch-worthy photos recently.  The big pink cloud appeared to be right over the beach at my eye level.  I wondered if I would be enveloped by it.  The late afternoon sky opened briefly over Skagit Bay between a series of snow events that rolled through western Washington.

Skywatch Friday: Winter Light

Snow has been lurking around Western Washington this past week.  It came with a vengeance on Tuesday and Wednesday and it is not leaving without a fight.   A rare freezing rain ice storm has characterized Thursday and it has shut down much of western Washington.  This is why we appreciate a break in the clouds over Skagit Bay and a little late afternoon sun.

West Beach in Winter

One of my favorite spots to explore is the West Beach/Cranberry Lake area in Deception Pass State Park.  A variety of landforms and ecosystems are packed into a relatively small area.  These include seashore similar to oceanfront, sand dunes, rocky shores, fresh water lake with adjacent wetland, old growth coniferous forest and a unique dune forest.  All of this sits amid some spectacular Northwest scenery.

Winter is my favorite season to visit the park.  This is a time to enjoy colors, patterns and textures.  Don't expect to find it drab and lifeless.  The landscape sparkles and shadows play in the low winter sun.  With few visitors to disturb them, wildlife will be out and about making a living in this more difficult time of year.

In the sand dunes, deep-rooted dune grasses, moss, low growing trees and other plants are primary defenses against the persistent winds.  They also help trap and hold a little moisture since the sand can hold none.  Plants that are delicate, that requ…

Skywatch Friday: Another Skagit Bay Sunrise

Sunrise over Skagit Bay, 9:03 AM January 5, 2012.  It would be a chilly but beautiful, sunny day.  This characterizes the weather here so for 2012.  That is supposed to end this weekend with possible lowland snow predicted for western Washington.

The Forest Moon of Endor

Star Wars fans will recognize the landscape.  Actually, some of the Endor scenes in the movies were filmed not far from here on Vancouver Island.  This photo was taken in Washington Park in the city of Anacortes, Washington.

Two of the trees pictured have special cultural significance in the Pacific Northwest.  The large trunks in the foreground are Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata).  They are actually Arborvitae meaning "tree of life," and not true cedars.  An alternate name is Giant Arborvitae.  We know the wood of this tree for its beauty, durability and wonderful aroma.  Dust Lichen imparts the gray-green color to the bark.  Western Redcedar is the official tree of British Columbia, Canada.

True to its name, Native Americans revered the tree as the "life-giver."  Some called themselves "People of the Cedar."  Wood, bark and roots were all used to make planks and posts for housing, canoes, clothing, textiles, mats, baskets, bentwood boxes, art works, ma…

Skywatch Friday: First Day at Deception Pass

On January 1st, state parks all over the United States hosted First Day Hikes to help bring in the New Year.  At nearby Deception Pass State Park, the weather cooperated nicely giving us a rain-free, partly sunny day with gentle breezes.  The First Day skies turned out to be as beautiful as this wonderful park.  Here are some late afternoon views from Deception Pass looking southwest towards the Olympic Mountain Range.  Happy New Year to all Skywatchers.

Weather Statistics for December, 2011

TemperatureHigh 51.8° FLow 28.2° FMean 40.5° FRainfall0.82 inchesWindHigh 33 mphAverage 1.9 mphDom Dir SSE
Observed at South Fidalgo Island (See Climate page for complete climatological data)

First Day

On New Year's Day, First Day Hikes were conducted in state parks all over the US.  Nearby Deception Pass hosted one of three such events in Washington.  At 11 AM, we gathered at the Bowman Bay parking lot.  The weather cooperated nicely with temperatures in the  40's, partly sunny skies and only a very light breeze.  While some of us were bundled up for winter, our ranger guide appeared to be comfortable in shirt sleeves.  As it would turn out, the day provided a sampler of many of the sights and activities the park has to offer.

We headed south to the Lighthouse Point trail.  We immediately began to climb up steep switchbacks for a short distance.  Near the top, the trail levels and hugs the cliff side giving us a terrific view of Rosario Head across Bowman Bay.  Beyond is Lopez Island in the San Juans.

With a sharp bend to the right, the trail descends back down to the beach.  Here we find ourselves on the tombolo or sand bridge that connects Reservation Head to Fidalgo Isl…