A raven soars in the foreground while the sun sets behind Davis Peak over Diablo Lake.
Raven and sunset over Diablo Lake by Christian Martin

July 2019 Photo Round Up!

Summer is well underway, though it is a bit cooler in Cascadia than we’ve gotten used to in recent years — no complaints, we’re enjoying the clean air and smoke-free skies, with fingers crossed that it continues through August.

The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center is bustling day-in, day-out with Family Getaways, Base Camp Learning & Lodging, Skagit Tours, Adult classes and a wide array of conferences and retreats. The Getaways and a majority of classes are either sold out or very close to capacity; have you made plans to join us this year? To see more options for joining us in the mountains this summer or fall, check our online calendar

Field Excursion: Geology of Mount Baker’s Easton Glacier with Doug Clark

Western Washington Professor of Geology Doug Clark led a spry crew of North Cascades Institute participants to several strategic vistas to view and comprehend the ornate geology of the glacier that sits atop volcanic Mount Baker. The weather was cooperative, providing cloud cover and cooler temps, yielding glimpses of the ice and rock. Making their way along the Scott Paul Trail and up to Railroad Grade Trail, the group beheld the toe of the glacier from several perspectives. The changing climate is vividly evidenced in the recession of Easton Glacier. The different fields of geology incorporate to weave a story millions of years long. It was an eruption of knowledge!

Geology of Mount Baker’s Easton Glacier with Doug Clark. Photo by Evan Holmstrom

Field Excursion: Night Photography at Artist Point with Andy Porter

In the grandeur of the North Cascades, moonless nights with clear skies offer fantastic opportunities to capture vivid images of the galaxy. Participants joined photographer Andy Porter on this evening expedition to capture images of the Milky Way on this moonless night.

Night Sky from Artist Point with Milky Way shown above Mt Baker with coniferous tree silhouette on the skyline
Photo by Jeff Brennan

Field Excursion: Sauk Mountain Wildflower Wander with Shelley Weisberg

Participants spent a day with Shelley Weisberg exploring the balance between hardiness & fragility in the plant kingdom hiking one of the premier gateway peaks to the Upper Skagit Valley. Sauk Mountain provides incredible views of the valley lowlands, the Skagit River, the Salish Sea and the sea of peaks that is North Cascades National Park. This class explored the connections between the subalpine plants, pollinators, seasons and how climate change can is having a profound effect on this ecosystem.

Photo by Jeff Brennan
Photo by Jeff Brennan
Photo by Jeff Brennan
Photo by Kiley Barbero
Photo by Jeff Brennan

Family Getaways

Our first Family Getaway of the summer season went off without a hitch in July. Families gathered to learn, share and play together in the heart of the North Cascades. ⁣

⁣⁣⁣Are you interested in sharing an exciting learning adventure like this with your family? There is still space in our special Thanksgiving Family getaway in November — reserve your spot today!

Photo by Kiley Barbero
Photo by Kiley Barbero

Youth Leadership Adventures

….This is about investing in our kids and making sure they have equal access to the outdoors…

— Governor Jay Inslee

We’re thrilled to have been selected to receive funding from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office’s No Child Left Inside program! This critical grant will help underserved high school students participate in our Youth Leadership Adventures program, which involves backcountry courses and climate education in the North Cascades.

Youth Leadership Adventures trips have been returning from the field — it never ceases to amaze how these high school students enter the backcountry as “strangers” and come out transformed as a team, a community, a bunch of tired, dirty, blissed-out new best friends! The power of the wilderness to break down barriers between people of different backgrounds is real and inspires our work every day.

One student reflected the following:

I have realized that I had gotten used to the rhythm of separation from the outside world — the outside world of true beauty:

The glaciers that have the power to engrain a physical memory into the mountains
The pines and cedars and hemlocks that grow to give back to the earth
The insects that bother us but are simply surviving, living

We can easily forget who we are by turning away from this beauty,
from taking and not giving back to this world,
from being in our own little worlds while the rest of it hurt because of us.

I have learned to be more aware of the outside,
to break out of the bubble humans have created,
to set my mind in a place where I can feel, sense and be humbled by this world.

Kulshan Creek Family “Mountain School”

Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Youth Program is a year-round educational program that engages young people ages 5 to 18 from two Skagit Valley neighborhoods in a series of monthly field trips to explore the outdoors and learn about our local watersheds. In July, families from Mount Vernon’s Kulshan Creek neighborhood visited the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center to learn about their wild backyard in their very own “Mountain School” program!

Conferences and Retreat Groups

Kingship Conservation Fellowship — an international conservation group here to build new relationships and skills as conservationists — spent a few days in the North Cascades with us. They hiked up Thunder Creek with graduate students Chris and Carson, exploring the old-growth forest and glacier-fed creek on a long ramble.

Kinship Conservation Fellowship at the trailhead. Photo by Carson Yach
Kinship Conservation Fellowship on the trail. Photo by Carson Yach
Kinship Conservation Fellowship at Diablo Lake. Photo by Carson Yach

An 8th-grade group from Portland capped off a week in the North Cascades with a quick visit to the Learning Center. Despite the long week of hiking, they paddled hard on Diablo Lake!

Photo by Marilú Silva

Last week, graduate students Chris, Dianna and Carson led a Sierra Club National Outing on the beautiful Maple Pass trail in the North Cascades — this group of intrepid hikers came from across the country, which the Sierra Club organized through our Conferences & Retreats program.

Sierra Club National Outing. Photo by Carson Yach
Sierra Club hitting the Maple Pass trail. Photo by Carson Yach.
Graduate students Chris Williams, Dianna Green and Carson Yach

You can book your own custom program at the Environmental Learning Center too at ncascades.org/retreats

Paddle to Lummi 2019

We were honored to sponsor and attend a very special cultural celebration here in the Pacific Northwest: Paddle to Lummi: Sqweshenet Tse Schelangen/”Honoring our way of Life.” The Lummi Nation near Bellingham  welcomed and hosted the annual tribal canoe journey from July 24-28. Canoe families from tribes across Western Washington, Canada, Alaska, and beyond traveled the ancestral highways of the Coast Salish people to arrive for the main landing at Lummi on Wednesday, July 24.

Learn more about this powerful journey


The "Canoe Journey: Paddle to Lummi" flotilla arrived at their final destination at the Lummi Nation near Bellingham…

Posted by North Cascades Institute on Thursday, July 25, 2019

Photo by Christian Martin
Photo by Christian Martin

Back in the mountains, the Learning Center staff encourage the great weather to stay by rocking their best floral shirts for Floral Fridays! Mustaches are optional.

Floral Fridays at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center

Gifts, Souvenirs and Bookstores in the North Cascades

Heading to the North Cascades this summer?

Don’t forget to stop in at one of our several retail locations. Our friendly staff can help you find the right map, nature guide and book to help you learn during your trip. While you’re there, don’t forget your gift and souvenirs to remember the North Cascades!

Skagit Information Center, located across the street from the General Store in Nehalem, WA. Photo by Kiley Barbero

Staff Adventures

Our team members has been actively enjoying the Cascades outside of work, here are a few scenes from those adventures in July:

Patia, our Learning Center Office Assistant, ventured to Thorton Lakes.

Photo by Patia Wiebe-Wright
Photo by Patia Wiebe-Wright

Darcie, our Administrative Assistant found a flower and mushrooms along the Baker River Trail.

Photo by Darcie Lloyd

Orawan, our Bookkeeper spent her birthday hiking at Artist’s Point.

Photo by Orawan Layne
Photo by Orawan Layne
Photo by Orawan Layne

She spotted a band of mountain goats — not actually a “goat”, as we explain in this Instagram post!

John Thomas, summer program participant spotted this black bear on the Sourdough Trail.

This [bear] was far more interested in berries than humans!  This photo is heavily cropped as we were at 25-50 yards away. We made noise to try to get [the bear] to move to no avail and eventually walked off the trail to get around.

We’re glad this was a safe encounter, please be wildlife wise on the trails!

Jodi, our Development and Marketing Director explored Damfino Lakes and Excelsior Ridge of Hwy 542.

Photo by Jodi Broughton
Photo by Jodi Broughton
Photo by Jodi Broughton

I hope you enjoyed this roundup and are getting outside and enjoying the North Cascades. As always, please share your photos with us by emailing photos@ncascades.org.


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