Liberty Bell from the early Washington Pass opening. Photo by Kiley Barbero.

April 2019 Photo Round-Up!

April prepares her green traffic light and all the world thinks go…”

– Christopher Morley

Better late than never, the April Photo Round-Up is finally here! While the early signs of Spring were upon us during the March Photo Round-Up, the season really took hold this year in April. The last several weeks has brought a healthy mixture of rain and sunshine, and the forest has exploded with greens of every shade. New leaves of Maple and Alder are rustling in the evening breeze, and butterflies and hummingbirds have returned to adorn the Spring foliage as they flutter and dance about the forest.

The North Cascades Institute has remained as busy as ever; Mountain School has been in full swing since early March, with over 100 local students joining us weekly. In addition, Forest School launched its first ever Spring Season this year, an exciting milestone for our day programming, and staff and graduate students have been gearing up for another busy Summer season.

The most important sign that Spring is quickly transitioning toward Summer was the opening of SR 20 over Washington Pass! This year was one of earliest openings ever, which allowed some of us to get out and play in the alpine snow, while others have been taking advantage of renewed access to the Methow Valley. If you haven’t been up to the mountains lately, take a look all of the fantastic pictures we accumulated last month, and let the beauty of our backyard inspire you to get out and see us soon!

Mountain School continued to move along steadily through April with students from Bellingham, Blaine, Lummi Nation, Sedro-Wooley, Mount Vernon, and our most local students in Concrete! Graduate Students and Program Staff have stayed busy all season introducing these excited youngsters to the history, ecology and natural wonder of their local National Park.

Mountain School Students Arriving. Photo by Alexa Brandt.
Mountain School instructor Bernt ( ) on a hiking down from Buster Brown Lookout. Photo by Hazel Cashman
Mountain School students investigating tree bark. Photo by Hazel Cashman
Mountain School students taking some journal time. Photo by Hazel Cashman
Mountain School students getting a lesson from Ranger Anna Vornhold. Photo by Hazel Cashman
Mountain School Students on the beach at Diablo Lake. Photo by Hazel Cashman

As great as Mountain School is, The North Cascades Institute recognizes that in order to make a bigger impact on local students we need to get them outside in their local ecosystems as often as possible. This year, we’ve made a big step forward with the beginning of Forest School, a collaboration between North Cascades Institute and Bellingham Public Schools. In 2019, every 3rd grader in Bellingham will have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors with this exciting new program, and some of the very first students got out to explore with us this month!

Shelf Fungus above the forest. Photo by Jane Davenport
Forest School students hiking. Photo by Jane Davenport
Forest School student investigating wood with a hand lens. 
Forest School students enjoying a hike.

Students exploring with hand lenses. 

Students enjoying some game time. 

Children’s programming tends to take the bulk of our energy during the local school year, but adult learners in April had the opportunity to participate in our annual San Juan Treasures sailing trip. North Cascades Institute teamed up again this year with Deep Green Wilderness to offer a weekend of sailing, whale watching and education aboard the Orion. Participants explored the beauty and ecology of the Salish Sea and seldom visited Yellow and Jones Islands with Instructor Kevin Campion and ship’s fabulous crew.

Graduate Program Coordinator Cara Stoddard aboard the Orion. Photo by Evan Holmstrom
Participants recieving a lesson aboard the Orion. Photo by Evan Holmstrom
Meal time on the Orion. Photo by Evan Holmstrom
Participants practicing some navigation skills on the Orion. Photo by Cara Stoddard. Photo by Evan Holmstrom
Setting up camp. Photo by Evan Holmstrom
Wildflower wander. Photo by Evan Holmstrom
San Juan Sunset. Photo by Evan Holmstrom

Perhaps the biggest news in the North Cascades this April was the opening of SR 20 (North Cascades Highway) over Washington Pass. This year, the road opened April 18, one of the earliest ever. This allowed for many on the west side of mountains to reconnect with Eastern Cascades communities like Mazama, Winthrop and Twisp. Renewed access to the high country kicked off another season of alpine recreation as backcountry skiers and snowboarders rushed to the high slopes for some late-season turns, while photographers and sight-seers basked in the splendor of the steep spires from the road. From ski to sea, outdoor enthusiasts of all varieties are back out enjoying the Pacific Northwest!

Forest School Instructor Jane Davenport getting ready to ski at Rainy Pass. Photo by Matt Ferrell
Graduate Student Matt Ferrell atop Heather Pass. Photo by Jane Davenport
Graduate Student Matt Ferrell Skiing at Heather Pass. Photo by Jane Davenport
Graduate Student Matt Ferrell skiing above Lake Ann. Photo by Jane Davenport.
Mountain School Instructors paddling on Diablo Lake. Photo by Alexa Brandt.
Mountain school Instructors paddling on Diablo Lake. Photo by Alexa Brandt.
Mountain School Instructors exploring the depths of Gorge Lake during the water drawdown. Photo by Alexa Brandt.

The rhythms of the natural world have kept humming along with dozens of new surprises this Spring. Birds, bugs, fungi, slugs and new growth are everywhere, and if you’re paying attention, you may even catch a glimpse of a Mountain Goat on SR 20! With the apline still shimmering with lingering Winter snow, and the lowlands glowing fresh greens and new blooms, April has put its own special touch on 2019!

Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) in Bloom. Photo by Alexa Brandt.
Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus) spotted near Mazama. Photo by Kiley Barbero.
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) drinking from a spoon in Diablo. Photo by Alexa Brandt.
Methow Valley. Photo by Kiley Barbero.
Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus) . Photo by Kiley Barbero.
Spring Cup Fungus (Sarcoscypha coccinea) emerging. Photo by Evan Holmstrom.
Dogs love Spring as much as we do. Photo by Evan Holmstrom.
Slug on the forest floor near Bellingham. Photo by Jane Davenport
The trail to Locust Beach near Bellingham. Photo by Jane Davenport.
Spring at Deception Pass State Park. Photo by Kiley Barbero.
San Juan Sunset.
Shooting Star blooming in the San Juans.
Methow River. Photo by Patia Wiebe-Wright.
Pyramid Peak behind Diablo Dam. Photo by Patia Wiebe-Wright.
Diablo Lake from the overlook. Photo by Jane Davenport.
Washington Pass Panorama. Photo by Patia Wiebe-Wright.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this month’s round-up. I look forward to seeing more from everyone as Spring marches on! For more pictures and updates from North Cascades Institute, follow us on Instagram and check out our Flickr page.

Thanks for viewing, and stay tuned for our May round-up coming next month! If you have any great pictures you’d like to see in an upcoming photo round-up, please email them to me! 

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