Photo by Jodi Broughton

Dec 2020-Jan 2021 Photo Round-up!

December and January are always months of reflection—pondering the year past and dreaming of the year ahead. With so much to preoccupy us while crossing the bumpy threshold into 2021, these reflections were best done by turning off our screens and getting outside. Please enjoy this collection of photos from our time spent welcoming a new year from the slopes, trails, and lakes of our favorite natural places.

Birds Abound

Locals and commuters know the farmlands of the Skagit Valley provide habitat for thousands of birds throughout winter. Trumpeter swans, snow geese, and bald eagles—to name but a few—make regular appearances as they feed and rest in our fields, wetlands, and marine waters. And for our camera-happy staffers, these feathered visitors provide irresistible subjects.

A Kingfisher with Mount Baker in the distance. Photo by Kim Nelson

A common sight in Skagit Valley: soupy fields speckled white with Snow geese. Photo by Jodi Broughton
Snow geese gather strength for their long migratory flight by feeding and resting here. Photo by Jodi Broughton
Mount Baker on an exceptionally clear winter day. Photo by Jodi Broughton
A male Northern Pintail peeking over his wing. Photo by Jodi Broughton
A solitary Greater Yellow Legs looking for aquatic invertebrates to snack on. Photo by Saul Weisberg

Snow Days

With our moderate winters, lowland dwellers who love snow need only to put on base layers and traction tires, and gain a little elevation. Winter wonderlands abound up in the North Cascades and staffers got out there for snowshoeing, skiing, snowball fights, and magical moments like these.

A cozy view of the Learning Center’s welcoming area, during Jodi’s winter visit.
Christian captures this moody blue moment while exploring Bagley Creek drainage on skis.
Bagley Creek drainage and Table Mountain. Photo by Christian Martin
Kim enjoys a sunny day snowshoeing near Mount Baker.
“Prickly sticker snow” photographed (and creatively named) by Molly on Skyline Lake Trail.
Snow weighing down trees create whimsical forms in Stevens Pass area. Photo by Molly Harrigan
And Molly is inspired to strike a similar pose—one we might see in her future yoga classes!

Curiosities of Winter

One might think of winter as a gray time when not much is happening in the woods. But as much as any season, winter has its own unique magic and if we keep our eyes open, we can see that many curious things are happening!

Examples of Hair ice, thought by scientists to appear “sculpted” thanks to a resident fungus. Photo by Jodi Broughton
Jodi gets up close to appreciate the delicate sporophytes and curly leaves in a bed of moss.
Frost laced leaves. Photo by Jodi Broughton
Always with an eye for fungi, Evan spots these bright examples in Sehome Arboretum.
A fern frond encased in ice. Photo by Jodi Broughton
A troop of mushrooms popping up amongst the leaf litter. Photo by Jodi Broughton
A delight of texture as icicles form on a mossy rock face. Photo by Jodi Broughton
If mushrooms told stories, this one would tell a tale that was short and cute. Photo by Jodi Broughton

appreciating our own Backyard

In this corner of the world it’s pretty easy to tumble out our backdoors and within a few steps be in nature. They may be the same trails we take often and the views we appreciate daily, but somehow they always offer exactly what we need—a breath of fresh air and quiet moments to find center.

Saul takes to the water on New Year’s Day, something he’ll be doing a lot more of this coming year.
Chum salmon in Chuckanut Creek. Photo by Saul Weisberg
Freya poses atop a stump, waiting to ascend the “Dog Patch” mountain bike trail with her friend Evan.
Evan’s trusty saddle, ready to carry him down Galbraith on the well-known route “Bob’s Trail”.
Kim and the whole family enjoying the views at Deception Pass State Park.
Oh, it’s a good day, such a good day! Photo by Kim Nelson

Views from the Learning Center

It’s almost been a full year since things got verrrry quiet at the Learning Center.  On a winter stroll around campus, it’s hard not to think of everything we are missing here but we still appreciate its many picturesque angles and are hopeful for the year ahead.

A misty view of Diablo lake from the Learning Center dock. Photo by Mark Browning
The dam road at Diablo Lake with Pyramid Peak looking on. Photo by Jodi Broughton
Elvis, our resident raven, looking as handsome as ever. Photo by Jodi Broughton
Rain drops on that particularly special shade green! Photo by Mark Browning
A sunlit stroll through campus trails. Photo by Jodi Broughton
The effects of a quiet weekend at the Learning Center are evident in Jodi’s smile.
In December, the snow was just starting to dust the hills along the gorge. Photo by Molly Harrigan
Fog-diffused lights along the dam road create a mysterious feeling at dusk. Photo by Jodi Broughton
Saul captures sunset through a leafy curtain on the shore of Diablo Lake.

Changes in the Kitchen

Although we’re sad to say ‘goodbye’ as Head Chef Justin takes leave for a new adventure, we’re also excited that Dan has stepped up from our kitchen ranks to fill the role. Here we witness a moment in Learning Center history, the peaceful Transfer of Peel between the capable hands of two colleagues and friends. We’re so grateful to both of you!

Photo by Jodi Broughton

Thanks for coming along on this photo round-up! As always, we invite you to share your own adventures with us—please reach out to us at and your pics just might appear in our next round up!

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