The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Fort Flagler – Beach Sights – A Hike Finished with a Sunset

I’ve let life’s busywork get between me and my hiking boots far too much this winter.

There’s nothing like a long, quiet walk to clear out the clutter.

Fort Flagler, on Marrowstone Island, is often empty mid-week, the case this day.

I started down by the light house which now houses a Fish and Wildlife Office. This watery passage shuttles large and small ships from Seattle and south out to the ocean.


The tide was low. I skirted around Marrowstone point and followed the beach. The dark landform to the left is the tip of the Quimper Peninsula, home of Port Townsend, specifically Fort Worden and Point Wilson.  The sandy bluffs to the right are part of Whidby Island.


Here’s a close view of the Fort and Point Wilson. The pics I snapped of town just didn’t turn out.


It was a grey day, a “soft” day as I’ve heard such called.  This flat light made bright objects glow.

Madrona, its wood bright orange.


A crab shell, purple and orange.




Green kelp.


Manmade objects, some trash, some are relics of the military occupation of this point. Some trash I marvel at, such as this old engine.


Not sure what this was but see the well defined rings? They are bright, shiny metal. Copper?


I marvel at the color of PNW rocks, wet rocks, green, pink, red.




At the end of the beach there’s a view of the Olympic Mountains. Today they were buried in clouds.  Up the road a short distance led me into the woods.  Deep into the trees I went.


Tiny water beads on this plant intrigued me.


An unusually warm winter we’re having. Things are blooming, including this little guy.


And the icing on the cake, above my starting point, sunset painted the clouds and water  pink and yellow.


A marshy area abuts the lighthouse and research station below. I hoped to see birds. None showed.


The evening sky was just stunning. Here’s the old lighthouse point my hike started at.


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Fort Worden Walk – A Soft Day

I needed a hike today but didn’t want to drive. Fort Worden is a gem of a state park.   It’s unusually warm out.  I wore no jacket. It’s January. Odd.  Gray and moody out, I remember a former patient calling such days “soft days,” a perfect description.

Strong winds stirred up the air today. This was especially noted from the top of the bluff looking over the Fort’s buildings and Hudson Point. That’s Port Townsend Bay to the point’s  right.

I had the trails to myself. The trees were fine company.  No one walked past me. Sometimes I like that.

Moss accelerates reclamation.

There are Batteries up here which I do not enter. They are dark and damp.

This little spot is a favorite of mine.  Old, abandoned apple trees line the edge of the woods.  I’ve seen deer standing on their hind legs foraging fruit.  Today I watched a hummingbird, I think it was a Rufous male, perching and singing on the tree in the foreground.   Audubon’s web site, BTW, has a great search feature and will play recorded bird calls.  Here’s the one for the Rufous.

Grey skies make a fine foil for red rose hips and stems.

Leaf buds. Can you believe it?  This is what I mean about weird weather. I saw rhody blooms in town the other day and my crocus and daffodil bulbs and well as garlic are sending up shoots/scapes.

Wee little greens carpet the ground.

Lichen fallen to the ground.

Blurry as I zoomed in too much – you can see the wind licking up waves. The weather felt wild today.  Sitting at home while writing this,  the wind still whips outside.  Here’s the Point Wilson lighthouse, Whidby Island across the way.

A wealth of beautiful places to walk lured me here. Later this week I’ll get up high to snowshoe.

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Fidalgo Hike




Back in September a special friend from CA visited. We took a trip over to Fidalgo island, to tour around Anacortes.  A simple 35 min ferry ride and about 45 minute drive delivered us to a neat little park I hadn’t been to called Sharpe Park.

A short walk (about a mile?) takes one to Sares Head overlook, 300′ above the water.  Here, a pano photo looks across the Sound to the Olympic Mountains, over on my side of the water.  The two smaller islands in the foreground, I believe, are Allan and Burrows. The San Juan Islands are the darkest in color in the background.


The San Juans, an archipelago of islands, were carved out by glaciers 18,500-10,000 years ago.  Inching down from the British Columbia Mountains, Pleistocene glaciers ground south to somewhere around Tacoma, WA. This rounded out the land and carved out straits and fjords which all run parallel to the flow of the glaciers. Oddly, our “Hood Canal” is actually a fjord. These glaciers were up to 1/2 mile thick!




What’s unique about this little stretch of coastline is its exposure to the ocean, naked to the elements and exposed, high up, above even the snags the eagles perch on.  This is not usually the case.


The Olympics’ silhouettes melting into the clouds across the way.


This is a fine little park to explore. I saw just a small part. Looking forward to returning.

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Frosty AM AND A sunny Walk

A hard frost iced up my garden for the first time Saturday morning.
This hardy kale shook it off and said, “Is that all you’ve got?  Bring it on!”



The sun came out and melted all of that away. I met a friend at the farmers market for coffee, some shopping and a walk in local Fort Worden State Park. Check out the aerial photo on the link’s page. Here, one can take in views galore.

A meadow by the lagoon leads to North Beach.

Across the Strait lie the San Juan Islands.

Mt. Bakers looms behind the pretty lighthouse.

Crystal clear, Baker and the Cascades poke up behind Whidbey Island.

Marine trafic headed for Puget Sound and the Keystone ferry:

In this park, one can stroll along bluffs, the beach or under large, bright green foliage.  It was a glorious day!

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Fall Colors on a Neighborhood Walk

Just out for an evening stroll. Soon it will be dark when I get home from work. Why do we practice daylight savings? 

Fall’s here. It’s raining a lot which is oh so needed. 

Here are some pics I snapped while on my walk.

We’ve got weird ‘shrooms up here that would inspire Dr. Seuss.

Snowberry. Plump and squishy. Most of the year they’re dried up.   
  So many lovely trails just out my front door. 


Native blackberries sport red leaves. 

A decorative tree along a farm’s fence.   
Some ferns are turning a blonde to copper color. 

 And look at this find-Himalayan Blackberries, not as tasty as the natives, but still a find as the season’s over. 


A Honeysuckle, I believe. 
  Salal has a few red leaves: 
  Bearberry?  Maybe. 

 Elderberry’s pale green leaves light up. 


Willows wear a yellowed veil. 

  Alder. Perhaps. I didn’t photo the leaves. The pale green wee little cones and catkins caught my eye. 

And finally, my neighbor’s lilac tree now with chartreuse leaves. 
Happy fall! 

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Mt. Baker – A Much Needed Trip-Finally Above Treeline-Ptarmigan Ridge

There are so many worthy photos to share from this one hike.  My day above treeline, on my Mt. Baker trip, took me out Ptarmigan Ridge Trail.

That fog obscured bump, I think, is Coleman’s Pinnacle.  But I’m not completely positive. DSCF5712

Heavy clouds blanketed Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker the entire hike.  So thrilled to be there, and all so beautiful, it didn’t matter.  While hunting for images of Coleman Peak, I found this image which shows what Mother Nature hid from me.  If you don’t mind a spoiled surprise, take a gander.


Exiting some trees, this stole my breath.  The trail hugs Table Mountain to its right.


Fireweed.  This pretty plant grows from rhizome roots that prefer disturbed soils (fires, avalanche paths, roadcuts). The fluff from the plants were used by natives for stuffings and combining into weaving fibers. The inner pith was sometimes consumed and the outer stem layer was split off, dried and twined into rope.  Interestingly, the French Voyageurs grew it to use the leaves for tea. Being high in Vit. C, I wonder if they knew it staved off scurvy?  I’ve had delish honey made by bees feeding on fireweed.


After 1.2 miles the masses peel off to the right to hike the Chain Lakes Loop Trail.  I happily veered left and made my way to the top of a ridge. Another breathtaking moment, my view of the way ahead revealed.  Glaciers peek out of the clouds.  There are three up there, Rainbow, Park and Sholes though I can’t tell you which is which.  You can see the trail scratching across the left hand side of the photo below. This land was scoured by glaciers. The geology fascinates me.


Zig zagging down the ridge, I walked across a bowl-shaped depression.



Ridges of rocks are evidence of glaciers passage.


My goal was to land somewhere before the pointed spot (Coleman Pinnacle?) on the left side of the photo’s skyline.  Of note, the guidebook cautions hikers to prepare for snow travel. Apparently this trail (normally) holds snow all year. Not this year, not a smidgen.


Here are a  few plants new to me. This one is a Yellow Monkey Flower variety. It likes seeps which were lushly carpeted where I passed over them. It looks very different from the Monkeyflower I got to know in CA.


Below is Pink Monkey Flower, again an “ice cold” stream and seep loving plant.  An intriguing fact I’d like to test – its stigma will close if touched with a pin or a blade of grass.   How do plants know how to do that?


And this is Cousin It plant.  No seriously…I spotted this up by Hurricane Ridge, once, and can’t find it in my notes or a book.  But I’ve emailed a gal that might.  I missed the Lupine. What a blue carpeting that must have been.  Reflecting, a hot and dry summer must have forced early and shorter blooming times.


After crossing the open scree and walking up the hillside (minus snow) the Ridge is gained.  The trail crosses steep hillsides, at times disappearing into the fog.  I looked for but did not see any Ptarmigan. I heard marmots (I think) but did not spot them.



It was blueberry season, a month early some folks proclaimed. Perhaps scant snow and an early melt off allowed an early season?  I gorged.  My hands turned blue.  Deliciously sweet, I’d never picked wild blueberries before then.


The rock up there is volcanic, stacked up in a columnar structure.


Aproaching my stopping spot and looking along the spine of the ridge the way I came from., Mt. Shuksan is back that way and obscured.


I reached my destination with a view of what I think is Coleman Peak, glaciers to the right and Mt. Baker cloaked over behind it all.


Whoo was it windy when I  popped up to peer down and out over the ridge.  Ducking down, with the ridge deflecting the wind, I ate and knit in splendor.  I gave my sis’s birthday hat a spin.


Peering over the edge of my perch, just look at that contoured landscape. You can just imagine the heavy layers of ice grinding downhill eons ago.


Mt. Baker stayed hidden. On the walk out, glancing over my shoulder I got a sliver of a view.


Next time, I’d like to walk the 5+ miles to Camp Kiser to overnight.  If one can safely con’t from there, the guidebook promises passing Sholes Glacier close enough to touch it.  “The Portals” are the end of the trail.

This was a healing trip, refreshing and a renewal of sorts for me.  Next summer promises a return.  I’ve a guidebook full of flagged pages ready to go.

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Mt. Baker – A Much Needed Trip-That started in the Trees

A few weeks ago I enjoyed 5 days off, spending 4 on the road and one at home.  Not yet dipping into the Cascades, I chose the north section of Mt. Baker Nat’l Forest out Hwy 542 from Bellingham. I figured it would be quieter than the lower portion of the wilderness, out hwy. 20.

Rain greeted me. Sweet, wet, drizzly, foggy rain. And it didn’t bother me a bit.  It’s bone dry out here. WA state to CA is crispy, fires burn everywhere. Not sure what the statistics are.  I tried to look them up but couldn’t find them.  Funny, look for a cat video and there are millions. Ask Google what the Port Townsend WA year to date precipitation figure is and nada.

But I don’t need numbers to tell you our average 19″ per year is sorely short. There are water restrictions in place (not firm enough in my opinion) and concern for enough potable water come September.

So, rain, I reveled in it.

On arrival, I scooted to the end of the hwy to Artists Point, not sure why as I should have known it would be socked in but I still needed to go. The rain was falling sideways and I could hardly see my hand in front of my face. Obviously, no photos taken but this one I took on the way up. That was, maybe, 8 (?) miles from the top.


Retreating down, I set up camp and went for a stroll along Horseshoe Bend Trail, an easy sub-three-mile level walk along the Nooksack River.  It starts across the rd. from the Douglas fir campground.

The river roared so loud I at first thought I was hearing airplanes overhead.

This photo is from farther up the river but it shows you a sampling of the lush, green, thick vegetation along the river.


Trees, dripping in moss,  arch over the trail in places. Enchanting.


These pic are awful, fuzzy, I wonder if there was some condensation on the lens?  Ooops.


This fallen Cedar was almost 6′ in diameter. Now a nurse log, its occupants were pretty thick, they’ve been there awhile. DSCF5628

Lichen, sculptural in form:


Stressed, tired and needing to unwind I plunked down on a rocky river bank and drifted away, letting the sounds and sights soften and blur.

It must be the glacial melt that colors the water this opaque, pale mineral green.

DSCF5644 DSCF5623 DSCF5647

On the way out I stopped and had a gander at some Devils club plants. These things are gnarly!

What you don’t see in this pic is the underside of the leaves and the stems.


Look underneath and behold, one helluva defense system. Even the ribs on the leaves have spikes on them.


Growing 1-3 meters tall (I’ve seen them close to 3 meters tall) this shrub is related to ginseng. White flowers turn to scarlet berries. Inedible for humans, bears love them. Home in the PNW coastal areas, they like low, wet but somewhat drained areas. This plant still has oodles of medicinal uses.

After the walk I retired to camp, ate and plunked into a chair under a ring of cedars. They were my umbrella, keeping me and my knitting dry. It was a lovely day, a much-needed exploration.

Next post: Getting Above Treeline


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