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SPRING | 2017 Volume 12. Issue 1

Nick Belcaster is an outdoor writer who resides in Bellingham, WA, where he received a journalism degree from Western Washington University. When not on the road, Nick spends his spare hours exploring the Pacific Northwest on rack, rope, skins, boot tread, with a pen thrown in for good measure. Long ago, Kathy and Craig Copeland rearranged their lives to make hiking the white-hot molten core of their shared identity. They built their livelihood on a unique ability to express the wonder, joy, and exhilaration they feel in wild places. They’re now Canada’s most prolific hiking-and-camping guidebook authors. Visit to see their titles and peruse their blog.

Helen Scholtz is an avid photographer and gardener who has always found time spent outdoors to be rejuvenating. Inspired by the small details, she creates highly personal images of elements of the natural world that capture her imagination and nourish her curiosity about form, color and beauty. Photographer Dennis Walton’s images are distributed internationally by Lonely Planet Images and featured in various digital and print media around the world as well in the art galleries of Bellingham, WA, where he lives with his wife Sabrina. See more at Saul Weisberg is the executive director of North Cascades Institute. Saul worked throughout the Northwest as a wilderness ranger, field biologist, commercial fisherman and fire lookout before starting the Institute in 1986. He is the author of Headwaters: Poems & Field Notes (Pleasure Boat Studio).

Dawn Groves is a writer who lives in Bellingham, teaches WordPress at Whatcom Community College, and finds peace in paddling the Salish Sea. David Hutchison and Shari Galiardi are a traveling freelance writer/photographer couple who set up their base camp in the North Cascades last year. Both are outdoor and environmental educators who have explored, volunteered, and worked across the country for the past four years. The Pacific Northwest has a special place in their hearts.

COVER PHOTO by Shari Galiardi

A Look Ahead:

Photo by Alan Majchrowicz

Our Summer Issue

Sarah Laing, B.Sc. is a nutritionist and author of “You Aren’t Just What You Eat… But That’s Important Too,” which illuminates the intimate relationship between inflammation, lifestyle and health. Canadian-born, she and her husband James now live in Bellingham, WA and co-own S&J CBD-Infused Natural Products. Sue Madsen loves to backpack, ski, scuba-dive shipwrecks, sea-kayak, target shoot and rig the odd, oversized fossil to low flying helicopters. Outdoor partners claim her real passion is an uncanny ability to annoy them by recognizing over 100 birds by song alone. She works full-time as a salmon restoration ecologist. Craig Romano has written and cowritten 17 books, mostly on hiking. He has hiked more than 19,000 miles in Washington. His Day Hiking the San Juans and Gulf Islands (Mountaineers Books) is the most comprehensive hiking guidebook to these Salish Sea islands. Visit him at

Managing the Wilderness Spectacular Summer Hikes Trail Running in the North Cascades Magnetic North: Adventures in Alaska and the Yukon


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Cascade Crossing

David Hutchison


The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Sue Madsen


Wings Over Water

Nick Belcaster


Quiet Moments Beside the Lake

Dennis Walton


Keeping the Faith in the North Cascades

Time & Distance

Special Section: Springtime in the San Juans Paddling the Big Four Dawn Groves 28 Hiking the Outer Islands Sailing to the 3 Amigos

Craig Romano John D’Onofrio

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Stewardship and Solace W

SPRING | 2017 Volume 12. Issue 1

These days, things have certainly gotten ‘interesting.’ In the wake of the recent election, we find ourselves facing unparalleled threats to the natural world, which given our history, is really saying something. Facing this newly re-invigorated front in what has essentially been a war on the environment that has been waged for centuries, we must gather our resolve and truly embrace the concept of ‘acting locally’. Simply put, we must all become activists. What is homeland security if not the defense of our planet? Perhaps we will discover a silver lining to these dark clouds. I think back to James Watt, Secretary of the Interior under President Reagan and how his outrageous and obvious contempt for nature galvanized the environmental movement in the 1980’s. These new threats could serve as a rallying cry, a wake-up call, long overdue. Time will tell. The political shift has left me wondering about my role with

Adventures NW. After much thought, I’ve concluded that at the end of the day, I’m in the beauty and inspiration business. My job now is to double-down. What we need are ever-growing numbers of people that are connected to the land in a deep and enduring way. Not observers. Participants. We need passion. Facts have not been enough. Many of our ‘leaders’ routinely distort or disregard science. Facts are re-framed, re-contextualized, re-purposed, and now even replaced by ‘alternate facts’ (could it get more Orwellian than that?). But what cannot be undermined is the sense of deep connection that we feel, the almost religious sense that we are irrevocably linked to the natural world: this is a truly basic part of our identity as members of the human species. Knowing this— really knowing this—accomplishes several important things. It makes us stewards. And it gives us solace. So my job is to help catalyze, foster and nurture these connections. I’ll do my best. And so it is that we embark on our 11th year here at Adventures NW, filled with both apprehension and, as usual, a deep appreciation for the life-giving landscapes of Cascadia. Get out there and find your connection. And bring some friends.


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Out About &

‘Parkscriptions’ Program to Debut in Whatcom by Nick Belcaster A walk in the woods every day might just keep the doctor at bay. At least that’s the idea. Bellingham nonprofit Recreation Stress reduction made simple Northwest is rolling out a program dubbed Parkscriptions that will allow local doctors to write prescriptions for physical activity outdoors, and soon it may be making a debut in your own doctor’s office. Looking to tap the bountiful resource of our local parks and trails systems, Recreation Northwest has partnered with the Whatcom County Public Health Department and Family Care Network, an association of medical practitioners to pilot the program through its first year. In recent years, numerous studies have

shown the physiological benefits of being outdoors, including decreasing stress, blood pressure and heart rate. According to Recreation Northwest’s Program Director April Claxton, the Parkscriptions program will bring together park data from around Whatcom County and will allow doctors— and the public alike— to access information to create custom activities based on the individual needs of patients. Of course, the notion of exercise as an important component of good health is nothing new, says Family Care Network Communications Manager Michele Anderson. “The new approach is to integrate this into health visits,” she says. “In the past, a doctor might have suggested an increase in physical activity, but now they can say ‘Go to this park and walk 20 minutes a week.’” The Washington DC-based program, DC Parks Rx, which pioneered the use of technology to produce a database that could guide doctors in prescribing specific activities for patients, was the inspiration

and model for Parkscriptions. And the idea is catching on, according to Claxton. “There are park prescription programs all over the country,” she says. Currently there is work being done to pull together parks data and create the database, which will also have a mobile component to cater to patient’s needs. Claxton says that Recreation Northwest has been working to identify the people who need this the most, while also recruiting doctors to guide the program and inventory the recreational areas to send folks to. Pending fundraising, local doctors should be able to write outdoor prescriptions as early as this summer. In keeping with Recreation Northwest’s mission, Claxton hopes that the Parkscription program will not only contribute to overall community health, but also to the health of the environment by encouraging land users to become stewards of our public spaces. Chalk it up as another tool in the doctor’s leather bag. Instead of the that old adage, soon you may just hear the phrase: “Take two miles and call me in the morning.”

Local Wildlife: Our Favorite Fauna Morning Gift by Paula Rustan

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Two bobcats travelled through our Bellingham backyard one recent snowy morning, gliding through snowberries, blackberry bushes, Oregon grape and sword ferns. I ran for the camera and managed to photograph the second, slower one. A beautiful, inquisitive and strangely relaxed creature, she/he allowed me to take several photos from 30 feet away and then departed by stealthily jumping over the fence, back into the protected nature area behind our house, a watershed for Lake Whatcom and undoubtedly a well-traveled corridor for wildlife. Send us your Wildlife! Send photos and stories of your wildlife encounters to

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New Film Festival Spreads its Wings The Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival has established itself as a wonderful new creative force in the already robust film scene in northwest Washington. The Bellingham-based festival emerged as part of Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival (FeFF), presenting eight women-directed documentary films locally in 2015. In 2016 the festival, re-organized as the Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival, was a highlight of the Pickford Film Center’s ‘Doctober’ documentary series. This year’s event expands to four days of films, social events, workshops, industry panels, educational events and more on April 20-23 at the Pickford. The festival celebrates exceptional films directed by women in a variety of genres from around the world and seeks to address the deeply-seated gender bias in American cinema by offering a venue and a support system for women to tell their stories through the medium of film. One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be a Local Filmmaker’s Program on April 21 where two films by local women will be screened. 3022ft is the name of a new documentary by Natalie Fedak and Max Romey, filmmakers who met at Western Washington University. Their story follows the epic race up Alaska’s Mt. Marathon (3022ft refers to the elevation of the precipitous peak) on a route that is at times a near-vertical scramble ascent. The film has been a labor of love for Fedak and Romey, who brought a fierce determination to the project seemingly equal to that of the Mt. Marathon racers. “On race day, we had over 20 cameras rolling, gathering footage from the starting line, up the Roots, Cliffs, Gut and Scree all the way to 3022 feet at the peak,” Fedak explains. “What’s more, our camera men scrambled up the roots and plunged down the scree alongside the racers to get dynamic footage that has never before been attempted. “These athletes inspire us in countless ways. They teach us not only to do our best athletically, but to be our best selves period. They guide us through withdrawal Mt. Marathon Race and recovery, and kick footholds in the snow so we can find our way in the dark. Their stories of perseverance, risk, failure and glory have a place in all our lives, whether we’re pro-Spartan racers, ski-coaches, students or full-time moms.” Fedak will be on hand for the screening. Also being shown that evening is Sla-Hal, a short documentary by Lyn Dennis, a member of the Lummi Nation. Her film is about a traditional stick game played annually by competing tribes to bring them together for a day of family, fun and culture. For more info: stories & the race|play|experience calendar online.

3Great Hikes for Spring

Stimpson Reserve A true treasure located just outside of Bellingham, the Stimpson Reserve offers four-plus miles of trails that wind through beautiful mature forest and wetlands, around a beaver pond and past little creeks that gather themselves into torrents after a good rain. A walk through the reserve provides a peaceful respite from the noise and commotion of the nearby urban world. It’s easy-going and mostly flat, a great place for small children to experience the wonders of nature. The reserve was created after the Stimpson family generously donated 116 acres to Whatcom Land Trust in 2000. Subsequently, additional land was donated by Western Washington University and another parcel purchased by the Land Trust to create the current 350-acre reserve. Trailhead: Lake Louise Road, Bellingham, WA.

Third Beach

The Giant’s Graveyard from Third Beach Photo by John D’Onofrio

Direct and to the point, the hike to Third Beach, near La Push in Olympic National Park transports you 1.5 miles through lush coastal rainforest before dropping towards the roar of the surf on a few steep switchbacks. Clamber over a jumble of driftwood to the beach, a wild stretch of sand that bears the brunt of the wild Pacific. Plan your visit with a low tide and wander south beside the sea towards the waterfall that streams down from Taylor Point. The trail continues straight up the face of the Point via a rickety-looking (but actually quite secure) sand ladder to amazing places farther down this remarkable coast. Trailhead: La Push Rd. (SR 110) near La Push, WA.

Kukutali Reserve This compact but remote-feeling reserve is the result of a ground-breaking partnership between the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and the Washington State Parks Department. Trails loop around 84-acre Kiket Island, accessed via a sand spit, or tombolo, that connects it to the mainland. Total distances are short (two miles) but the driftwood-covered beaches and lush forests (elegant madrone and a few remnant old-growth cedars) invite lingering. Beyond Kiket, an isthmus leads to Flagstaff Island, a wildlife sanctuary where entry is prohibited. Trailhead: Snee-Oosh Rd., Swinomish Reservation.

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Cascade Crossing Keeping the Faith in the North Cascades Story by David Hutchison Photos by Shari Galiardi

Kayaking Lake Chelan


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turn around to deliver the disappointing news. My wife stands a few short yards behind me as we pause to catch our breath. “Okay, I know for sure where we are, the bad news is we’ve got another section of steep talus slope before we reach camp.” Having already delivered this assessment of our route at least twice, she pauses before venting her frustration, rivaling the intensity of the surrounding weather which reduces our world to a 20-foot radius of cold and dense fog. Four days into our 18-day Cascade crossing, we’re now going on hour seven of a six-mile, nearly 4000 vertical foot walk up the ridge arm of Sahale Peak in the North Cascades National Park. At this moment, she is done. Between words of exasperation, I attempt to explain that our misunderstanding lies somewhere between my memory of the terrain, my description of it, and her interpretation of both. Mileage is a poor increment with which to quantify this hike — our camp is only 2.2 miles from Cascade Pass. But in true North Cascades sandbag fashion, the mileage describes the difficulty of this hike about as well as I do. The remaining 2500 vertical feet to the camping pads at the foot of Sahale Glacier, burdened as we are with eight days of food, camera equipment and camping gear, takes much longer than anticipated and the

views denied us by inclement weather provide neither inspiration nor respite. I quickly realize that my best approach is to just shut up and put one foot in front of the other. Three months earlier, after our idea for crossing the North Cascades ecosystem under our own human-power from Marblemount to Chelan was thrown around over topo maps and malted beverages, I found myself sitting with my colleagues in the Mt. Baker Theatre in Bellingham, listening to author and activist Terry Tempest Williams. Working as environmental educators for the North Cascades Institute, we teach children and their families about the natural world and try to inspire them on an emotional level. We are all too aware of the complicated challenges threatening to upset the balance, climate change among them. Williams artfully succeeded in articulating this to the audience (mostly environmental choir members, I suspect) and yet the mood was uplifting and positive as she brought the magic of our public lands to life in her deeply personal way. A young woman stepped to the microphone and addressed the author with the enthusiasm that only a young idealist can. The entire room hung on her words as she expressed her intention to save the world through her studies and nascent activism. Her passion and earnestness were palpable. I sat in quiet reverence, shook my head at my erstwhile optimism and thought, “Good luck, kid.”

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I cannot remember the sudden departure of my idealism, rather just a slow slipping away. Somewhere around the age of 35, the rose-colored patina it lent to my worldview dimmed. The truth, as it stares back at me now, cannot be ignored. The remaining glaciers of the Cascades are melting and there is little we can do to reverse it. Once gone, their life-giving waters will no longer flow throughout the increasingly-hot summers and the landscapes will be slowly and irrevocably changed. It’s going to get hotter, drier, and some species who call this area home will simply disappear. Glacier National Park has set a date of 2030 by which they expect to bid farewell to their namesake ice. Whether shortly behind Glacier or a few decades after, it will happen here as well in the blink of a geological eye; and for many reasons and many species this spells disaster. My attitude, I realized as I left the Mt. Baker Theatre, is also in a state of sharp decline. But I can no sooner join the choir of naysayers than I can jump on board with our young idealist. I crave the renewal which Williams describes in her talk and latest book, The Hour of Land. Now, the necessity of our Cascade adventure—bicycling from the shores of Diablo Lake to the road’s end at Cascade Pass, backpacking into the isolated community of Stehekin with side trips up Sahale and Rainbow Pass, and paddling our sea kayaks down Lake Chelan, fully grabs me and simply


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Clouds and Peaks, Sahale Arm

won’t let go. I need some time away from responsibilities in the national park in order to simply be there. Becoming a naturalist has forever changed the way I view the wilderness. Where once I saw only topography, weather, and group management decisions, I now see layers of plants, animals, and processes in increasing levels of interdependence. As I come to know this complex place one life-zone at a time through its geography, flora, and fauna,

so too I come to learn about myself.

Gratitude At Sahale Glacier camp, elevation 7600 feet, the mountain weather continues its assault as we set up camp. Greeted with rain upon our arrival, it soon turns into face-pelting sleet. Is this what I had in mind all those months ago? Scrapping our carefully packed menu, we scarf hasty rations of ramen noodles, hot cocoa, and gummi bears. We put on


Reflections on Wilderness by Kathy and Craig Copeland

Non-Attachment When you go hiking, you leave behind the edifices humanity has erected—physical and psychological—that perpetuate the myth of permanence. You enter wilderness, where you cannot own anything. With all the essentials on your back, you want for nothing. And you’re in motion, neither fleeing nor chasing. You’re even partially airborne: one foot off the ground with each stride. So whenever you yearn to go hiking, you’re remembering how content you feel simply walking the Earth. You’re longing for that state of non-attachment. Extracted from Heading Outdoors Eventually Leads Within by Kathy and Craig Copeland (

stories & the race|play|experience calendar online.

Photo by John D’Onofrio

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every layer of clothing we have, cram the remaining seven days of food into our two bear canisters, and crawl into our mostly-dry sleeping bags. Channeling my inner optimist, my thoughts turn to the morning’s forecast which promises sunshine. We arise to just that, a world clearing below us—a world of ice, rock, alpine meadow, water, valley, jagged peaks, cloud, and sun. Sahale Peak provides a backdrop to the pinnacles dividing the region into west and east, MixUp Peak and Magic Mountain among Cooling off in them. The heavy Bridge Creek blanket of moisture to the west below us flows like the park’s namesake over the pass and into the valley beyond, evaporating before reaching the floor. We pause to witness this vanishing waterfall of cloud tumbling in slow motion, the orographic effect giving life to both the biodiversity and dampness of the region.

Having arrived as we did in the gloom of the night before, this world made new, now remakes us as we linger and dry out well into the afternoon before descending to our next camp. The

memory of yesterday’s climb gives us a good laugh as we walk down into the clouds, smiling. Our itinerary across the North Cascades gives us 18 days to cover nearly 150 miles, dedicating roughly a third each to cycling, backpacking, and pad-

VITAL SIGNS Wellness from the Outside In: The Healthy Secret to Our Outdoor Addiction By Sarah Laing, B.Sc. Nutrition

The vital benefits of our addiction to the great outdoors are undeniable. From inflammation to metabolism to immunity, creating a lifestyle woven with adventures not only ensures you stay physically fit but also mentally prepared to face life’s challenges head on. After all, all of that oxygen can’t go unnoticed by the trillions of cells relying on it for their survival…and yours. The mantra “wellness from the inside out” is apropos when it comes to achieving health naturally through self awareness and acceptance. But, in light of this inward journey, we sometimes forget or fail to see the more tangible pathways to health, such as eating a healthy diet or surrounding ourselves with positive influences. In the Pacific Northwest, many of our lifestyles revolve around the simple pleasures of taking in all things natural. I would also offer that it is one of the reasons for the overwhelming focus on local, organic fare and our shared love of farmers’ markets and co-operatives. Taking advantage of the natural options surrounding us, inside and out, may just be the best known secret to better wellness. 14

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dling through a network of federal lands protecting 684,000 acres. Being in the wild should not be a race, my partner reminded me as we refined our plan. My ego knows we can cover more ground each day, but more than once, I find myself grateful for her foresight as we set up the tent and have dinner well before sunset. This adventure isn’t something new— people have crossed Cascade Pass for over 8000 years as the charcoal evidence uncovered in ancient campfires suggests. The path to Stehekin (Salishan for “the way through”) is mostly downhill, a mere 32 miles; and now, it is possible to shorten it by hopping on the tourist shuttle bus at High Bridge. Yet, our way through, and in particular the sea kayak leg, elicits a positive and surprised reaction from people we meet along the way. Perhaps we’re on to something? As we lose elevation from our highest camp, we transition from the cool, wet west side to the hot, dusty east. Turning north from Bridge Creek camp on the Pacific Crest Trail, we run out of water during the hottest part of the day. But, the North Cascades surprises us once again, for within the hour, we renew body and soul in the ice-cold oasis of Maple Creek. Turning southeast, we hike up and over Rainbow Pass. The climb offers few companions other than pesky, salthungry flies, but the overgrown trail is loaded with wild blueberries that fuel us upward. One lingering break in the sub-alpine meadow and ice-cold stream and we tackle the last 1000 feet of trail through talus to the saddle ridge. After reaching it, we realize it is all downhill >>> Go to

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from here. This high-five moment—as well as the view of the half-moon hanging in the pink sky above fading layers of mountain ridges—conjures up one simple emotion... gratitude. As we descend into the Stehekin valley, we see the fireweed and pinegrass reclaiming the landscape after the 2010 fire. The Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs still stripped to their trunks, provide no respite from the sun on this southwest-facing slope, but the forest is still very much alive. As we round the final ridge, our goal comes into view, the 50-mile glacially carved Lake Chelan.

Hope We spend a day transitioning to our sea kayaks in Stehekin—showering, washing clothes, and gathering vegetables and cheese from a local farmer. The roomy hatches of our boats allow for luxury items such as eggs, goat cheese, and wine. Without a thought to weight, we shove it all into the boats and my

shoulders immediately thank me. Our challenges turn from steepness of terrain to wind speed and wave height. Paying tribute to those who took a similar path, we shove off from the Stehekin landing and paddle past the pictographs along the western shore of the lake. These drawings appear to have been left here last month rather than thousands of years ago, and the midcentury contributions by the class of ’46 reminds me how far we have come in our respect for anthropology. We settle into a new pace as we move down the lake, rising early to avoid windy conditions and easily reaching our camp by mid-day. We begin to measure our days by the schedule of the Lady of the Lake passenger ferries that connect Stehekin to the greater world of roads and commerce. Tourists, residents, packages and groceries alike ride on the company’s boats across the lake as they have for a century. Strangely, conversations with power

boaters along the lake seem to lack the esprit de corps of those we met along the backpacking trails. There, we were fellow hikers bound for different destinations, but sharing the same rough trail conditions, rain or unrelenting heat. Perhaps those factors remove barriers to meaningful connections in a way that the convenience of a power boat cannot facilitate? We remain an oddity on the lake. As the smoke from the nearby Glacier Peak wildfire makes its way into the valley, we discover another Cascadian surprise. The smoke adds an intensity to the setting sun that fills the valley with a haunting red glow. We paddle out to investigate and spend the next hour in awe. On our final day, we find ourselves returning to civilization amid lake-front homes and buzzing jet skis. It has been a slow reintroduction as we move south, but now we enter the Chelan vacation wonderland. We feel like strangers in a strange land, but we are also excited


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about an ice cold drink and a made-toorder sandwich. It is always bittersweet moving from the natural environment which sustains me on an emotional level to the constructed environment which

sustains me physically. The pace we discovered along our journey offered us an altered perception of time, making 18 days feel more like three months. Time away from e-mail, news feeds, politics, and the minutia of daily life fills me with something I haven’t felt in a while, hope. It may be a cliché, but the effect on me is remarkable. Williams writes, “Our national

parks are breathing spaces in a society increasingly holding its breath.” I may not be able to reverse the effects of climate change, nor save the places I love from becoming something entirely different within my lifetime. But perhaps, these places can save me from my own despair about the future and remind me that I still live in a beautiful world; and that is something worth fighting for. ANW

Freedom in a Can

What started out as an expedition in 2012 has turned into a lifestyle. Shari Galiardi and David “Hutch” Hutchison of Boone, NC, said goodbye to their professional careers in higher education and their 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath house and hit the road in a restored 1957 canned-ham style travel trailer. Going from 1650 to 72 square feet was a challenging downsize in which the couple found “Freedom in a Can.”

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Light enough to carry with you, hearty enough to keep you going!

As outdoor enthusiasts and advocates for sustainability, the couple spent the past four years traveling 65,000 miles across our country and Canada, visiting 49 states, over 60 national parks & monuments, and many other public lands. Along the way they visited old friends, made many new ones, found meaning through seasonal work and volunteer service, and fell in love with America all over again. Their blog and website include stories, advice, and images of the places they’ve visited. “It just seems like a natural next step for us and what we should be doing at this time of our lives,” they reply when people ask them if they are “living the dream.” They’ve been called brave, adventurous and just plain crazy, but they are dedicated to “living large by living small.” Their lifestyle offers them a means to be outside and close to the natural wonders that they want to experience, while never having to leave home. Shari and Hutch spent the past two seasons working as environmental educators in Acadia National Park and North Cascades National Park and are presently serving in Kenya, Africa. Prior to this, they spent a combined eight months volunteering on organic farms from Maine to Hawaii. “Our ideal lifestyle is a balance of paid work, volunteering, and travel—committing around four months per year to each.” In addition to seasonal work, they have discovered new passions in photography and writing. Shari captures their experiences from behind the lens while Hutch finds his voice in crafting the right phrase. The couple is currently working on a book about their experiences.

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As educators and speakers, the couple has taken their story on the road and online. They’ve presented on college campuses, at the Grand Rapids, Michigan RV, Travel, and Camper Show, were interviewed on both radio and TV, and were featured presenters on an international online RV Travel Summit. They are passionate about travel and tiny home living. Follow their adventures at, and

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Storm over Malheur Photo by Sue Madsen


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Distance at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Story by Sue Madsen

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suppose wisdom comes with time and distance…and acceptance.

speak of it with awe, and aspire to make the pilgrimage each spring. After many years of contemplating it from afar, I decided to make my own migration in 2015.

Oregon’s high desert is a long way from anywhere, in terms of both time and distance. For most, it’s a long airWe planned to meet at the Field conditioned, seat-heated, surround-sound Station on Friday evening. I was coming orchestrated six-hour obstacle to the defrom Bellingham, and Amy was making lights of Portland, Boise, or the bright lights of White-faced Ibis. Photo by Paula Rustan Reno. But for others, it’s a journey back into our collective past along one of a handful of two-lanes developed in the days long before interstate highways. There’s a whole lot of “high lonesome” out there. Time and Distance. Far blue mountains wait patiently on the horizon, never seeming to get any closer. Nothing but sagebrush, lonesome the drive from Boise. Arriving early, with stunted junipers, and long horizons. But lots of time and distance to explore, I slow down and the landscape jumps intook a quick detour around the Diamond timately into the close focus of a lover’s Loop Road, winding through a landportrait, vibrant and alive. scape of ancient miniature cinder cones Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and lava flows. A sign for the Kiger Wild is a gleaming jewel in the center of this Horse Viewing Area caught my eye— “empty” space. The refuge constitutes a who could resist that? I turned off on a small speck of the Northern Great Basin’s dirt road, slick from recent thundershowvast expanse, but is a tremendously imers, but relatively flat. What the heck, I portant piece of wildlife habitat. Birders was driving a beat-up 4WD truck, and

had a tank full of gas. Time and distance. An hour later and eleven miles in and I’d yet to see another car. But red-tailed hawks soared overhead, and pronghorn antelope popped up occasionally. As evening approached, I was just about to give up, when there they were. A lone duncolored horse loped across the road, then two more, and suddenly off in the distance I spied a band of almost two dozen, several with foals at their heels. Buckskin, bay, roan; more shades of brown and sunset than I knew existed. I watched in delight, letting the experience transport me back to another time, savoring it all the more because it belonged to me alone. Later I realized just how special these horses were. Undiscovered in this remote area until 1977, the fewer than 200 Kiger mustangs currently in the wild were proven to be direct descendants of Spanish horses brought to the New World by the Conquistadors - time and distance, time and distance. I got to the Malheur Field Station after dark. The station opened back in the early 1960’s as a youth Job Corps site and, after being abandoned in 1969, had been

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turned into a University field research station. In 1987, the non-profit Great Basin Society stepped in, after the universities had abandoned it as well. The station now provides education programs and remarkably peaceful accommodations used primarily by both birders and hunters. Driving through the cluster of ramshackle buildings and old trailers at night, it was difficult to determine which were actually habitable barracks. Several of the buildings are maintained just enough to provide a comfortable (albeit basic) homebase when exploring the refuge. Food and services may be no-nonsense, but the price is right, and the real benefit is the connection with other birders. Sharing a spaghetti dinner in the mess hall after our first full day of exploring the refuge, Amy and I quickly received spot-on directions to two of the “life” birds we had each hoped to see. A burrowing owl could be found by pulling over at the second telephone pole beyond a ranch road and looking west, we were

told. Ferruginous Hawks were nesting in the lone juniper tree about a mile further along. And sure enough, venturing out at sunset we easily found both exactly where reported.

Great Horned Owl

Photo by Paula Rustan

As newcomers to the area we figured our best bet to get better oriented was to head over to the nearby refuge headquarters. The headquarters is situated near some freshwater springs on the south side of Malheur Lake. This tiny oasis of deciduous trees and ornamental shrubs in the center of miles of shrub-steppe desert

has been attracting unusual visitors since long before the short-lived occupation by non-native loons of the subspecies Bundyii in the winter of 2016. As the sun rose over the distant hills we were immediately enthralled. Swainson’s Hawks and ravens nested in the trees, while gawky teenage Great Horned Owls bounced around the nearby lookout tower. An elusive Sandhill Crane presided over a well-camouflaged nest and Scarlet and Yellow Western Tanagers, Yellow-Headed Blackbirds, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak dined at the feeders. A nighthawk lazed the morning away in a nearby tree. It was difficult to tear ourselves away from this peaceful garden of Eden. And of course, we had no inking at that time that in less than a year, the Malheur Refuge would become ground zero for arguably the west’s most unlikely “occupation.” The real heart of Malheur was yet to come. We meandered south on dirt roads that loosely followed the Blitzen River.

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The river and associated wetlands are this visual richness was provided by the the habitats for which the refuge is really meadowlarks, adding an ethereal sound famous. More than 320 different species track to these wide open spaces. of bird have been documented here. Now At the Page Springs Campground I’m not a skilled-enough expert to distinwe were scolded by yellow-breasted guish between more than a dozen varichats as we hiked up a coulee near the eties of drab brown sparrows. But these birds were amazing! Striking black and white stilts, high-stepping avocets, flocks of American White Pelicans and White-faced Ibis were gathered—a conference of the birds. More cranes foraged at the edge of a field filled with five unruly coyote pups. Overhead Avocet. were Forster’s and black terns. The Photo by Alan Fritzberg musical accompaniment to all of river. As we traversed the side slope to the rim, rock and canyon wrens chimed in. We spied another family of Great Horned Owls nesting on the cliffs. A junior member appeared to have just fledged the night before, guarded by dad as it clung precariously to a cliff while mom and siblings watched from a small rock cleft. They seemed to sense

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we were the least of their worries. I suppose wisdom comes with time, distance…and the acceptance of intimate contradictions. Birders and hunters sharing the field station? Ranchers and environmentalists rejecting the militant takeover? The lonlieness, yet remarkable intimacy of this special place was almost overwhelming. The contentiousness of the world at large comes and goes, but life here goes on as it has for eons. Few places I know seem more remote and unassailable, and yet I was filled with a sense of belonging. The story of passing time plays out with a slow and patient cadence. Thunderstorms play on the horizon, filling the Donner and Blitzen Rivers to the brim. Lake levels rise and fall. The far blue mountains draw near and yet stand aloof, silent witnesses to the passage of seasons. Sometimes contradictions resolve into final acceptance. And conflicts fade into time and ANW distance...

The Occupation On January 2, 2016 armed members of a self-styled “militia” led by rancher Ammon Bundy stormed the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, demanding that the land be turned over “to the people.” They occupied the refuge for more than a month and one member of the occupying force was killed before they surrendered to law enforcement. Bundy was arrested on federal conspiracy charges but was later acquitted. The refuge headquarters (visitor center, nature store, museum and grounds) remains closed to the public. Other portions of the refuge are open.

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Wings Over Water Festival Turns 15 Story by Nick Belcaster

s certain as the annual mi- cus on the Brant, eventually including all of the birds local to the area. Since gration of shore birds on the those fledgling years, what was a onePacific Flyway, this year’s Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival will re- In their element turn to the shores of Blaine Photo by Debbie Harger and Birch Bay to celebrate the unique gathering of bird life in our corner of the country. Scheduled for March 1012, Wings Over Water celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, a milestone for a festival with humble beginnings that has become a destination event, Festival Chair and President Debbie Harger says. The festival’s first two years were focused on a local rarity of a bird, a member of the goose family that migrates to our shores from the Arctic known as the Brant. The gathering of Brants captured the imagination of local birders, and in the years since, the festival quickly outgrew its singular fo-


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day event has expanded into a threeday festival to celebrate not only the birds, but the habitat that draws them to winter here. The Salish Sea in general, but more specifically the Blaine and Birch Bay areas, are biological hotbeds in terms of food sources and bird density.

Harger says that the festival hopes to draw those who may be unfamiliar to birding, but also acts as a celebration of the ecological health of the coastal areas. “Birds are barometers of the health of the environment,” explains noted bird photographer and festival mainstay Joe Meche. “If Drayton Harbor is unhealthy, or if Semiahmoo Bay has too much pollution, we couldn’t have the festival.” Meche was part of the committee that organized the first Wings Over Water Festival, as well as a former President of the North Cascades Audubon Society. During the festival, birders can expect to see Arctic visitors like the Brant or the Long-tailed Duck, as well as small shorebirds like Dunlin, swelling and turning in flocks. Loons and grebes also make the journey in large numbers, attracted to these coastal areas where their food supply is abundant.

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Kayaking with friends Photo by Eric Ellingson

This year’s festival will kick off on Friday, March 10 with an opening reception at Semiahmoo Resort and an all-day field trip to the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta, BC. On Saturday, participants will be able to take an open-water cruise on Boundary Bay in search of birds, or simply cruise the birding expo at Blaine Middle School. Keynote speaker and award-winning wildlife photographer and author Paul Bannick returns this year, giving a presentation at the Blaine Performing Arts Center on Saturday evening. His 2008 book, The Owl and the Woodpecker is one of the best-selling bird books in North America. As the days grow longer and spring draws nearer, Harger and Meche are already noticing the first waves of migrating birds passing through the area, many of which will be on hand during the festival. The festival’s future looks bright,

according to Harger. So long as the birds are here, she says, Wings Over Water will be as well. ANW


For a complete schedule of activities: wingsoverwaterbirding


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Dennis Walton Quiet Moments Beside the Lake When my wife and I moved to Bellingham we wanted a home with a view and we found the perfect location at Agate Heights overlooking Lake Whatcom. Each day I watch the shifting colors and patterns offered by the everchanging weather of the Pacific Northwest. The lake and the surrounding hills are beautiful whether the sun is out


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or everything is shrouded in rain or fog. My photography has taken me around the globe but I find myself constantly mesmerized by the beauty out my back door. On some days, I take the short drive to the trailhead for the Lake Whatcom Trail and enjoy an hour or two walking beside the lake. On some days I even take a picture or two. ANW

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Clockwise from top right: Morning Reflections, Foggy Tunnel, Forest Path, Waterfall

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Spring in the San Juans

Paddling the San Juan Islands Story by Dawn Groves

Near Sucia Island

Photo by Kristi Kucera/Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures


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he flat two-mile crossing was anything but notorious. I was almost disappointed. We’d dragged our kayaks onto the ferry in Anacortes at oh-dark-hundred, disembarked at the Orcas Island terminal and waited for our transportation, loaded boats and gear into a van that took us across the island through Eastsound, unloaded our boats and gear at Terrill Beach, and then began packing for the paddle. That strip of water in front of us was the final hurdle before our destination, Sucia Island. We were a party of six sea kayakers. Five of us were experienced in San Juan waters. The sixth was Joe, a college newbie brimming with biological bravado. I’d warned him about the island’s capricious water/weather combinations but the blue sky overhead made a mockery of my words. Joe faced the channel, arms extended in welcome and exclaimed, “This is perfect! Even if the wind comes up it’s still perfect!” Seattle meteorologist Cliff Mass, an expert on Northwest climate, gives scientific credence to what veteran Island paddlers know from experience. “If any place has localized weather is there [the San Juans]. The complex combination of terrain and water causes large weather variations.

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Wind variations are huge.” We slid our loaded boats into the water and arranged ourselves next to each other as though we were starting a race. I scooted in next to Joe. “Joe,” I smiled, “Welcome to San Juan Island paddling.” Then we pushed into the channel. There are 172 named islands and reefs (depending on the tide) comprising the San Juan Island Archipelago. Together they offer sea kayakers a rich diversity of paddling routes and destinations that never fail to satisfy. So why aren’t the waterways crawling with kayakers? It’s not that simple, cautioned Kristi Kucera, owner of Bellingham-based Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures. “The water from the Strait of Juan De Fuca pours in and out directly from the Pacific Ocean. The first islands it encounters are the southwestern San Juans.” (That helps explain the tide races through Cattle Pass.) “The islands average an 11-foot tidal exchange,” she continued. Constrictions force the water to move even faster and push harder. Some constrictions are obvious such as the gap between two islands. Others are hidden, like reefs just under the surface. “Any time you have a big body of water squeezing into a smaller area, you’ll experience dynamic conditions.” “Dynamic” is how experts describe water that’s gnarly, chaotic, or

just plain horrifying. Still, it’s really all about preparation. Tides and currents are well-documented, rip locations and reefs are marked on charts. Even ferry traffic is predictable. If you have solid boat-handling skills, plan properly, and make smart, conservative decisions, you’ll enjoy yourself. Usually. The four biggest islands–Orcas, Shaw, San Juan, and Lopez–are serviced by the Washington State Ferry system and provide excellent starting points for any paddling journey. Locals like me tend to take them in stride. We forget that National Geographic Magazine included our backyard in their list of the world’s best 100 adventure travel destinations.

Around Orcas Island At fifty-seven square miles and 70 miles of shoreline, Orcas is the largest and most visually spectacular of the islands. It’s rather horseshoe-shaped, practically bisected from the south by East Sound harbor, which cuts eight miles deep into the interior and is over a mile wide. Ribbons of road wind through rural, hilly terrain dotted with old farmhouses, grazing cows and sheep, orchards, barns, and the occasional village. Mt. Constitution on the wooded east side boasts the highest point in the archipelago at 2400 feet with spectacular 360-degree views. Multi-day circumnavigations of

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Orcas are popular among paddlers. Depending on tides and currents, paddlers have several take-out options available, some with camping. The ferry terminal can be a good place to start. Doe Bay on the east side is enjoyed for its causal sensibilities and clothing-opthe Kelp tional hot springs. Among Photo by Kristi Kucera/Moondance North Beach is Sea Kayak Adventures a wide graveled shoreline with easy access to Eastsound and parking close by. The picturesque community of Deer Harbor is as pretty as it is convenient. There’s a wide sandy beach to prep your boat and a short 2.5-mile paddle to one of the San Juan’s most popular boating destinations, Jones Island. Jones Island is 188 square acres of well-managed state park land. It has a dock for motor boats, a sandy beach, 24 primitive campsites including two on the Cascadia Marine Trail, running water in the summer, two lawn areas for picnics and a bounty

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of tame deer and over-stimulated raccoons (Keep your food well protected). I’ve camped there several times. It’s a perfect jumping off point to tour the rocky Wasp Islands as well as the Nature Conservancy’s fragile Yellow Island. Look for barking seals, bright orange and purple starfish, bald eagles, and lots of sweet spots to noodle around.

Around San Juan Island San Juan Island is the county seat and boasts the biggest population, the biggest “city,” and the greatest concentration of bars. Friday Harbor is the island hub with its restaurants, art galleries, quaint shopping malls, museum, marina and ferry terminal. Kayakers usually forgo the crowds, opting instead for San Juan Island County Park on the west side of the island. The park borders busy Haro Strait, a main thoroughfare for Vancouver Island ship traffic, freighters running to and from Seattle, Puget Sound’s three resident Orca pods, and occasional transient whales. Panoramic western views of Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula add to the area’s dazzle. I was keen to paddle from Smallpox Bay to Deadman Preserve, just north of San Juan County Park. The disturbing names given to these otherwise scenic locales have a historic foundation. Prior to European colonization, the north end of San Juan island was home to a vital population of Lummi Indians. When the natives encountered the first European explorers, they were exposed to diseases and fevers for which they had no natural immunity. The worst of these was smallpox. Smallpox Bay gets its name from a time when the Lummis, riddled with smallpox, tried to cool their fevers by jumping into the bay’s icy water. They all died from illness or the hypothermia resulting from their futile efforts to find relief. The population was decimated. Deadman Preserve has an equally heinous story attached to it. In the late 1880’s pirates smuggled Chinese immigrants by ship to serve as cheap labor. Whenever a customs official approached a pirate ship, the ship captain threw his hapless cargo into the water where they drowned. Their ruined bodies eventually washed up on the gravel beach at Deadman Preserve. The preserve is a total of 20 acres with trails that lead into the adjacent Lime Kiln Point State Park, thankfully named for

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something other than tragedy. At Lime Kiln you can lift your spirits with sightings of Minke whales, orcas, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and otters. Picturesque Lime Kiln Lighthouse is one of 19 lighthouses scattered throughout the San Juan archipelago.

Around Shaw Island Fiercely private Shaw Island is the smallest of the mighty four at almost 8 square miles. It offers one small county park as its only public campground (unless you paddle out to tiny Blind Island with its four campsites). The 250 residents value their seclusion and the private property signs are no joke. That said, Cedar Rock just west of the county park is a biological preserve where the public is actually encouraged to walk and paddle. Don’t get too excited, though. It’s small. Despite the lack of take-outs, Shaw is still lovely to circumnavigate. Because it’s surrounded by Orcas, San Juan and

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Lopez Islands, paddlers can approach from any number of locations. Routes must be carefully timed to coincide with the currents, particularly when nearing the southern shoreline. Shaw has enjoyed several notable residents (can you say Bill Gates?). Best known are the eight resident Benedictine nuns who tend one of the island’s last working farms. For a nominal donation, the nuns at Our Lady of the Rock Monastery offer guests simple organic meals and comfortable accommodations. Many a book has been written there. Aquatic wildlife abounds around Shaw. Deer are sometimes seen swimming across channels. Kelp beds provide safe harbor for otters and kayakers alike. Eagles flourish here as well as the usual bevy of porpoises and seals.

Around Lopez Island Lopez Island, with a population of a few thousand laid-back souls, is known

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for its fertile valley, gentle topography, and bike-friendly roads. It’s the kind of place where everyone waves at everyone else. The rural landscape is a loose checkerboard of small farms and houses. The island is almost 30 square miles with 63 miles of coastline. Paddlers who launch from Anacortes to cross busy Rosario Strait will often make Lopez their first stop. Circumnavigating “the friendly isle” is a fun day trip. Visitors will often see eagles and other birds of prey, sea lions, seals, porpoises, and jellyfish. The island is also home to thousands of bunnies. Paddlers are welcome to use several coastal

put-ins including Odlin Park, Hunter Bay, Mud Bay, Spencer Spit and Agate Beach. From Lopez, it’s not far to Orcas or Shaw; however, care must be taken when crossing to and from the island, especially at the southern end where the water moves fast and builds waves.

Get Ready, Get Set... This assumes that paddlers have the resources necessary to research and properly prepare a kayak trip plan. 1. Decide where you’d like to go. 2. Before checking weather, find a time window with the least tidal exchange. Bigger tides make for faster water and potentially dicey conditions. 3. The tides will tell you which direction is best to travel, riding the current as much as possible and negotiating constrictions at slack. 4. Note all areas of potential rips and rapids. 5. Note safe take-out locations in case of problems. 6. Talk to someone who has paddled the same area. Experienced paddlers from paddling clubs such as WAKE and Hole-In-The-Wall or local guide services such as Moondance can help. There’s a lot of good advice out there. 7. Be sure to follow best practices for ocean paddling such as dressing for immersion, using proper safety equipment (VHF radio, clothes, PFD, spray skirt, whistle, extra paddle, paddle float, first aid kit, etc.), paddling with a group, and sharing your trip plan with someone back home in case you’re delayed. 8. Never plan a hard and fast return time. You don’t want to risk paddling dangerous waters just to meet a schedule.

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Sunset Paddle

Photo by Katie Campbell/Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures

Speaking of waves, my weekend paddle to Sucia ended up a classic example of San Juan unpredictability. We were paddling easily, ferrying to offset the current when the wind picked up in opposition. With the added constriction of Parker Reef in the middle of the channel, what started as a smooth crossing transformed into a sea of short sharp waves hitting every which way. Joe’s face morphed from a smile into a rictus. He was clearly in trouble so I battled over to him and motioned to raft up. He grabbed at my cockpit and held on tight, slamming me sideways against his kayak. “Someday you’ll think this is fun!” I yelled. After we settled into camp, all of us debriefed around the fire pit. “I thought I knew what to expect,” he said. “I’ve practiced a lot but when the time came, I just froze up.” “It’s a learning curve,” I said. “To paddle crazy water, you have to practice in crazy conditions with lots of friends to help you out.” (I’m not expert enough to use the term “dynamic.”) “We’re doing it again tomorrow?” his eyes widened. “We’ll head out when its slack and play as the current builds,” I said. “Maybe we’ll get a little breeze to make things more entertaining.” “Entertaining,” he muttered, poking a stick in the fire. The air ruffled through the trees, fragrant with sea and pine. Lights twinkled across the water toward Bellingham, Orcas Island, and distant Canada. I stood up and patted him on the shoulder. “Welcome to paddling the San Juans, Joe,” I said. “You said that when we started this afternoon.” “Yeah,” I smiled. “But this time you understand what I’m talking about.” ANW

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Spring in the San Juans

Hiking the Outer Islands

Story by Craig Romano

Patos Island Lighthouse Photo by John D’Onofrio


ention hiking on the San Juan Islands and Moran State Park instantly comes to mind. While this large popular park on Orcas Island with its 30 miles of trails certainly is a supreme hiking destination, there are scores of great hiking spots throughout Washington’s stunning archipelago. 34

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The outer islands, beloved by boaters, paddlers and sailors also contain some exceptional hikes. In fact, some of the most stunning trails within this island chain can be found on the three main outer islands; Patos, Sucia, and Matia. All three of these islands are protected as public lands. And all three offer excellent hiking as well as excep

tional camping and opportunities to observe wildlife. The geology of these islands with their sandstone composition resembles that of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands. They are younger islands than the ones farther south. There is no ferry service to them. You’ll need your own boat or you can hire a water taxi service from East Sound, Anacortes, or Bellingham. >>> Go to

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A hiker pauses under sandstone ledges along Sucia Island’s Shallow Bay

Patos Island Situated on Boundary Pass, Patos Island is the northernmost of the San Juans. A unit of the San Juan Islands National Monument (established in 2013 by President Obama); the 207-acre island is managed by Washington State Parks. Spanish for ducks, the patos observed here by early explorers were probably alcids— auks, guillemots, and murrelets. From Active Cove you can follow a couple of trails for a 2.2 mile loop. Hike along sandstone-shelved shorelines, through old-growth forests harboring some giants, and to the beautiful lighthouse at Alden Point, built in 1908. Here, savor sweeping views of Boundary Pass, BC’s Saturna Island, Point Roberts, and Mount Baker. In summer, volunteers staff the lighthouse.

Sucia Island Sucia Island is considered by many recreationists to be the most beautiful of all the San Juans. The island’s 564 acres are entirely protected as a state marine park. The island was named after the Spanish word for “foul” or “dirty”—but in this case in a nautical sense, referring to the reefs and rocks surrounding the island. Shaped like a horseshoe, with several long slender peninsulas, Sucia is rich in biological diversity and human history. Extremely popular with boaters (especially in the summer), the island contains more than 10 miles of well-maintained trails. From the docks at Fossil Bay (yes, there are fossils on the island), trails emanate in several directions. Look out into Fox Cove for its famous mushroom rock. From the golden grassy bluff called Ev Henry Point, take in breathtaking views of Matia, Orcas, Waldron, stories & the race|play|experience calendar online.

Photo by Craig Romano

Pender, and Saturna islands, as well as Mount Baker. This point was named after yachtsman Everett (Ev) Henry, who led a drive to purchase Sucia from developers who wanted to subdivide it for vacation homes. Henry later donated the island to the state for a park. Follow trails southeast along a

forested ridge to Snoring Bay, and the finger-like peninsulas of Wiggins Head

The art of nature

eARTh Helen Scholtz

An Attention to Detail In 1973, my husband, son and I moved to Bellingham, lured, in part, by the incredible access to forests, mountains and the Salish Sea. Here I slowly gained a familiarity and love of these forests: their towering conifers and moss- and lichen-draped maples, the rich understory and forest floor, the slow journey of rain from the treetop to roots. The water’s edge, and its expanded horizon and reflective surfaces, powerful storms and array of clouds remind me of a continuity and timelessness that helps me maintain a sense of perspective. All enrich me with the sensuous delights of vision, touch, scent and sound. Clockwise from top right: Ice & Maple Seed; Driftwood Grain Detail, Ebbey’s Landing; Fall Colors; Autumn Dance; Tennant Lake Reflections; Maple Leaf Rain Drop

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and Johnson Point. From here, soak up sweeping views of Mount Baker, Orcas Island’s Mount Constitution and Turtleback Mountain; as well as Lummi, Matia, and Clark islands. Stroll along Shallow Bay, scanning its serene waters for otters, seals, harlequin ducks and guillemots. The bay’s beach is hemmed in by a boggy ghost forest, an excellent place for bird-watching—especially eagles. At a narrow isthmus between Shallow and Echo bays, check out a sandstone cliff resembling a chunk of Swiss cheese, its façade pockmarked with shallow caves. Take the China Caves Trail, traveling over gorgeous wind- and surfsculpted sandstone ledges, some of the prettiest and most photographed natural features in the San Juans. The caves, small depressions in a big sandstone bluff, were alleged to hide Chinese laborers smuggled from Canada in the late 1800s. The entire island has a history of smuggling, from illegal immigrants, to alcohol during Prohibition, to narcotics. Hike along Lawson Bluff on a trail across precipitous cliffs. While hovering over the crashing surf, soak up stunning views of the Gulf Islands. The trail to Ewing Cove hugs the northern shoreline of Echo Bay. It’s one of the most scenic shoreline hikes in the San Juans. It travels up and over bluffs and ledges passing mature firs, gnarled junipers, and contorted madronas. Take in views of the nearby Finger Islands and Justice Island (which was seized from a drug smuggler in the

ADVENTURES NW>>> magazine Join us on an

Alaska Photography Cruise to Glacier Bay

May 22-29, 2017 Aboard the M.V. David B, sailing from Juneau, AK.

I n f o & Re g is t r a t i o n: n o r t h w e s t n a v i g a t i o n.c o m

Welcome Spring with a special

Equinox Concert

by Native American Flute Master Gary



March 19, 2017

4:00 pm 1317 Commercial, Bellingham, WA • 360-319-1601 36

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1980s) and farther out to Lummi, Matia, and Orcas islands. At Ewing Cove, look out to small islands and reefs that are hotbeds for seals and pelagic birds.

cove wedged between sandstone cliffs. You can follow a spur trail along open sandstone ledges to Bench Point and the tip of a small peninsula. Here take in excellent views of Orcas, Lummi, Matia Island and Clark islands as well as Mount Matia Island is one of the Baker. eighty-three (mostly small) islands The loop continues past the protected within the San Juan site of Civil War veteran Elvin H. Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Smith’s cabin. The famed Hermit Washington State Parks manages of Matia lived all alone here from 5 acres around Rolfe Cove on the 1892 until 1921, when he vanisland as a marine park. The rest of ished on a supply-seeking rowing the 145-acre island is federal wildertrip to Orcas during a storm. The ness, affording undisturbed habitat trail then reenters more primeval for endangered and threatened speforest and passes a tiny cove and cies. Matia contains some of the wetland before returning to the oldest, biggest, and tallest trees in dock. the San Juans. Dogs are not allowed The Outer Islands clearly beyond the campground and no offcontain unsurpassed hiking optrail travel is permitted. portunities when it comes to outMatia’s Wilderness Loop Trail The Wilderness Loop Trail standing Salish Sea scenery. And starts at the dock at Rolfe Cove Photo by Craig Romano starts near the Rolfe Cove dock. in spring, you can add solitude to Hike through a tunnel of ancient their attributes. forest greenery passing impressive gigantic firs, a huge hollowed-out cedar, and fern gardens. Then reach a hidden ANW

Preventative Maintenance: Because you have better things to do! Proac drive tive rs MORE have FUN!

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Spring in the San Juans

Sailing to the Three Amigos Story and Photos by John D’Onofrio

Toe Point, Patos Island

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ails unfurled, we whip past Decauter Island, weaving our way through the blue-green San Juan Islands. I’m crewing aboard Elenoa, captained by the seadog himself, Lance Ekhart. Lance lives on Elenoa and knows her every move and proclivity. He and the boat are like one joyous wind-celebrating organism. We’ve had many adventures together out here in these remarkable islands, Lance’s backyard. We fly crisply north from Anacortes, towards three special islands that we have dubbed ‘The Three Amigos’, the northern marine parks: Matia, Sucia and Patos. Among the 172 islands that make up the archipelago, these three have captured our imaginations. We have visited them often and over the years have become enthralled by the surreal beauty of these wind-swept outliers. They’re different every time, thanks to the countless variations on the themes of weather and tide. Lance leans into the wind. It feels like coming home. The sky is a resplendent blue and the hopeful spring sun sparkles on the Salish Sea, sharing the stage with an early rising half-moon. We regard this combination as auspicious.

The Cluster Islands


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Operatic clouds billow up on the horizons to the east and the west, over the snow-capped Cascades and Olympics. We’re right where we want to be—in the blue hole, that area of rain-shadow formed by the Olympic Mountains. Fortune is smiling upon us, as it so often does. We slip through the Cone Islands, elegant and silent, silhouetted against the rolling pillows of clouds. The surface of the Salish Sea is an impressionistic mirror of the sky, an animated Monet: clouds undulating in Elenoa’s wake. Giddy with the rush of salt air and the unencumbered joy of setting out on a new adventure, we set our course to the north, into the wind, towards the Amigos. Matia appears on the northern horizon, gilded by the low sun. We make a bee line for it, passing Puffin Island to starboard. We glide along the southern shore, past the outstretched limbs of twisted madrones, their vibrant orange

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bark illuminated in the late afternoon light. Sucia is next and we round it on its north side, heading due west now, towards the setting sun, a trumpet concerto by Vivaldi playing on Elenoa’s stereo. The music perfectly orchestrates the play of light on the water as we glide through shadows and reflections. We nose Elenoa into Shallow Bay in a deep-blue twilight. A cadre of herons rises from the off-shore rocks to greet us with that vociferous music known only to gangly, prehistoric birds. The clouds converge. As darkness envelopes the bay, we become aware of the presence of bioluminescence, light-emitting organisms in the depths that form shimmering curtains in the dark water, like submerged northern lights. A light rain begins to fall and each drop is a tiny explosion of light on the surface of the bay. The water looks exactly like a night sky filled with twin-

kling stars. Looking down, we see that all around the boat, the sea is alive with fish, streamers of flowing light tracing their movements below the water as they glide in the darkness among the “stars”. It is mesmerizing. It’s Native American Flute music now, perfect for the psychedelic light show. We ease back beneath the cowling on Elenoa, out of the elements, savoring the sweetness of evening and listening to the falling rain.

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Exploring the Three Amigos POETRY FROM THE WILD

Field Notes - Spring by Saul Weisberg A living crescent crosses the moon the cry of migrating geese dark against the sky I paddle slowly into the dark from the shoreline cries of night birds follow me. We don’t need words to know we are surrounded by beauty. Poems are excerpted from Headwaters: Poems & Field Notes (Pleasure Boat Studio)

The three northern-most islands in the San Juan Archipelago are Matia, Sucia and Patos. The pronunciation of their names has been corrupted over the years but not much else has. All three are marine parks, sanctuaries for the denizens of the Salish Sea, many of whom have vanished from more populated locales. With the exception of an occasional ranger, these islands are uninhabited by homo sapiens—except for summertime, when every mooring buoy is occupied by Eddie Bauer-clad yachtsmen and blissed-out kayakers wander the margins of the islands, communing with the Salish Sea. But Spring—that’s a different story. In March, April and May these idyllic islands can be downright lonely. Visits during these hurly-burly days of uncertain weather (as if the weather is ever

certain here!) offer unique delights that have become increasingly rare in our digital world. This is a place to unplug and reconnect.

Matia Coming from the east (Bellingham) or the southeast (Anacortes), Matia is the first of the Amigos to rise from the swirling aquamarine waters of the Salish Sea. Puffin Island, basically a rock—and offlimits to bipeds—stands sentinel off the east coast of Matia. In the many years that I have slipped past Puffin Island I have never laid eyes on a puffin, alas. The main anchorage on Matia is found at Rolfe Cove, a convoluted indentation on its west side. If you can score a buoy here (or can safely drop anchor), you’re in for a treat. Eagles and herons loiter on the shores. Sunsets are magnificent.

Aboard the David B

San Juan Island • Broughton Archipelago Desolation Sound • Inside Passage • Alaska 42

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From the dock, a loop trail semicircles the island and affords access to beaches covered in smooth, sculpted stone tailor-made for supine meditation. Amazing mushrooms litter the forest floor in spring. An excellent place for pleasing dreams.

Sucia Sucia is the marquee amigo, a recreation paradise, pure and simple. At 750 acres, it’s by far the biggest of the three and its convoluted shoreline— and six major bays—offers numerous anchorages and diverse scenes of otherworldly beauty. The sculpted sandstone formations (created by the corrosive action of saltwater over eons) that mark the Three Amigos reaches its zenith here. Circumnavigating this convoluted shoreline is like visiting an erosion museum. Campsites are plentiful and the island has an extensive collection of idyllic hiking trails, but in summer it can be very crowded. It’s only two nautical miles from ferry-accessible Orcas Island, so it’s popular with kayakers as well as

pleasure boats. Visit in spring and avoid the rush. Fossil Bay is the busiest area with scores of mooring buoys, a dock and numerous campsites. Explore Johnson Point and E.V. Henry Finger, the outstretched sandstone arms that encircle the bay. Nearby Fox Cove is smaller and quieter, protected from the open waters of Boundary Pass by Little Sucia Island,

delight, with sandy beaches, campsites, hiking trails and fine sunset views across the water to Saturna Island in the Canadian Gulf Islands. Ewing Cove, on the far eastern tip is an exceptional place. A few buoys and opportunities for anchorage can be found nestled behind the Cluster Islands. This is a sandstone paradise and an incredible place to explore. Depending on the tide, the Cluster Islands can be visited via dinghy or kayak. This is Salvador Dali-land, the sandstone carved into remarkable forms. A sculpture garden with starfish and sea lions. On shore, trails lead through sinuous madrones along the southern side of the island, offering nuSea Lions, Ewing Island merous moments of satori for the boot-shod acolyte. a prime eagle-watching destination. Patos Nearby Mushroom Rock is an iconic landmark. Ah, Patos. The end of the line. Patos Echo Bay is the biggest bay on the is the loneliest of the Amigos, resolutely island and also offers numerous buoys, facing the boisterous winds of Boundary but it’s a little more exposed than Fossil. Pass . After Patos, it’s all Canada. Shallow Bay, on the west side is a On a clear day the view of the light-

Patos Lighthouse and Mt. Baker

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house from the west with Mt. Baker and the Twin Sisters behind it is a northwest classic. This scene, for me, is the embodiment of these idyllic islands. There are only two buoys in Active Cove, the lone reliable anchorage. Aside from the buoys, opportunities to drop an anchor are limited—it’s a narrow little slot. But if you’re lucky enough to make

Active Cove your home for a night, the world, as they say, is your oyster. Take your dinghy to shore. There’s no dock on Patos so tie it up securely—the weather can be capricious and the tidal flood impressive. There are campsites with million dollar-views, some of the best sealevel prospects in the San Juans. Explore the trails to the venerable lighthouse and

into the tangled interior. The madrones here are exquisite. Spend some quality time on the rocky beach. Look for seals. Take some deep breaths. Listen to the elegiac sounds of the wind and water. Although less than 20 miles from Bellingham as the raven flies, in springtime the Three Amigos are truly a place apart. ANW

A Gallery of Sandstone The sandstone shorelines of The Three Amigos are sculpted and carved by “salt weathering”. Sea water splashes on the porous sandstone and erodes the surface, creating cavities in the rock. Over time, algae coats the protected sides of these cavities and creates a resistant layer that inhibits further erosion, causing the cavities to erode deeper, rather than wider, into honeycomb patterns.

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Cascadia Gear:

Essentials for your next Adventure The Eazy Chair from GCI Outdoors

Few things are as worthless as a cheap camp chair. You know the kind: they sag, offer no back support, and fall apart in about a week and a half. Enter the Eazy Chair from GCI Outdoors. This is the kind of camp chair that you could fall asleep in beside the campfire. A wide, taut seat, solid arms and yes, an adjustable beverage holder: make yourself comfortable.

More info:

Book Review:

‘At the End of the World’ by Lawrence Millman Sometimes a book appears at exactly the right moment. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. Books that perfectly capture the times in which they are written, books that speak to a sociology in transition, that bring the underlying zeitgeist to the fore, where it can be examined, questioned and seen for what it is, exposing the tendency in our culture to accept the unacceptable.

Big Agnes Tensleep Station 4 Tent The name of the Big Agnes Tensleep Station 4 confuses people. Does it sleep ten? Actually, when erected, you could be forgiven for making this mistake because the tent is huge. In reality, it sleeps four, but offers a veritable palace of a car-camping abode. It’s 68 inches high and boasts a whopping 65 square feet of floor space. The vestibule area adds another 31 square feet. You could play Twister in this tent. Make no mistake: this is strictly for car camping. It weighs a ton (15 pounds) and packs into a two-part sack the size of small backpack. But if luxurious accommodations are what you’re after, you’ll be right at home. Despite its height, the Tensleep 4 is easy to securely batten down with a plethora of guy lines and three heavyduty aluminum poles. The vestibule, which has its own pole, offers several pitching options and when trimmed down, turns this into a waterproof bomb shelter. Ventilation is excellent. One quibble: The stakes provided are cheesy. Oh, and the name? The Tensleep Murders of 1909 marked the nadir of the Wyoming Sheep Wars. Those folks at Big Agnes are a strange bunch indeed. More info:

Gear Spotlight: The Evolution of Sleeping Pads

Lawrence Millman’s new masterpiece, At the End of the World (Thomas Dunne Books) is such a book. Ostensibly the telling of a bizarre series of murders inspired by the profoundly misguided introduction of Christianity to the Inuit on the Belcher Islands in the Canadian Arctic in 1941, At the End of the World is about much more than these tragic events. Millman digs deep into the impacts of the destruction of a way of life and the malevolent collision of discordant values that has manifested itself over and over again in native culture and finds ready—and profoundly disconcerting—parallels with our own cultural shift away from the real world and into a realm of ‘virtual reality’.

At the End of the World is a cautionary tale, told on an epic scale and wrapped in a fascinating coat of many colors. Millman’s prose flows like a river with an almost stream-ofconsciousness rhythm that is astonishing. The real subject of the book, the profound price to be paid for turning away from nature (and of our true nature) is a dire subject indeed, but in Millman’s skillful hands, it becomes a poetic assertion of what it means to be a human being in the 21st century. Perhaps Millman’s greatest accomplishment is that, despite its dark implications, At the End of the World is a pleasure to read.

by Chris Gerston

Since 1972, Therm-a-Rest has ruled the sleeping pad industry. In the early 90’s, my dad handed me down his burnt-orange 48” Therm-a-Rest pad with a metal nozzle and I patched that pad several times before I retired it around 2010. The ¾” insulation kept the cold at bay even while winter camping but left the comfort lacking year-round. In the early part of this millennia, Big Agnes came out with their sleeping pads based on the design of a pool toy with different materials and eventually better insulation. The comfort, weight, packability, and price of the Big Agnes’ Insulated Air Core pads took a huge chunk of the market share away from Therm-a-Rest, who responded with Big Agnes Air Core the Neo Air series. The Neo Air Xlite is lighter, packs smaller, and has a crinkly sound because of the space age materials it uses that reflect your body heat back up to you while keeping the conductive heat sink of the ground away at the same time. This is the pad of choice for those who prefer lighter adventures in the milder months of the Northwest. For those looking for all-year warmth from the Neo Air family, I’d suggest the Neo Air All Season or Neo Air XTherm. Similar to insulation in houses, pads use an R-rating. In my experience, pads with ratings below R-4 constitute three-season pads and ratings of R-4 or higher are more winter-worthy. The bigger the number, the warmer your slumber. Neo Air XTherm


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Chris Gerston owns Backcountry Essentials, an outdoor specialty shop located at 214 W. Holly in Bellingham, WA.

Check out more gear reviews by Chris Gerston at

Race I Play I Experience

1 March - 7 May

MARCH 2017 >>> Wednesday, 1 March WATER Rowing––Lake Whatcom, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm. Come join Whatcom Rowing Association. All levels, novice to advanced rowers, men and women are welcome. If you have never rowed in a rowing shell (think: Boys in the Boat), you can learn how from our experienced coaches. Rowing is the best overall exercise there is, and technically challenging. We row on Lake Whatcom, starting in March. For more info go to or come visit us at the boathouse at Bloedel-Donavan Park.

Friday, 10 March SPECIAL Wings Over Water NW Birding Festival––Blaine & Birch Bay, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Join is for an adventure birding along the shorelines of Blaine, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo! Experience a guided field trip to Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Ladner,

BC and Salish Sea open water wildlife cruises. Enjoy an all-day birding expo on Saturday with birding and geology fieldtrips, wildlife speakers, live raptor presentations, exhibits, kid’s activities, photography workshops and more. For festival details: or call 360-543-9982.

APRIL 2017 >>> Saturday, 1 April RUN/WALK OAT Run––Olympic Adventure Trail, 9:30 am – 2:00 pm. 12K and half marathon trail run on the Olympic Adventure Trail, post-party BBQ.

Saturday, 8 April RUN/WALK Honeywagon Runs––Riverside Park Everson, WA, 8:00 am – 1:30 pm. GBRC Honeywagon Runs – Half Marathon, 4 Mile Run and Kids 10 and under Fun Run. Start Times: Half Marathon

(Walkers): Start at 8:00am. All other Half Marathoners: Start at 9:00am. 4 Mile Runners: Start at 10am. Kid’s Fun Run: Starting at 9:15am. GBRC Members: Free, 4 Mile: $20.00 (Pre-race). $25.00 (Day of Race), Half Marathon: $25.00 pre-race. $30.00 Day of, Kid’s Fun Run (10 and Under): FREE. SPECIAL Welcome the Whales Day Festival, Parade and Whale Watch––Langley Methodist Church & City of Langley, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. Welcome the Gray whales back to Whidbey Island April 8th with Educational displays, family activities and costume-making. Join the Whale Parade at 1:30 pm and gather at the Waterfront park for music, celebration and watching for the whales. 3 pm presentation by Joel Reynolds of NRDC, on saving the

Gray whale birthing and mating lagoons of Baja, Mexico. Sunday activities include a 3 pm Whale Watch tour to meet the Gray whales of Saratoga Passage.

Sunday, 30 April CYCLE McClinchy Mile Bicycle Ride–– Haller Park, 7:30 am – 4:00 pm. “Barns, Burgers & Brews” New Date and Routes! New Start at Haller Park.

MAY 2017 >>> Sunday, 7 May RUN/WALK Eugene Marathon––7:00 am – 2:00 pm. This premier event in ‘track town USA’ includes a Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K & Kids Run. The courses are beautiful, flat and fast – taking participants by numerous parks and miles of riverfront before reaching the spectacular finish inside historic Hayward Field. Don’t miss one of the prettiest, flattest and most unique

April 22nd, 2017

Presented by:

Benefitting the Behind The Badge Foundation

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race I play I experience Quest Adventure Races

7 May (cont.) - 16 September

certified races in the country! Run in Eugene, OR and run in the footsteps of LEGENDS.

Saturday, 13 May SPECIAL Kulshan Quest Adventure Race–– 7:00 am – 7:00 pm. Your local adventure race! At Kulshan Quest Adventure Race you are given maps with checkpoints identified 30 minutes before the start. It’s up to you and your team to decide the routes you take. Try the Recreation (4-6 hour) course that includes mountain biking and trekking. Seasoned or adventurous thrill-seekers try the Expert (8-12 hour) course for kayaking in addition to mountain biking and trekking.

Sunday, 14 May


UEST MAY 13 & 14

SPECIAL Bellingham Swimrun––Lake Padden Park, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm. Bellingham Swimrun will be the first Swimrun event held in Washington State, held at Lake Padden in Bellingham, WA. Participants will travel 15 km split into 7 alternating running legs and 6 swimming legs. Participants travel in a team of 2 and stay within 10 meters of each other at all times.

JUNE 2017 >>> Saturday, 10 June RUN/WALK Race Beneath The Sun––Fairhaven

Park, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. This race is a 5 mile course on mostly Interurban trail. The race begins and finishes at Fairhaven Park. Event also includes a FREE 1/2 mile kids race!

JULY 2017 >>> Saturday, 29 July TRI Whidbey Island Triathlon––Whidbey Island Community Park, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm. Scenic course .5 mile lake swim, 19.5 mile ride, 3.8 mile run. Beginners welcome.

SEPTEMBER 2017 >>> Saturday, 2 September RUN/WALK Lake Padden Relays––East Lake Padden Park, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. The Padden relays consist of a 4 Person team running 2.6 mile loop around the lake or Individual 10.35 mile Run!

Saturday, 16 September SPECIAL Bellingham Traverse––Boundary Bay Brewery, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Get Hooked on the Vital Choice Bellingham Traverse, a fun relay race that celebrates the journey of wild salmon. Families, friends and local companies form solo,

Sunday, August 27, 2017 25, 38, 62, or 100-mile routes from beautiful Bellingham

again this year: 10 mile guided family friendly ride with surprises for kids! 48

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16 September (cont.) - 24 September tandem and relay teams to run, bike and paddle through Bellingham’s scenic parks, winding trails and open waterways. The course includes a Greenways Run (5.5 mi); Mountain Bike (6.0 mi); Road Bike (18 mi.); Trail Run (3.4 mi); Paddle (3.6 mi.); Team TREK (0.65 mi.)

RUN/WALK GOAT Run––Olympic Adventure Trail, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm. Half and full marathon trail run, ending at Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park.

Saturday, 23 September TRI Big Hurt––West End Park,

FIND Adventures NW is available free at hundreds of locations region-wide: throughout

10:00 am – 4:30 pm. Multi-sport race: mountain bike, kayak, road bike, run. Solo (Iron Division) or relay team.

Sunday, 24 September RUN/WALK Bellingham Bay Marathon––Depot Market Square, 7:30 am – 2:00 pm. With views of Bellingham Bay, the San Juan Islands,

and North Cascade mountains, we are often called the most beautiful marathon in the Pacific Northwest. Come experience Bellingham and “Run the Bay”! ANW

Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, and Island counties, at select spots in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties, and in Leavenworth, the Methow Valley, Spokane, and Wenatchee. The magazine is also available at all REI locations in Washington and Oregon as well as at numerous locations in the Vancouver, BC metro area and through races and events and at area visitor centers.

SUBSCRIBE Receive Adventures NW via mail anywhere in the US or Canada. Visit for subscription info.

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EVENTS Have your outdoor-related event, race or public outing listed in the quarterly

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MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS: • 10 Free Races per Year • 10% Discount at Bbay Running & Fairhaven Runners • Track Workouts & Group Runs


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Journey from Winter to Spring photo by VLADIMIR KOSTKA The coast of British Columbia north of Vancouver is world famous for its wild beauty and—despite its description as the “Sunshine Coast”—its moody, mysterious atmosphere. This view of island and mountains, taken from the BC Ferry en route from Sechelt to Horseshoe Bay, captures the essence of the changing seasons for me. The Coast Range, still softened by winter’s lingering snows looms over a small island, lush and green with the promise of spring—and adventures to come. See more of Vlad’s remarkable photography at


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Across the globe. Across the country. Across the kitchen table. As you look to protect and grow your wealth, it’s important to work with a firm that has a unique global perspective, translated through the relevant and trusted advice of a Financial Advisor. Together, we’ll craft your own unique plan, and work with you every step of the way to help you achieve it—on your terms.

Advice you can trust starts with a conversation. David J. Mauro, CFP® Senior Vice President – Wealth Management UBS Financial Services 104 Unity Street, Bellingham, WA 98225 Phone 360-714-2550 Toll Free 800-774-8422

As a firm providing wealth management services to clients, we offer both investment advisory and brokerage services. These services are separate and distinct, differ in material ways and are governed by different laws and separate contracts. For more information on the distinctions between our brokerage and investment advisory services, please speak with your Financial Advisor or visit our website at workingwithus. Neither UBS Financial Services Inc. nor any of its employees provides legal or tax advice. You should consult with your personal legal or tax advisor regarding your personal circumstances. UBS Financial Services Inc. is a subsidiary of UBS AG. ©2011 UBS Financial Services Inc. All rights reserved. Member SIPC.31.17_Ad_4.625x3.625_9G0204

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Adventures NW Magazine Spring 2017  

Adventures NW is the region’s favorite outdoor recreation, sports and lifestyle magazine, focusing on all the area has to offer casual and s...

Adventures NW Magazine Spring 2017  

Adventures NW is the region’s favorite outdoor recreation, sports and lifestyle magazine, focusing on all the area has to offer casual and s...

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