North Cascades National Park – Washington

North Cascade Range from North Fork of Cascade River

North Cascades National Park
Washington

http://www.nps.gov/noca/index.htm

Completed: July 4, 2017

Senior Friendly

East of Seattle and reaching up to the Canadian border, North Cascades National Park, is remote and spectacular! Actually there are only a couple of places which you can step onto the actual park land, so much of the park is classified as wilderness. For the everyday traveler you can visit this park, or at least a visitor center, at three accessible locations; Newhalem, Hozomeen (entering from Canada) and Stehekin (arriving by boat or seaplane). On this trip I spent time at Newhalem and Stehekin over the Fourth of July weekend. There was still snow up on many peaks with water running high and fast in the lower creeks and rivers making for beautiful views and soundscape. I was fortunate to stay in Stehekin for two nights. If you ever have a chance to spend time in Stehekin, do it! It was quiet, no fireworks, and wonderful to explore this laid-back community.

Bridge Creek at High Bridge

This program is considered Senior Friendly as the upper age group, of four, is listed for ages 12+. The groupings are; Pacific Treefrog – ages 3-5, Black Bear – ages 5-8, Raven – ages 8-11 and Mountain Goat – ages 12+. Each grouping has a theme starting with Exploration of the Natural World, Biodiversity, Cultural Awareness and Public Land Stewardship. I completed the Mountain Goat booklet which requires one place-based and five general activities. I was able to complete two place-based and all ten activities.

The place-based activities included the areas of Newhalem and North Cascades Highway, Hozomeen and Ross Lake, and Stehekin and Lake Chelan. The general activities are; Learn about the North Cascades, Save the Snags, Sounds of the North Cascades, Who Am I?, Return to Wildness, Leave No Trace 101, NPS Research Part I and Part II, Field Notes and Climate Friendly Parks. While traveling through the park stop at six locations, identified on a map on page 5, to ask for their special Junior Ranger or Cascade Explorer (for older kids) stamp. I was able to collect four of the six.

While at Newhalem I worked on What’s In a Name? placed-based activity which had you select at least two of nine local names and determine their meaning. I found some of the information at the Newhalem Visitor Center and asked for help from a ranger while there. I learned that Newhalem means a place to snare goats. While at Stehekin and Lake Chelan I answered questions about the area from information I found at the Golden West Visitor Center. I learned that Native Americans lived in the area as far back as 10,000 years ago and left pictographs. I
kayaked across the lake one morning and was able to view the pictographs at lake level, close enough to touch, which I didn’t.

Upper Lake Chelan, at Stehekin, WA

The activities I enjoyed the most were Save the Snags!, Who Am I?, Return to Wildness, and Field Notes. Snags, a dead tree which is still standing, are always a favorite of mine. So many of them have ‘character’, each is unique and provides homes for wildlife. For this activity I observed a snag and drew a picture which shows the holes drilled into the snag and the plants nestled up against the snag.

 

So many of the animals in this area are new to me, so I am always interested to learn about the animals that live here; featured were the Fisher, Wolverine, Marten and Lynx. I never saw any of these animals while in the area, but I love knowing they are out there! The Return to Wildness activity further supported that North Cascades National Park supports a large portion of wilderness which protects their wild creatures. The Field Journal activity allowed me to make observations at two areas; Newhalem campground and Stehekin. Even though it was 4th of July both sites were relatively quiet, the campground at Newhalem was full, but the sites were far enough apart that each site was quiet.

Mock Orange

While staying in Stehekin I took my completed booklet to the Golden West Visitor Center for it to be reviewed. Ranger Mark was proud of his high standards in reviewing Junior Ranger booklets, even stated that they were the PhD of programs, all in good humor! I appreciated his review and discussion about the activities I completed. Once he signed off on my booklet and presented me with an enhanced badge and patch, both depicting a mountain goat, he told me about a rare plant find.

Not far from the visitor center, an orchid was blooming along the lake trail. I walked up the trail which was dry and rocky, the terrain did not look promising for a blooming orchid. Just as I was about to turnaround I spotted a wet area along the trail, seeping from a rock face and a cluster of Stream Orchids (Epipactis gigantea). The picture below doesn’t show the ‘gigantea’ of this plant, but they stood in a dense cluster, at least 3 feet tall with numerous blooms along each stem.

Stream Orchid

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