My capstone project looked wildly different than my peers. More of a show, I started off by providing scenes into how music was intertwined into my graduate program. The last scene was me, at my querencia, singing a duet with mountains.
This post is intended to be an auxiliary text for my Guided Inquiry Presentation on Monday, December 5th for the ENVS 585 Foundations of Environmental Education course. Even if you will not be at the presentation on Monday, I invite you to read on to get a taste of what has been going through my mind for the entire last year plus.
The North Cascades Ecosystem has many features to discover for naturalists, students and day hikers alike. Behind all the charismatic megafauna and flora including bears, wolverines, Douglas Firs, and Western Hemlocks are the mountains that make it all possible. In this series, we take a look at the “charismatic mega-rocks” that make the North Cascades one of the greatest natural wonders of this nation. Last time we took a short day hike up Sauk Mountain. Today we take a hike up to one of the most famous fire lookouts in the entire range: Sourdough.
This year students in the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Youth Program have been focusing on the watersheds all around them. They have been everywhere imaginable in this journey: from the sub-alpine during Mountain School to getting soaked at Rasar State Park. But in late September they got to experience firsthand where some of this water ends: Bellingham Bay.
Yes, all last year I was living and learning at the North Cascades Institute, fully immersed in the mountain landscape. I even kicked it up a notch and spent the summer in Stehekin; somehow even more remote than NCI!
But this trip would be different. I wouldn't be working or in class. And I wasn't trying to boost my self esteem by being a 'Bear Grylls' knockoff. By hiking alone for four days I had the time to reflect and thank the literal and figurative earth, fire, air, and water that have made me into the person I am today.
One statement often said in my generation is that "we were 100 years too late to explore Earth, and 100 years too early to explore our solar system." Even though I was never an oceanaut and won't be an astronaut, this summer I got to be a Stehekinaut. But what was this "Stehekin" and why was I there all summer? It was a strange mix of seeing both how pioneers lived hundreds of years ago and how future colonies could be fashioned on other celestial bodies.
Welcome to the North Cascades ecoregion! If you have lived here your whole life or if this is your first time here, you are going to get to know more about the life in these mountains than you ever thought possible. Between hiking, tracking, teaching and paddling, in just a year this place will feel like home.
At the Institute, the graduate students of the 15th cohort (C15) have been hard at work this past year teaching Mountain School, assisting in adult programs and visiting non-profits, all while finishing assignments and trying to find some sleep! Every season though, the graduate students leave all that behind to learn from experts in the field and be fully immersed into the wilderness of the North Cascades. Last fall we worked with beavers and hawks. In the winter we dived intosnow ecology and wolverines. Just last week, we ventured out on our last natural history retreat where we tracked our natural neighbors, captured native bees and kept up with all of the birds!
Youth have a unique skill in creating adventures out of anything. So even though I had been to tree planting on Cornet Bay and the Migratory Bird Festival with theKulshan Creek Neighborhood Program, both large and expansive day trips, our last trip to Rasar State Park felt no less adventurous!
The day started off wet. That might seem ubiquitous living in western Washington but we had been without rain for two full weeks at this point. The rain was a welcome change from weeks of dry, hot, sunny days.
On March 11, hikers found the sick bat about 30 miles east of Seattle near North Bend, and took it to Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) for care. The bat died two days later, and had visible symptoms of a skin infection common in bats with White Nose Syndrome. -U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
This comes across as incredibly serious and dire news for educators, government works, and bat enthusiasts along the west coast. But if you have never heard of white-nose syndrome (WNS), or even knew we had bats in the North Cascades National Park, you might not know how or why this is dire.