Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Robe Canyon

Once upon a time, they built a railroad from Everett up into the mountains.  East of Granite Falls, it followed the North Fork of the Stilliguamish through Robe Canyon.  But it hasn't been a railroad in a long, long time.

This has been on my list of snow-free, early season hikes that might be good in rainy weather, so with M grading papers, Memorial Day seemed like a good day to check it out.

Other than the railroad grade itself, there isn't much evidence of trains or rails, but the old lime kiln still stands and the forest is littered with saw blades and various other rusted relics of the early 20th century.  The railroad, and therefore the trail, are high above the river, but at the far end the trail drops to the river and the cobbly gravel bar made a good place for lunch.  Just upstream the piers of the old railroad bridge still stick out of the moss.

Apparently, you can also hike in from the other direction, on the other side of the river, but the trails don't connect -- maybe some day, but that would require some way to cross the river.

Last Memorial Day weekend, I was heading to Minnesota. I spent Memorial Day itself kayaking up the Snake River to Shoshone Falls - quite a contrast to to today's adventure (Shoshone Falls: May 2012).

Carkeek Park

Memorial Day weekend in Seattle is often wet.  But Sunday afternoon was particularly bleak, so I headed for the beach and the super low tide, wondering if I'd have the place to myself.  But between the birthday parties and the picnics and the folks terrorizing the exposed fauna on the beach, it actually took a while to find a parking place.

It was surreal - people wandering in and out of the mist.  I walked almost all the way down to Golden Gardens before turning around and heading back to the car.  I grabbed a cheeseburger and a chocolate shake at Dick's and made it to Swanson's just as the sun came out (briefly).

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Fidalgo Island

The first weekend of May was stunning. And well before there was any good reason to expect it would be, the NWGS scheduled its big symposium. Saturday was spent listening to geology talks in Kane Hall, while the rest of Seattle watched the boat parade in the Montlake Cut and the UW eights blow away Cornell and Dartmouth in the Windermere Cup.

Sunday, at least for a smaller group of us, was spent exploring old rocks on Fidalgo Island. Rocks deposited in the deep ocean during the Jurassic and somehow transported to Anacortes in the years since. Besides some difficult problems in regional tectonics and structural geology, the biggest challenge was finding parking for five minivans on a sunny Sunday at touristy stops like Deception Pass, Rosario Beach, and Mount Erie.

For me, it was a great refresher in bedrock geology and a nice contrast to the beach geomorphology I spend my day job (and apparently, a fair amount of my spare time) doing.  I know many of these places pretty well - I just don't pay much attention to the petrology.