The first week of August saw visits to parks in Seattle -- tide-pooling a minus tide at Golden Gardens, picking early blackberries at Magnuson Park, swimming at Howell Street Park, and lounging at Green Lake. For exercise, I paddled and dragged twice up the Sky from Monroe, finally covering three miles to the Ben Howard access; hiked to Trout Lake, Kelcema Lake, and the Evergreen knob; and finished with a fourth trip to Jetty Island.

Saturday, August 8th

Low tide at Golden Gardens Park -- clam siphons and more.

I was lounging on the grass at Green Lake when an immature Cooper's Hawk landed on the split-rail fence, maybe fifteen feet away. A few moments later a squirrel hopped out of the shrubbery by the fence and nosed his way across the grass. The hawk left his perch on the fence, made one wing-beat, and went for him.

What it looked like was, when the young hawk reached the squirrel (talons first I expect, 'tho it was hard to tell for sure with the bird's wings in the way) the squirrel just shrugged a shoulder.

That's it. The squirrel shrugged and the hawk kept flying, backwards now as he beat a retreat. A moment later, they repeated the exercise -- the hawk attacked, kinda, and the squirrel shrugged him off -- literally, or so it appeared to me.

Nature notes in the city.

Tuesday, August 11th

Continuing to take advantage of the low water, today I worked up Skykomish River from the Lewis Street Bridge in Monroe. I managed maybe a mile-and-a-half up to the cobble bar where the river bends southeast away from the hiway. (See below.)

The best part of the trip might have been at its beginning. As I started upstream under the bridge, the shoreside riprap created a series of little eddies below a riffle and short jet that looked impossible to paddle up. But when I paddled out of the last eddy into the jet, I realized I might make a little headway upstream, went into a full sprint, and powered up the jet of water. Pleased with myself, I coasted into the quiet water of Woods Creek.

Coming out of Woods Creek back into the Skykomish, I had to get out of the boat and drag the next riffle, just a little too shallow and swift to paddle. Pleasant paddling up a long pool followed, with hellos to folks in lawn chairs, sitting both on the gravel bars and in the river itself, cooling off.

Another easy drag followed, and then a long stretch of mostly easy paddling. As I glided into the last eddy of the day, I saw an immature Bald Eagle sitting on a log, watching. I eased on the brakes, dug out my lunch, and sat quietly twenty yards away, eating.

This 2015 satellite shot from Google shows the lower Skykomish River that I twice paddled and dragged up. Both trips started from lower left at WDFW's Lewis Street Bridge access on river-right. The first trip got me to the top of the picture where the river meets the hiway. The second was twice as far, up to WDFW's Ben Howard access, at the end of the cobble bar at lower right, where Ben Howard Road meets the river, about three miles from the bridge. Tx Google.

Thursday, August 13th

A seldom-seen canoe comes into the cobble bar at the Ben Howard access.

Trout Lake had a mucky bottom and I couldn't find a good spot to get in and it wasn't that warm either. So no swim today. But on the walk in, there were Douglas firs eight feet through, the stunning defile off the summit of Malachite Peak the better part of a mile above, and the evidence of a massive avalanche down the West Fork Foss River.

Monday, August 17th

By car and a little walk, I explored the Snohomish River from Tester Road. Noble Hill Regional Park was interesting, but there was no decent access to the water. Noisy, too, what with the hiway so close.

Wednesday, the 19th

Up Skykomish River from Monroe again, but twice as far as on the 11th, this time up to the cobble bar at the Ben Howard WDFW access, about three miles upriver from the Lewis Street Bridge. (See the satellite shot above.) I was pooped when I got back to the car.

Friday, August 21st

From near the town of Skykomish, I drove up Beckler River, first diverting a couple miles up Rapid River, then back to the Beckler and up the great Evergreen Mountain road to the trailhead. I hiked up the steep and deeply trodden trail maybe a half-mile and a few hundred vertical feet to a pretty viewpoint, found a spot out of the breeze in the lee of a little knob, and settled in. Lovely spot, but for all the smoke in the air from forest fires.

Monday, August 24th

Bald Mountain (well, this one anyway) sits at the south end of the granodiorite batholith that makes up the Three Fingers massif. I drove up the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River to just past Silverton, then turned left up Deer Creek's six miles of steep, rocky road, past the horn of Devil's Peak, to the trailhead for Kelcema Lake. The lake sits in a rocky basin at 3200 feet on the north side of the mountain.

To the lake it's a short, lovely walk along an old, old trail, here and there worn a foot deep from the footsteps of the generations that came before. The trail runs along a wet meadow, past ancient cedars, up a little ramp of polished rock, through fern-carpeted woods. On the shore of Kelcema Lake granite rocks provide sunning and swimming platforms, while the peak rises above, decorated with granite domes and hanging gardens.

The water was maybe 70, but probably closer to 68 degrees, too cold for me to stay in for long. I did take a dip, but only just, with a few strokes out and a few strokes back in, so I can say, Well, I did that. But it's a great place, with an easy walk worth the difficult drive. I'll come back.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Rounding the north end of Jetty Island. Click for an enlargement.

Well, hello.

My fourth paddle trip to Jetty Island was on a high tide as always.

An osprey nested atop a log piling, with her noisy mate on the piling next door. Sandpipers wheeled over the sand, and a bald eagle soared above as the island fell silent below.

In the sandy shallows on the west side of the island, the sun-warmed water was about 70 degrees, not as warm as two months ago.

But it was still warm enough to entice me into walking into Puget Sound, to reach water deep enough to swim. Dozens of yards from the beach, with water to my waist, I dove in. This time no Harbor seal swam with me, and I swam alone back to the sandy beach, to dry off in the sun.

Paddling back down the inside channel, I detoured out from shore to go around a raft of logs covered with gulls. As I floated past, I realized the raft also held a dozen or more sea lions hauled out on the logs, and that the water held a half-dozen more. I stopped to sit and watch. As one sea lion swam toward me, I wondered for a moment what might happen if he were to take exception to my being there. Then he dove, and a moment later another popped up nearby to give me a look.

Here's the journal entry for September 2015.

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