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This is the third year in a row we have camped at Lopez Island during the first week of September. We like it and we will keep doing it. This year three friends and Ken’s brother and his wife joined us along with a couple of strawberry blonde dogs. We had dinner parties every night, caught Dungeness crabs on three days, Ken and Carl and our Lopez friend David, fished and caught some salmon, played with dogs and we relaxed. It was a good time.

We were up early Monday morning and got out of here before 5 am! It was a struggle but worth it to catch the 9:30 ferry from Anacortes to Lopez Island. The weather was quite nice over there and we were anxious to try our hand at catching dungeness crabs. We arrived at Odlin Park around midday and set up camp next to some of our Methow Valley friends. Others arrived a little later in the day.

It was great to be out of the forest fire smoke and breathe fresh, clean air. The fires have really taken a toll on Methow Valley folks this year, both physically and mentally. The smoke has often been very hazardous to breathe and people are trying to stay inside as much as possible. Most people that move to the Methow are looking for an active outdoor lifestyle.

On Lopez, our friend David came by and was ready to set some crab traps and check some that he had put out earlier in the day. It was exciting to see the traps full of crabs. Many of them were not ‘keepers’ and had to be returned to the saltwater but we did find some legal males. All females have to be let go. We spent the afternoon settling in and before dinner time we returned to check and pull the traps out of the water and were delighted to find some more keepers! That evening we all got together for an epic dinner party with crab, spot prawns, pasta, fresh vegetables, dutch oven cobbler and blackberry crisp. The food was amazing and we were all so busy eating that I forgot to make any images.

The girls and I looked at our calendars and realized that we had five days with nothing scheduled and the air quality around here was going downhill due to forest fires both nearby and farther away in Canada. So we packed the camper with food and bedding and headed to NW Washington, specifically to the Mount Baker area.

There are only two campgrounds in between the town of Glacier and Artist Point, with about fifty campsites and most of those are reserveable six months in advance. Well, of course, we didn’t plan our lives six months in advance so I asked at the ranger station in Glacier and got some advice on dispersed camping. I had hoped to be higher in the mountains, closer to Mt Baker and Artist Point but we ended up just 4 1/2 miles out of Glacier on a bumpety bump road. The good thing (ask Sky) is that we were right on the north fork of the Nooksack River. There was clean glacial water and a couple of areas deep enough for Sky to swim. I also saw American Dippers along the edges. How they can see through all that glacial flour, I don’t know but they were diving for food.

We did not escape the smoke and Monday and Tuesday were particularly bad but not as bad as here.

Here are a few scenes from near our campsite.

Last week Ken and I and the dogs got away from home for a few days. Whidbey Island was our destination. Whidbey is over 50 miles long and lies at the north end of Puget Sound, otherwise known as the Salish Sea. You get there by taking a ferry or by bridge across Deception Pass at the island’s north end. We took the bridge. It’s a good place for beach walking, exploring small towns and history and eating good food. We did all that and I got to take my kayak out in Penn Cove (where they grow the wonderful mussels) with Ken’s brother.

We camped at Fort Ebey State Park in a beautiful forested setting. It was a short walk to a bluff trail that provided wonderful views of the strait and good birding opportunities. It’s part of a large system of trails for walkers and mountain bikers. Fort Ebey is one of a series of forts that were constructed for coastal defense beginning in the 1900’s. Several of these installations were converted to state parks in the 1960’s.

The dogs had a great time on the beaches and the sunsets were marvelous. Driving across the pass we enjoyed the first dusting of snow in the North Cascades and a walk in the big cedar trees along the Skagit River at Newhalem.

Lost Lake is in the Okanogan Highlands, northeast of Tonasket and north of Bonaparte Lake. It is in the forest at nearly 4000′ elevation; a little colder than Chopaka Lake. There is a lovely wetland, home to many birds, on the south end. On the north end, there is a Forest Service campground, first established by the CCC in the 1940’s. It still has an old fashioned feeling about it that I like. There are also a few cabins around the lake and two private camps. The Okanogan Highlands Alliance bought much of the marsh and some of the uplands on the south side to protect these important habitats.

I have been visiting this place for at least fifteen years and I never tire of it. It’s hard to put my finger on one thing and say ‘this is why I like it’. Maybe it’s the historic nature of the place, the slower pace, the lack of development. Or maybe it’s the loons. Common Loons nest on Lost Lake and few other lakes in Washington – mostly in Ferry County to the east. I will have another post just about the loons at Lost Lake.

Ken caught lots of brook trout while we were there and we did not go hungry. We even had fish to share with others and we had one dinner party at our campsite and another with our neighbors! I enjoyed early morning paddles on the lake watching the loons and other birds and frogs and turtles too.

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