Mount Erie, Anacortes Circuit, Kruckeberg Garden, and Edmonds Marsh Birding
Due to the feeling of invigoration after completing the final steps on the long road to becoming a Physical Therapist, I have decided to increase the volume of posts on my blog. Additionally, I hope to change up the format to reflect more of a small trip/hiking/running guide. This post highlights the activities of our weekend (May 6th/7th)
Luckily Apryle managed to take a small break in her field work last weekend and we were able to have a few miniature adventures within a reasonably short distance of home. We started with a drive to Mount Erie, which is a 1273-foot peak in Skagit county and is fully encompassed in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands. We did a bit of climbing on the summit rock and while I struggled to desensitize myself to my fear of heights, Apryle was running laps up the rock. It did not seem like she was rusty in the least, impressive considering the last time we climbed was on Mount Erie last April.
The views from the summit are impressive, Several mountains and ranges are visible including: Mount Baker to the Northeast, Mount Rainier to the Southeast, the Cascades to the East and the Olympics to the West. Not to mention the green and blue collage to the south consisting of islands, lakes and Deception Pass. Probably not the most interesting climbs in the Pacific Northwest but still worth the trip!
After climbing I convinced Apryle to go for a run around what we affectionately referred to as the Anacortes Circuit. This run consisted of a series of convoluted twists and turns over rocky single track in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands. We snapped a photograph of the trail map before we hit the trail and this was key to minimizing confusion. There are four small named peaks in this section of Fidalgo Island, Mount Erie, Sugarloaf, Little Round Top and Sugar Cube. Our goal was to link each of these in a circuitous fashion, but a wrong turn and time constraints dictated that we only visit three of the peaks.
The views from Sugarloaf and Mount Erie were spectacular, with little Round Top being quite anticlimactic. However, the trails were perfect and carved through the forest in a tortuous fashion. Compared with other similar sized parks in the area, Anacortes Community Forest Land is one of the best; it has dense forest, spectacular views, immense vertical gain/loss and little competing traffic. Add the fact that it is close in proximity to the ferry system, has rock climbing access and is free of the city and it has become my new favorite place (east of Cascades) to run.
The second day of the weekend we decided to explore some Shoreline/Woodway/Edmonds local attractions. The first stop on our trip was Kruckeberg Botanic Garden, which I had run by numerous times, but never took the time to explore. The garden consists of both native and exotic plants that blanket the four-acre landscape. A trail meanders through the property allowing easy access for viewing and identifying plants. Apryle and I enjoyed quizzing each other on various botanical names as we wondered.
Although the garden may not be as flashy and expansive as the Arboretum, it certainly captures the essence of a Pacific Northwest garden. Because I am only five months removed from Austin, Texas and because Lady Bird Wildflower Center was essentially my backyard, I cannot help but draw parallels between the two gardens. Lady Bird Johnson once said “…Wherever I go in America, I like it when the land speaks its own language in its own regional accent.” I believe that Krukeberg accomplishes this for Shoreline, just as Lady Bird Wildflower center does for Austin.
Moving forward, Apryle and I decided go for a big evening of birding in the Edmonds Marsh. At first glance the marsh may appear to be a dull expanse of cattails and murky shallow water, but upon further observation it is full of life and delicious Salmonberry. Edmonds Marsh is an extremely important area from an ecological standpoint, because it is one of the only remaining urban saltwater estuaries in the Puget Sound area. It occupies 22.5 acres and is home to over ninety different bird species.
When looking for a place along the coast that speaks its own language, look no further than Edmonds Marsh. There is nothing more relaxing than an evening stroll along the boardwalk, binoculars in hand, searching the foliage for a singing bird in the restored estuary. There are plenty of places I can recommend for running, climbing, paddling, and finding amazing views, but I often struggle to locate a more low key simple activity. The botanic gardens and marsh capture the essence of this area and offer a undemanding adventure option.