Monday, October 17, 2016

North Cascades National Park

Steve here today...

More glaciers than Glacier National Park and a lot fewer people - that's what initially attracted our attention to North Cascades National Park. But there's so much more....a quote from the NPS website:

"North Cascades National Park Complex spans the Cascade Crest from the temperate rainforest of the wet west-side to the dry ponderosa pine ecosystem of the east. The park encompasses landscapes with over 9,000 feet of vertical relief. There results a high diversity of plants, over 1,600 species so far identified, and many other organisms adapted to a wide spectrum of habitats.
The relatively new mountains, glaciers and streams of North Cascades lie near a dynamic interface of tectonic plates and provide an opportunity to study geologic processes unfolding through time. Geologists and others seek answers to questions of global climate change, mountain building and erosion, volcanism, glaciation, stream dynamics, and more."
We did a 44 mile loop trail through some of the most spectacular backcountry we've yet experienced, here's the highlights:
Pics below, but first, enjoy a video:)
Clearwater streams:

Splendid fall foliage:

Public land a-plenty:

Free blueberries:

Incredible stealth camping sites:

Invigorating breakfast perch:

Well-built and maintained trails:

Keeping limber:

Epic alpine wonders:

Inspiring color palettes:

Dynamic weather (clouds moving in):

Hiking in the clouds:

Happy fungus:

Rain gear test (failed):

The sun returns!:

Friendly snake:

HUGE slugs:

Happy Campers!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Bolinda the Bolas Spider

On our routine walk down our road, Steve and I both spotted this spider and knew, even without seeing one before, it was a female Bolas Spider. Book flipping does help stick things in our brains sometimes...especially such a distinctive creature. Steve named her Bolinda and it stuck just like her bolas.

She resembles a bird dropping, which must help keep her safe from predators. We think this is the Cornfield Bolas Spider (Mastophora hutchinsoni) and we know it's a female because she is so large.

This Bolas Spider chose a Common Milkweed plant to call home. How perfect! Here is one of her egg cases tied on to the milkweed plant:

A few days later, we saw she made another egg case and you can also see her web. She hunts in a very unusual way for spiders emitting a pheromone to attract moths and throwing a sticky bolas to capture them. You can read more here and see some great photos & videos of the bolas. WOW!

The potential for mowing grew too high on this commonly mowed, roadside edge, so we cut the entire plant and brought her home. She settled right in and so hopefully next year we will have more Bolas Spiders here!

If you want to see another super cool invertebrate home click here to see one we found last spring. This world is incredible!