The week ended with a beautiful blue sky and warm temperatures on Sunday. It was a respite from the smoke that has plagued us for weeks, aided by winds that were constant throughout the day. Today, Monday, the skies are gray, and the temperature is currently in the low 50s compared to 30 degrees warmer yesterday at this time.
It was a busy weekend in the valley. The antique car fête in Winthrop (as well as along the highway) was a success and once again, a part-time Edelweiss denizen scored big with his beautiful, fully restored Model A Ford truck. As there were quite a few older people who could not attend the downtown parade, the sponsors of the event had a parade through Pine Near RV Park for the elderly folks.
Up the valley, way up at Slate Peak, the annual HawkWatch migration event was held. According to biologist Kim Bondi, over the weekend 50 people were in attendance, including some from Northwest Audubon Society, HawkWatch International, U.S. Forest Service, North Cascades Basecamp and undocumented other interested parties. The weather was fine, visibility was good and the birds came through as hoped.
At the salmon recovery project on the Methow River, even on Sunday there was a continuing parade of dump trucks ranging from conventional-sized to a large belly dumper that appears to contain enough material to fill three “ordinary” trucks, even with trailers.
The project was shut down over a week ago, having been declared in a “Level 4” situation by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This prohibits any activity that could induce sparks or other events that could start a fire. The ban was lifted a few days ago and it is again business as usual. There is now a continuous ditch from the old Fender Mill to the river, which will ultimately house large culvert-size pipes that will be fed with ground water, and will not take any from the river. The 40-foot logs are being stacked on the flanks and these, as we understand it, will support the banks and keep them from sloughing into the narrow slots in the pipes that will collect the water. Near the river outlet, some logs — still adorned with their original root balls — have been placed to further enhance the fish habitation.
Far upstream at the North Cascades Basecamp, the weekend was an opportunity for Kim and Steve Bondi to put on goggles at the swimming holes and observe the fish that were coming back to their spawning areas. Kim said they saw at least five spring Chinook salmon that measured in the neighborhood of 30 inches long. There were also lesser-size fish and many tiny ones that were being caught by garter snakes. These snakes would anchor themselves by having their tails and heads visible under a large rock, their bodies in part unseen, and mouths eager for the right-sized prey, up to 3 or 4 inches.
With friend Leahe Swayze, I went paddling on Patterson Lake on Sunday. Late on a warm morning, the wind was blowing constantly, and as predicted there were gusts around 20 miles per hour, a few probably even higher. It required more effort than was comfortable, but we pressed on regardless for an hour or so, then decided a small picnic, off the water was in order. It felt good to ply a paddle after a long hiatus.
Incidentally, rumors of the Basecamp being closed for the winter are false. According to Kim Bondi, they will be open as usual. Hopefully, next week we can outline some of the nature programs planned for the coming cold season.