Murhut Falls- Just Do It!

By Marcia Schwendiman

Spring means streams run full force and waterfalls show off.  Murhut Falls does not disappoint. The trail on a converted logging road runs three quarters of a mile through second growth forests to a hidden ravine where this segmented horsetail plunges 130 feet into Murhut Creek near the confluence with the Duckabush River. The trailhead is 23 miles southwest of Quilcene.  Accurate directions are available on Google Maps and hike details are in Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula, by Craig Romano. If you yearn for more, see the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail at www.OlympicPeninsulaWaterfallTrail.com.

Spectacular Spring!

Calypso Bulbosa (Western Fairyslipper)

Our May newsletter includes a recommendation to try nature journaling. We also encourage everyone to notice the first blooms of Washington’s state flower, the Pacific Rhododendron, this month. Good places to find them are the Quimper Wildlife Corridor, Miller Peninsula State Park, the Lower Big Quilcene River Trail, and the two-mile, 2000-ft. elevation gain of the Mt. Walker trail. If you prefer to drive to the top, when the road is open you can walk from one viewpoint to the other. Please send us your rhododendron photo or sketch for a collage in our June newsletter.

Justin Journal

Justin Journal

During this pandemic, we have written in our newsletters about the physical and mental health benefits of walking in our forests. Japanese researchers found that connecting with nature through shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and boosts immunity. In Denmark, the Danish concept of friluftsliv, or living in the free air, promotes spending time in nature. Gretchen Daily, a professor of environmental science at Stanford University, says in The Wall Street Journal, “There’s an urgent need emerging in science and at the gut level to increase the nature experience. This field is just exploding.” Rather than taking 10,000 steps daily, perhaps our goal can be enjoying two hours in nature.

Celebrate April

Arbutus menziesii (Madrona aka Pacific Madrone)

Our Natural History Society is celebrating April as Poetry Month with a poem by Oma Landstra, a member of our Guiding Committee, in the attached newsletter. Oma writes, “Madrona is a sacred tree to the Native Americans, and therefore they never burn it in their fires or at sweats. The etymology of ‘Tree’ and ‘Truth’ indicates they come from the same root. South of the Siskiyous this tree is called ‘Madrone.’ North of these mountains it is called ‘Madrona.’ British Columbia uses ‘Arbutus.’ ” In March, our Natural History book club read Passings, a new book of poetry by one of the members of our book club, Holly Hughes. Poet and naturalist Tim McNulty describes these poems of extinct birds as “elegiac meditations.” Noreen Parks writes, “Our discussion of Holly’s book Passings is so relevant to this moving collection of readings and music based on Kathleen Dean Moore’s latest book:”
https://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/feature-story/music-save-earth-s-songs

April is also Native Plant Appreciation Month, and it’s a perfect time to visit one or all of our local native plant gardens: Kul Kah Han Native Plant Garden at H. G. Carroll Park; Kah Tai Prairie in Port Townsend (by the golf course); the Native Plant Garden at Buck’s Lake in Hansville; and Sequim’s prairie. Stop by your closest native plant garden every week to watch the new blossoms emerge.

During the Land Trust’s Conservation Breakfast, I (Wendy) encouraged everyone to use the free iNaturalist app on your phone (or sign up on your computer www.inaturalist.org/home) to post photos of species you encounter on your walks. The Land Trust’s Carrie Clendaniel created a project for the Quimper Wildlife Corridor: 
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/quimper-wildlife-corridor-preserve-area

We hope you will also use your iNaturalist account to participate in the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s annual BioBlitz at Fort Worden on May 1. Help us identify as many plants and animals as possible. Contact AmeriCorps volunteer Meghan-Grace Slocombe for details: <mgslocombe@ptmsc.org>

March Brings Spring!

Geum triflorum v. campanulatum (Prairie Smoke aka Old Man’s Whiskers) Camassia quamash (Common Camas)

We are sad that it’s now been a year without our monthly Natural History Society outings. However… in this month’s attached newsletter, our readers share joyful signs of spring, along with the following:

• Kathleen Waldron wrote, “Am enjoying the kronking Brants! I watch them in April, eating lots of eelgrass & flying in larger and larger groups, as they prepare for their marathon migration flight! Fascinating… ”

• Sym Sebastian sent the attached video with this explanation: “Duckabush trail January 27th. Snow melting into rain. I call it snoraining.”

The Natural History Society Book Club’s discussion of Passings by local poet Holly Hughes will be held by Zoom on Monday, March 22, from 3:30-5:00 pm. For updates, please see: jltnatural.org/book-club/

Our Guiding Committee has compiled the following list of websites, recorded lectures, and other suggestions to inspire you this spring.

1. You can access the Land Trust’s past recordings of lectures from “Nature in Your Neighborhood” and “Discovering the Forest:”
https://saveland.org/discovering-the-forest/

2. For free weekly presentations about “Great Rivers of the West” during March, with Washington rivers featured on March 31: https://www.westernrivers.org

3. From UW’s Nature & Health a Zoom lecture on March 3 called “Hiking My Feelings: Stepping into the Healing Power of Nature:” https://natureandhealth.uw.edu/news-and-events/events/?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D150146786

4. Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island has created a series of free personal nature explorations:
https://bloedelreserve.org/strolls-at-home/

5. The Natural History Society’s book club just read (and loved!) Kelly Brenner’s Seattle-based Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World. Her website is fun to explore:
http://www.metrofieldguide.com

6. If you missed Nature Now on KPTZ, you can listen to podcasts on Nature Now Archives – KPTZ 91.9 FM Radio Port Townsend, here: https://kptz.org/podcasts/nature-now/

Where to Go in February

In past years, we have led outings to:         

  • Morgan Hill and Chetzemoka Park for a nature walk.

    Song Sparrow

  • Fort Townsend to look closely at mosses— their shapes, growth patterns, and locations.

    Hylocomium splendens (Step Moss aka Stair Step Moss)

  • Gardiner Lagoon to observe overwintering migratory birds, looking at the lagoon and out into Discovery Bay.
  • Kah Tai Lagoon for ducks and other birds on the lagoon and many bird species in the trees and shrubs.

    American Wigeon

    Red-breasted Merganser