The Lake Ann Meadows (September 5)

And it seemed like fall came a little early this year, too…As we headed out to Mt. Baker for a late-summer-campout, we were anticipating blue skies and golden sunshine. We were going on a short hike to a beautiful little valley for a picnic lunch, and in my mind, we would be splashing in the streams, exploring the grasslands, and basking in the sun!

Instead, we found ourselves in a cool, cloudy wonderland of fall colors and crisp autumn air…

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It was a lovely and slow and admiring walk down to the meadows, and my little man Spencer got a special treat! On this hike, Joe let him carry our old point-and-shoot camera, and he just turned into a mini-photographer…Every few steps were punctuated by “Wait, wait, I just want to get this shot…Oh, that’s a great one!”

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And he was often right!

This is one of his pictures – I won’t say it’s my best angle, but just look at the colors and the mood that he captured!

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Or this little cluster of fall hen-and-chicks – what an eye for composition!

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Of course, there was still some 6-year-old random-ness – “Cool! A hole!”

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All in all, it was just fun to see his concentration and enjoyment in trying to capture something on camera that caught and delighted his little eye 🙂

Though cool and breezy, it was still a good day for exploring, and we clambered up and over boulders, and meandered through the grassy, marshy meadows, on the lookout for creatures!

We could hear the furr-ball picas chirping all around us but, maybe because of the cool weather, they were staying out of sight in their burrows. On a sunny day, they sit right out on top of the rocks, just staring right at you while they munch on long grasses – but today, they avoided our best efforts to spot them 🙂

Still, we had some fun encounters – like, have you ever seen a grasshopper swim?

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At first, I thought it was just a desperate attempt to escape the grasping clutches of my three children, but these funny grasshoppers actually made a regular habit of jumping into the water and swimming across to a rock or grass, then climbing up and going along their merry way! Kids, by the way, never get tired of catching grasshoppers 🙂

We also came across this adorable little frog – he just happened to hop in front of me as I was picking my way through the wet grass, and we all admired him and took lots of pictures. And Asher said “That’s a tree frog.” And I cautioned him “Now, Asher, we’re not exactly sure what kind of frog he is, because we haven’t identified him yet.” And I’m thinking to myself, “We found him in a grassland, in a puddle, and I really don’t think he’s a tree frog.”

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The funny thing is, when I got home, I was flipping through one of our wildlife guide books, actually looking for something else, when I came across a picture of this guy, and underneath, the words “Pacific Treefrog.” Ha! *sheepish grin and head-shake* I showed Asher and he said “I know! Right?!”

And have you ever seen a blue pine cone? It was a completely new marvel to me. Brilliant blue, with some tinges of purple at the base, with a still-wet look about it like some delightful wilderness artist had just finished it and left it beside the trail to blow my mind…Yep, thanks God!

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And after a day in the meadows, we snuggled in back at camp, where the lower elevation made it a little warmer. We enjoyed a small fire, and more than a few rocks thrown into the river, and a quite-satisfied-piling-into-tents-for-the-night!

The next morning, we found ourselves heading home with some time to spare, and we followed some more side-roads to see where they might lead…One led to the funniest little dam I could ever have imagined! Who built it, and why, is a mystery, and there was no sign that explained it, but it sure will make a perfect swimming hole if we manage to venture back on a warm summer day!

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The days are changing, and fall is coming. It’s a new season, a new pace, many things to re-discover…It’s not shorts-and-flip-flop weather…It’s hats-and-hoodies weather…But it’s still a great wide creation to explore!

And, on a side-note, we’re not the only ones who think so! During the week after our Lake Ann meadows adventure, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Kansas friends, Tim and Linda. They were vacationing in our neck of the woods, exploring the Cascades and the wild Olympic Coast. It was so great to visit over dinner – one of those evenings that goes by so quickly, and then you spend the next day going “Oh, I should have asked about this!” and “Oh, I forgot to ask about that!” What a wonderful honor to be remembered, and to have the opportunity to share time with such a great couple that shares our enthusiasm for the outdoors. We could have swapped hiking stories all night if I hadn’t had to put these cute kids to bed!

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