We often neglect the things in our own backyard as being too local or too familiar. And so it was for me with the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge which I had passed by many, many times on my way to somewhere else.
“Someday,” I would say to my husband Bob, “we’ll have to stop.”
But we never did. All these years. Until today. After being sick and housebound all week, Bob was desperate to get out and enjoy the summer weather we were having. The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge would be perfect for a day trip and simple hike. After stopping by our favorite coffee shop (you know the one) we headed south for the hour drive to the Refuge.
A little background first for those of you unfamiliar with the Nisqually. There is a big beautiful mountain in our neck of the woods which has more glaciers than any other peak in the continental United States. One of those glaciers on Mt. Rainier is the Nisqually, the source of the river that flows from the mountain into Puget Sound, forming the rich Nisqually River Delta. The Glacier and River were named after the Nisqually Tribe who have lived in this area for thousands of years.
The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1974 to protect the delta and its diverse fish and wildlife habitats. It was renamed in 2015 to honor Billy Frank Jr., a Nisqually Indian activist for Native American rights, who played an important role in getting treaty fishing rights restored to local tribes.
We arrive at the Refuge and after browsing through the Visitor Center, take the Twin Barns Loop Trail, an easy boardwalk through riparian forest. Here we are dwarfed by enormous maple trees which overshadow us. The air is warm and fragrant, and rich in the chatter of birdsong. The peace is pervasive.
The boardwalk continues through the Refuge to several overlooks including the Nisqually River Overlook below.
Further down the trail we meet a photographer who shows us pictures he took of baby Great Horned Owls. He’s carrying two large cameras, binoculars and a tripod. I’m carrying my new and much smaller camera but am not skilled, nor patient enough to photograph birds – yet. I am content rather to watch them flit through the brush and listen to their music, and luxuriate under the tree canopy. I do manage to photograph more sedentary fauna and flora including this frog and turtle sunning themselves….
and these cattails releasing their seeds from velvety tops.
The Loop Trail was enough for today and we were both rejuvenated by our visit to this wonderland. We vow to return again for the other trails and to experience the Nisqually River Delta in all four seasons.