FishTrACS Bravo Team: Hitch 3- Washington

Josh Andreska and Ryan Bernardi were assigned as Bravo Team partners for the SCA crew’s final 2012 Trails Inventory hitch. Though the trip was shortened to a two-week hitch, the duo still worked hard enough to have three weeks-worth of adventure while inventorying trails for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington State. Setting off from Boise, Idaho on a Monday, the team was able to inventory Toppenish and Columbia National Wildlife Refuges as well as Entiat and Winthrop National Fish Hatcheries by the middle of the week.

Bravo team left the scenic, arid landscape of eastern Washington to visit the even more scenic terrain of the North Cascade Mountain Range. Josh and Ryan had an incredible experience in North Cascades National Park for a night, camping next to a river at a walk-in only campsite. The following two days were spent travelling to and exploring majestic Mount Rainier National Park. While at Rainier, Ryan and Josh experienced difficult hikes, gazed upon beautiful waterfalls, lush sub-alpine meadows, and colorful rock formations, made a new friend, and camped out at another beautiful walk-in campsite located between two waterfalls.

Bravo team finished the weekend with a brief visit to Seattle where they attended annual festivities, ate fresh fruit from famous Pike’s Place Market, and enjoyed seeing the Seattle Mariner’s win a ballgame at home.

The second week began much like the first. It was a quick inventory of Gray’s Harbor NWR’s trail near the coast and then on to Willapa NWR where Josh and Ryan inventoried over 15 miles of trails including the beautifully decorated Salmon Art Interpretive Trail. The highlight though of the Willapa refuge visit was being transported via fan-boat to and from the trails on Long Island on consecutive mornings. Once Willapa’s extensive trail system was completed, only Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge for the White-tailed Deer remained. Josh and Ryan completed their last trail at JBH with ease and it was off for more adventures.

Bravo Team spent the majority of their remaining free-time at Olympic National Park. Here they spent time exploring the 3 major ecosystems the park has to offer: coastal, temperate rainforest, and sub-alpine forest. Highlights included a 9 mile hike through coastal prairies and the Pacific shore, the Hall of Mosses interpretive tour hike within the Hoh Rainforest, and camping one night each in Elwha Valley, Ozette Lake, and Hoh Rainforest. The last night of the hitch was spent camping in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Mt. St. Helen’s. Josh and Ryan were able to snap a few photos of the impressive stratovolcano from breathtaking viewpoints before officially wrapping up Hitch 3 and returning to Boise.