Charlie team on hitch three consisted of Nastia Abramova and Katie Auer. The girls left Boise on Monday august 13th and headed for their first refuge, Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. It was a vast refuge and they enjoyed the hours they spent driving through it to the trails and to the bunkhouse where they spent the night. The smell of sagebrush, warm desert winds and coziness of the bunkhouse made this site Nastia’s favourite. Luckily they saw one antelope from very far away during their time there. On Tuesday they drove 7 hours to Bandon Marsh NWR, on the way checking out magnificent Crater Lake National Park. The drive to the coast let them admire the variety of landscapes Oregon has to present: from dry and yellow continental to Cascades emerald rocky landscapes. Bandon Marsh was a smallish refuge that recently completed the largest tidal marsh restoration in Oregon by removing dikes throughout 400 acres of tidal wetland.
After inventorying the two trails there on Wednesday (and doing a little bird watching) they drove up the coast along route 1, stopping at several places along the way to enjoy the sights and smells of the Pacific Ocean. Thursday brought them to Ankeny NWR where they had several beautiful trails to walk and lots of warm sunshine to enjoy. The same day they inventoried Baskett Slough NWR and watched the sunset from the top of one of the trails there. Friday morning they finished their last trail at Basket Slough and drove to Tualatin NWR where they spent some time helping the visitor center staff catch and release a little Kangaroo Rat that had become trapped in the visitor center. On the trails they saw several great blue herons and a few egrets in the wetlands as they hiked. Then it was off to Seattle where they spent the weekend visiting friends and family.
The following Monday they had to inventory two National Fish Hatcheries: Warm Springs and Little White Salmon. The gorgeous drive took them through Mount Hood National Forest back to the high desert, where they spent the night. After quick inventory at White Springs they headed to Little White Salmon admiring Mount Hood on the way. The rest of the week was devoted to inventorying Umatilla, McNarry, Cold Springs and Saddle Mountain NWRs. The close location of these refuges allowed exploring the area and enjoying several times the drive along the Columbia River Gorge. For the last weekend girls visited Mount Rainier National Park and hiked the Skyline Trail. They were lucky to see and smell alpine flowers in bloom and enjoyed scenery of volcanoes and mountains from the Panorama Point at 7000 feet. The extended hikes of the last few days set the girls into really good shape. Happy and tired, but full of impressions of Washington and Oregon, the girls came back to Boise after two weeks of nature delight.