River Time

A fish tale

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

It wasn’t until we’d driven a few miles along a single-lane Forest Service route off of Mt. Baker’s Highway’s Glacier Creek Road that I thought to ask my fellow day-tripper what our final destination was.

“I’m looking for a spot to park near the water,” he replied. “I believe we’re in desperate need of some quality river time.”

Indeed we were. By the time we found a pull-off with an easily accessible trail, I realized how deeply I was craving the kind of solace that can only be provided by sitting still and watching and listening to the sights and sounds of the natural world. 

A giant bald eagle welcomed us with a freakishly close fly-by, causing my significant other to wonder if we’d find any spawning salmon nearby—and positing that the bird of prey might be warning us away from his lunch.

The spot we’d chosen on the north fork of the Nooksack River was on a relatively shallow tributary, but the desiccated salmon carcass near our picnic headquarters proved fish were nearby. And a closer look at the currents in front of us netted a glimpse of a solitary pink salmon working its way upstream.

For more than an hour and a half, I kept a close eye on the swimmer. As we listened to the babbling brook and soaked up the blue-sky views near Excelsior Ridge, some progress was made, but the fish never progressed beyond five or six feet from where we’d seen it originally. At one point, it appeared to be trying to fling itself ashore before sinking back into the murk.

I’ve seen bodies of water packed to the gills with spawning salmon before, but for some reason the sight of a single fish persevering on its final journey was nearly as majestic to witness. Set apart from the run, its strength and tenacity shone through.

Later, when we were headed back down the scenic highway, I saw the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association’s recognizable blue tent at the Thompson Creek Bridge and remembered the conservation group is hosting “Salmon Sighting” gatherings from 10am-12pm Saturdays through September—complete with NSEA naturalists who will be on hand to answer questions and help visitors identify and view the fish as they return from the sea.

From 10am-2pm on Sat., Sept. 2 the conservation group’s Nooksack River Stewards will also host the annual “Fishtival” at the Maple Creek picnic shelter at the Silver Lake Recreation Area. The free, all-ages celebration will focus on why salmon are an integral part of our community in Whatcom County via educational activities, crafts, games, music and more.

After attending, seek out a nearby creek where you can sit quietly and observe the cycle of life and death come full circle. I promise, it’ll be worth your while.

For a full schedule of upcoming outings, go to http://www.n-sea.org/river-steward-events-2017

ICU Roof #2
More Outdoors...
Water Week
A resource worth celebrating

When rain fell late last week, and again over the weekend, it was the first time in almost three months that Whatcom County had any “wetting rain”—rainfall that was widespread over an extended period of time.

And although the soggy Saturday likely threw monkey wrenches into outdoor…

more »
An end-of-summer spectacular

Under the list of “things you’ll need and maybe want” on Sh’Bang’s website are a flashlight or headlamp, rain gear, warm clothes and layers, camping gear, a refillable water container, things to share, some of your own food, earplugs, musical instruments, costumes, water toys and mermaid…

more »
Conquering all obstacles

When it comes to the event known as “WonderMud,” the catch phrase “conquering all obstacles” is an apt one.

Literally, it refers to the nearly two dozen physical obstacles participants ages 8 and older must make it through when Whatcom Events hosts the annual outdoor challenge Sat., Aug.…

more »
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Dog Day Afternoon

3:30pm|South Whatcom Library

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Try Something New

6:30pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Back to School Night

6:30pm|Lynden Library

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Comedy Open Mic


Salsa Night

9:30pm|Cafe Rumba

Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Peaceful Poetry Workshop and Contest

4:30pm|Village Books

Women's Rock Climbing Basics


Exploring Vegan Flavors

6:30pm|Whatcom Humane Society

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Autumn Soups for the Body and Soul

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Seattle Quartet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

2020 Solutions Sept 2017 MBT Janis Joplin
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Lynden Farmers Market

12:00pm|Front Street

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Together for Peace


Stream Tour

6:00pm|Whatcom Creek

Trash Talk

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Chuckanut Radio Hour with Nancy Pearl

7:00pm|Village Books

Travel Talk

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Authentic Illusionist Jay Ownehouse

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Trove Bellingham Farmer’s Market MBT Janis Joplin BOB_2017 2020 Solutions Sept 2017 Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1