Monday, December 23, 2013

A New Coat for Winter

It's been a busy couple of weeks at Basecamp getting ready for winter.  The lodge and cabin were in need of some fresh color around the interior, so the winter team - Kim, Steve, Jaclyn, Brianna and I -  got to painting.  As with all painting projects there were spills, the need for multiple coats, paint on objects that should not have paint, and general unpredicted yet predictable happenings that increased the length and amusement of the project.  In the end, we painted nearly every room in the lodge as well as the main room in the cabin, adding such colors as earthquake, telluride tan, terra-cotta tile, and clay pot.

The painting, along with general winter preparedness work including wood chopping, shoveling, cover building, and all around cleaning, has been my main activity since arriving in Mazama at the beginning of December.  It was great to get back out to the Cascades after spending the autumn back home in New England.  The night I arrived there were 6-8 inches of fresh, heavy snow on Lost River Road, which I took to be a sign of good things to come.  It was, however not in the snow department. Since then, there have only been small flurries of an inch or two, making it a decidedly mediocre start to the winter.  Don't despair though, six inches of snow was plenty for an East-coaster like me to get out on the Methow Valley Ski Trail Association trails.  Nearly every day I've been able to head right out my door and explore the myriad trails snaking around the valley.  Since I arrived here I think I have already doubled the amount of nordic skiing I've done in my life.  And I love it more every day; the motion of skate skiing is somewhat addictive.

I'm enjoying settling in to life here at Basecamp, getting to know Kim, Steve, Emmitt and Amelia better every day and building on the already-strong bond Mica and I have formed during our brave, late-night hardwood floor crossings (significantly more challenging for some of our four-legged friends).  I look forward to the rest of winter here with the other staff, - Jaclyn and Dierdre along with the Bondi family - meeting our guests, and maybe, possibly, more than a couple inches of snow this year!

A couple pictures from skating on Davis Lake (where we found a bat frozen in the ice!):

Double Chocolate Chip Cranberry Sea Salt Cookies

We just served these this afternoon to our guests (and our employees) and they sound like a go for the season.   These cookies were discussed in great lengths at lunch time about how they are not too sweet, perfect consistency, and their sweet/salt combination hits the mark.  Funny, I didn't get one from this batch!

     1 cup salted butter, softened
     1/2 cup sugar
     1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
     2 eggs
     2 tsp vanilla extract
     2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
     3/4 tsp course sea salt
     1 tsp baking soda
     1 1/2 tsp baking powder
     2 1/4 semi sweet chocolate chip cookies
     1/2 -3/4 cup cocoa powder
     3/4 cup cranberries
     course sea salt to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 degr F.  Cream butter and sugars until fluffly (approx 3 min on med-high speed).  /add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Add baking soda, powder, salt, cocoa and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated.  Finally add chocolate chips and cranberries until well distributed.  Cookie batter will be thick.

Form dough into disks using a medium cookie scoop or hands.  Dip into course sea salt and spread onto your baking sheet.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until edges are golden brown.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

Printed from North Cascades Basecamp recipe blog
December 2013
Inspired from Nicole Scheirlburg (thanks nicole!)

Basecamp's Emmer Waffles

These waffles are light and fluffy, and not nearly as filling as they look.  The best way to make them is to use Bluebird Grain Farms Emmer Flour- or any local flour source that is freshly milled.  Served with fresh berries during the summer (or frozen during the winter season), yogurt, and pure maple syrup makes a great meal before heading to the great outdoors.

Serves 6 adults

     2 eggs
     1 3/4 cup milk
     3/4 cup melted butter
     3 cups flour (1/2 Bluebird Grain Farms Emmer flour & 1/2 all purpose flour)
     1 tsp vanilla
     4 tsp baking powder
     1 T sugar
     1/2 salt


Melt butter and beat with eggs and all other ingredients.  Substitute 1/2 of the milk with yogurt if you like a fluffier texture.  Cook on a preheated waffle griddle.  Serve hot with your favorite toppings.

Printed from North Cascades Basecamp recipe blog
December 2013
Adapted from Sue Roberts waffle recipe and Cory Diamond's Special Waffle for Sunday Guests recipe. Thanks for the inspiration to both of you!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Restoring alpine vegetation in the Cascade mountains

 We kicked off a Treasured Landscapes Volunteer Vacation this summer with citizen scientists, National Forest Foundation's  (NFF) Kathleen Dowd-Gaily, the North Cascades Basecamp's Bondi family, and Therese Ohlson (retired USFS botanist) as they hiked the Maple Pass Loop to enjoy the wildflower display and learn about alpine ecology and restoration as part of a week long program to explore areas that are a part of the NFF’s Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences conservation campaign.

The Maple Pass Loop is a great example of a trail being over-loved in our eastern Cascades mountains.  The views are incredible of Black Peak, Cutthroat Pass, Golden Horn to the north, and Glacier Peak to the south.  It is a strenuous but satisfying 8 mile round trip loop.  This beloved trail has earned its popularity with over 10,000 visitors /year (explained T. Ohlson), and it is written up in many of our North Cascades hiking guide books.  However its abraided trails through the mountain heather, the bare soil on every potential overlook, and the lack of vegetation at Maple Pass show its high volume use.

The US Forest Service and NFF are working to change over-loved trail with restoration of the alpine plant communities.  The Treasured Landscapes Initiative is collaborating its efforts with citizen science volunteers and forest service employees to designate a sound user path along the trail, plant and restore native plants outside the newly designated paths, and gently block off restored areas for future generations to enjoy.   The outcome will be incredible if folks respect the efforts and take charge of their actions on this and other trails above treeline.  A grand hope is that if this restoration effort is successful, it will lead to a greater understanding of how to love and protect our alpine trail systems.

If you'd like to be part of this effort, please contact Kathleen Dowd-Gailey by email at or phone at 206/832-8280.  Or let us know if you'd like to partake in the project as part of a North Cascades Basecamp citizen science effort and we can help organize a summer project for 2015. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Basecamp Granola

This is a favorite cereal at the North Cascades Basecamp, put out daily as part of our cold cereal bar to accompany a locally grown, healthy hot breakfast we serve for our guests.   This granola recipe is truly the inspiration for this recipe blog since we have requests for it so often, and we love to share!  It holds its crunch, is loaded with nuts and seeds, and low on sugar compared to other (even healthy) granolas.  I thinks the combination of coconut oil, peanut butter, agave syrup, maple syrup, ground flax seed, our our own Basecamp honey give it the perfect sweetness and texture. One note is that each batch is unique because we like to throw the ingredients together depending on our moods.  Let us know what you think!


4 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds (chunked)
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw sesame seeds
4 T ground flax
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup honey (substitute partial 100% maple syrup or brown rice syrup)
3 T agave nectar
3 T coconut oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cup brown sugar

coconut flakes, dried cranberries, pepitas, raisins

Set oven to 100 degrees F.  In a medium saucepan, head the wet ingredients until smooth.  Stir frequently so it doesn't burn.  Stir wet ingredients into dry until well coated; it may be hard to stir at this point, but make sure everything is combined.  Spread mixture onto a well oiled jelly roll sheet, or other baking pan with at least a 1/2 inch side.  Bake for 45 minutes, removing the pan every 15 minute to give the granola a good stir and prevent over browning on the sides.  Allow to cool on the pan before putting it away in a airtight container.

Printed from North Cascades Basecamp recipe blog
October 2013
inspired by Oh She Glows My Favourite Homemade Granola (to-date)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Butterflies of the Cascades

This August we hosted a fabulous retreat with Dr. Robert Michael Pyle, studying the Butterflies of the North Cascades.  Our crew for the weekend was enthusiastic, ready to learn, and ranged from the advanced lepidopteran in the field, to the laboratory researcher studying adaptations of butterflies, and onto those newly acquiring butterflying handling and identification skills.  Smiles and laughter ensued when Bob would post a release butterfly on one's nose.  What a great expression one makes when tickled by butterfly feet!

Here Bob demonstrates proper holding techniques for the group.  But sometimes they held still for us all on their own and photography was just as informative. We learned specifics such the life history of butterflies and their life stages, importance of nectaring and host plants for adult and caterpillars, and how to identify males and females.  Other discussions throughout the weekend were informative, in-depth, and focused on the bigger picture of global warming, nature deficit disorder, to collect or not to collect specimens for study, and impacts of changing habitats for butterflies in a shared world with humans. 

We look forward to hosting Bob in the future, and loved the inspiration of this amazing naturalist group! 
all three species of wood nymphs in one day!
butterflying around the Basecamp gardens to end the fun!

Raptor Migration

The Fourth Annual Raptor Migration Festival fulfilled expectations this year with great raptor viewing from Chelan Ridge to Harts Pass.  The North Cascades Basecamp was proud to be involved with a booth at Pateros Memorial Park. A crowd of 30 joined us at the Basecamp on Saturday night for summer garden vegetable curry soup and emmer brownies with ice cream dessert, followed by a great presentation by Andy Stepniewski of Yakima Audubon.   

Andy and Ellen led 15+ participants up to Harts Pass on Sunday morning to watch more of the migration magic.  The sunny ridgeline was ideal on this day for migrating raptors; wings set back, head thrust forward, and hardly a flap needed except for the balancing act to overcompensate for gusts of wind reaching 20-30 mph.  The highlight of the day was acrobatic prairie falcons at the Slate Peak parking area, numerous osprey riding the winds, and rocket-fast merlins chasing pipets.  We watched over 50 birds in their migration south, catching those thermals and riding the gusty winds.  Happy travels and we’ll see you next year! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Our Growing Garden

The summer sun, heat, and long days have arrived in Mazama.  Our garden is loving this weather and is literally growing by the inch everyday!  Our peas and raspberries are producing a large harvest daily and it seems the cucumbers and squash grow noticeably larger by the hour.  We harvested our garlic scapes a few weeks ago (see our pesto recipe below) and are anxious to see how big the garlic is this year!
Here's a list of some of the things currently growing in our garden;
Veggies and fruits; arugula, apples, beans, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cherries, cucumbers, garlic, hops, kale, lettuce, nasturtiums, potatoes, snow and sugar snap peas, radishes, squash, onions, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, spinach, tomatoes,eggplant, zuchini and yellow squash.
Herbs; calendula, cilantro, dill, parsley, oregano, basil, chives, mint, catnip, lavender,

With hot summer days here, it is often hard to imagine the cold winter days ahead.  However, we are already thinking ahead to winter, when our garden is resting and we depend on all the food we've stored away during this time of plenty.  Much of our garden bounty goes straight to the table, feeding our family and lodge guest.  The rest is processed and kept stored away- jams, pesto, salsa and such are canned; garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes are kept in dry storage; greens and berries go to the freezer. Happy harvest to all!


3 cups raspberries
1 1/2 cups honey
Mash berries in sauce pan.  Heat to a boil and cook down for 15 minutes.  Add the honey and bring to just above boiling.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and beat with a wire whip for about 6 minutes.  Spoon into hot jars, leave 1/4 inch head-space.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Enjoy!   

6-7 garlic scapes
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Blend in a food processor til smooth and creamy.  
Use fresh or jar it up in the freezer for a cold winters night treat. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bats in Mazama

Last Friday, here at the North Cascades Basecamp, we hosted students from Central Washington University visiting as part of a wildlife ecology field techniques class with Dan Beck. Arriving in the early morning, Kim and Steve took the students on an introduction to birding walk around the Basecamp property where numerous species were heard and identified. 

Later in the evening, the students returned for a trip highlight- bat mist netting. What is bat mist netting you may ask (as I did).  Mist netting is an effective and safe way of capturing both birds and bats.   Very lightweight, almost invisible, nylon nets are strung between two poles over a highly trafficked area.  In our case, we strung three nets over ponds, very close to the water's surface.  

Kent and Kim carefully setting up the mist nets

USFWS Wildlife biologist, Kent Woodruff, led the evening and proved to be an excellent source of information.  However, early on he stated that bat knowledge is very limited, especially here in the Methow Valley.  "The answer to most questions about bats is 'I don't know.'"  He attributes the lack of knowledge to the difficult task of these small flying mammals, and to the lack of funding/support for research.  Unfortunately, bats often have a negative association in our society and aren't the cuddly animals that people are willing to support and protect.  While research and understanding surrounding bats is often limited, it is clear that they do play an important role in our ecosystem and are often referred to as a 'keystone' species.

Anticipation grew as the nets were assembled and dusk arrived.  The group of 25 students and Basecamp guests sat patiently and quietly on logs surrounding the ponds and waited for the bats to arrive.  Soon the first bats were spotted and excitement grew as more quickly arrived.  It was clear everyone was enjoying watching the acrobatic show the bats put on but also anxious for the first bat capture.

After 20 minutes of waiting, our patience was rewarded with the capture of the Methow Valley's smallest bat species.  Weighing about the same as a penny, California Mytois bat (myotis californicus) is found along the west coast of America; from British Columbia, Canada to as far south as Guatemala.

The group assembled around Kent as he identified the bat.  He identified our bat by it’s keeled calcar (a cartilaginous spur of the ankle joint that extends toward the tail), small feet, color and facial features.

Pointing out the Keeled Calcar

There are approximately 1100 bat species across every continent (except Antarctica). Here in Washington State we have 15 bats species, 8 of which are currently listed federally as Category 2 Candidates, meaning adequate information is lacking to list them as endangered species. However, it is hypothesized that they should receive that designation.  Across the nation approximately 40 percent of bat species are currently threatened.  

How can you help?

Interested in learning more about Bats in Washington?
Basic facts about bats from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The recent (and first!) conservation plan for bats in Washington State

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Live Bat Cam

Bats Northwest; a non-profit to protect bats through education and research

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Co-evolution of the red-naped and red-breasted sapsuckers

The red-breasted Sphyrapicus ruber and red-naped Sphyrapicus nuchalis sapsuckers are two woodpecker species that overlap in their range near the crest of the Cascades.  These two species are sympatric, meaning that during the evolution process, they became two new species while inhabiting the same geographic region. Generally speaking in Washington, the red-breasted live on the west side, the red-naped on the east side.   At the North Cascades Basecamp in Mazama, we’ve had the opportunity to observe both species in a cedar and birch grove that is unique to the upper Methow watershed.

This year, a male red-breasted sapsucker was observed late in the winter along the Basecamp trail.  He drummed his broken drum on local snags, showed off his beautiful red head, called his quiet “mewing” call, and even excavated a perfectly round cavity in a birch snag.  A female red-naped sapsucker was often seen in the same area, licking (not drinking) up sap with her barbed tongue, making frequent visits to his territory, and exploring the newly constructed cavity with intrepidation (poking her head up to the entrance but not entering).  Finally in mid-June, after many hours of observation, we saw the red-breasted male and the red-naped female both enter and exist the nesting cavity with food in beak for the hungry nestlings, and he was being a good dad and dropping fecal sacs to the ground as his housecleaning duties ensued.   

These two species of sapsuckers are known to hybridize in south-central Oregon, northeastern California, along the California-Nevada border, and in southern Nevada.  Genetic studies by Johnson et al (1983, 1985) showed that red-naped and red-breasted sapsuckers have the highest avian genetic relatedness ever reported, similar to that found between avian subspecies.  They also found the hybrid F1 generation to produce viable offspring, although it seems that certain F2 backcrossings may have partial sterility issues.  These studies and others confirm that although these two species are nearly genetically identical, there is a low degree of hybridization while encountering each other regularly, and therefore they are still considered as separate biological species. 

It will be interesting to see what our new fledgling hybrid sapsuckers look like, and who they choose as mates into the future.

Ned K. Johnson and Robert M. Zink. 1983. Speciation in Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus): I. Genetic Differentiation.  The Auk: 871-884.

Ned K. Johnson and Carla Bowman Johnson.  1985.  Speciation in Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus): II. Sympatry, Hybridization, and Mate Preference in S. ruber daggetti and S. nuchalis.  The Auk: 1-15.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pygmy Rabbit Recovery in Washington

A group of us from the Pateros-Methow Valley area headed to Sagebrush Flats
near Ephrata, WA to help WDFW biologists with pygmy rabbit recovery efforts this week.  Arriving at 6:30am on the site, we spent the day rounding-up pygmy rabbit kits born just weeks to a month ago in their naturalized captive facility.  Those that had Columbia Basin genes were put back into the captive facility to become breeders for the upcoming seasons.  All others (given they were old enough and weighed enough) were released into the captive nursery for relocation into the wild in a week or so. 

Emmet, our 5 year old, was more than excited to help transport and release the kits into the nursery.  He also had the best views under the sagebrush, and therefore was a great spotter for finding the kits as they scrambled into their burrows (both artificial and natural).  We had a great day, even with the
wind, cooler temperatures, and dust blowing in every direction.  The rabbits in their burrows sure didn't seem to notice!

Birding extravaganza at the Basecamp - May 16th!

A birding morning by the birch forest today was amazing- especially the red-breasted sapsucker!  And here is proof- we believe it is a male, who is coming and going from a newly excavated cavity in a birch snag.  Even more exciting is the female red-napped sapsucker in the area, who is visiting the cavity and poking her head inside while the red-breasted is inside... but not entering. 

Here are the birds Steve and I encountered this morning:  7:30-9:00am, partially sunny, cooler temps than last week, and the height of breeding song here in Mazama. 

Townsend's warblers
Wilson's warblers
Yellow-rumped warblers
Nashville warblers
Pacific wren (AKA winter wren)
House wren
Cassin's vireo
Warbling vireo
Varied thrush
Hammond's flycatcher
Black-chinned hummingbird
Caliope's hummingbird
Red-napped sapsucker
Red-breasted sapsucker
Golden-crowned kinglets
American robin
American crow