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A Little of the Upper Wenatchee – Chipmunks

John Lehmkuhl talks about chipmunks and red squirrels.

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Chipmunks and Red Squirrels (MP3)

John Lehmkuhl talks about chipmunks and mushrooms.

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Chipmunks and Mushrooms (MP3)

John Lehmkuhl talks about trap happy chipmunks.

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Trap Happy Chipmunks (MP3)

John Lehmkuhl talks about thinking like a chipmunk.

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Thinking Like a Chipmunk (MP3)

A Little of the Upper Wenatchee – Forest and Fire

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Paul Gray talks about fire, sheep and meadows.

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Fire-Sheep-Meadows (MP3)

Paul Gray talks about early settlers in the White River area.

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White River Early Settlers (MP3)

Connecting with Nature in North Central Washington

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January 2010, Nature of Place, NCW Greenways
by Nancy Warner

Ten years ago when I moved to North Central Washington, I brought with me a love of nature along with a keen interest in learning more about the people and geography of this place.

As a biologist and lifelong resident of the West, I was familiar with many of the plants, animals and natural communities I found here. Big sagebrush, red squirrels and dippers, for example, are old friends from other shrub steppe, coniferous forest and freshwater habitats where I’ve lived. Their presence, along with introductions to many people in the community, helped to quickly orient me to this place.

What I could not easily see, and wanted to discover, was the underlying story of this place — the collective knowledge people have about how past land uses, seasonal changes, climate and vegetation patterns, and events including fires and floods have shaped the nature of what we see today.


As an individual, I needed to have a sense of this story to feel connected to this place. And as a member of the larger community, I needed to understand what is possible in this unique region so I could work with others to maintain and restore that potential for the future.

For the past year, I’ve used this Greenways column to highlight some of the seasonal changes, patterns and encounters with nature that longtime NCW residents have witnessed and shared.

I’ve specifically sought out people who have lived in one place for many years and have been able to observe the cycles and spectacles of nature on a regular basis through their work, interests or hobbies. I’ve asked them about trends they’ve seen in the weather, changes in vegetation and wildlife distribution and magic moments where an encounter with nature stunned, surprised and inspired them.

The collective knowledge, perspectives and memories of these farmers, loggers and other long-timers provide important background needed for building a shared understanding of this place along with many reminders of what a joy it is to live here.

In the year ahead, I’ll continue to interview longtime residents about their memories and experiences in nature. Some of what I learn will be reflected in this column. I’ll also be bringing the perspectives of scientists, artists and those who spend time recreating in the lands of our region into the story.

I expect we’ll all learn more about the region as we discover common experiences, as well as those that are unique, strengthening the connections among our community as we go.

I hope you’ll join in creating this story of place by contributing your observations and memories at here. For more information, please contact me at nwarner@applecapital.net. To learn more about Diana Sanford and her art, visit dianasanford.com.

Memories of Fall in North Central Washington

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Longtimers share memories of autumns past

October 2009, NCW Green Ways

By Nancy Warner

It’s clearly marked on the calendar — autumn equinox, Sept. 22 — but somehow the shorter days and colder nights always come as something of a surprise. But as we harvest the last of our summer gardens, bite into fresh crisp apples and soak up the golden glow of larches lighting up the hillsides, we begin to get in sync with the season.

Winter and change are coming. If we pay attention, we’ll learn something.

Longtime logcutter Ray Hendrickson has been paying attention to the lands and waters in the Upper Wenatchee Valley for 83 years, hunting, fishing and exploring the backcountry with his wife Gretchen. It was his father, an avid outdoorsman from Minnesota, who taught Ray much of what he knows about wildlife.

“When I was little, why he’d take me on his shoulders and walk up the Icicle to fish. And that was before the road was up there,” Ray says. “He taught me a lot about how to follow the game trails and stuff like that, you know.”

Targeting rock outcrops, drainages and the sparser brush beneath big trees, Ray made his way to the high lakes of the Icicle Creek watershed, where he caught cutthroats, rainbows and eastern brook trout. Down in the valley, he remembers seeing otters, beavers and occasionally a fisher — bigger than the more common pine marten — feeding on salmon along the edges of the creek.
Icicle Creek, Nancy Warner photo

His memories of Icicle Creek include how it changed following construction of the fish hatchery in the late 1930s. “Icicle Creek was clear and there was no moss [algae] on the rocks,” he recalls, “until they put that fish hatchery in.” According to Ray, that algae gave the creek a “rotten” odor by late summer and early fall as the creek levels dropped in response to irrigators diverting water from the creek for their hay crops and orchards.

Born in Leavenworth in 1930, longtime dairy farmer Pat Stoudt and her family used the waters of Icicle Creek for irrigation. Now retired and an avid weather watcher, Pat has seen some unusual rainfall patterns within her part of the Icicle Valley. This year would have been one of the rare times on her family’s place, she says, when they might have gotten a fourth cutting on their hay crop.

“We received the rain in August at the right time. It’s been warm and dry. Lots of morning dew the last week or so,” she says. “This year probably would have been a perfect year for a fourth cutting.”

According to Pat, the “fourth-cutting years” were followed by severe winters, particularly 1956, 1957 and 1958. In addition to weather patterns, she remembers how she and her family used other cues to gauge the severity of the coming winter.

“Gophers and field mice become much more aggressive,” she observes, noting that, “you can trap and the next day they have a new hole beside it. …”

“Another good indicator,” she adds, “is the mountain ash trees. If those berries begin turning early, that means we?re going to have a doozy.”
Bear Scat

A skilled hunter, Ray tracks the season based on the movements of mule deer and bears through the valley and backcountry. “The deer start to get a darker coat on ‘em,” Ray says, “and bears start to eat berries.”

To tell when a bear is getting ready to hibernate, he advises, keep an eye on the berries of the mountain ash trees. “They eat them, and it cleans them out …,” he says. “Generally, in the high country, you see them moving over the ridges. They’re going to a place to hibernate.”

To hear more memories of summer in North Central Washington, view additional photographs and learn more about how you can share your observations of seasonal change, visit the IRIS Web site at www.irisncw.org , “Connecting With Nature.”

Nancy Warner is coordinator for the Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship (IRIS).

Fall Hay Cutting and Signs of Winter

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Pat Stoudt

Pat Stoudt talks about hay cutting.

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Fourth Hay Cutting (MP3)

Pat Stoudt discusses signs of winter.

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Signs of Winter (MP3)

Hunting, Hibernating Bears and Other Fall Memories

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Ray and Gretchen Hendrickson Fall 2009Gretchen and Ray HendricksonGrandpa Tom and Ray, VanBrocklin Dairy, 1930

Ray Hendrickson remembers one particular hunting trip.

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Retreiver and Otters (MP3)

Ray Hendrickson talks about hibernating bears.

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Hibernating Bears (MP3)

Ray Hendrickson on ghost trees.

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Ghost Trees (MP3)

Ray Hendrickson discusses the Icicle fish hatchery.

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Icicle Hatchery (MP3)

Memories of Summer in North Central Washington

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Fishing, fires, and huckleberries

July 2009, Nature of Place, NCW Green Ways

By Nancy Warner

Ask someone what they prize most about living in North Central Washington, and they’ll likely say the four distinct seasons that shape the rhythm of life here.
Gretchen Minard, Nancy Warner photo
For 107-year-old Gretchen Minard, this rhythm has its strongest beat during summer in the upper Wenatchee Valley. Born in Leavenworth in 1901, she remembers the fun she had on the family’s farm along Chumstick Creek. “We could wade in the river or in the stream. And, of course, there was pretty good fishing then, too.” She adds that, “if you wanted any fish you had to get out and do your share of periwinkle hunting.”

Using periwinkles, or caddisfly larvae, that clung to the underside of rocks in Chumstick Creek for bait was something Bud and Ray Norman also did as they came of fishing age in the early 1940s.The brothers remember learning to fish for rainbow trout with the neighbor kids. ?When we first started, it was a willow stick with a line and sometimes a hook made out of a safety pin,? Ray remembers.

Bud and Bill Norman, Norman Family CollectionRecently retired from a lifetime of logging, Bud and Ray grew up along the Chumstick helping their dad with his horse-logging business. “I was swamping for a team of horses in the woods when I was 9 years old,” Bud remembers, “cutting a trail through the vine maple so they could get in there with the horses to pull the wood out.”

“Back then,” Ray recalls, “the timber was cut mostly into short logs because it was so big.” The brothers remember watching their dad work his cross saw on ponderosa, or yellow pines, up to 4 feet around. They say most of what was marked and cut in the 1940s was either pine or fir. “There used to be quite a bit of white pine around,” Bud says. “Tons of it up around the lake and up the Icicle.”Norman brothers, Nancy Warner photo

Huckleberry season was a high point of the summer for Gretchen’s family, who would pack their berry-picking buckets and camping equipment on packhorses and hike the old Indian trail from the Chumstick Valley to Lake Wenatchee. She recalls how they spent a whole week doing most of their berry picking in a big meadow above Lake Wenatchee. “Huckleberries usually came out where they had just recently logged,” she explains. “Some years they got quite a few, some years not so many.”

While everybody who came to visit Gretchen’s family at the cabin they later built at Lake Wenatchee “had to have a trip up Dirty Face” to visit the fire lookout, she doesn’t remember seeing many fires around there until recent years. Bud and Ray say there are definitely more fires now but remember quite a few back then too. “The logger then was the first one they’d come after for fires,” Bud remembers. “They used to shut us down and we had to go fight fires.” Ray adds, “We usually had to hike into the high lake fires.”

Looking back at the changes they’ve seen, all three longtime residents agree the area is drier today. Reflecting on the wildflowers at her family’s cabin, Gretchen says “we had plenty of wildflowers and they were always bright and pretty. But the ground is changing; it’s not as moist as it used to be. When the weather changed the flowers changed, too.”

Nancy Warner is the coordinator for the Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship (IRIS).

Fishing

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Gretchen Minard talking about Chumstick Creek.

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Chumstick Creek (MP3)

Gretchen Minard talking about periwinkle hunting.

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Periwinkle Hunting (MP3)

Caddis Fly Larva, Mark Oswood photo

Wildflowers

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Gretchen Minard talking about wildflowers and weather.

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Wildflower Weather (MP3)

Columbine, Greg Shannon photoLupine, Greg Shannon photoTiger Lily, Greg Shannon photo

Gretchen Minard talking about wildflowers in place.

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Wildflowers in Place (MP3)

Loggers Using Sap

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Bud and Ray Norman remember using sap.

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Using Sap (MP3)

Norman Family CollectionNorman Family Collection

IRIS