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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Moran State Park on Orcas Island

This week I've had some family in town, which always makes for a good excuse to take some time to tour the San Juan Islands and visit some places I don't always get to go to as much as I would like. I've had my camera in hand for all of our adventures and have lots of photos to share (look for some upcoming posts to feature the insects, birds, and deer I've seen), but for now I'll focus on today's trip over to Orcas Island where we went to Moran State Park. You can check out some photos from my last visit there, which was ten months ago. Sometimes I'm amazed at how rarely I get to one of the other islands!

The focus of the day was going up Mt. Constitution, the highest point in the San Juan Islands at just over 2400 feet. While this morning was foggy, the skies had cleared by this afternoon giving us a panoramic view that stretches from up north near the city of Vancouver south along the mainland of Washington past Anacortes, and west from Mt. Baker to east over all the San Juan Islands. Here's a view from the top of the observation tower looking east towards Lummi Island and Rosario Strait:


The interpretive signs and park volunteer shared the well-known history of Moran State Park, the largest recreation area in the San Juan Islands at 5000 acres and one of the most famous Washington State Parks, and the associated story of Robert Moran, who donated the land to the state in 1921 so the public could always enjoy this amazing place. Surprisingly, however, no where could I find why the hill is called Mt. Constitution. Inquiring minds, of course, want to know, so I had to come home and find out.


It turns out the name Mt. Constitution comes from Charles Wilkes who led the United States Exploring Expedition, an exploratory survey of the Pacific Ocean conducted by the US Navy from 1838-1842. The survey came through local waters in 1841. Many of Wilkes' place names didn't stick; for instance, he named Orcas Island "Hull Island" after Isaac Hull, a sailor in the War of 1812. However, the name Mt. Constitution, given by Wilkes in honor of Isaac Hull's ship the USS Constitution, has, for some reason or another, stayed. Now I know!


I had been to the summit of Mt. Constitution before, but today was the first time I stopped to see Little Summit, a slightly shorter peak that has less obscured views to the west. Here's a couple views form Little Summit:



On the way back down we also stopped at Cascade Falls, a beautiful place I would love to spend some more time playing with camera settings while photographing the running water in the dappled sunlight of the forest. Here are a couple shots from today with the "soft water" effect gotten from longer exposures. The goal is to have the water look soft but keep the land crisp and in focus, which can be a trick when taking handheld photos like I was today. I like these results though. You can click on the photos to see larger versions.



Here's another vantage point standing at the bottom of one of the falls looking up:


In my two visits here I've never made it too far along the trails because I get stuck just a short ways in with so many things to try taking photos of! I would love to spend some more time here exploring the other trails and waterfalls, but today the ferry schedule and dinner plans kept the visit short. I guess I'll just have to go back!

4 comments:

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika
You sure got no shortage of scenery over there.

Cheers

Dave

Warren Baker said...

Awesome pics today monika!

Lancs and Lakes Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

can you thjrow a few more tufted Puffins our way? The one near Warren (1st for UK) seems to have disappeared!

Cheers

D

eileeninmd said...

Lovely scenery and the waterfall is awesome.