Empathy has always come easy to me, for better or for worse. I feel deeply and whole-heartedly. I clearly remember being a very small child, standing pressed up against the glass at the San Diego Zoo. The sun was beating down on my head as I gazed through the tendrils of my matted curly brown hair at creatures with orange hair much like my own. I lost myself in the similarities between them and me. Continue reading
I’ve been sitting at my computer for the past ten minutes typing, deleting, re-typing, reliving embarrassing/heartwarming/nerve-wracking memories from my K-12 years, and typing again. I can’t tell if it’s the heat on this Seattle summer day as I’m writing this or the love-hate relationship I have with “belonging” that’s contributing to my writer’s block. My money’s on the latter. Continue reading
Hey there! My name is Amanda.
Amanda Hsu (uh-MAN-duh SHOO), noun: prefers she/her pronouns, flannel enthusiast, seeker of neighborhood cats, hobbies include brunching and long walks in the rain Continue reading
If you look carefully, stories can be found everywhere. Certainly within the pages of a book, within an epic adventure, a heartbreaking love story, the greatest achievements and tragedies of our nation, or the perseverance of one willing to lay down their life for a good cause.
A couple weeks ago, my natural history class took a field trip out to the Olympic Peninsula, to do some observations in various places with different types of landscapes. I, along with my fellow University of Washington classmates, spent our weekend in three primary locations: Lake Crescent, Salt Creek, and Hurricane Ridge. Our assignment was to practice species ID (mainly plants), nature sketching, and photography. Although these were assigned academic activities, the adventure made me realize that sketching and taking pictures while hiking isn’t solely an academic endeavor; it can be enjoyable for anyone at any time. Hiking and sketching in the natural world is no new phenomenon; a lot of what we know about field biology today comes from the sketches of people like Lewis and Clark, Muir, Audubon, and many more. My goal for the remainder of this piece is to guide you along a tour of the Olympic Peninsula, and perhaps inspire you to take your own sketching and photography tour into nature as well.
Before moving to Seattle this past September for graduate school, I never imagined going on a planned hike to a mountain…for fun. Growing up in Alabama I “hiked” when I was a young Boy Scout, but the mountains in Alabama are no comparison to the mountains here in Washington (The highest natural point in Alabama is Mount Cheaha, which is just a little over 2,400 feet, while Mount Rainier is above 14,000 feet. Mount Cheaha is located in a beautiful state park and provides a great place to view the beauty of Alabama from the bunker tower). Moving here was already an adventure: moving across the country on my own, leaving everything and everyone I know and love behind for two years, meeting new people, and getting back into academia. So why not add to the adventure and go hiking and explore an ice cave?
For the last big trip of our summer season, the team ventured to San Juan Island. After a two-hour drive to Anacortes, we boarded the ferry for Friday Harbor. This ferry ride is pretty incredible. Traveling up through Puget Sound, the Rosario Strait, the Lopez Sound and the Upright Channel, ferry riders get stunning views of islands and the Olympic Mountains.
This last week, I took some time to explore the National Park Service further afield. I drove nine hours out to Glacier National Park in Northern Montana to go backpacking with four other friends for four days. We showed up at the park Friday night and managed to find camping just a few miles outside of the park boundaries on Forest Service land. On Saturday morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn to line up outside of the backcountry office in Apgar Village just inside the boundaries of Glacier National Park to get permits when the office opened at 7am.
After getting an early start on the third day of our Olympic National Park trip, we headed to the Olympic National Park Visitor Center to meet with Dean Butterworth, the Outreach and Education Specialist at Olympic National Park. Believe it or not, Dean started as a volunteer at Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1998. He eventually made his was way to Olympic in 2008. Dean clearly enjoys engaging with youth and he had a lot to say about the opportunities for youth in the area.
For most perceptive Seattleites, Mount Rainier is a familiar sight. On a clear day the picturesque mountain graces our views. Mount Rainier National Park is a fabulous location for day hikes. Some of the In My Backyard team members went there for a day of hiking and research. There are several visitor centers at the park that serve as good starting points for hikes. We went to the Sunrise Visitor Center for our trip, but the Paradise Visitor Center is also a great location to begin a hike. Both of these visitor centers are starting points for many hiking trails that range in difficulty. Some of the hikes are super easy (even for me) and some of them are more challenging. At Sunrise, many of the hikes intersect so you can jump from hike to hike if you want to go to multiple locations.