We crossed a small bridge over railroad tracks and meadow land, and entered into wonderful Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This is a wildlife preserve of around 5200 acres west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. It lies close to the great Columbia River channels.
There flourish marshes, grasslands, upland forests, riparian corridors, oak woodlands. Many of the Oregon white oaks have survived hundreds of years. There are dozens of bird species with thousands of wintering birds, alone; 23 species of mammals live on this land.
We came upon a full scale replica of a Chinookan Plankhouse, called the Cathlapotle Plankhouse after the Native American village of the same name. It is built on an archaeological site that was encountered by the Lewis and Clark expedition as they headed west around 1806. Unfortunately , it was closed that day. We will go back to learn more when it is open.
The Oregon white oaks are massive and beautiful in their scrubby, ancient way. Some of the branches can be seen growing back into the earth. The one first pictured below is over 400 years old.
To give you a better idea of the size of branches and trunk, here are two more shots. I admit I have a thing about trees and still climb them a bit, if possible–in this case, only felled branches!
A truly beautiful day on the trails around and about a portion of the refuge. I came away saturated with peace and contentment.
We’re looking forward to going back soon and bringing binoculars. My only hesitancy is that mountain lions’ presence has been verified (usually it is cougars I’d mind meeting–I am okay with bears at a decent distance), but nature offers so much wonderment one has to get out there to see things, and that means taking a few chances…Next time: new trails, deeper into the refuge we will go!