Experiencing Bellingham’s Oldest Forest

This past Sunday Reconnect Earth set out on our last weekend day trip of the Fall 2019 season, a hike through Stimpson Forest Nature Reserve on the edge of Bellingham. This tract of land, part of the homeland of the Lummi Nation since time immemorial, is unique in that while some logging has occurred there over the past century it has never been completely clear-cut and some trees hundreds of years old are still standing as they have for centuries. The reserve has characteristics of an old growth forest including not just big trees, but abundant fallen woody debris, snags, and a multi-layered understory. It is truly a beautiful place.

We met at the trailhead, several of us having taken the 512 bus from downtown Bellingham that conveniently stops right across the street. We then followed a route that took us in a loop through forest cover of varying ages, including groves where the enormous, old Douglas-firs stand.

About halfway through the trip we stopped for a nature journaling and observation exercise designed to help sharpen our awareness of the landscape through which we were passing. This led to interesting discussions about what it means to be alert to the surroundings and how we perceive both the human and non-human elements of outdoor environments. As we practiced sketching and writing down observations, a deer made her own observations of our group while she nibbled on nearby shrubs.

Other highlights of the trip included spotting colorful mushrooms on the moist forest floor, hearing the sound of a Pacific chorus frog from a wetland close by, observing woodpeckers holes and other signs of animal activity, and discussing the important role of forests in sequestering carbon. We finished by talking about upcoming opportunities to take action on climate change locally, including Bellingham’s December 6th Climate Strike and chances to give input on local government energy policy.

Although this was Reconnect Earth’s last trip of the fall, we will be back with more weekend trips starting in late January. Keep an eye out for the Winter and Spring 2020 schedule which will be posted on this website soon!

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