Author Archives: nickengelfried

About nickengelfried

I'm a writer, naturalist, educator, and activist.

Search for Fall Salmon With Reconnect Earth!

Join Reconnect Earth for our most popular event of the fall: looking for migrating salmon as they return to their natal spawning grounds in Bellingham’s Arroyo Park! Salmon are integral to Pacific Northwest ecosystems and the cultures of Indigenous peoples who have inhabited this region since time immemorial–and every year, hundreds make the journey up Chuckanut Creek to lay their eggs and start a new chapter in the cycle of life. Come with us as we follow the creek through Arroyo Park to look for wild salmon, talk about their role in the local environment, and (hopefully) observe them at close range as they make their annual migration. This event is free, but an RSVP is much appreciated.

When: Sunday, November 20th, 1:00pm – 4:00pm*

Location: Meet at the Arroyo Park parking area off Old Samish Road (a 10 minute drive or 20 minute bike ride from WWU).

What to bring: A full water bottle and clothing to will keep you warm and dry in fall weather.

Difficulty level: Easy

Register here!

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Reconnect Earth would like to respectfully acknowledge that our trips take place on the traditional, sovereign territory of the Lummi, Nooksack, and other Indigenous peoples. In visiting these places we travel through landscapes whose recent history includes theft, genocide, and the displacement of Indigenous and other marginalized groups. We challenge ourselves and other to actively push back against these historic and present-day injustices on our trips and in our daily lives.

*Trip end times are approximate. While we’ll do our best to get back to the trip’s starting point by the posted end time, we suggest not making plans that depend on finishing right on time. Some trips may also conclude slightly earlier than the advertised time.

Summer 2022: Another Season of Impact

On August 21st, participants on Reconnect Earth’s final trip of the Summer 2022 season returned from the field after an amazing weekend exploring North Cascades National Park’s Cascade Pass and Horseshoe Basin. We held more trips than ever before this year, ranging from three to nine days in length and in multiple locations in North Cascades National Park and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. From camping in the snow on Kulshan (the original, Indigenous name for Mount Baker), to taking in stunning views of mountain peaks from the Goodee Ridge Trail, to hiking through old growth forest on the way to Elbow Lake, to spotting mountain goats at Cascade Pass, students on this summer’s trips had many amazing experiences visiting some of the most beautiful places in Washington State.

On each of our trips, students not only camped and hiked through spectacular landscapes, but engaged in important conversations about environmental issues, social justice, and activism skills. Topics covered in our facilitated discussions and activities included climate change impacts in the North Cascades, the history of colonialsims and Indigenous resistance in Northwest Washington, grassroots campaign planning, how to organize a protest, and much more.

While this summer’s trips may be over, the impacts from the conversations we had, connections made, and experiences shared are only just beginning. Check out the photos below from this action-packed summer–and stay tuned for more upcoming opportunities to get outside with Reconnect Earth!

Summer 2022 Trips

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Join Reconnect Earth in Summer 2022 for an experience you’ll never forget: hiking, camping, and exploring social and environmental issues in Washington’s North Cascades mountain range. On one of our 3-9 day backpacking trips you might sleep in a subalpine meadow, hike through groves of ancient old-growth trees, climb to the base of an alpine glacier, or stand on a peak and look out at forest and mountains stretching away into the distance. Along the way we’ll discuss important topics like Indigenous land rights, colonization, impacts of climate change, and how make a difference on issues you care about.

We’ve extended the deadline to apply to join this summer’s trips. Apply here!

Reconnect Earth trips are designed to be as accessible as possible, regardless of your income or level of experience in the outdoors. All of our trips have scholarship options, including scholarships covering up to about 80% of the tuition cost depending on the trip. And whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or have never slept in a tent before, we’ll make sure you have the support you need to thrive in the backcountry. Read on learn more about each experience:

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Mountain Glaciers and Meadows: July 5-8th

Spend four days exploring beautiful subalpine meadows and glacier-carved valleys in the National Recreation Area on Mount Baker, also known by its Indigenous name, Kulshan. We’ll hike to Park Butte Fire Lookout and the base of Easton Glacier, pausing along the way to admire fields of flowers, look for pikas and marmots among the boulders, and (weather permitting) take in amazing views. Our facilitated discussions will focus on climate change impacts and how to harness your power as an agent of positive change. This trip is a great choice for those seeking a shorter backpacking experience in a truly beautiful place. Tuition: $380

Forests and Peaks of North Cascades National Park: July 15-20th

On this 6-day trip we’ll follow the Bridge Creek Trail into the heart of North Cascades National Park, through forests of ancient cedars and Douglas-firs and valleys nestled between the towering peaks. A highlight midway through the trip will be a day hike to the top of Goodee Ridge, which on clear days offers stunning views of the surrounding mountain range. If we’re especially lucky, we might see some of the wildlife like black bears or martens (tree-dwelling members of the weasel family) who frequent this part of the park. Discussions we have along the way will focus on forest ecology and caring for more-than-human landscapes. Tuition: $510

Ready to join us in the mountains? Apply here ( you’ll specify which trip you want to participate in on the form)

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Mount Baker Wilderness Immersion: August 2nd-10th

Experience the mountain’s diverse natural environments, from subalpine meadows to giant glaciers to lush old-growth forests. We’ll spend the first part of the trip in Mount Baker National Recreation Area, visiting nearby viewpoints like Park Butte Lookout and Easton Glacier. Then, we will descend into the more primitive Mount Baker Wilderness and camp surrounded by ancient trees next to remote Elbow Lake.

During our time in the backcountry we’ll have plenty of time to delve into topics like Indigenous sovereignty and colonization, climate change, how to make a difference on issues you care about, and exploring our own relationships with the more-than-human environment. This 9-day trip is an ideal choice if you want to be truly immersed in a backcountry setting and perhaps stretch your edge a bit (though no prior backpacking experience is required). Tuition: $675

Horseshoe Basin Adventure: August 19th-21st

On this short, 2-night backpacking trip be prepared to experience some of the most stunning landscapes in a popular part of North Cascades National Park. We’ll start by hiking up and over Cascade Pass–keeping an eye out for marmots and other wildlife–then spend a day exploring the flower-dotted meadows and boulder fields of Horseshoe Basin. Along the way we’ll talk about some of this special area’s human and natural history and issues that affect it today. This trip is a great choice for those looking to make the most of a relatively brief time in the backcountry. Tuition: $330

Ready to join a trip? Take the first step and apply here! If you’re requesting a scholarship, you’ll have a chance to do so as part of the application process.

For a preview of the questions you’ll be asked to answer on the application form, see here.

Join Our Trips for College-age Students in Winter and Spring 2022!

Hike Lookout Mountain, April 23rd

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Join us for a hike along the trail system that loops up and over Lookout Mountain, with a panoramic view of Lake Whatcom at the top! This trip will be during the height of spring wildflower season, and we’ll take lots of breaks to admire and identify the beautiful flowers and other organisms we find along our way. While immersed in the forest we’ll have a chance to talk about ecosystem succession, our place in the natural world, and ways to take positive local action.

When: Sunday, April 23rd, 11:00am – 4:00pm*

Location: Meet at the Lookout Mountain Preserve Trailhead (a 20 minute drive from WWU, also accessible via the 512 bus).

What to bring: Lunch, a full water bottle, and a rain jacket just in case. Sturdy shoes recommended.

Difficulty level: Moderately challenging.

Suggested donation: $10. Register

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New Date: Exploring Clayton Beach, May 21st

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Clayton Beach in Larrabee State Park is one of the best places in Whatcom County to see tide pool life and other small marine creatures that live along the shoreline. After meeting at the South Lost Lake Trailhead parking area, we’ll follow the trail that descends through the woods to the beach, then make our way along the sandy shore, following the water’s edge. Whether it’s colorful anemones clinging to a rock or sand dollars burrowing in the mud, we’re sure to find some remarkable sea creatures. We’ll also pause for a discussion about issues facing marine life and how we can help.

When: Saturday, May 21st, 11:00am – 3:00pm*

Location: Meet at the South Lost Lake Parking Lot (a 15-minute drive from WWU, also accessible by bike via the Interurban Trail).

What to bring: Lunch and a full water bottle. Sturdy shoes recommended.

Difficulty level: Moderately challenging.

Suggested donation: $10. Register

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*All end times are approximate. We will do our best to finish up by the time listed on this page, but there is always the possibility of things taking longer than expected and we recommend not making plans that depend on being back by exactly then. Some trips may also finish early.

COVID note: Reconnect Earth strives to follow health authority recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19. To help keep all participants on our trips safe, please keep in mind the following:

  • By choosing to come on the trip you are attesting that you have not recently experienced signs or symptoms of COVID-19 not attributable to other causes. Signs and symptoms include dry cough, chills, congestion/runny nose, unusual fatigue, sore throat, muscle/body aches, nausea/vomiting, shortness of breath not caused by exercise, persistent new diarrhea, and new loss of taste or smell. Please stay home if you’ve had any of these in the last 48 hours.
  • We’ll be working to follow the latest recommendations and mandates around social distancing and mask wearing outside. Please bring a face mask in case it is necessary to use one.