The second week of November – – – concrete skies, a small chance of rain, an opportunity to spot migratory waterfowl and a few miles of hiking. It had all the makings of a fun trip to the Carty Unit in the northern portion of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
After parking at the trailhead, the first order of business was to hike over an arched foot bridge above a set of railroad tracks. Heading west I crossed a wet, marshy area north of Carty Lake. The next couple of hours were spent exploring the marshes, lakes and fields to the north. There were Tundra swans, egrets, great blue herons and many Canada geese either on or near the many ponds and lakes. Bald eagles, various hawks and falcons were floating in the thermals. And, the trees and blackberry thickets appeared to be alive with small birds. Truly a bird lovers delight.
After returning to the area near the trailhead, I walked north to a cedar plankhouse built in 2005 as a representative of the 14 plankhouses observed by Lewis & Clark in a nearby Indian village. This was the beginning of the Oaks to Wetlands Trail, a well-marked path passing several lakes. Eventually the Trail emerged on a butte overlooking much of the area. Swans and geese flying above kept me entertained for quite a while. All in all the hike was 6.4 miles in length with 250 feet of elevation gain.