It’s Groundhog’s Day. Sunshine and temperatures in the low 50s. Does that mean another six weeks of winter? I hope not.
We couldn’t let a nice winter day go to waste. Not when there was an opportunity to spot migratory waterfowl and do a few miles of hiking. It had all the makings for an interesting trip to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge near the Columbia River.
After parking at the trailhead, we crossed a footbridge over a set of railroad tracks. Walking north, we passed 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. An egret was sitting in a tall tree in the distance. The sun shining off its brilliant white feathers made it stick out like a sore thumb.
Returning on the loop trail, we spotted a great horned owl soaking up the sunshine in a Douglas fir tree. It was surprising really. They typically hide in the shadows during the day.
It was a pleasant outing. We also spotted a nutria, ducks, small song birds and tundra swans.
All in all the hike was 3.1 miles in length with 100 feet of elevation gain.