BAJA & THE SEA OF CORTEZ | SPRING 2016
"Orange and speckled and fluted nudibranchs slide gracefully over the rocks,
their skirts waving like the dresses of Spanish dancers."
Proving that 'exotic' doesn't necessarily mean 'far away' and that sometimes the greatest wonders are right in our own backyard.
I have spent my entire life tromping through the streams and forests of Cascadia, that rich and verdant belt of stone and vegetation that borders the inland waters of Puget Sound. These mountains are where I first wondered at the perfect unfurling of a Deer Fern frond and witnessed the burly majesty of a Western Toad. The earthy scent of moss and and forest loam hangs heavy in my memories, and the magic of dappled sunlight dancing across the cobble of a shallow mountain stream still mystifies me.
This expedition is an invitation for you to experience the land I know and the excitement I still feel exploring it. Not only that, but it's an opportunity to be introduced to the city of Seattle...a city that, although I wasn't raised there, is my first step home when I return from travels abroad. This city-built-upon-a-mudflat is rich in rugged history, from its maritime traditions to serving as a gateway to the unexplored frontier of Alaska during the Gold Rush. Its spirit of adventure can be seen in Seattle-based brands such as Filson and Stanley, companies that had to create products that could stand the elements lest an angry mob of mountain men beat down their doors. It's a town of weather and gin, fresh fish and roaring fireplaces, and when the sun shines and the cedars sway in that coastal breeze...well, there are few places I would rather be.
I invite you to experience this region with me as we venture into the depths of the Cascades, surrounded by (semi) dormant volcanoes and brisk mountain streams, and explore the pocket gardens and backwater whiskey bars of this city-by-the-Salish Sea.
7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS
Drive the desert.
Swim with the sharks.
The base for our expedition will be the eclectic ACE Hotel Seattle, which inhabits a building that originally opened in 1909 as one of several hotels built for maritime workers. It is located in Belltown, the city's downtown stretch of waterfront land, placing us within walking distance of a variety of iconic Seattle sites, eateries and social spots.
All rates are based on Double Occupancy (same-sex roommates will be assigned – if you are traveling with a partner/spouse, please let us know upon registration and a Queen or King bed can be reserved instead of the standard 2 Full size beds). If you would prefer to have your own room, "Standard" rooms are available at the hotel: they are on the cozy side with a Full size bed and do not have private bathrooms within the room: there are 5 lockable shower/bathrooms per floor that are shared with other guests staying in Standard rooms. Much of our time will be spent outside of the hotel, so the ACE offers the perfect balance between luxury, uniqueness and being able to keep our price point down.
The ACE Hotel features free hi-speed WiFi, complimentary breakfast bar and has a launderette in case you need to do some laundry. Nestled below the hotel is the Cyclops Cafe & Lounge: a great amenity for those who want to stay up, grab a drink and share some stories at the end of the day.
Note: there are no elevators in the building and participants are expected to carry their own luggage to their rooms – keep this in mind when packing.
HOW TO PACK
The weather can be highly variable and unpredictable in the Pacific Northwest: morning rains can give way to amazing sunny afternoons (and vice-versa). The month of May is when nicer weather begins to arrive in the Puget Sound area, but rains and cooler days are still possible, so be prepared for both. Take a look at the weather forecast for Seattle the week of the expedition and pack accordingly: if you bring several layers for your upper body, you can always take them off or put them back on if things get warmer, colder, windier, rainy, etc. Regardless of the forecast, we recommend you bring a light rain jacket or similar, regardless of the expected forecast. Unless conditions are expected to be extreme or dangerous, we will still plan on venturing out each day, even if there is a drizzle or light rain. A small day pack or bag would be a good idea to bring along with you as we may be out for extended periods of time away from the base camp or vehicle.
For the city we recommend casual clothes and comfortable footwear as there will most likely be a lot of walking. Since there will be opportunities to attend some nicer venues in the evenings, a nicer outfit is recommended as well. For the natural history aspects, comfortable/sturdy footwear and layered recreational clothing is recommended.
WHAT TO EXPECT
When thinking of what it means to "chase Linnaeus," the obvious connotations are striking out into unexplored lands and noting the flora and fauna. But another side of this pursuit – one we consider just as important – are those evenings spent in the proverbial parlor after such pursuits are over, enjoying good drink and good stories in the company of good people. This expedition will give space to each of these aspects, allowing you the chance to experience both the natural and cultural landscapes of Cascadia.
Although we will be venturing deep into the heart of the Cascade Mountains, we will be on well maintained trails or exploring areas that are fairly leisurely in nature (i.e. nothing too steep or strenuous). Light hiking boots or even sturdy tennis shoes/trainers will suit you well enough.
5 days / 4 nights
Walk the shores of the Salish Sea.
Conquer the Cascades.