Happy Groundhog Day! Today marks the 135th Anniversary of this Holiday being celebrated in the United States.  The tradition of Groundhog Day in America started with Pennsylvania Germans. The custom of the groundhog predicting weather goes back to ancient Europe where a badger was actually used for the prediction. There are very few badgers in…

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Put all your cougar, bear, wolf, and Sasquatch fears aside. The biggest nuisances on the trail you’re sure to encounter this spring—especially if you venture south and east are ticks. While they’re not too much of a concern in Western Washington, their range is expanding and areas that were once tick free are now crawling…

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Quick! Name non-native invasive species in the Olympic Mountains; species that have altered the natural environment. Man, obviously! How about Scotch Broom, purple loosestrife, Robert’s geranium and mountain goats? Mountains goats? Yes, mountain goats, those furry lovable alpinists and members of the cattle family (Bovidae). They don’t belong here. The mountain goat, indigenous to the…

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Romano’s Hiking Tips No. 1 Ticks Ticks! They make my blood crawl just thinking about them crawling on me looking for blood! Just last week while hiking through a coastal forest in North Carolina, one managed to sneak into my car and another followed me back to my hotel. I once had one hitch a…

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I grew up hiking in New Hampshire, one of the moose-densest states in the union. Moose are everywhere in the Granite State. Highway signs warn of hitting them which is a real road hazard in the state. On return trips to my home state to hike and paddle, I almost always see these largest members…

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Spend enough time hiking across talus slopes in the Cascades or Northern Rockies and you are bound to hear the high pitched whistle of the pika. Stand still for a minute or two and you are bound to see one or more of these cute little fur-balls scurrying across and under the talus. You may…

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If you hike and trail run frequently this time of year,  you may feel the wrath (but hopefully not the talons) of an overly protective barred owl. Now most folks are worried about not-so-friendly encounters with bears, mountains lions, rattlesnakes and other assorted critters. Fair enough. But it’s those owls that worry me and you…

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Okay, before I get started here. Absolutely no jokes about attractive older women in pursuit of younger men or randy Washington State University students here. This post is about mountain lions following nature’s orders to make more mountain lions. And it’s about how a few autumns ago I nearly walked in on a mating couple.…

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  Here are a couple of fifty cents words you can impress (or bore) your hiking friends with over your next post-adventure beer. I recently had an encounter with a paedomorphic critter. They are actually quite common in the Cascades and Olympics of Washington. Just what is paedomorphois? It’s a condition (sometimes referred to as…

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How could I get through most of January 21st without realizing that it is National Squirrel Appreciation Day? Yep-another one of those appreciation days decreed by some declaration somewhere sometime in the past. Evidently this one was founded back in 2001  by Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator in Asheville, North Carolina in the Great Smoky…

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