Friday, February 28, 2014

IslandWood - BainBridge Island

Learning is a journey, one that begins with the spark of inspiration. 

IslandWood is that catalyst... an invitation to walk down a new path and come to a new awareness of our place in the world.

Covered in lush fir, cedar and more, IslandWood’s 255-acre home campus is an outdoor learning center. IslandWood invites children and adults alike to discover a new way of seeing nature, themselves, and one another. In doing so, each person comes to understand their ability to change the world for the better.

History - In 1999, IslandWood Founder Debbi Brainerd had a bold vision. She suggested to her husband, Paul, that they build an environmental learning center for children without access to outdoor educational programs. Debbi believed that in order for children to become emotionally connected to and stewards of their world, they needed to have access to and understand it.

The official groundbreaking began in the summer of 2000. To prepare, IslandWood looked to its most valuable resources: its community. University of Washington landscape architecture students worked with over 250 children in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades to understand their thoughts on design. A suspension bridge. A floating classroom. And, of course, a tree house. From there, Mithun architects and The Berger Partnership designed the educational structures, trail systems, and outdoor field structures. 

Suspension bridge 

The Canopy Tower lends a new perspective on the ecosystem far below.

The hand-cranked Floating Classroom offers a lesson in the power of teamwork.

 The Tree House ...unleash your imagination. See the natural world from a new vantage point.

Our greatest strength is our ability to learn.
When the invitation to learn is wide open ...beneath our feet, at our fingertips, and all around us—we realize the world is our classroom. 
At IslandWood, this understanding begins with educational experiences in nature, and extends to every corner in which we find ourselves.

For more information and their upcoming events, visit

Photographs by Anupama Puneeth
Information Courtesy:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Guided Snow shoe hikes

A ranger led snow-shoe hikes - an interesting yet a safe way to explore some of Washington's unexplored trails which are covered under snow in winter !

These events are conducted at various locations such as Snoqualmie Pass, Steven's Pass, Mount Baker etc. More information on variety of these events can be found here.

Last weekend we explored the 'Kids in snow' event conducted by the Forest services at the Snoqualmie West summit. However it was snowing pretty heavy that I did not dare take out my camera. These are pictures from same event that we had attended last year.

Unlike the name, this program is not just for the kids ! It is an easy 90 minute family walk... which moves at a relatively slow pace to match the kids. 

The ranger shared a lot of information about forest winter, adaptation and survival of animals and plants in this harsh climate, the tree wells and it's danger. You may even have chance to check their collection of animal prints and fur. If you are lucky, may be spot some birds and critters too !

A fun surprise for the kids on this hike .. "Smokey" the Bear !

Snow covered restrooms

If you love hiking and not discouraged by the winter, do check for these guided snow hikes in your region to explore some hidden trails this winter.
For those in Pacific northwest, this link would give some useful information.

All photographs by: Anupama Puneeth