Discovering the Mary E. Theler Wetlands

After watching the Seattle Seahawks win over the Atlanta Falcons last weekend a couple of weeks ago (and improve to a franchise best 9-1 record), it was time to get out of the house and do a little exploring.  I have this great deck of cards by Craig Romano of the 50 best winter hikes in Western Washington and it was time to break them out and find a place to go.  The set consists of 50 cards and on each card is a hike in one of 4 areas of Western Washington -Northwestern Washington, Southwestern Washington, Olympic Peninsula and Coast, and Puget Sound and Central Cascades

For me, it was relatively easy to decide where to go; I didn’t want to drive very far, so I took all the cards for the greater Puget Sound and Central Cascades and just blindly grabbed one….no debating this trail over that trail.  I wash headed to which ever card I picked, and that happend to be the Theler Wetlands in Belfair, WA about an hours drive away.

The path as you enter the gate of the Theler Wetlands.

The path as you enter the gate of the Theler Wetlands.

Mary E. Theler (Larson) was born in 1901 and raised in Belfair, Washington.  Her and her husband Sam Theler had a general store in Belfair where they sold food, feed and hay, and hardware.  She was also the Post Mistress and started the first Girl Scout troup in the area.  Sam never remarried after Mary’s tragic death in a car accident in 1950 and when he passed away in 1968, he left the town of Belfair the Mary E. Theler Community Center and several acres that are now called the Theler Wetlands.

Starting from the car parking lot and passing through a gorgeous ornamental gate, you will reach the Wetlands Project Center in 0.25 mile (this is the only hill on the entire trail – which makes it suitable for all ages and abilities).  The center wasn’t open on my visit, but I hope it will be the next time so that I can explore the exhibits inside.  From the center, there are several trail options, all of which are wheelchair and stroller accessible.  We chose to do the longest trail in the Wetlands, the Union River Estuary Trail as it follows an old dike up along the banks of the Union River.

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As one makes their way along the dike, you will walk between two different marshes – a tidal marsh on the left and a freshwater marsh on the right.  Both are important ecosystems that provide valuable habitat and shelter for birds and small animals.

A saltwater marsh lies ont eh left side of the dike trail and a freshwater marsh lies on the right side

A saltwater marsh lies ont eh left side of the dike trail and a freshwater marsh lies on the right side

Relatively quickly the trail will turn and  you will be able to walk under a large canopy of shrubbery.  I can’t wait until spring when the bushes are all leafed out.

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 As we made our way along the banks of the Union River, we spotted a ripple moving downstream and waited patiently to see what would surface – a cute little harbor seal, whom we proceeded to watch as he/she swam downstream and into Hood Canal.  Before long, the wind and cold started to get the better of us (no hats or gloves – what were we thinking?  Obviously, we weren’t) so we turned around and made our way back towards the trail head.  It wasn’t long until we were back in the car headed for home; of course, we did have to stop and take a few more pictures along the way…November-10,-2013-07-43 November-10,-2013-07-49 November-10,-2013-07-54

Until the next adventure…

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