Terminus: Deception Glacier by Heather Wallis Murphy

a decorative line divider with curled ends and a snowflake at the center.
. A glacier lies at the center of the mountain, and images of plants and animals in a similar style surround the mountain. Handwritten text labels the piece


16”x12” Watercolor Pen & Ink on Arches 140-pound paper, Hot Press

"The future of glaciers melting in the Olympic National Park is an abstract concept to me. To help tell the magnitude of change I chose geometric-shapes for this painting. The whitish trapezoids and squares delineate glacier ice of the current day. It is edged by 2015’s glacial ice of baby blue. The lighter purple is glacial ice of 2010. The light pink shows glacial ice of 1960. The pink color flows downstream to the glacier end in 1909 (scientist’s estimate 1982).

"As the Deception Glacier melts, many species of plants and animals will suffer. The glaciated alpine zone has Ice Worms (Mesenchytraeus solifugus), they NEED ice’s insulation to survive hot summers and cold winters. The Gray-crowned Rosy-finch feeds on Ice Worms which emerge at sundown.

"Plants endemic to the Olympic Mountain alpine include Cotton’s Milkvetch and Piper’s Olympic Bellflower. They have nowhere further up to go. The Olympic Marmot is also native only to these mountains. The marmot will not find cooling homes for summer’s heat. Whitebark Pine is in distress across its range from the warming of high elevations.

"As the Deception Glacier waters flow downstream into the Gray Wolf and Dungeness Rivers and out to the Dungeness Bay and the sea, other species and people maybe further affected by loss of cool, clear, clean water. The Gray Wolf has been extirpated in the Olympics since 1935. The Northern Spotted Owl is critically imperiled. The Olympia Oyster and the Eelgrass of the marine ecosystems are diminishing in abundance.

"To highlight the significance of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe and their original lands, I have included in the painting some known words from the Klallam Language Dictionary. Thank you to the Elwha Klallam Museum for your help: ʔéʔɬx̣ʷaʔ nəxʷsƛ̕áy̕əm̕ – The Strong People.

"Solifugus is the 'species' name of the Ice Worm, it is Latin for 'Fleeing from the Sun', fitting for the future of Deception Glacier and its associated species." -Heather A. Wallis Murphy

A watercolor mountain with a glacier tucked below its peak. A stand of evergreen trees is clustered below, and in the foreground, a row of different wildflowers.


16”x12” Watercolor on Arches 140-pound paper, Hot Press

"On 2 June 2023 at Deer Park, I began painting in the field while looking into the Gray Wolf drainage, its surrounding mountains, and my assigned glacier. It was the first day this high-country road was open for the season. With months of lower elevation studies, my husband Pat and I gratefully journeyed into the alpine.

"The Deception Glacier is a north-facing glacier, with a fair chance to hold ice and snow into the future. But will it last to 2070, when geophysical scientists predict 'glaciers on the Olympic Peninsula will have largely disappeared (19 April 2022 American Geophysical Union)'?

"I was keen to paint a moment in time for these glaciers and their habitats. It was thrilling to paint with the songs of Hermit Thrush, Townsend’s Warbler, Violet-green Swallow and Common Raven. I used my spotting scope to zoom in on various snowfields and drew lines and swirls of snow and hummocks. Half a dozen Blacktail Deer grazed on new Idaho Fescue and Valerian shoots. A pair of Snowshoe Hare were frolicking between the Subalpine Fir krumholtz which dot the landscape. A botanical treat was seeing the Smooth Douglasia in blooms of fuchsia and deep reds. Breathing in deep fresh air, which you could almost taste, made me feel these mountains and its beings most strongly.

"A bit of snow held to the north side of the basin, as we looked down into the Dungeness River drainage and on to Dungeness Bay at the Straits of Juan de Fuca. I was reminded that earlier in the week we had seen a Steelhead jump in the lower Dungeness River. Those waters are fed by these same snow-covered peaks.

"These mountains are important to me personally. I am the fifth generation with deep roots here. As a baby, my family moved us to the Deer Park area. During college, I hiked 50-mile backpack trips through these mountains. My career in wildlife biology with the Wenatchee National Forest helped me gain knowledge of mountain ecology of the west.

"What can I do to reduce my carbon footprint, to help keep these glaciers, these wildflowers, these animals, these food webs (and us!) healthy throughout time immemorial?" -Heather A. Wallis Murphy

a decorative line divider with curled ends and a snowflake at the center.
A national park map with faded film photographs placed on it here and there, all showing mountain scenes.
Heather's hikes from the 1970s in Olympic National Park

Heather Wallis Murphy

Meet the artist: Heather Wallis Murphy

Heather is a Pacific Northwest notecard artist, wildlife biologist, watercolorist, and nature writer. She holds a Forest Technology degree from Wenatchee Valley College and a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Habitat Management from the University of Washington, where she also studied drawing. Her watercolors, journal sketches and migratory bird paintings have been selected for conservation programs in the Western Hemisphere. The Sleeping Lady 2016 Calendar solely featured Heather’s art.

Heather’s agency career spanned from 1974 to 2005, when she retired from the U.S. Forest Service as a wildlife biologist on the Wenatchee River Ranger District. She currently leads Citizen Science programs as a volunteer for the U.S.F.S. During 2023 Heather is an Artist-In-Residence for Terminus: the Memorial to Glaciers of the Olympic National Park.

Walleye Cards, LLC and Wildtales Journals, Heather’s naturalist notecard, journal business, was founded in 1997. A woman-owned, small independent business she donates over 10% of her sales to conservation and arts organizations.

Heather presented "Wildlife and Art of National Forests" to the Smithsonian Institution's 2005 Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. She was the Artist-In -Residence for the North Cascades National Park in 2007. Heather was an Artist in Resident for the Icicle Fund CHA CHA (2020 & 2021). Throughout her travels, she has offered nature journaling workshops such as in the Scottish Highlands and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Special neotropical migratory birds projects, which Heather helped co-found, are: ¡Team Naturaleza! and Dancing With Birds. Both programs connect people with natural science education, and with migratory birds in the Western Hemisphere.

Heather notes that much of her success is from her remarkable family and friends, above all her husband, Patrick. They live in Leavenworth, Washington’s Icicle Valley in view of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Please see www.wildtales.com for mor of Heather's work.

Two matched photos of a mountain glacier, labeled 1970 and 2010. The glacial ice has receded to reveal more of the rocky mountainside in 2010.

More about Deception Glacier

A small niche glacier tucked behind the second tallest peak in the Olympics, this glacier continues to slowly shrink. Though lingering winter snow covers much of the glacier in these images, the reference arrow mostly illustrates the thinning of this small glacier.

a decorative line divider with curled ends and a snowflake at the center.
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2 minutes, 3 seconds

Heather shares views of the mountains on her trip up the Grey Wolf basin, tracing Deception Glacier's meltwaters down into the forests, prairies, and farmlands.


Exerpts: Heather's Naturalist Journal

Text and inset images of three paintings. Full description in dropdown below this element.
To see the alt text for this journal page, please see the dropdown option below. The linked sources in the page are Klallam Language and yəhúməct Traditional Foods & Culture - Home (weebly.com)
Text and image of a notebook with notes and paintings. Full alt text in dropdown element below.
Another page of Heather's naturalist journal. See the dropdown option below for full alt text description of this page.
Text and an image of a wirebound journal with writing and painting on it. Full alt text in the dropdown element below.
A page of Heather's exerpted naturalist journal. For full alt text description, see the dropdown option below.
Text and an image of a wirebound journal with watercolor paintings of birds. Full alt text in dropdown element below.
A page of Heather's exerpted naturalist journal. For full alt text description, see the dropdown option below.
Text and image of a wirebound notebook with notes and watercolor paintings. Full alt text in dropdown element below.
A page of Heather's exerpted naturalist journal. For full alt text description, see the dropdown option below.

Last updated: August 21, 2023

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