Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Long ago and far away

In the Indian Peaks wilderness
I'm not sure exactly when this picture of me was taken, but I recognize the setting: I volunteered for the US Forest Service in the 1980s to take people into the wilderness and teach them how to take care of it. This is the Indian Peaks wilderness area near Boulder, Colorado, where I lived.

It's sure not a recent picture, given the fact that my hair isn't white. But one thing that makes me happy is to be reminded that I have been involved in hiking and exercising much longer than I thought. And the years have passed, with me still (or I should say again) visiting wilderness areas on a regular basis.

There was a hiatus from this activity during the time I became a skydiver. The activity took over everything, including every last minute I spent outside of work. But it "only" lasted twenty-five years; now I am no longer skydiving but remember those years with fondness. I'm left with irreplaceable memories and a few lasting scars, but nothing that keeps me from hiking!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Fisherman friend Gene

No, that's not him in the picture
Most of you who have followed my blog for awhile recognize Gene, my fisherman friend who brings me wonderful Alaskan salmon, which he just gives away to friends. I saw this picture in our local coffee shop (Avellino's, where we meet most mornings) and asked Gene if I could take a picture of him standing in front of it. The portrait is gone now, so I'm glad I got this shot.
Lily in Gene's ancient truck
Last weekend Gene came to the coffee shop in his old truck. He asked Lily if she wanted to sit in it; she did. This is not the sort of truck (made in 1952) that most people could even drive. You need to double-clutch it to change gears, and the steering wheel is HUGE. He said vehicles like these don't even allow you to drink a cup of coffee while driving. You need all your wits about you, and all hands on deck! Makes for a fun picture, though.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Rock/Ridge trail and more

Part of our large group today
What a day! I'm a little late getting this post up, because I had to call AppleCare to find out why my pictures didn't download from my iPhone to my Mac. Half of them came through, but not the others. After doing everything I could think of, I ended up with an hour sharing my Mac screen with a technician trying to find out what was wrong. I think now that my life can return to some semblance of normal.
The start of our hike
All eighteen of us Senior Trailblazers drove up Cleator Road to this signpost. It was overcast but very nice weather for hiking, cool and damp, but not cold at all. Our plan was to hike up this road to Chuckanut Ridge, which has lots of ups and downs but none of us minded it much. I couldn't have done it without  trekking poles, but there were some who didn't use them. I was impressed.
So green and lush
I didn't get any pictures to show you the steep Chuckanut trail, but this one shows how incredibly lush and green everything is right now. Once we got up to Gates Overlook (where there was no view at all; everything was socked in), we walked down the beautiful Rock trail.
Maidenhair ferns on Rock trail
Never before have I noticed these beautiful maidenhair ferns along this particular trail. It was partly because the fast hikers were ahead of me, and the slower ones behind, and I was all alone for awhile on this perfectly beautiful trail.
Magnificent rock face
At this point on the trail, I was completely alone, and the damp overcast took away all sounds, making it feel like I was in a different world, a magical place indeed. Once we reached the end of this trail, we headed to Fragrance Lake for a lunch spot. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of lunch, which I usually do. Once finished, however, we backtracked to the trail that would take us to Cleator Road.
Walking back down Cleator to our cars
This was the only part of the hike that I didn't really enjoy. All the rest was in beautiful forest, but it was worth it to have done this hike. We covered more than eight miles, almost nine by some devices, and 2,100 feet up and down. Not shabby at all. My wine is half finished and I'm already feeling the effects of it, and now that it's over I can say I am thrilled that I had yet another wonderful day with the Trailblazers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

It's still early in the garden

The corn field
We are gradually making progress in our community garden. Here's the latest addition, the soon-to-be corn field. That's Pat in the background, where he's just planted corn in his private plot. This is the first year that most of the plots have been tilled like this, thanks to Pat. I had already planted most of mine before he rented a rototiller for all these different places. Last year I planted a few zucchini starts in this area, but they didn't do well at all. I'm hoping that we will all be enjoying some corn this year, since we put lots of good compost into the soil.
Salad mix
My spicy salad green are growing like, well, weeds! I was out there yesterday and munched a few leaves and was very pleased indeed. I also took the time to root out some of the buttercup weeds that have always threatened to take over the garden. It won't be long now before I'll be able to show you a salad bowl filled with these greens.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Front porch flower garden

Some of my front porch flowers
I've gotten a pretty good start on my front porch flowers, although I've got quite a bit of work to do. My pretty tulips in the foreground are just about done, and I enjoyed them tremendously for a couple of weeks, but now the pot will go to other flowers.

I also purchased some new outdoor carpets for the front porch, which are supposed to be easily cleaned (very cheap at Costco), so I threw out the old ones that were stained from years of damp conditions during the winter months. These should do better, at least I hope so. They are made of recycled plastic bottles, which makes me very happy.

These days I'm making some efforts to reduce my plastic usage, and I bought some really cool Bee's Wrap alternative packaging instead of sandwich bags. Recently I learned that we in the US use over 2 million plastic sandwich bags each day, mostly for a single use. Here's some information on this product:
SUSTAINABLE, NATURAL ALTERNATIVE to plastic wrap. Wrap up cheese, fruit, vegetables, and bread. Cover a bowl, or pack a snack for your next adventure. Use as a place mat, or bundle up hiking and backpacking tools, utensils, and toiletries for zero waste camping. Also makes a great earth friendly kitchen gift!
I've used the smaller of these wraps to carry my nut snacks on a couple of hikes, and it's easy to use: the warmth of my hands makes it stick to itself, and when I put it back into my pocket, it stays nice and snug. I clean it off and hang it to dry after use. If you have some tricks to reduce your plastic usage, I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

South Lookout Mountain from Cain Lake

At the beginning of our hike today
It never fails to amaze me how many people will show up on a rainy day, like this one. It rained most of the night and was supposed to clear up by the afternoon, but seventeen Senior Trailblazers decided to do this one anyway. Maybe some of them felt like I did: not really looking forward to it, but wanting some good exercise, and this one, rated hard, would at least fill the bill.
Dense forest with sketchy trail (in spots)
Although the rain was light, it was present for most of the first part of the day, as we struggled up steeper and steeper spots making our way through the forest until we intersected with the road that goes to the top of the mountain.
Having a quick snack when we reached the road
Melanie took this picture of the group, which is good of everyone except one person, who looks like she ate a sour lemon. That would be me, in case you were wondering. I laughed when I saw it and decided to use it anyway.
The view from our lunch spot
We walked along the road for another half mile or so, and parked ourselves at our usual place for lunch. When we first arrived, there was no view at all, but the clouds lifted as we enjoyed lunch with only a light mist instead of raindrops.
Tom on his first hike with us
We have a new member, Tom, who just moved to Bellingham from Seattle a few months back and is looking for companions to enjoy the outdoors with. I figure we'll be seeing plenty of him, since he had no trouble with the trail and is a very friendly sort.
Settling in for lunch
You can see by the way everyone is dressed that it wasn't exactly warm, once we stopped hiking and felt the light breeze cool us off a bit. It wasn't really cold, maybe 10°C (50°F), but stopping for any amount of time without sunshine and a light breeze made it feel a bit nippy.
Plenty of raindrops still hanging around
I saw these pretty raindrops on a nearby tree as we lunched, which shows that we did have quite a bit of rain to deal with. By this time, however, we were ready to head back the way we had come, and we moved quickly going downhill. In no time at all, I was warm again and was able to take off my raincoat.
Hikers heading back down
By this time, we had brief showers, this time of the sunshine variety. Every now and then we'd get bathed by the sun, but there were more clouds than sun as we headed back to the cars. We covered around eight miles and 2,400 feet up and down on today's excursion into the wilderness. The company and lush forest made up for the less-than-perfect weather. We were all smiles by the time we reached the cars.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

First plants are in the ground

My garden spot
I've managed to get my first plants into the ground, with bark to keep the weeds down on the left-hand side of my plot. In the foreground is my flower bed and strawberry patch. Then the three kinds of beans I planted, some cucumbers, fennel, and tomato plants. Here's a closeup of the flowers as of now:
The heather is from last year's garden
The only flower that made it from last year is the pink heather. There's also snapdragons, zinnias, and petunias. I'll keep you posted on their progress.
Joe's Best spicy salad mix
They don't look like much right now, but in just a few weeks, there should be enough for me to make a salad! At least they're not all droopy like they were when I first planted them. They only needed a day to decide to look pretty darn good! As you can see, I'm not much for nice neat rows. My mother always told me that plants do well with benign neglect, as long as you water them. We'll see!