Last year when we did this hike to Rainbow Ridge, I fell in the slippery mud on the way down and managed to make my shin into mincemeat. Today, however, as fourteen Senior Trailblazers began our hike to the ridge, it had been rain- and snow-free in this area for at least a week. Therefore, everything was quite a bit drier than last year. Witness our clear blue skies, and what Mt. Shuksan looks like from this side. I almost didn't recognize my old friend from over here.
One of the things that makes this hike so special is that after hiking through mud and roots and a pretty terrible trail, after a 70-mile drive from Bellingham, the incredible views you get from the ridge are spectacular. Baker Lake is in the picture above with fall colors in the foreground, and Mt. Baker in the background in the picture below. But you can also see that the clouds have begun to move in. It was a sunny hike to the ridge, however.
With Mt. Baker in the background, Frank who is now 80, is in the foreground showing that he's still got a year or two (or ten) still in him. The hike up to the ridge was better this year than last, when it had snowed and made the trail even more slippery and treacherous than today. No mishaps at all!
We went farther along the ridge this year, and here I got a great view of Rainbow Creek, with fall colors and an old tree that was only missing an eagle's nest to be absolutely perfect. The dropoff from the ridge was steep enough to make me a little nervous; Al was holding onto my camera strap as I leaned out as far as I could go to get this picture.
Here is our beautiful lunch spot, surrounded by amazing views, a nice breeze and a temperature close to 60 degrees. Several times on this hike I was contemplating the end of the season, and thinking it could not have been more perfect than this hike together. Next week we begin our hikes around Bellingham. Now, not to lessen the actual experience of getting to this amazing location, which was hiking through mud, roots, steep terrain, and the occasional slip, here's a picture of what the trail looked like in places, for us to gain the ridge:
If you can believe it, last year was even wetter and muddier than today. I just had to show you one of the more icky spots. That said, if I see another chance like we had today to hike up to Rainbow Ridge, I'll do it. With my trekking poles and my hiking buddies, I feel a whole lot more secure. What a great end to the 2010 season of High Country hikes!!