Thursday, November 18, 2010

Well-dressed Trailblazers

Click any picture to enlarge
Our beautiful Mt. Baker hikes are over for the season, so today we headed up Galbraith Mountain here in Bellingham, on a cloudy and possibly wet day. Here you see Bob and Cindy showing what the well-dressed Trailblazer wears when the weather is iffy. We had to be ready for rain, wind, snow, mud, and even (possibly) sunshine. Bob's Mountain Hard Wear jacket is one of two he carried, with a raincoat to go over it. Cindy is wearing rain pants over her regular pants and has a Gore-Tex raincoat wrapped around her waist for fast access. Her backpack carries water and food, extra gloves, mittens, a rain hat, and a rain cover for her pack.
Only nine of us showed up today. Here you see some of the other outfits people wear for our outings. Marjan and Frank on the left are our most experienced hikers, and she has a nifty waterproof skirt over long underwear and gaiters, and a sweater with raincoat over her shoulders (so she wouldn't get too warm when we start hiking), and a small fanny pack with food and water. Amy in the middle shows what she started out hiking wearing, as she has a tendency to get cold once the rain begins. Gary is also pretty traditional, but then there's Mike, in shorts and wearing long sleeves, a warm hat and mittens. He carries his umbrella and uses it when the rain starts. He's our least traditionally outfitted hiker.
The hike starts out with a series of switchbacks to the ridge and then gives us this view of Stewart Mountain. As you can see, it's covered with new snow. The clouds were at this point still holding off from rain, but you can see from the sky that this might not be true for long. The mountain is criss-crossed with trails for hiking and mountain biking, with hundreds of miles of trails to choose from. Al, our leader, kept consulting his map to tell where we were, and we still occasionally found ourselves to be on another trail. Looking the other direction from the top of the ridge, we could see Orcas Island and Bellingham Bay in the distance.
This was taken using my telephoto lens between the trees, and it's very obvious that our marginal weather might not stay dry for much longer. The rain started out very light, and we were ready, but by the time we stopped for lunch, it had begun to snow. The snowflakes were mixed with rain, and we stayed dry by huddling under some trees while we ate our lunch. We didn't stick around for a long time, though.
Once we finished lunch and hit the trails again, we were protected from much of the precipitation by the trees overhead, but since it's been so incredibly wet and muddy lately, we had to watch our step. This is when those trekking poles come in handy. (I managed to slip and fall and bang my knee anyway.) I also use them to brake my descent in order to save my knees. We had covered a little more than seven miles and over 1,000 feet in elevation when we arrived back at the cars. I asked Frank to let me show my readers what happens to you when you don't wear gaiters as you tramp through the mud.
Even wearing them, I noticed that some mud managed to make it up to my knees. It's now time to spend a while cleaning my clothing so it will be ready for our next hike in two weeks. Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, so we won't be heading out, which is one reason why I was unwilling to stay home today, no matter what the weather. However, it was a wonderful day, in the elements with good friends -- and good hiking gear.


  1. How's the knee? I have to ask, does Mike ever wear pants?

    I am impressed that ya'll went out in the crummy weather. When it's like that here I just want to curl up with a blanket and a book.

    The photos are great; I had no idea there was so much variety in rain gear. It looks like quite the day!

  2. Rain or not, you are some of the most dedicated hikers I have ever known.
    Looks like you know how to dress for any kind of weather or situation, and ooh what views you are rewarded with, at the end of your hard work.
    Thank you for sharing them with us, I feel as if my cabin fever has been broken !

  3. You are a very energetic purposely hike with a good chance of rain and snow. It is what keeps you young though!

  4. I'm amazed you can keep going with those knees. I'm more amazed at all the things you do to them.

    What's with this character in the shorts and long sleeve shirt. Does he live in a barn when he's not on the trail? His thermometer is off.

    As always an interesting report.

  5. ha. it was really coming down in that pic...glad you were prepared...but a rainy day on the trail is better than a dry one sitting in the chair all day..

  6. Quite a science to be a hiker fashioneesta, I see! Beautiful scenery, despite the weather!

  7. Thanks for describing the various hiking garments. Interesting. Doesn't that guy with the shorts ever get so cold he wishes he wore long pants? lol. What a crazy guy!

  8. I spent lots of money outfitting my kids at REI back when they were mountaineering. I still shop there for outdoor gear for all on us, including the grandkids. It really makes a difference when you hace the right gear. But it would have taken more than gear to make me want to hike today. Brrr.

  9. Tell Mike I love his pale legs! The right gear for each individual is guys are doing great and I enjoyed the view s once again..even if the weather was lousy:)

  10. Brave people! What fun you have! The pics are lovely, DJan!

  11. You make hiking sound like a lot of fun. I like walking in the rain, but not so sure about hiking on uneven ground. It must be difficult in rain and mud--snow is probably nicer.

  12. I hiked to the car and back yesterday.Three different times.

  13. Well, if ya'll aren't the cutest bunch of hikers all decked out in your best cold weather duds. It's great that ya'll make the trek no matter the weather.

    You pictures are just magnificent but glory to goodness that rain pic is amazin'!!! (turnin' all colors of jealously green here)

    Ya'll have a wonderfully blessed weekend now, ya hear!!! :o)

  14. Love your fashion style! The gray skies are really pretty...I'm probably the only person I know that likes gray days....except for the muddy part.

  15. I like where you said you have to be ready for anything, even sunshine :)

    the photo of the rain on the trees is so cool

    wonderful group of hikers

  16. lol! I loved hearing about the hiking fashions! But I can't imagine taking that many jackets!

    I just bought myself a cheapo rain poncho to sling over my current winter jacket (which is my ski jacket) 'cause I'm not sure how waterproof it is nor wether it will withstand a good Belgian drenching during the 3 hikes I have left here...

    I also got myself some gaiters 'cause I got tired of my pants looking even worse than the ones you showed here! :p

    Loved the misty shot towards the islands, gorgeous! :o)

  17. The views are still beautiful even with the mist and clouds.

    That is a very well dressed group of hikers, very fashionable indeed. I had to laugh when I read your reaction (and the comments above) to Mike's shorts. Shorts have always been my first choice for backpacking even in the wettest country. Short, socks, boots and a long sleeve flannel shirt over a tank. I always carried a pair of rain pants in my pack and an extra shirt, socks and jacket (usually around my waist). GA, NC and AK fashion.


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