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.