Today eight of us Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center in very dubious conditions: winds predicted to be blowing up to 50 mph and 100% chance of rain. When we started out, however, the winds weren't that high and there was actually some blue sky. Heading out to the Chuckanut Ridge Trail, we felt pretty good, ready for anything, especially rain. It had obviously rained hard sometime during the night, as the trail was squishy and standing puddles told the tale. But we remained almost dry.
We had gloomy skies and very little view for most of the hike, but we did get a chance to cast our gaze westward towards Bellingham Bay and Lummi Island at one point, as you can see in the above picture. You can see the trees are bending in the wind, and once we heard a tree crash in the forest, but we couldn't see where it was. We didn't want to be anywhere near it, for obvious reasons.
This hike is rated as being "hard" and I must say, it really was! We ended up hiking more than twelve miles and very little of the trail was level. We had more than 3,200 feet of elevation gain and loss, hiking up areas like the one pictured above. This is the most exposed part of the ridge, and right after climbing up to the top, you are hanging over at least a thousand feet of exposure, with a little tiny bit of trail under your feet. Fortunately there is a strategically placed tree to hold onto, as you can see Linda doing here.
The hike was supposed to be "only" eleven miles, but someone suggested we hike down to Fragrance Lake to possibly escape the wind, which added another couple of miles to our hike, and by the time we were limping back to the cars, every one of us was groaning and complaining of something hurting. My knees were not happy on the final downhill, but the trekking poles made it possible for me to finish the hike without injury. We saw this whimsical pile of rocks off to the side of the trail, and we added a few rocks to the pile as we stopped to catch our breath.
We escaped most of the rain with just a sprinkle or two, but the wind was almost a constant companion during the hike. The temperature was moderate, so we weren't cold, but I must say nothing looked quite as good to me as the car at the trailhead that allowed me to sit down. Now, an hour later, I am hoping to limp into the kitchen and get myself a nice glass of wine to self-medicate. All in all, a very good but very tiring day, spent in the company of some really nice people. I'm back home in the Pacific Northwest!