There's a reason why the Senior Trailblazers set out on days like today that have a 70% chance of precipitation. Around here you can't wait for a favorable weather forecast: most days have at least some chance of rain at this time of year, and if you're lucky you can have a day like we had today. Last night it rained heavily, but this morning it had come to a stop and, although these leaves are wet, the green ferns and the trail absorbed most of it. And more never came.
The hike starts steeply uphill from the Chuckanut Highway where we parked, and doesn't let up much until you reach the top of Oyster Dome. Since the weather was fairly warm and we had no icy patches, we decided to cross this rickety bridge (one at a time) to visit the Bat Caves before heading up to the Dome for lunch. In previous years, we skipped this part of the trek because that bridge was just too scary.
Here we are looking up at Oyster Dome from the Bat Caves, where we will eventually stop for lunch, but the caves themselves didn't give me any real pictures. (Some were blurry.) But you can see the sheer rock why the Dome gives us such a good lookout over Samish Bay. Notice that sky: it's blue! And by this time we were all very warm from the uphill nature of this hard hike.
Ah, lunchtime! We've reached Oyster Dome and are getting ready to sit down and have our lunch in the sunshine as we gaze out over the Bay. But the clouds began to come in since it is, after all, November. We had a fairly quick break and headed down to Lily Lake, so that we wouldn't have to come back down over the same steep and treacherous uphill. (It adds more than two miles to the return, but it's much less steep.) Even though the picture below shows us packing up after eating our lunch, I couldn't resist including it. I really like the red pine needles in the foreground contrasting with the trees.
We had a new hiker who joined us for the first time today. Here you meet Holly, who moved to Bellingham one week ago and is looking to learn the local area. I can speak from experience that she has found the right place! She and her husband decided that they are done with the Idaho winters and since they have family in the area, moved to the "right" side of the Cascades. (That's just my opinion.)
She was busy taking a picture, but I caught her smiling at me and hope that we will be spending time getting to know her over the Bellingham winter. Today was such a beautiful day that I didn't even mind that we have left the High Country behind for the season. We are back to the Chuckanuts! Today we climbed almost 2,500 feet up and down and covered more than nine miles before we strolled back to the cars.
Fred has asked me to write a post detailing my favorite hikes of this past summer and fall. Since we had so many extra ones, courtesy of Fred and Al doing the research, I am happy to do it. The only real problem I'll have is to determine which ones I liked the most. I figure I did at least seven brand new hikes (to me at least) and with the delayed wildflowers, we had some of the most amazing flower displays late in the season I've ever witnessed. Hmmm.... processing....