Today the Senior Trailblazers made our last hike for the summer of 2012. Sixteen of us headed up to the Chain Lakes wilderness area, after having been admonished by the Forest Service to keep our numbers lower than the maximum number of 12 in wilderness areas. So we broke into two groups to do the loop hike, going in opposite directions. Nine went clockwise, and seven went counter-clockwise over the almost-eight-mile loop.
At the last minute, I joined Al's group, the smaller one. As you can see in the picture above, we had incredible views, but some haze as well, probably from the forest fires burning on the eastern side of the Cascades. That's Shuksan fading into the mist, looking wonderful nevertheless.
We met the other group as they were coming up from Iceberg Lake after having lunch. They had seen the calving of an iceberg as it sent out floes into the lake. We stopped to enjoy our own lunch somewhere around the same place they had stopped earlier. Two youngsters nearby (not in our group, obviously) decide to strip to their underwear and take a dip in Iceberg Lake. They didn't stay long, but it was fun to watch them. It's a beautiful place to stop and enjoy yourself for awhile.
We contemplated the beauty and noticed that a few ice floes were still floating in the middle of the lake. After lunch, we started our upward hike back to join the others. We moved from this idyllic spot to begin our final push up to Artist Point. Although we had to drop into this area to visit the lakes, our hike out was much less difficult, but we still had to deal with the sun and heat after we left Iceberg. I noticed that we had a fair amount of wildflowers, even on our last summer hike, as you can see here.
You can see the wildflowers on either side of the trail, and the last of the Chain Lakes below. At this point we knew we would be heading upwards and onto the final trail that would lead us up to Artist Point. The view of both of our favorite mountains, Baker and Shuksan, were simply breathtaking.
This would be our last full view of Mt. Baker (on the left) before we exited from the wilderness area on our way back to join the others. The light was flat, as you can see here, and we speculated that it was most likely caused by the forest fires. It didn't really matter to us, as we had enjoyed a wonderful day in the wilderness with good friends. When we rejoined the others, Amy (our social secretary) had made cupcakes to celebrate the birthdays of two of our members, Diane and Steve.
Trailblazers enjoying Amy's celebratory cupcakes
Although we were tired from our exertions, we were ready to call it a day after less than eight miles and less than 2,000 feet up and down. For hikers of our caliber, it was a "moderate" day. What I can't figure out is why I feel like I did more than twice that amount! Tired and happy as I write this, I am pleased to give a final THANK YOU to the Trailblazers for another wonderful summer!