Today twelve Senior Trailblazers headed up to Yellow Aster Butte, one of our favorite hikes of the season. This hike starts at a pretty high elevation and gains around 2,500 feet in about four miles of climbing. We get spectacular views of Mt. Baker (such as the one above) and the surrounding mountains as we ascend. Today it was another blue sky day with haze caused by the forest fires still burning in the east. As the day wore on, our view of the mountains became more and more obscured, but the picture above was taken fairly early.
It is late enough in the season that the fireweed plant has created cotton instead of pretty purple flowers. You can even see it rising in the breeze. As we headed up toward the summit of Yellow Aster Butte, several of us discussed the possibility of making a loop rather than returning down the same trail. Of course, this would mean that someone would need to get the cars from one trailhead to the other. This next picture shows the loop:
All twelve of us navigated the green section of the map. Once we got to the end of the green, some decided to stay and have lunch, and others hiked to the Yellow Aster summit (I went along with them). The higher we climbed, the more breeze we encountered, and because of the months of dryness that we've had, there was quite a lot of fine dust in our faces, as well as in our lunch.
I followed these hikers as we made our way to the summit. You can see the fall colors and the dryness around us. But even so, it was a beautiful hike, a very special kind of day when we could all follow the trail towards which we were drawn. I caught the picture below near the summit; the person in the left is someone who believed she was all alone in the vast expanse around her.
I love the beauty of these mountains; every time I come up here I am reminded again of the grandeur of this environment. We headed back down to consider our options. We gathered in this place, a light breeze in our faces and Mt. Baker and the surrounding mountains beginning to be obscured in the haze from the forest fires.
This is the last time all day that we were all together. Five of our hikers decided to follow the trail marked on the map in red, called the "Keep Cool Trail," to the road. We decided that we would drive two cars to meet where they would come out on the trail, and the other driver piled five people in his car to head back down to Bellingham earlier than the rest of us. I drove one car, and Ross drove the other, and we met our cohorts a few miles down the road. Here's three of them as they emerged from the trail.
As it turned out, we only had to wait twenty minutes or so for them to appear from this trail. Everyone was extremely happy with the way the day had turned out. Nobody had to wait long for us to get back together, and by early evening I had arrived home and am now writing this post so that everyone who reads it can be envious of the wonderful day we had! We hiked somewhere around eight to eight-and-a-half miles and covered 2,500 feet of elevation, at least, in full sun at the end of September! Now I can take a shower and watch the dust go down the drain.