Thursday, July 11, 2013

Keeping cool and a new hiker

Six of the eight Trailblazers on the Keep Cool Trail
Eight of us Trailblazers met on a cool and overcast morning, a distinct change from the past few days, which have been on the warm side for those of us in the Pacific Northwest. There was even a 10% chance of rain when we headed into the High Country. Today there was a brisk cool breeze with clouds and sun, as we drove up to the Keep Cool trailhead. This is an old abandoned alternate trail to the top of Yellow Aster Butte. We had no intention of going the entire way, knowing that we would meet snow after a short time.
Mt. Baker hiding in the clouds
This was the only time I saw Mt. Baker all day, although we usually have a wonderful view of it as we climb higher and higher. This trail starts at about 3000 feet elevation and climbs almost a thousand feet per mile. At about 4600 feet, we began to run into snow, and then there was only patches of greenery, and lots of the white stuff.
The views were pretty spectacular
As we gained altitude, the views came and went behind the clouds, and we would be feeling rather cool in the breeze when the clouds hid the sun, then hot when it came out in full force. We would spend time in full snow, like in the picture above, and then it would become green again as we gained altitude. Finally we gained the ridge.
On our way to a lunch spot
Eventually we stopped for lunch and had some incredible views as we spread out our inflatable seats and had a nice repast. The breeze kept most of the mosquitos away, although they were pretty thick earlier, when in the brush. And then we headed down, some of us pulled out our trusty Yaktrax, pictured here. Since they simply pull on over your boots, you can walk in snow, giving you additional traction, and they don't interfere when you run into ground.
Jonelle's Yaktrax
What a difference they made on the snow! Although I had mine in my pack from Sunday's hike, I didn't put them on until I began to slip and slide more than I was comfortable with. And now I'll carry them much more often and use them on any snow that has any kind of slope. Yep, I'm a convert.
Peggy and Linda
Although only a few of us had them, giving additional traction on the snow, I think we all had a good time. As you can see from this picture, we needed to put on some more clothes when we stopped for lunch, and the clouds didn't ever allow us another view of Mt. Baker. But all in all, it was a very good day. We had a new hiker, who joined us for the first time today, Doug.
He is obviously a seasoned hiker, and he kept encouraging Al to go a bit farther than we might have liked. Even though I'm very glad we got to the viewpoint we reached, I was very hungry and wanting to stop for lunch long before we did. Al never needs much encouragement to continue upwards, but we did stop around 12:30, so everybody was quite pleased with our day's accomplishments. Although we didn't hike as far as usual (somewhere around six miles round trip), we had to climb more than 2400 feet in that distance, much of it on snow, so it felt much longer.
Mt. Shuksan
And all day long, we kept being treated with peekaboo looks at Mt. Shuksan, one of the most beautiful mountains I have ever been pleased to get to know from all sides. The summit is not visible in this picture, but it is still just simply beautiful and delights me nevertheless. So the day was a complete success, and we stayed cool on the Keep Cool Trail.


  1. Oh, you are all so cool!
    That was a steep hike up and down. Those Trax look like just the thing.

  2. the change in terrain or climate or coverage - i.e. green to snow and back again - is just amazing to me. and that last view is gorgeous!

  3. ah that is a lovely mountain...and yaktrax...i need to look into those...not that we get much snow but would be cool to have in case you know...smiles....

  4. That last shot is beautiful! Yes wear your Yaks..around here people wear them when it is icy! Another great hike! Hope your newbie isn't too have always been a safe hiking group:)

  5. That's an apt name for that particular hike. Lol. Your photos are much brighter than usual. Lots of light.

  6. The Yaktrax sounds great. I'll need to remember to mention that to my mountain climbing son. It looks so beautiful up there! But mosquitoes? Yuuuck!

  7. My sister sent me a photo of a view from her home...a green meadow and a herd of sheep with the snowcapped San Juan Mountains in the background...I thought right away of your hiking posts. And this one, as always is no disappointment. I love the views, your commentary! I guess at 4000+ feet in elevation, this time of year, you'd expect snow and intermittent greenery, right.

    Those Yaktrax sound to be just the ticket for hiking in the area like this!!

  8. A non-hiker such as myself gets a taste of the fun that you have on the trails. What a beautiful and detailed-filled read this is! I enjoyed every moment of the hike with you and the Trailblazers today. Question: is there a leader who decides where the group hikes...when to turn back...etc.?
    The photographs are beautiful, as always. Thank you for taking me along with you. I enjoyed it so much.

  9. Walking through the snow is not only slippery but also takes about twice as much effort.. When I see your photos I always think that very few people get the experience of being up in the snow in the summer. It's a fantastic experience.

  10. What gorgeous country! I like those trax shoes!

  11. The first thing I noticed was how lush the greenery is where you started your hike. Great views up above...and I may invest in some Yaktrax to wear around here when it's icy. Thanks for the product endorsement!

  12. Djan, I'm amazed at the amount of different trails that are available for hiking. You must have to do repeats eventually. Is there a particular favorite?

  13. It's almost as if you have several different hiking experiences with all the gains in elevations. Living in a place where climbing a 200 foot bluff above a valley is quite the experience I'm envious. (But not out of breath.) :)

  14. I almost got some Yaktrak this past winter when I took a spill. Thanks for the review.
    That really is a beautiful mountain.
    At first I was feeling sorry for the new guy knowing how you all push, but seems he is fit and can easily keep up.

  15. That snow looks so inviting!! It's so hot and heavy humid over here right now. Thanks for the snow pics!! And I love those Yaktraks!! :)

  16. The Keep Cool Trail, I love that name. The views are gorgeous even with a few clouds.

    Yaktrax looks like they really do the job. I could have used a set of those when I lived in AK just for getting around town. LOL!

  17. Your photos of the mountain views are beautiful. I can see why that would be a great trail to hike.

  18. Wow, such spectacular places to hike!

  19. Amazing that you see so many different views all in one day. As you said, some of them are truly spectacular.

  20. It always amazes me that you can encounter so much snow in mid summer. Beautiful scenery and impressive hike, as always.


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