Thursday, September 12, 2013

Church Mountain summit

Steve, Doug, Amy and Carl, Jonelle, Mike
While we were waiting for Al to finish getting ready, I asked the Trailblazers for a picture with the trailhead sign. Eight of us went up to Church Mountain today, this time to gain the summit. Last time we went, the meadow was covered with snow. It was Fourth of July weekend, and since we were not scheduled to hike on Thursday (a holiday), we went on a Tuesday. Today, there was not only no snow in the meadow, all the flowers have come and gone since early July.
Emerging from forest into full sunlight
This was one of the driest hikes up to the top of Church Mountain I can remember. But there was one thing that we've been seeing on various hikes lately: lots of blueberries! They are so abundant that again I lagged behind the others as I sampled them. Whether you call them huckleberries or blueberries, they were incredibly sweet and delicious.
Doug and blueberries
As you can see, I was not alone in my quest to taste the perfect blueberry. Between the sunshine on this part of the hike and the blueberries, we took our time getting toward the top of the pass. After awhile, the heat and humidity began to slow some of us down, while others wended their way up the switchbacks a bit faster. (You all know what switchbacks are, right? If not, learn about them here.)
Slowly but surely we gained altitude
It was very dry and places where we usually see snow were free of any moisture at all. You can see in the above picture how dry everything is. But finally we got to the summit, which requires us to scramble on a very exposed stretch (not long, maybe fifty feet). We all gained the summit except for Mike, who has been there previously and didn't want to attempt it today. A nice fellow hiker, Eric from North Carolina, took this picture of the rest of us on the summit, where we could see 360-degree views in every direction.
Doug, Amy, Carl, Al, Jonelle, Steve, and me
Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan were prominent as we gazed around at the view. There once was a lookout on the spot where we are standing, but it's been gone for a long time. To think that supplies were hauled up to this spot regularly is rather amazing to contemplate. Today the only thing that remains of the lookout is the flat spot, and some lumber lying in the bushes just below the summit. Looking the other direction, we could see Kidney Lake (on the right).  Al said he cannot remember another time when there was no snow anywhere around the lake.
Kidney Lake on the right; I don't know the name of the other one
It was hot, although a gentle breeze blew through every once in awhile while we were on the summit, but there was not even a little bit of shade while we ate our lunch. I think most of us didn't want to linger too long up there. I did get this wonderful picture of Amy with Mt. Baker behind her.
Amy and Mt. Baker
By the time I took this picture, we were just a minute or two from heading back down, with the treacherous fifty feet uppermost in our minds. But we made it without incident and began our trudge back down to the meadow.
Stocking up with fresh water at the stream
Both Al and Steve brought water filters so we could safely drink the stream water without worrying about picking up any bugs. We managed to drink all of our water on the way up to the summit and our return trip. From here, we had another three miles or so before we were back at the cars. Although it is pretty late, I am now happily sitting in my chair, my wine glass beside me, and another wonderful day in the beautiful Pacific Northwest wilderness under my belt. It was about nine miles and almost 4,000 feet, meaning this week I've hiked 19 miles. I guess it's all right for me to be tired at this moment, almost 7:00pm on a Thursday, after a great day!


  1. a dry hike? do i have the right blog, here? :) looks like a good but warm day!

  2. good thing you had that filter then...and glad that stream wasnt fry as well for you...i would def lag for blueberries...smiles

  3. What a pleasure to look at all your photos and enlarge them – they fill my screen with beauty! You really live in an enchanting area. Of course it is good that you can hike so well and with such a friendly group. You certainly live in the best place for hiking in an outstanding landscape. It’s always eye candy to come and look at where you have been walking.

  4. Just another spectacular D-Janity hike in the mountains.

  5. Gracious! I didn't know that blueberries and huckleberries were the same thing. I learn something new all the time. I just love the idea of hiking and eating blueberries! Yummmm!

    And yes, I sure do know about switchbacks, by the way, we're going on a LITTLE hike on Sunday. I'll be sure to post about it for you.

  6. Oh yes, you are perfectly justified in being tired - and triumphant. A deserved wine o'clock.
    Thank you for sharing this incredible beauty. Again.

  7. Those views are magnificent. It is unusual to see your group hiking on a dry day. I'm just imagining eating fresh picked blueberries and drinking water (filtered of course) from a mountain stream. I'm got to get back to hiking, I miss it.

  8. I can never get enough of the wonderful scenery you share with us from your hikes. Another great trail.

  9. A dry hike - After all the wet ones and very cold ones, you deserved this. I sure would enjoy those blueberries. DJan I so enjoy looking at the photos when I enlarge them. I get to pick out the path very well and it doesn't look all that wide - the beauty in the forests and on the hillsides is quite enchanting, so you should feel spectacular at the end of your 19 mile week. Cheers, Eh.

  10. I'm surprised you aren't battling bears for those blue berries.
    What good thinking for the guys to have carried filters.

  11. What a beautiful day! Another wonderful hike! 19 miles this week I am impressed! :)

  12. When I read "a dry hike" I'm thinking of the GROUND and what it looks like and with all that beautiful green I thought "She needs to hike here - in drought stricken California - now THAT's a dry hike." But then it dawned on me ( know my brain capacity) "Ohhhhhh. She means the WEATHER!" Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

    Gosh your treks are the stuff of dreams, DJan. So lush where you live and filled with wonders. Good for you for going out and claiming them for your own so very often, and then for sharing them.

  13. With all the pictures you've shown us of snow in the mountains all summer long--that is weird not to have any snow at all and it really did look awfully dry. That must have made parts of the climb and descent more treacherous too! But the berries and the view and the company--all great! :)

  14. Tremendous view! It makes it all worth while. I hope water filters are faster than when I used them. At one time exposed stuff didn't bother me. the older I got the more I avoided exposure.


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