Thursday, April 9, 2015

A hard hike on a gorgeous day

The dense forest in early morning light
Today twelve Senior Trailblazers met to go on the hike we call the "Olsen Creek Ogallala Loop." It starts at the same trailhead where we do several other hikes, but some of those are now inaccessible because of logging activity. I suspect this one might be in the same boat before too long. Anyway, I'll explain the name as I chronicle the day's events.
Olsen Creek May 2012 <-> April 2015
You can see that Olsen Creek is much lower today than it was in May 2012. I shudder to think what it will look like in May of this year. We are only 15% of normal snowpack in the mountains around here, and I've never seen the creeks so low and the spring season so early. We just had the warmest March ever in Washington State. The climate is changing in so many places: here, too.
Just before leaving the road for the Ogallala Loop
The mountains in the background are, I believe, in Canada. Although we started out quite cold, with the temperature in the low forties (around 5 C), with the full sunshine and open areas, we warmed up quickly. We were all fresh and raring to go at this point.
Ogallala sign: only 1,450 miles to go
We start out on a wide logging road and then leave it to head into the forest on a sketchy, not much used trail at this sign. Somebody decided that he (or she) needed to show people how far it is to Ogallala, Nebraska. They are probably from there and a little lonesome. Over the years that sign has begun to fade, but it still begins our forest trek. After wandering through some muddy spots and a lot of uphill through the dense forest, we came to a nice clearing.
Me, Bob, Al, Lisa
I asked for a picture of the group wearing Tilley hats, with our newest member Lisa, who bought Rich's unused Tilley (he already had one and received this one as a gift). Before long, it will become the dominant headwear, it seems. I love mine. After this picture was taken, we headed up a long series of switchbacks to the one of the summits on Stewart Mountain.
Heading up some more
Although it was very sunny, we were in the forest and trees through much of the first part of this hike. It was very green and beautiful, but for whatever reason it seemed much longer to me today than it has in the past. We were getting close to lunchtime and I was ready to stop. But we made it to the top, with somewhat of a view, at lunchtime. Here's my best shot of Mt. Baker.
Mt. Baker and clouds
After a leisurely lunch in the sunshine, we began the second part of the hike, a loop on logging roads and into forest onto a faint trail that had plenty of blown-down trees and obstacles to go over, under, around or through. Plus there was some new logging across our trails, so it added to the feeling of difficulty. As I grew more and more tired, I stumbled now and then and had to catch myself. Thank heavens for my trekking poles: they kept me from falling on the uneven trail more than I would have otherwise.
Our canopy of trees
At one point I just looked up at the trees above me, and I snapped this picture with my cell phone. Frankly, I am constantly amazed at the quality of the pictures I get with my iPhone 6. After what seemed to be a very long time, we finally emerged from the forest and onto the logging road in a loop that gave us a full ten miles or more, with just under 3,000 feet of elevation. Not an easy day, and we all agreed afterwards that we would rate today exertions as "hard."
Today's trillium
No, it wasn't an easy day, or even a moderate one, but now as I sit here writing this post, I am so glad for the wonderful company of my fellow Trailblazers, and the ability I still have to walk through less-then-optimal conditions for such a distance. Right now, I would rate my day as "awesome."


  1. Looks like a wonderful hike. I love the shot from your iphone of the trees above. Spectacular!

  2. love the trillium! love the view of mt. baker, too. and the trees! so glad you had great weather for this very difficult hike!

  3. Any day spent hiking in the woods is a great day! Looks like a lovely hike with good company.

  4. Your conclusion says it all. Hiking and challenging yourself is the greatest.

  5. An awesome trek, by an awesome person, in an awesome group...

  6. To me, that's too long and difficult. But, I give you loads of credit for doing it.

  7. DJan, I am always so fascinated by your hikes, and this one is no exception. Good job to you and your fellow hikers.

  8. Love the straight-up tree shot. Really puts it in perspective--and that camera on your phone does take great pictures. This did sound like a tough one. Good company, though. Those do look like great hats. :)

  9. Nice photos, I love those hats! Stumbling is not good, good thing for the poles. Did you have enough to eat before your hike? Maybe you need some nuts in a bag in your pocket..or a rest inbetween lunch and the car...just a thought:)

  10. Sounds like you take on some challenging hikes! I like that picture looking up into the trees.

  11. It must be such a feeling of accomplishment to have endured and mastered that hike!

  12. ...and not only was it an awesome day, but I kinda figure your senior trailblazers consider YOU awesome as well.

    Beautiful scenes. I do love the one with the Canadian Rockies in the background most of all I think.

  13. The trillium is our provincial flower and we must respect it in it's habitat.
    You are all a group of very fit elders,,,


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