Thursday, May 28, 2015

Church Mountain meadows, Take 1

Linda, Jonelle, Peggy, Diane
Today we were again without our regular leader Al, as he is in the midst of wearing a Holter monitor for a couple of days and was worried that with all the sweating he was bound to do, he might lose one of the five leads. Instead, his daughter Lisa joined us, and ten of us drove the distance to the trailhead for a hike up to the Church Mountain meadows. Now, we usually do this one several times a season, because it's beautiful and it's normally not free of snow until the middle of the summer. Take a look at June of last year here for comparison.
Our first view of the meadow
We trudged up almost 3,000 feet in three miles to this spot, quite a challenging little climb, which we manage every year. Today it was downright HOT, and I think I must have lost a quart of sweat. We were fortunate to have a little breeze, but it was actually quite a shock to see the meadow so snow free.
Stream crossing
Just before we reach the meadow, we have to cross what is usually a roaring stream at this time of year. I always like to go a little ahead to get a picture or two. Today, still May, it's just a little stream. Scary considering how dry it will all be in another month or two.
Mt. Baker from the meadow

Mt. Baker was there in all her glory. Last year we didn't get a view from this vantage point until much later in the year. By this time, our two strongest hikers, Doug and Roger, had decided to go on ahead and see how far they might get toward the summit, another very steep mile or so. We made sure we had made arrangements for them to travel back in Roger's car together and we would take the other rider with us. So we sat down to have a nice lunch in the sunshine.
Peggy among the glacier lilies
You can see all the sprouts coming up out of the ground behind Peggy, and interspersed around her are little bits of yellow, glacier lilies that only bloom for a short while after the snow clears. I was able to take a picture of them up close, which turned out pretty well.
Glacier lilies
We saw lots of wildflowers at this early time in the High Country, and most of them will be gone by the time we visit again this summer. In fact, I'm a little worried that everything might be parched from lack of moisture. We decided to walk down to the stream before heading back, to see what it looks like. This time last year we couldn't even find it under the snow.
Glacier lilies in front, marsh marigolds in the middle
The area where the marsh marigolds are abundant is pretty wet, mostly from the recent snowmelt and will be gone by the time we come here again. I was glad to see them today, though. We could also hear the bubbling of the stream by the time we got here.
Blueberry bushes in the foreground
Heading to the stream, we saw lots and lots of blueberry bushes that look loaded with berries for later this season. I only hope they will have enough moisture to thrive so we can gorge ourselves on them later on. Nevertheless, it felt a little like we were walking through Paradise today, with a light breeze and plenty of sunshine.
Lisa and the stream
Here's Lisa standing by the stream, which was surrounded with marsh marigolds and the clear, cold water was so inviting. You can see that there's still a little bit of snow behind her, what we usually see in August, not May. And then it was time for us to head back down from this glorious spot. Going down the same way we came up seems like it might be easy, but for me my knees were complaining before long.
Columbines and maidenhair ferns
Almost at the end, we came across these lovely maidenhair ferns and columbines. I love this spot for several reasons, not the least of which is because I know we are almost back to the trailhead. I stopped to take this photo and rest my aching bones for a moment. And then we were back at the cars. I left a couple of brownies (which probably melted in the heat) at Roger's car, so that when they returned they might smile and think of us. We headed directly to Graham's in Glacier for the required ice cream cones before returning to Bellingham.

All in all, it was more than a wonderful day: in fact, it was almost perfect. The only thing that would have made it that way would have been to have our illustrious leader with us, and to have it be ten degrees cooler. It was 80 in the shade at Graham's. While I sit here finishing my glass of wine, after a shower and nice clean clothes, I am smiling at the fabulous day I had with some of my best friends.


  1. sounds completely pleasant complete with buckets of sweat. :) i do think al made a good call on the leads not sticking. loved all the views but worried about your drought conditions.

  2. The dry conditions worry me. I don't think we have a handle on how terrible a critical water shortage would be. I'm sure it would be much better if you found lots of snow on this hike.

  3. What a beautiful hike! Wow, it's downright scary how low the snow level is so early in the season.

  4. You were in paradise. Three thousand feet in three miles! Whoa. That is a climb.

  5. Yes, I noticed that 3000 feet in three miles too. And in the heat. IMPRESSIVE.

  6. What a difference from last year. So happy that you had another wonderful day out with your friends. Hopefully Al will be back with you next week.

  7. Beautiful, I can't wait till we get up in the high country!

  8. Oh gosh! Everything looks so lovely. I just love the idea of gorging yourself on blueberries during a hike. I don't think I like hiking so high though. I'm such a wimp... but I might do it for the wild blueberries. :- )

  9. Ice cream cones sound ideal on such a hot day. I usually turn on my a/c in the house when it hits 81 F.

    Hope Al makes next week's hike. Best wishes to him.

  10. Too bad Al couldn't go. I'm sure the readings while hiking would have been helpful. Hopefully he is back soon and unharnessed.
    Don't often hear about you soaked in sweat. It is usually God's water that gets you wet.
    Love that little stream.

  11. Shocking difference from last year. Beautiful, though. Love that last shot with the ferns. :)

  12. Beautiful pics as always, DJan.

  13. Good to see Al back with the group. I think it was very brave of him to do such an energetic walk after such a scare.

  14. Stunning trek/scenery!! You senior hikers are phenomenal...and always so many wonderful, beautiful places when you take us along.

    Oh, those heart monitors....I've worn those many-a-times. Boogers, they are.


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