Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ridley Creek to Mazama Park

Crossing the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River
Seventeen Senior Trailblazers met on a rather overcast day to hike the Ridley Creek trailhead. Since we were limited to a group of twelve, as we were heading into the wilderness, several of our group decided to hike all the way up to Park Butte, while the rest of us would stop at Mazama Park. We did expect more sun today than we received, but it didn't really matter, since it kept us from getting too hot.
One of the nicer parts of the trail
I had never hiked this particular trail before, and I knew only that it would have quite a lot of ups and downs, and that we would probably have some nice views once we got to Mazama Park. I had seen the park before, from above, when we hiked up to Park Butte from the other side. This trail has had some recent work done on it, but it's still really challenging in places. I'd do it again, but I sure wouldn't want to be on it in bad weather.
Lupine in bloom
Today there were plenty of flowers and greenery to enjoy, although it's easy to see that in another month, with the weather we've been having, it will dry out completely and not be nearly as lush. By the time we got to the Mazama Park meadow, I was plenty tired and ready to stop.
Junction of Mazama Park and Ridley Creek trails
Yes, we did finally make it, after three hours of trudging up one side and down the other of what seemed endless elevation gains and losses (actually a total of about 2,400 feet up and down in a mere four miles or so, one way). We reached our lunch spot around 12:30pm.
Manama Camp area
This was our destination, and we stopped here to enjoy a lovely lunch and rest. Notice the sign on the left to the toilet? It was an actual outhouse, a nice one-seater in the outdoors, surrounded by trees but otherwise quite exposed. In the above picture you can also see the mountain behind us, to the right, that our other hikers climbed up to gain access to the Park Butte ranger cabin. I know they had great views, but Mt. Baker was hiding from us most of the day.
Carol, clouds and mountains
This was about the most sun we got all day long, and on the way back to the cars we even had a few raindrops. We passed through several areas of wonderful old growth trees and snags, and Bob went over to this fabulous old tree to give us a bit of perspective.
Bob hugging the tree and giving it love
This was one of the largest that we saw, and the picture hardly does justice to its magnificence. We stopped every now and then to admire the old growth that somehow escaped the loggers. Sometimes the old trees and their surroundings would also show us some of their jewelry, such as the lichen in this picture.
Scalloped lichen and moss
All in all, it was a really lovely day, but I have to say I was just about as worn out at the end as I am when we've gone much longer distances. It's hard to say whether I'm just not quite in shape for the season, or whether all the ups and downs did me in. I'm always glad I went, but sometimes I wonder how many more years of these hikes I'll be able keep up.
Me crossing the stream on my way home, picture by Carol
Carol caught this picture of me on the return journey across the river. She wanted me to look up, but I was much too concentrated on getting across without losing my footing. I could NOT have done it without the rope to hold onto. No jaunty showing off for this old lady, not any more.

Now that I am home with my well-earned wine, and once I finish this and can take a shower, I'll be feeling MUCH better and glad to have been out there again today with my friends, in a beautiful wilderness area that just couldn't get much more beautiful.


  1. I love reading your hike recaps. And I agree, ups and downs on a trail are sometimes more tiring than just a straight climb. I'd love to travel up north and explore some of the trails in your area! :)

  2. I suspect it was the ups and downs which did you in. Love, love, love that majestic old tree and the lichen.
    I would have needed two hands to cross that bridge. I am a wuss.

  3. What a beautiful trail. I think the ups and downs add interest to a walk even though they can be exhausting.

  4. I love the huge trees you get out there, and that's a pretty neat bridge there too.

  5. I can feel the ache in my calves...going up and down while hiking in the CO mountains...yep, I remember those days.

    Now, I have a question...why is there a limit on the hikers' total where you have to split your groups up? Curious.

    As always....some beautiful territory. LOVE the shot from Carol of you crossing the 'bridge'.

  6. You have great stamina for a woman your age. But, I wonder how long you can keep this up. I was just telling my husband that we both should just take it easy. We deserved it. Moreover, he actually saw 2 men die of a heart attack at the gym. Sometimes, vigorous exercise can be fatal.

  7. i love that flattened log used for crossing the stream, but i'd have been looking straight at it, too! you are more active than i've ever been in my life, dear djan!

  8. Stunning views and those trees are magnificent!

  9. I'm not sure I would have done well on those hikes 20 years ago when I could have. Beautiful, though. :)

  10. I remember the challenges of the log bridges. many of ours did not have rails or rope for balance. I would never try them now. We have a few in town where a tree has fallen across the creek. I used to cross on them. Not anymore. You have a great day.

  11. And the guys are waiting patiently for you to cross! I would have sat down and scooted across since I am afraid of heights even just a few feet in the air and I get all wobbly. Lovely hike, those old growth trees are so wonderful! I hope you have a wonderful weekend:)

  12. I'll bet you scored 10,000 steps with this hike! I do love seeing the lupine.


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