Saturday, October 20, 2018

Last week's hike adventure

The PTP hikers on High Divide (Chris photo)
Since I wasn't able to hike with the group last week, I asked someone from the Excelsior/Welcome point-to-point (PTP) hikers (Chris) and someone from the Welcome Pass only hikers (Cathy) to send me some pictures of their adventure and a little information about how it went. It turns out that nine Trailblazers did the entire PTP, which turned out to be almost 13 miles since the Welcome Pass road is impassable and they had to hike back to the highway. Three Trailblazers did the Welcome only segment.
Some of the PTPers (Chris photo)
After hearing how challenging it was, even for these strong hikers, I was glad I wasn't able to make a spectacle of myself by being (1) slow, (2) grumpy, or (3) whining. Chris described it like this:
You are soooo glad you didn’t do this hike!  It was a killer. There were 9 of us did the whole loop ... 3 people went up Welcome Pass.  The high meadows were so beautiful!! The ridge walk was continual views (although still gaining some altitude for much of it). We met Al, Cathy, and Ken near Welcome. And then the steep steep steep hike down. And we had to walk an extra mile out to the highway because the road had a terrible hole in it. A marvelous but challenging hike, good company, and tired feet!
And as I said in my previous post, I did do this entire thing once before, five years ago. It was hard then, but I think maybe the Universe arranged for me to miss it when I banged up my knee. (Or maybe it was just me being clumsy.)
Richard and red blueberry bushes (Chris photo)
 The fall colors are still pretty stupendous up there in the High Country, aren't they? And then finally the Welcome Pass group saw the others arriving, looking happy and still doing great. That's Tom and Jim in front here.
Here they come! (Cathy photo)
They probably stopped for a quick breather, or maybe not, before starting down the steep Welcome Pass trail. I don't think I'll ever attempt those 67 switchbacks again, since I know if I had done it last week, I probably wouldn't be walking without pain quite yet. Cathy, who did the Welcome Pass bit, said about her experience, "In a word--grueling.  And I 'only' did Welcome Pass and maybe a mile into High Divide with Al and Ken."
Getting ready to descend to the pass (Cathy photo)
Since Cathy took this picture and Chris is in front of her, I suspect that this is the order they went on the descent. You can see that even with all the downhill work in front of them, the shadows were getting long. But what a beautiful day they had! I am so happy to be a part of such a wonderful group, and I'm also glad it was them and not me!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A different kind of Thursday post

Twinkly lights on our trees
I captured these pretty blue lights on the trees in our downtown on my way to the coffee shop. Yes, I went there this morning since I still cannot hike long distances on my injured knee. Well, I can, but I sure couldn't do the one Al scheduled, with an elevation gain and loss of 4,400 feet over 11.6 miles. We did this in the past, and it wore me out, and that was in 2013, five years ago. Check out the description here. Around nineteen Trailblazers are attempting this today. From that link:
Excelsior Pass to Welcome Pass via High Divide Trail is ... a point-to-point trail located near Deming, Washington that features a river and is rated as difficult.
I would go along with that: it's difficult partly because Welcome Pass is hard to hike in either direction because it's so steep. In 67 switchbacks, it's impossible not to shred my knees going up OR down, even when they are in good shape. Nope, not for me today. Instead, I walked gently around Lake Padden and got some wonderful pictures of the fall colors, like here.
Lake Padden's fall show
I went back in my blog archive to see if I could find any pictures of the High Divide trail, and I found this one, which I still love because of the mist.
High Divide August 2009
What the group is doing is a car shuttle, with the majority doing the entire hike and going up Excelsior Pass, walking the five miles along the High Divide and then descending via Welcome Pass. A smaller group decided just to hike up Welcome and meet the others and when everyone is together, mosey back down to do the car shuttle.
High Divide October 2014
They are likely to see pictures like this one, because the weather is perfect for such an attempt, partly cloudy and cool, with lots of fall colors. Me, I was happy to see Lake Padden this morning and will visit the acupuncturist in an hour.
Calm and peaceful Lake Padden this morning
Once I get some pictures from this hike and a description of how it all went, I think on Saturday I'll fill you in on the adventure. I'm curious about it all, too. I love it when old people push themselves to the limit, as long as it all turns out okay. I suspect it will fine, because everyone knows what they are getting into. Right? What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Adventures with needles

Needles and electric currents
I just got back from the Prime Sports Institute where I had my first acupuncture treatment for my various aches and pains. This one concentrated on my sore heel as well as my sore knee. I asked Warren, the acupuncturist (whom I like very much) to take some pictures of me while I was needled up. Once he stuck in about a dozen or so needles, he then ran an electric current through some of them, as you can see in this picture.

This was not my first adventure with needles. When I lived in Boulder, Colorado, I went to a Chinese acupuncturist for several sessions to deal with menopausal symptoms. He also managed to fix up some other issues I had. He didn't speak any English and his wife (who was only intermittently available) translated for him. It was an experience that convinced me that this treatment is invaluable for all kinds of physical issues.

Today's visit wasn't fun exactly, but I rather enjoyed it nevertheless. I could actually carry on a conversation with my acupuncturist, and I have made appointments for the next six weeks and am looking very much forward to them. Since I won't be hiking on Thursday this week, I will see him then, and once a week thereafter until my appointments run out. I got a deal for signing up ahead of time. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

A busy Saturday

Local color
Sorry I didn't capture who took this picture, I saw it on Facebook and noticed that it is taken locally, but that's all I remember. It's just gorgeous, though, so I snagged it for my post.

It's a little late, because it's been a very busy day, although I didn't walk with the ladies because of my knee. It's probably just as well, because every time I get up after having been sitting for awhile, I show every single day of my age. No hopping around like a teenager. It's better than it was yesterday, but that's not saying much. It still hurts mightily when I walk.

And then I came home after the coffee shop and watched a little Netflix and then had wine with Lily on my front porch. Now it's almost time for bed, and I'm just now getting around to writing my Saturday post. Oh, well. I'm getting more and more negligent with my self-imposed routine, aren't I? I'm the only one who cares, but I cannot seem to let it go. Yet.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Back to the mountains

Mountains, sky, clouds
It was only two weeks ago that I went with the Senior Trailblazers to visit Ptarmigan Ridge. Because the weather decided to stay nice, and our scheduled hike was a long drive away, we broke into two groups: one went to Ptarmigan Ridge to allow those who haven't yet enjoyed it this season, and the other went to Ridley Creek, another long drive and not one of my favorites. So I decided to do it once again, and what a beautiful day we had! Eight Trailblazers drove to Artist Point and set out in temperatures just a few degrees above freezing.
Ice crystals
This closeup of ice crystals show what we dealt with in the morning, lots of ice and slippery footing to begin our adventure. The sun reached the majority of the trail, and the only places that were difficult were where the sun hadn't yet reached.
Cathy, me, Jim, Victoria, Chris, Al, Judy, Melanie
I just this minute received this wonderful picture from Cathy, which was taken by a passerby, of the eight of us. We had hiked three miles to the overlook, before we started across the trail towards Mt. Baker.
Judy, Baker, Melanie
At the beginning of the hike, we had this view of Mt. Baker, which seems far in the distance. But after hiking several miles towards it, we get much closer indeed. By the way, Judy is a new hiker with us, and I'll bet it won't be the last time she joins us.
The same three at our lunch spot
When we stopped for lunch, the clouds had moved in and gave the entire day a much different feeling than our cloudless visit of two weeks ago. Plus all the incredible colors we saw then have become muted. Winter is moving in quickly.
Me in front of Baker
Melanie took this picture of me at our lunch spot, and I like it very much. It was not long after she took it that we began our trip back, covering the same trail we took to get here. All was well, until a short time later, I took a fall on the trail, hitting my left knee on a rock. It hurt so badly for a few moments that if Victoria hadn't caught me, I would have tumbled all the way down into the valley below.

Once I regained my wits, I realized that I would need to tape my knee with an Ace bandage in order to get back down the trail. Victoria taped it (she is an occupational therapist) and I struggled down the trail, with the help of Jim, who carried my pack the entire distance back, so I would have as little stress on my knee as possible. I carefully hobbled down the trail with my taped knee.
Mt. Shuksan today
And then, as if by magic, the sun came out to light up Mt. Shuksan, giving me a chance to capture what I think is the best picture of this glorious mountain I've ever taken. The mixture of clouds and light make it look (to my eyes anyway) like something taken by a professional!

Now I am home and have discovered that nothing is broken in my knee, and a few days of R&R should make it good as it gets. We covered more than eight miles today, and went almost 2,000 feet up and down. Nobody is happier to be home than I am, and I must say that the wine I've almost finished has helped me appreciate what a wonderful day we had together. Thank you to all my friends who helped me today.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Another Tuesday post

John catching up on some missed sleep
I walked into the coffee shop at my usual time and couldn't find my friend John anywhere. I had walked right past him, as he slumbered away in this chair at the front of the coffee shop. He had a half-full cup of coffee, which was obviously not doing the trick for him.

After I got my own coffee, I went over and touched him gently on the shoulder. His eyes opened and it was obvious from his confused look that he had been FAST asleep. "John, didn't you get enough sleep last night?"

"I went out for my usual dance class, and I didn't get to sleep until 9:00. Late for me."

But since he had apparently gotten about a half-hour of quality sleep in the chair, he was then awake, and we moved over to our usual table and then had a nice chat, until it was time for me to leave. I saw our friend Gene arrive just as I left, meaning he'd continue to have somebody to talk to instead of sleep.

He offered me five bucks if I wouldn't put this picture on my blog. It's worth more than that to me, but he wasn't willing to bargain, so here you go!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Another glorious day

Summit of Church Mountain at 6,100 feet elevation
My friend Cathy sent me a bunch of pictures she took while we were on last Thursday's hike to Church Mountain. I never get her stuff until a day after I've posted on my blog, and this one is so spectacular of some of our group on the top I just had to share it. I wasn't among them, since I did this earlier in the year and didn't want to wear myself out like I did that day. I stopped a short distance from the top and didn't do the last push or the final climb.

Anyway, it seems like we are in the midst of Indian Summer, although it's cool and foggy in the mornings, we've had lovely weather for days now. This morning we ladies walked to Zuanich Park from town, not a long walk, around 4 miles round trip, but sure a nice one in the sunshine. I didn't take any pictures or I'd share them with you.

I just got my flu shot, which I decided to get right after our walk in case I had any adverse reactions to it. I take Sundays off from exercise, and by Monday I figure I'll be back to normal. I hope so, anyway. Linda, one of our regular walkers, is back from a three-week-long trip and had some updates about Peggy's husband Lyle. He is back in the county at a rehab facility, rather than being at the trauma center in Seattle. That's really good news.

It's been a month since he was run over by a garbage truck and has endured numerous surgeries and now seems to be on the mend. I so look forward to the day when I can see Peggy again, knowing that when she returns to her regular routine, it will mean it's as good as it is likely to get for their situation. I think of them both daily, sending good thoughts their way.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Another visit to Church

Al, Rick and Haven  amongst the fall colors
Fourteen Senior Trailblazers set off this morning for Church Mountain, since we thought the Mt. Baker Highway was closed to our original destination. We did find out that the road had reopened, but we decided instead to go ahead and visit Church Mountain once again, the third time this year. It's definitely fall up there.
Mt. Shuksan and mountain ash in foreground
The first few miles of this hike are in the trees, but then we open up into the meadow, where we had views of the surrounding mountains. The meadow was as far as we got on our first visit this season, because of rain, and the second time we went all the way to the top without any view because of clouds and fog. Today, however, it was sunny and glorious, views all around.
Mt. Baker with fall colors in abundance
Once we started to climb towards the summit of the hike, we separated into those who would go to the top and those who would go part-way. But eventually, twelve went all the way, while Al and I stopped short of the entire hike.
More mountains, more color
Al and I sat about a half mile from the summit, happy to enjoy the solitude and the beauty to be seen everywhere. You see all those red bushes? Well, they are only really red when backlit. The rest of the time they are a sort of purple, and they are blueberry bushes, abundantly covered with blueberries. How many can you see in this picture?
Blueberry bushes 
We did enjoy many handfuls of these beauties, and most were sweet and delicious, with only a few past their best days but still good. Al and I had a nice lunch while the others enjoyed theirs on the summit, which I know well and was glad to skip today. Then before too long, the others began their descent to our location, and we started back down the long trail to our cars.
Melanie on her way back down
The entire day gave us as much exercise as we wanted. Those who went all the way to the top got close to 9 miles and almost 4,000 feet (1,200+ meters), and Al and I figured we got 3,300 feet and almost eight miles. Enough for me today, for sure. On the way back down, I captured more pictures of my favorite mountains.
Just a beautiful day
It was simply a wonderful day, just what I needed after feeling irritable from having watched too much of the news. And tomorrow I get a much-needed massage and will enjoy a wonderful day, filled with smiles and happy thoughts.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Becoming proficient at yoga

Yoga props and challenge sheet
I think one of the best parts about having a blog is being able to go back in time and see when I started different activities. It will be three years in January since I started attending yoga classes at Yoga Northwest. It's not the first time I have gotten involved with yoga, but getting older and stiff and unable to bend and twist in ways I did without thinking in my youth, well, it was time to return.

I started out with what they call "gentle" yoga, meaning that there would be no inverted postures and the class would be geared to those of us older folks. Iyengar Yoga makes plenty of use of props, like blocks and bolsters and blankets. So when I decided I needed to start a home practice, I went to Amazon and got everything online.

Plenty of time went by with the stuff just gathering dust, but I did move from taking one class a week to two, and then this year the studio organizers decided to make a "100 Day Challenge," to celebrate B.K.S. Iyengar's 100th birthday in December (he died at 95, but his birthday will  be a good excuse for parties all around the world). I decided to try to do it, having moved up to harder poses.

It started on September 5th, and I've managed so far to do at least fifteen minutes of yoga every day, and now I make plenty use of those props. Once the weather is too cold for the front porch, I'll move into the living room, but I am amazed that I've made it this far without missing a day! Wish me luck.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday morning

Changing colors everywhere
This morning, only ten women showed up for one of our favorite walks around Lake Padden. It figures, since our leader Cindy is in Italy right now, and her energy is always missed when she's not here. Our substitute leader did a great job, though, taking us through two loops around the lake. We've done it so often that there's no chance of getting lost, but we still need a leader. The two loops give us 5.2 miles of moderate terrain, with a nice trail and lots of shade.

We didn't need the shade this morning, however, as the overcast skies and a light breeze kept us on the cool side. Perfect for a walk. Afterwards, Lily and I went to Whole Foods where I got a smoothie (Green Goodness with extra kale) while she had breakfast. Then we came home, where I met SG just as he was leaving. It's funny, often one of us is often coming as the other is going. Our neighbors must wonder if we TRY to avoid each other. But no, it's just that we have different internal clocks. I'm an early riser and he's late to bed. We start our days quite differently.

It's hard for me to believe, but October begins on Monday! What happened to September? It flew right by, and now we are truly in autumn. Trees are turning everywhere, and our wonderful Indian Summer is here, which I will enjoy as much as possible before I must adjust to the rain and dark days. Oh, well, I'm feeling grateful and happy to be out and about.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ptarmigan Ridge Fall 2018

Colorful blueberry bushes
It was simply a glorious day on Ptarmigan Ridge today. Although we were supposed to head south to the Baker Lake area, some of us decided we wanted to head out to Ptarmigan Ridge, scheduled for last week but didn't go because of weather. Since today's forecast was for it to be sunny and gorgeous, we went. And that it was!
Our Baker's Dozen, taken by a passerby
Thirteen of us piled into cars and made the drive to Artist Point to begin this trip. Several other Trailblazers went to the other destination, which I hope to do next week, if the weather holds like this. Simply amazing warmth and sunshine for the end of September. That's Shuksan behind us.
Heading toward Mt. Baker
It looks dry, and it was, but there was still some snow left over from last year. I wondered if we would encounter any, because I don't think I've ever hiked Ptarmigan Ridge without some. Sure enough, there was still some snow around.
Heading toward the mountain, crossing snow
We had three snow crossings, all of them small and easy to navigate, and we headed to our usual spot for lunch, which is around the corner from this picture, where we would have a full view of Mt. Baker.
Coming into view
There she is, in all her glory, a beautiful mountain that we get very close to on this hike. If we went all the way to the end, we would see the camp used by people who climb the mountain. But we weren't intending to go that far.
Almost close enough to touch
Once we went around the bend and saw this closeup of Mt. Baker, we decided to take a lunch break. We piled onto a hillside and spent quite a bit of time just enjoying the view, the company, and being very grateful for such a great day.
Bob scoring his lunch spot
You can tell by the way Bob is dressed that it's certainly unseasonably warm, with not even a light jacket. We didn't hurry, just taking in the wonderful scenery and in no need to venture much father. However, after a break, most of the Trailblazers decided to go a short distance along the trail, while others (me included) took a nap.
Tarns and Mt. Glacier
Turning to the left of Mt. Baker on the skyline, we saw these two tarns almost completely clear of snow, with Mt. Glacier in full view behind. This mountain is only visible from trails; it's not possible to drive to it. Every other time I've seen these glacial lakes, they have been much smaller, because most of the snow was not melted. Today they look huge!
Farewell to Ptarmigan Ridge for another year
And then it was time to retrace our steps and head back out of the wilderness. It was just the most perfect day possible. I did get home not too late, but I had to eat something and watch the news before I wrote this post. Now I'm ready to relax, my day is done, and what a great one it was!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What is it about Tuesdays?

Playing with the app on Messenger
Well, here it is almost my bedtime, and I again forgot to write a Tuesday post. So, once I remembered, I put down my latest book and brought out the trusty laptop to write a quick and dirty post. Well, with that picture it's not so dirty, but still.

I think I'm ready to say that the Tuesday time slot is quickly beginning to drop off my radar. If I write one, fine, but if I don't, it's fine too. Given that the world of politics has lately also drawn me into reading the news more than I should, it's becoming obvious that there are other things taking my time away from thoughtful postings.

Maybe if I free myself from "shoulds" I can just go with the flow for a change.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A good omen

Me and Lily with lovely rainbow
Ten ladies set out from the Farmers' Market area to walk to Fairhaven and back. The forecast was for some light rain showers in the morning, changing to a steady rain in the afternoon. I grabbed my rainhat and a light jacket when we left to begin the walk. It wasn't raining at all, but before too long it did live up to the hype: just a little occasional rain.

When we were on the boulevard over Bellingham Bay, the sun came out. We looked around to see if there might be a rainbow anywhere, and lo and behold, passersby had cellphones out so we turned around to see this lovely rainbow.

We asked one of them to take our picture, since it sure seems to be a good omen to me. Lily, who is from Guatemala and knows English as a second language, had never heard of omens before. After explaining, she agreed that this was indeed a good sign, perhaps of many more splendid things to come.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Another local hike

Start of today's outing
Our Senior Trailblazers group was scheduled to drive over an hour to Artist Point to begin our annual hike to Ptarmigan Ridge, a very special one I've done once a year with this group. The other group was also scheduled to head up there, to do the Chain Lakes loop hike, which we accomplished a few weeks ago. Since the weather was iffy, we decided to go local, while the other group went ahead with their original plans. That meant several of our regulars went with them instead of us, but we were still thirteen.
Heading up to Raptor Ridge
The nice thing about the Pine & Cedar trail is that we can make it longer or shorter, depending on the weather. It was cloudy but not raining, and we knew we would get a good workout. We decided to include a side trip to Raptor Ridge before heading to the lakes.
The non-view from Raptor Ridge
Nope, no view, but we didn't expect one. After this stop, we headed back to the Pine & Cedar Lakes trail and made our way first to the Cedar Lake overlook (nope, no view there either) and then to Cedar Lake.
The usual Cedar Lake lunch spot
The weather was pretty perfect, with no rain and a light breeze, cool weather and happy hikers. Although we could have stopped here, it was still early, and Al suggested we push on to Pine Lake before stopping for lunch.
Cedar Lake
Although the only way I could tell the difference between these two lakes today is where they appeared in the lineup of pictures, they are both quite picturesque, and as you can see, the green leaves in the foreground are not yet beginning to turn.
Pretty mushrooms
Since the rains have returned for the season, everywhere we looked we could see mushrooms springing up. I don't have a clue what these are, but I like their pretty dotted swiss look. We discussed the efficacy of eating wild mushrooms. It would take someone with a lot more knowledge (and bravery) than I before I would even consider it.
Pine Lake
And then we arrived at Pine Lake, where we made ourselves comfy and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. There was still no rain, and the wind we felt on Raptor Ridge was not evident here at all. It was perfect, once we put on extra clothing because of our earlier exertions.
Woodpecker work?
Melanie took this picture of some big holes in an old tree, and we speculated what had made them. She thought they might be too big for woodpeckers, but that's what I think caused them. What do you think?
More mushrooms
We saw another species of mushroom, this one having been disturbed on the upper left by something, probably critters, but entirely different in shape and form from the earlier ones. It amazes me how quickly they appear once the ground is once again wet from the rains.
Return trip
And then it was time to return to our cars and head back home. Since we didn't have a long drive, it was still early, compared to when we would have come back from the High Country. The cars from the other group were still there when we returned, and I pictured them on the trail, hoping that their day was as good as ours turned out to be. We covered seven-and-a-half miles and 2,200 feet or so up and down. It didn't begin to rain until we were on our final leg, and even that was just a few drops. More rain is expected later today.

So we were more than happy with our day's excursion, and I look forward to better weather and some views when we finally make a Ptarmigan Ridge attempt this year!