Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sunless Saturday

Whatcom Falls this morning
I know I have taken this picture numerous times, at different times of the year, with major changes in water volume, as well as leaf colors. This morning it was a perfect condition to get a nice photograph, with cloudy skies but no direct sun.

The ladies this morning headed out from the parking lot to go up Galbraith Mountain. I at first joined them, but for whatever reason I could not keep up. Even a slow jog didn't keep me from falling behind. Perhaps part of the reason is the soreness still in my upper legs from Thursday's hike. But after having struggled for a short distance, it was obvious that today I wouldn't be able to keep the fast pace.

So instead, I turned around and went for a short walk at my own pace in Whatcom Falls Park. I had plenty of time to find the best place to take the picture above, and then I walked back to my car and off to find breakfast. Lily wasn't with me today (she isn't a fan of Galbraith Mountain) because she is working 13 days in a row and will miss a couple of Saturdays. She and I went out for pizza and beer yesterday, and this morning the scales confirmed what I been suspecting for awhile now: I've got to stop eating like this! I've gained several pounds this month and have decided it's time to put on the brakes.

This afternoon John and I are going to a wedding of the coffee shop owner and her soon-to-be husband. It's an outdoor wedding, and they lucked out with the weather. We just finished a very cold snap and then rain, but today it's cloudy and mild. I look forward to shedding a few tears; weddings always make me cry.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Ridley Creek 2019

Trailhead sign
Ten Senior Trailblazers made the decision to head up to the Ridley Creek trailhead today, hoping that we would be able to make it to Mazama Park. We didn't make it, but we had a great day anyway.
The bridge across the Nooksack River
Our first task was to get across the river, in order to start our hike. This was not all that easy, because of a recent snowstorm and then clearing skies, causing very cold temperatures and icy conditions. It was terrifying for me, actually. My friends helped me by carrying my backpack and poles across the bridge, while I made my way very carefully across. Nobody fell, and all was well as we began the trek.
Our trail today at the beginning
It is a lovely trail, but it is very steep for most of the distance, until you get to the meadow. We trudged along, with the first part of the trail being in good shape, but many areas were challenging. I struggled with the steepness, but my knee held out just fine.
Icicles showing how cold it was
I had forgotten how precipitous this trail is, but the part I didn't look forward to are the several deep ravines that must be navigated on the way to Mazama Park. We ran into more and more snow and ice as we got higher and higher. We had to move slowly with so much difficult terrain, and by the time we got to the last one, we decided it wasn't a good idea.
The trail as it get more difficult
Although it isn't easy to see in the picture, it was covered with deepening snow and icy patches and wasn't a safe situation. Plus we were beginning to get worried about the amount of daylight: we didn't want to be getting back to the cars near sunset, so we agreed that it was time to take a nice lunch break.
Obscured mountains
We backtracked a bit until we got to a nice place in the sun where we could have lunch. A long log was brushed free of snow, and everyone made themselves comfortable. Although it was cold, the warm sun and lack of breeze meant we were happy to stay for awhile.
Our "lunch log"
It was so nice and warm that I didn't even need to put my coat back on while we spent close to an hour enjoying ourselves before heading back the way we had come. It was sad that we didn't get to see the view that can be seen from Mazama Park, but it was a wise decision.
Getting back down a ravine
This ravine required us to be extremely careful, as it was icy and steep. Some of us went down it on our rear ends, rather than try to keep from slipping. That way, if someone fell, they wouldn't have far to go. Although it wasn't very elegant, it worked, and nobody fell. Then it was a simple task to go back down the rest of the trail, leaving the ice and snow behind.
Return trip
Here we are making our way back down to the cars, with most of the really tough terrain behind us. It was now just a slog, being careful of our knees and not hurrying. Because of not going the entire way, we had plenty of sunlight and didn't have to worry.
Our return trip on the bridge
We did have to make our way back across the bridge, but after a day of wrestling with the icy conditions, it seemed easier on the return. Most of the bridge was no longer icy, but everyone was still quite careful, not wanting to end up our day with a "situation." We ended up hiking around 6.5 miles in total, with an elevation gain around 2,100 feet, depending on whose device you were willing to believe.

In any event, I am now home, it's getting late, and I'm tired, but all in one piece, as are all my fellow hikers, and the day could only have been better by us having another hour of daylight. And less ice and snow. Everyone is happy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Statues in Fairhaven

J.J. Donovan sculpture
On my way to the yoga class this morning, I thought I'd take a picture of two statues I've found to be quite interesting in Fairhaven, where my class is held. I have seen this one for awhile now, and I wondered who he was. I found this information online:
John Joseph (J.J.) Donovan arrived in Fairhaven in 1888 at the invitation of Nelson Bennett for the purpose of building a railroad which would transport coal from his mine on the Skagit River to be shipped from the newly-settled town of Fairhaven. (from Fairhaven History)
 Then I wondered, when I studied the statue, what he is writing. And sure enough, that information was also available from that link:
The statue includes a replica of an actual letter from J.J. Donovan to his wife Clara.  In the letter, J.J. is describing the four towns on Bellingham Bay:  Fairhaven, Bellingham, Sehome and Whatcom. The town of Bellingham would soon become part of Fairhaven later that year.  In 1904 a City of Bellingham would be formed when Fairhaven and Whatcom were consolidated.
Just down the street from this statue is the Village Bookstore, one of my favorite places to peruse books while waiting for time to leave for my class. Just last year I noticed a new addition to the Fairhaven sculptures, unmistakably Mark Twain. Take a look:
Mark Twain sculpture
 I knew without seeing the information that it had to be him. And sure enough, that same link confirmed it and gave me more information.
In August 1895, Samuel Clemens – better known as Mark Twain – visited Fairhaven. Artist Gary Lee Price’s life-sized bronze sculpture of Twain seated on a bench, reading a book, joins similar nearby sculptures of Fairhaven founder Dirty Dan Harris and community leader J.J. Donovan. Donated by community member Michael Botwin to the City of Bellingham and Village Books, the bench has space so visitors can sit awhile with the legendary writer and humorist.
I didn't get a picture of the Dirty Dan sculpture, so I'll save that for another day. The bench underneath Twain's arm is a favorite place for people to take photos. Hope you enjoy these guys as much as I do.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Fall colors

From Triple Wren Farms
Someone on Facebook posted this picture from Triple Wren Farms in Ferndale, a town a little north of Bellingham. Besides being a perfectly delightful picture of dahlias displaying their beauty, the color resonates with the fall colors emerging all around me.

Last Thursday, since it was projected to be rainy (it was), we didn't venture into the High Country, but the other group did. And it was rainy up there, too, but not enough to spoil any of their fun. The light rain kept them company for most of the day, but they had spectacular views. Owen Bamford, their leader, posted some of his pictures on Flickr. I snagged this one, which shows the incredible beauty of the Hannegan Pass area, where they headed up the valley.
Owen's shot
It is a beautiful area, and although the day wasn't perfect weatherwise, it sure seemed to be magnificent in its views. So both groups had a fine adventure. You just cannot stay home when the weather forecast is less than perfect. Some wag once said, "there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing." Since I've moved to the Pacific Northwest, I've invested in plenty of gear, that's for sure.

Today we ladies (and one man) went for a lovely walk along the waterfront. At first I thought I would be using my sunglasses, but it was not to be. We had some sprinkles but no rain, and the sunlight was filtered through lots of clouds. Now, however, it's partly cloudy, with more sun than clouds. Just right!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

New Chanterelle trail

Chris studying today's hike
Only seven Senior Trailblazers decided to stay on a local hike and not head up to the High Country, since the chance of rain had expanded to 80% in the area of our original destination. And with a long drive in order to walk in rain, we chose to explore an old favorite, the Chanterelle trail, which has recently been doubled in length. The extended trail only opened a week or so ago.
Map that shows the old and new trails
Chris and Rich both volunteered to work on this trail during the summer months, and I must say the trail is wonderfully engineered and cleared of all brush, with three new bridges installed as well. We hiked up the black line (from the P showing where we parked). The picture below shows the viewpoint today, with rain looking imminent.
This viewpoint has been the final destination for hikers and bikers on the Chanterelle trail (2.4 miles), unless you wanted to walk up the service road. We've done that many times, but today, we took the red line to the new terminus of the trail, 2.6 miles, making the entire trip 5 miles one way.
The new trail
When we started our hike, it wasn't raining, but threatening to at any moment. After a short while, a few sprinkles gave us the impetus to stop and get our rain gear on, as well as our pack covers.
Al walking in the light rain
The temperature was cool, comfortable except when we would get a gust of wind, as we hiked up the pretty trail for the first time. As long as we were moving uphill, we stayed warm, even in the rain.
Our lunch spot
This is where the trail ends. It runs into the service road and is much more pleasant to navigate than the road. But it wasn't all that warm, once we stopped, and Chris is struggling to make her fingers work as she donned another layer before starting her lunch. We didn't stay too long, but it was much nicer once we got our extra clothing on, for all of us.
A section of the new trail
Then it was time to head back the way we had come. I saw this picture showing part of the brand new trail as we started back. I was just amazed at how much better this trail is than the road, and how well it has been constructed. Thank you, Chris and Rich, and all the others who made this happen.
Banana slug
We saw this bit of wildlife on our way back, a huge banana slug, which was moving quite quickly across the ground (for a slug, that is). I think it's rather pretty. They are native to the area, while the black ones are not. Our friend Peggy always moves them off the trail and out of harm's way.
Mushroom bouquet
We also saw this green mossy area with a fancy mushroom border. It was a nice thing to see on a trail named after a mushroom, although this is not a chanterelle. I've never seen one on this trail. Yet.
And then, not long before we reached the cars, we saw the sun come out. It got brighter and more delightful as we made our way back the way we had come. I'm not sure how the other group fared, as they decided to go up to the High Country, even with the forecast. I do hope they had a day that was as pleasing as ours was. We covered ten miles and 2,300 feet up and down. I'm feeling tired but happy, with my knee even feeling pretty good. Yay!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


October already? I had no idea that September was ready to be retired. As I walked to the bus yesterday, I ran that old jingle through my head about which months have thirty days and realized that I was running headlong into October, without even feeling like September got a fair shake. We had so much rain, and looking ahead to this Thursday, it looks like more is yet to come.

I've been plowing my way through several books, some of which come from the library after I placed a hold on them awhile back. Then I forget what little I knew about the book. Once it shows up, I end up with one more to read than I am comfortable with. Having three or four books going at once is becoming a habit. But no matter: when it's raining outside, curling up in my easy chair with a good book is preferable to just about anything else.

The weather has definitely ushered in a new season, and I'm looking forward to that mythical Indian Summer that will hopefully show up just in time for a lovely trip to the mountains. However, it's possible I've made my last foray up there for the year. We'll see. In any event, I am enjoying the partly sunny days we've had lately, in between the rain. Hope the weather wherever you are is to your liking.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Windy and chilly Saturday

Sunrise from my front porch
This sunrise was captured last week as I headed out to the bus. I know I'll have more glorious sunrise pictures like this in the weeks to come. There are lots of days now when the sun will rise at just about the same time as I leave, and our days are quickly growing shorter on the way to the solstice in December, marking the longest night and the shortest day of the year.

This morning was overcast and the wind blew lightly as I headed out to Lake Padden for our walk with the ladies (and one man). The temperature was moderate, but then the wind started, and we quickly bundled up before starting our walk. Occasionally the sun came out, but the skies changed back and forth from overcast to almost full sun, as the clouds scudded across the sky. We got in two times around the lake, just over five miles.

We have a gale warning in place; the north-northeast wind is bringing cold air from the Fraser Valley right into our homes. Windows that were open and inviting the outdoors inside yesterday are all closed, and I've placed my many heavy rocks on the rugs to hold the front porch together until this latest weather event has passed.

Fortunately for me, there's nowhere I need to go for the rest of the day, so I'll stay inside with a good book and enjoy a day to putter around the house aimlessly.