Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oh, hail, Yellow Aster Butte!

Well, Yellow Aster Butte is a beautiful place to be, especially on a hot day in the city (click to enlarge picture). It was warm, but not terribly hot, and of course we got to walk across snow fields again today. There were four words that described the Senior Trailblazers hike: sunny, buggy, wildflowers, hail.

Thirteen of us spent our Thursday on a seven- or eight-mile hike (depending on who you asked) and elevation gain of around 2,500 feet. We were immediately accosted by biting flies and mosquitoes as soon as we opened the door at the trailhead. Apply bug spray. Once we started hiking, the clouds of flies and mosquitoes only slowed a little when we moved briskly up the trail. Some of our enterprising hikers had screens to keep the bugs away. (I cannot seem to get blogger to download any of these pictures except the first one, but I'll keep trying.)

On the way back down, we had split into some hikers who wanted to make the ridge and others (like me) who were happy to mosey toward the top and take pictures of flowers. At 2:00 pm, I and six of my friends had begun the journey back down to the cars. The others were behind us somewhere, but they stayed together and we saw them at the end of the hike.

A spit of rain hit my arm. "Hey! I think it's beginning to rain!" I said, but the sky was still bright blue with just one distant dark cloud somewhere in the vicinity. Another large drop. It was beginning to rain, but since it had been so warm, nobody worried too much about it. More drops, but still lots of sun. And then... it happens in the high country: the large drops of rain changed into hail. First a little, then more, then stinging marble-sized hail. We took shelter for awhile, then as it seemed to lessen, began to head down the trail on round marbles. We got wet, we slipped and slid. The hail began again, and I could not see anything through my glasses. As we stopped again under a tree, I found a good spot to groan and lean hard on my trekking poles. Fred, next to me, groaned in what I thought was sympathy. Then he said, "your pole!" and I had been finding a nice secure place on what was actually the top of his foot! We all laughed hard at that one, but I have to say there was a little anxiety mixed into the whole scenario, since we were all soaking wet, an undetermined distance from safety, and in the middle of another hailstorm.

Finally wet to the bone, relieved, and all thirteen accounted for and at the trailhead... all's well that ends well. And this adventure was something we will talk about for a long time. It was a great day!


  1. WOW! You sure had yourself one amazing adventure. And, I'm so happy that it finally rained and cooled down for you even if you did get soaked. As I was reading your story, I felt as if I was there right beside you. I think I would have started laughing if I heard you groan. :))))
    The photo is breath-taking especially when enlarged. I can only imagine what it looked like in real life! I think I should start hiking - a great way to stay in shape. I'd probably bounce a lot at first with this round body of mine. I'm so glad you have a good time!

  2. Hi DJan,

    That is a really beautiful, breathtaking place. And I picture myself walking around, hopping over the flowers carrying a little basket to pick those little flowers...hmmm. While I smell the sweet breeze and fresh air that enveloped the place.

    Hey I can't imagine You and Susan messed my shiny floor, now I have to wipe it again!


  3. Hello my dear blogger pal,it has been a few days since i last came by,blame it on a sick hubby at home and limited time.Now,I'll check out all the posts i missed and leave comments too.

    This was a hike to remember,imagine hail falling on your I've seen large hail stones fall around my house,quite scary.
    Great view,hope you put out more pics soon,glad you had a fun time.With every post you make me want to join the fun....even if it is the seniortrailblazers outing.

    Looks like you guys are having all the fun.Fred's groan had me giggling.Take care and enjoy your day.

  4. Sounds like torture to me! At least you survived it to tell the tale. I don't do mosquitos or any other biting insect, being extremely allergic to the little buggers. Hail sounds like a better alternative!!?? I should give it a miss next week, if I was you.
    Blessings, Star

  5. I enlarged your first photo and it is so beautiful and full of life. If I had this picture in front of my bed when I wake up every morning I would know for sure that the day will be great – and if I could see this live, it would be even better – lovely wild flowers, mountains, blue sky. Now, about the hail – that must have been pretty scary. I was outside in a storm at night trying to take picture of the size of the hail and it did not feel good but I could run back inside (it was dumb and the pictures did not turn out). I am reading books about Denali National Park and I can’t believe that some people would stay outdoor in hail and snow storms, etc. You’ve got to be pretty hardy!

  6. Thanks, AL! Sorry about your floor.

    Charmine, I read all your comments. Google Reader shows me new ones so I don't miss any. Fred's shoe is a little bit the worse for wear, really!

    Star, I just went to the local hiking store and bought 98% DEET, a bug repellent hat, and now a very cool long-sleeved shirt. I think I'm ready for next week!

    VB, the hail was a little scary, but actually there was no alternative about staying outdoors in hail: we were miles from our cars, and could only go down. Waiting under trees was our only option.

    Take a look at my Flickr site here if you want to see a couple pictures of the hail:

  7. OUCH! I have never been outside during a hailstorm...that must have been scary and painful!


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