Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stepping out

The Senior Trailblazers are stepping out of our comfort zone, by adding an extra hike during the summer months, which we'll make every other Monday, PLUS going to places that we wouldn't normally go because of the longer drive. Yesterday, our first Monday extra, we went to the old ghost town of Monte Cristo. The link will take you to the Wikipedia entry with Monte Cristo's location and history. An interesting tidbit from that link:
Monte Cristo was the first live mining camp on the west slopes of the Cascade Range. There were 13 mines and 40 claims by 1891. By 1893 there were 211 mining claims.
Today, some old buildings are still standing, and the entire site is nestled in one of the most beautiful places I've seen yet. Although it's more than a two-hour drive from Bellingham, nine of us met yesterday morning to begin our adventure and step on out. We found the trailhead, which is blocked more than four miles from the site, and began our hike just before 10:30 am. Many signs warned us that there would be a treacherous stream crossing and plenty of snow if we decided to go further. As you can see, the road allowed us plenty of room to walk two abreast and chat. The gentle uphill was much less difficult than we are accustomed to.
The stream crossing was indeed exciting, but as long as I concentrated on watching the LOG and not the rushing water, I was fine. I would not have wanted to cross it in the rain when it would be slippery. Some people bring their bicycles up here, and we figured they must carry them across the log. Carefully, I suspect. The gentle hike showed us scenery with streams and mountains that are unfamiliar to those of us who mostly hike in the Mt. Baker wilderness, so we did a fair amount of ooohing and aaahing.
We reached the townsite at about noon, so we stopped for lunch and to take a little time to inspect what is left of the town. There is a historical society with an excellent website, and they provided some old pictures and information about the town for the curious on a billboard. You can read all you would ever want to know about Monte Cristo on the Monte Cristo Preservation Association website.
We saw that we were not alone, as other hikers arrived before us and were just making themselves comfy on a beautiful summer day, with some high clouds that came and went. The temperature was around 65 degrees F (around 18 C), perfect hiking weather, and plenty to explore. Once we had lunch, most of us went up the trail toward Poodle Dog Pass, just to see how far we might be able to get. The trail was in excellent condition and well maintained, but it wasn't a gentle hike any more, as we gained altitude pretty quickly. Lots of switchbacks and lots of huffing and puffing. (It's not a lot of fun to go uphill on a full stomach.)
However, we were rewarded with some absolutely astounding views. I understand that Al was behind me making faces at these guys as I snapped this picture. This is my favorite shot of the day, and I've made it my desktop picture until another wonderful one comes along. We kept going up until we met the stream and plenty of snow. The longest legged and most adventurous of our group, Fred and Mike, crossed the stream to see what the trail ahead looked like.
Once they crossed the stream and took a look at the 700 feet remaining before we would reach the pass, we all decided that we wouldn't try it today. Not to mention that it was almost 2:00 pm and we had an almost six-mile hike back to the cars. We reached our starting point at about 4:30 pm and drove to Granite Falls for a wonderful meal at a place called Omega's Pizza and Pasta. By the time I rolled into my own driveway, it was past 8:30 pm, with 11.7 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation gain and loss on my tired feet. It was a simply wonderful day, filled with adventure and good friends.

The title of the post comes from the Trailblazers stepping out on a new day, a new hike, and dinner together. It is the first of several we'll make this summer. I hope you'll join us!


  1. What a great adventure. Your pictures make it even more fun to hear about the things you see along the way and the little town and crossing the water. You had a long day, lots of exercise, and plenty of fun.

  2. what a neat place to explore...and a trip in getting there...yeah that river crossing would have been thrilling...what a gorgeous view too....

  3. Love the pictures! I just started walking 3 miles in the morning and I think of you every time. I don't know how you do it. My feet are killing me!

  4. Oh My!! I was more than delighted to join you all. What scenery!! I wouldn't want to try crossing on that log in the rain, either! Not sure I'd make it on a good day--LOL!

    That was really an all day affair--and with great company and good food. These really are adventures!! Thanks so much for sharing them and inviting us along. I devour all your photos! :):)

  5. Wow, are we ever sorry we couldn't make it!
    Now that we have seen your pictures, I think we will head up there to camp and hike later in the summer.

  6. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us, I will safely say it's the only way I would ever set eyes on these magical vistas, as my own feet would not carry me there.
    The river crossing was spectacular, you always discover some of the most special places, to share with us.
    Thank you.

  7. Sixty five degrees and a Poodle Dog Pass....I'm in! Thanks for taking me along. Nice that your group is adding Mondays to your hiking routine. Beautiful scenery.

  8. Lots of fun and exercise for intrepid DJan!!! Sorry, but the best part for me would have been the dinner at the end of the hike. lol.

  9. You lost me at the log crossing. My balance is too bad to attempt such a thing. But finally you got some great views!

  10. I'm just oohing and awing at all of your photos, the scenery is gorgeous. I love to explore old ghost towns like this one.

    I'm betting there are some bikers who ride across the log. I didn't say they were smart.

    It sounds like you and your group are in for some exciting adventures as you step out.

  11. That's another exciting hiking adventure. Is there a travel guide book that lists all of those great hiking places? Are you working on your own book? There is a wealth of interesting material from your hikes.

  12. That is beautiful!!
    Uh, remind me again why you are NOT writing for a travel mag ????

  13. As long as I can sit here on my fanny and enjoy your hikes while drinking a cup of tea I am more than happy to join you on these hikes!
    That log crossing makes my stomach drop-go you for your adventurous spirit!!!

  14. These photos are just stunning. And I love reading about your hikes. You're stamina is astonishing!

  15. Wow! Totally gorgeous views! It must feel so wonderful to be out there.

  16. This one sounds like it was well worth the drive and the hike..I love old ghost towns:)


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