Fred (in the red hat) likes to talk about the "Wow factor" on our hikes. Today nine Senior Trailblazers headed up the Mt. Baker Highway to the Hannegan Pass trailhead, where we got to experience lots of "WOWs". The weather forecast was for morning clouds and sunny skies in the afternoon. (Notice there was no rain, which made us VERY happy.) The trail was pretty snow free until we got to the Hannegan campgrounds, but we wanted to make it to the pass, which meant traversing some snow.
Just above the turnoff to the campgrounds, we ran into some serious snow, which was pretty much constant until we got to the pass. It was fairly easy to follow the trail, however, with a good leader. The clouds had not lifted at all, and in this picture you can see that the filtered sunlight was causing mist to rise off the snow. It was pretty warm, and we were all very comfortable until we turned the final corner to Hannegan Pass. At this point we had a breeze coming from what seemed like both directions, and being sweaty from the 2,000-foot elevation gain, stopping for lunch meant getting a bit chilly.
Yes, this is Linda trying to get warm after having had lunch, at 5,000 feet elevation on August 11 in the Pacific Northwest. There have been days on previous hikes to this point when we didn't see any snow at the pass and went on to the summit of Hannegan Peak. Take a look here if you don't believe me. In 2009, I went all the way to the top, but this year three of our numbers decided to give it a try and got nowhere. The snow this year has made it totally impassable. At least for a bunch of old seniors.
Not all of us are all THAT old. Joanne, a new friend, joined us for the first time today. She was the youngster on today's hike, but since she's over sixty, I figured it was all right to let her join us. She's very fit, and she and her husband are active in several local hiking and climbing groups. I learned a great deal about her today, and I think she would have left me in the dust, had she not been so sweet and accommodating to her new hiking buddies.
We headed back down and made it to the cars with plenty of time to spare. Our daylight is beginning to wind down; I notice that we are losing more than three minutes of daylight each day, but it's so green and lush wherever we hike, I realize there are some benefits to having such a cool and snowy summer. Hopefully it means that our fall will extend into many golden days ahead. But nothing is for certain, except that we are blessed beyond description in this part of the world. I couldn't even begin to cover the gorgeous wildflowers I saw on this hike that contributed to the Wow factor, so if you really want to see more, click on the "Trailblazers Summer 2011" in the sidebar.