Thursday, September 15, 2011

Foggy Railroad Grade

Fourteen Senior Trailblazers drove the 65 miles from Bellingham to Schreiber's Meadow trailhead in a light, gentle mist to hike the Railroad Grade trail. No sign of the sun. We hoped that we would be hiking in something other than a downpour, and in that sense we were very lucky. It was only a light sprinkle when we started out, and as you can see from our clothing, it was not warm, either.
Once we reached Morovitz Meadow (seen here), we had donned our rain gear. You can see Mikey Poppins in the back with his bumbershoot, a sure sign of precipitation. We were also aware that unless something miraculous happened to clear the skies, we would not see the wonderful views that awaited us. However, I saw that if the sun had been out, the wildflowers that have only recently escaped from the snow that covered them would have been glorious. As it was, they were only moderately magnificent.
This is the trail leading to Railroad Grade, which is an interesting formation and has nothing to do with railroads. This trail leads the hiker up to a view that reveals a sheer drop-off on the other side from the retreat of the Easton Glacier many years ago. Since on this side of the meadow it is also somewhat steep, the trail goes upwards along a very narrow path. Last year we had incredible views, which you can see here. The second picture on last year's post is taken from almost the same place as this view I took today.
Even though you cannot see what is on the left side, it's very impressive. The first clue you have that something is different is the sound of Rocky Creek roaring a thousand feet below. We turned left and started to follow the trail. This is what it looked like below us today.
The fog closed in not long after I took this picture, but I started up the Grade heading up towards what is left of the once-massive glacier. However, realizing that since I had done this last year and the payoff of more incredible views had kept me going then, no such enticement was available to make me go today. Four of our intrepid group did keep going upwards, however, while the rest of us retreated to find a nice warm place out of the rain to have lunch. I got this shot of those four heading back down to join us. I don't think they went very far, either.
That's Al in front, with Mary (our newest Trailblazer on her first hike today), Frank, and Fred behind him. By the time I had finished my lunch, I realized that being damp and cold made me glad I had brought my (a) gloves, (b) fleece, and (c) raincoat. I got them all on and managed to warm up quite a lot. It took several of us by surprise, since last week it was really hot and sunny with lots of bugs, and this week it was rainy, cold, and almost bug-free.
I was almost the last person back to the cars because of these! The blueberries are beginning to ripen, and some of us stopped to pick and eat them on the way back down the trail. In a week or so, there will be so many ripe ones that some people might find it hard to continue to their destination. They were definitely the tastiest I've had this year. Some people call these huckleberries; I don't really know the difference. (Too bad it's so far to this trailhead.) We managed to hike six miles and ascend 1,700 feet of elevation. Given the hard hikes I've done the last few weeks, I realize that I don't even feel a teeny bit sore right now. Monday's hike is supposed to be one of the hardest this year, so I guess I'm as ready as I will ever be. I'm looking forward to it.


  1. I can't believe that sheer drop-off. I doubt if I would have continued to the top either. I guess you had your reward in the fresh berries.

  2. It's really interesting how the same hike can be so different. I always say there isn't a hike I wouldn't do over again. You see so many things that you missed last time.

  3. That was truly beautiful. And fresh berries too! Wow.
    Good luck for the difficult hike on Monday.

  4. I wouldn't have continued the climb, either. And fresh blueberries -- yum. I always put blueberries in my smoothies, along with a banana. Can't get better than that!

  5. mmm i would have been all over those blue fruit...that is some thick a wall...yikes...

  6. Wow. Gorgeous berries for hardy hikers. Does it get any better than that? Well, yes, actually. The dramatic scenery.

  7. Even with the mist and drizzle it is still very beautiful. I am amazed at all the wildflowers you are finding on your hikes DJan.

    Those blueberries do look delicious, are you planning on taking a pail along next week to gather some?

    While you were in the rain today we had winds and blowing dust. It's looking like we might get some rain next week.

  8. You know DJan, returning to the same hike and seeing everything different is kinda like watching the sun set every evening by the same lake or bridge, valley or hills - whatever the setting, Mother Nature always dishes up a somewhat different view of the same place, right. Great Photos and give me some of those blueberries. Cheers, Lilly

  9. It all looks beautiful to me, fog or mist or not! The cliffs, the mountains, the paths, the wildflowers, the berries...they are all exotic to me! Good thing you bring along all the layers you might need. And you weren't even the least bit sore!? Awesome! You are ready for the hard hike, I guess. Can hardly wait to see the pictures! :):)

  10. It's amazing how different everything looks in varying weather conditions! I'd think that with the fog that trail must have felt scarier that in sunshine...

    The blueberries wouldn't have slowed me down. Now if they had been blackberries.. ;o)

  11. Oh, and good luck for Monday DJan!!! I'm sure you'll be fine, you haven't stopped hiking all summer! :o)

  12. So when are you going bungee jumping? That cliff looked like a good place to start--definitely not for the fainthearted like me.

  13. Yum, fresh blueberries....

    This post is a good example of why I enjoy blogging so much. I get to see part of the country I'd normally never get to see-- ever. I'm not a hiker and I am a lover of nature and landscapes so this is a treat for me.

    LOVE the shot of the trail with the wildflowers and the photos that look like you can touch the clouds.

    Happy trails, xo jj

  14. As always, a gorgeous set of photos, even with the drips and fog. That drop-off would have had me shaking!

    Why is it that the best berries are so darn far away! At least you earn your treats, in more ways than one!

    As for taking the same hikes, I really never get tired of the same ones, and your photos show that. Just as someone said about the sunset (or sunrise) they are new every morning!

  15. I remember that place from last year..I am still afraid of heights..but the fog makes me less afraid..if you cannot see may not be there:)
    I enjoyed the wildflowers...and would have stayed there!
    That berry looks plumper and larger than a blueberry.. I bet it was delicious:)

  16. There used to be a blogger who walk steep lava ridge mountains in Hawaii and was also an ocean going kayak paddler. They went in groups but some of the drop offs were unbelievable.


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