Since yesterday was a holiday, Al figured today would be a perfect day to scope out Yellow Aster Butte for the Senior Trailblazers hike on Thursday. Although it would mean I'd miss my Tuesday strength-and-tone workout, there was no doubt that I'd have a good day. It was only Al, Mike (also know as Mikey Poppins to my followers) and me, so we met at 7:30 and were on the trail by 9:00am. The air was cool and crisp, with fabulous views of Mt. Baker and Shuksan.
And flowers. The wildflowers this year just do not quit. Here you see what I think are called yellow asters and lupine, but as we climbed higher and higher, the flowers grew more profuse and varied. We started this hike in a dense forest that climbs steeply to a meadow and then traverses around to the butte. We did have to cross some snow fields, but none of them were scary (but I sure liked having my trekking poles), which was the reason we wanted to see if the whole group might be able to make this hike.
Mike is crossing the most extensive of the snow fields, and as you can see, it's pretty straightforward. He did take out his poles after crossing this one, though. This is so much more snow than I had imagined we would cross, since it is, after all, September! A month ago we would not have been able to gain the butte. One thing about all the snow, however, is the incredible profusion of wildflowers everywhere we went in August and now in September.
If you enlarge this picture, you will see several different varieties of wildflowers. Every time I looked up from the trail under my feet, the flowers and views of the peaks simply took my breath away, time and again. But once we got to the serious uphill to the top of the butte, I looked up behind Al and wondered: do I really want to do this?
Look at that trail! It doesn't even bother with switchbacks, it just continues to climb up to the top of the butte with no apologies! And yes, I climbed it, we all did. You can see that at this altitude (somewhere around 6,000 feet elevation), there are spots of foliage already beginning to turn to fall colors. We arrived at the summit at noon, for an even more incredible view. Here you can see British Columbia's mountains in the distance behind Mike and Al.
The brilliant blue sky, somewhat of a rarity for us to experience for such a long time, will still be here on Thursday. I thought that if I went on today's excursion, I might skip Thursday's trip to the same place. But one thing I have learned: there is never a reason not to head up to the High Country with such weather, such friends, and such views!
We climbed around 2,700 feet of elevation in a little more than seven miles to the top and back. We crossed some snow fields but never felt scared, had a great geology lesson about the area's fault lines from Al, and had simply a wonderful day. I guess I will probably go on Thursday, now that I've been to the top I don't need to do THAT just for fun, I can stay below that last big push and chat with those who will choose to stay and enjoy the sunshine. The light breeze kept the flies away until we began our final descent, so believe me I will NOT forget my bug spray on Thursday! Until then, have a GREAT day.