Thursday, May 30, 2013

Olsen Creek/Stewart Mountain 2013

Ten of us set out from this trailhead
I finally got straight how come this hike is confused with another one in my mind: they both start from this trailhead, but they follow different trails to reach separate destinations. Okay, that makes sense. Ten Senior Trailblazers gathered this morning to head up near the top of Stewart Mountain, which Al and I began last Monday. We didn't go the whole way Monday because it began to rain, but today we made it all the way to the top, even though the weather wasn't truly wonderful. We last hiked this trail on my 69th birthday, which I wrote about here. It snowed and made for some cool pictures; today was a mixture of everything except snow.
This hike is mostly on nice trails, although a bit steep, but even the old logging roads are pretty and arrayed in wonderful green foliage right now, with flowers everywhere. We made a turn off this road onto a very beautiful trail. Even though it became very steep, it was quite lovely, except for the muddy spots. And the stinging nettle. Life is not perfect, but today came pretty close.
Diane, Steve, Mike, Al, Rita
We made it out of the trees and onto the old road again, our destination. However, the trees had grown quite a lot and gave us no view, so we hiked on the road for a few more minutes until we got a view of Bellingham, the bay, and the sea in the distance behind.
You can also see that the sun might be shining somewhere, but we were even with the top of the clouds, with Bellingham sitting in the middle of the picture. The breeze was cold, so we bundled up and had a quick lunch before heading back down the way we came. Some sprinkled raindrops made us hustle to get back into the trees. And when we did, suddenly the fog got fairly thick, but it was mixed with the sunlight breaking through. I thought this picture, which shows the trail, the fog, and the spotty sunlight, really captured our day.
The variety of today's hike was amazing. Every once in awhile I would be too warm and would need to shed some clothes; in a few minutes I would be cold again and needing to put them back on! We were plenty tired by the time we reached the cars, but satisfied that we covered almost nine miles and hiked up and down 2,600 feet of elevation. Not an easy hike, but it made for a fine day, filled with adventure, plenty of laughter, and the best company!
Almost finished


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Soggy Memorial Day weekend

Should have read "One Slick Ski to Sea"
Ooops. As a retired writer/editor, I know how easy it is to have something like this happen, but someone (or several someones) who should have caught it are red-faced today. This was yesterday's Bellingham Herald, and it is not known for being much of a paper anyway. I usually read it at the coffee shop in just a few minutes and refuse to pay for a subscription. Now I can no longer read any of the articles on line, either, as they are now requiring me to subscribe for the privilege! Sigh. I will probably break down and do it, unless I can find a work-around. It was a very wet Ski to Sea event, with steady rain falling. (NB: Linda Reeder pointed out that I had written "Ski to Ski" in the previous sentence and missed it!) That picture on the front of the poor cross-country skiers dealing with the soggy snow made for a good photo op, in any case.
Although it's hard to tell how wet these young ladies were as they performed, they gave a wonderful performance at the Ski to Sea festival in downtown Fairhaven on Sunday. As the thousands of racers in the event struggled in the rain, the festival was still very well attended. Smart Guy and I went down there specifically to watch the seven dances put on by the Chinese community, but we got so wet and the music was so loud, we decided to leave afterwards. I didn't take any pictures at the finish line, as I usually do, because I simply wanted to get warm and dry somewhere, and that wasn't happening outside on Sunday.
Yesterday, Monday (which felt like another Sunday), Al and I went on a hike on Stewart Mountain. At first we were going to head to the High Country, but the weather forecast looked rather dubious for the afternoon. So instead of a long drive, we went up to check out the condition of the trail on the north side of the mountain. There was plenty of mud, lots of stinging nettles, and by noon, we had rain. We didn't go the entire way but got a nice seven-mile hike before we finished by 1:00pm. The weather deteriorated for the rest of the day, but I was happy to have been out and about. On Memorial Day, the Y is closed, the buses don't run, and I needed to be outdoors for awhile. It was perfect.
These red and green cedars caught my eye. They remind me of the Ents in the Lord of the Rings books. We will be back on this particular stretch of trail quite soon, I think, since we will need to make some alterations in the schedule until that stretch of bridge is fixed. Have a good day and I hope it's drier where you are: we have several more days of rain in the forecast.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flowers, gardens and more

My beginning flower garden
Since I've got a garden now and spend a fair amount of time in garden stores these days, I have been overwhelmed with the beauty of potted flowers, as well as being unable to keep from purchasing them. I've got these two as the beginning of potted plants for my new front porch. We get more sunlight here than we received in our old apartment, and I'm excited to have lots of pretty flowers greet me as I come and go. Everything is also green and blooming everywhere I look. The Pacific Northwest receives a lot of rain, but we get an abundance of lush greenery in return.
Clint's plot, mine in the middle, and Nate's
More and more of my garden plot is being filled in. I've got beets, cabbage, lettuce, and sugar snap peas coming up, with edible flowers taking up the rest of the room. I learned from a gardening book about borage, an edible herb. Never having heard of it before, I went to the garden store and got the last start they had.
Borage in front, nasturtiums behind
The borage plant is interesting. It should attract bees and beneficial insects. It grows the prettiest star-shaped flowers (which taste like cucumbers, they say). The little fuzzy purple things on the top will be flowers quite soon, I think. Here's what I found on line about the herb:
Borage is actually a somewhat gangly plant, but you barely notice it because the star-shaped flowers are so vibrant. They’re a true blue, hanging in downward facing clusters. Even the fuzzy white buds are attractive. Both the flowers and the leaves are edible, with a cucumber-like flavor. Use the leaves while they are young, because as the plant matures, the stalks and leaves become covered with a prickly fuzz.
The most attractive part about the plant (other than the flowers) is the fact that it is virtually problem- and pest-free. It's also supposed to discourage aphids, which were the bane of my gardening existence last year. Nasturtiums are also edible flowers, and I surreptitiously foraged some from one of my garden neighbors last year. Now I should have plenty of my own.

I don't know when I will be able to get down to Snohomish to make another skydive, since the bridge on I-5 collapsed just a few miles south of Bellingham on Thursday. The 71,000 vehicles that travel on that part of the interstate will be forced to use one of three narrow roads as a detour. Here's an interesting article about the collapse. I have driven over the span many times and was astounded when this happened. The Ski to Sea event is being held here in Bellingham tomorrow, and I wonder how people will manage who are coming from the Seattle area. I'll stay off the interstate myself, at least as long as I can. On that link I see they have alerted participants.

The event is really fun, a relay race with seven different events. The canoe part has two paddlers; the other parts are all one person. From that link:
A team consists of 8 racers (2 in the canoe leg) for the seven race legs (Cross Country Ski; Downhill Ski/Snowboard; Running; Road Bike; Canoe; Mountain Bike; Kayak).  A racer can only be on one team, and only complete one leg.  
I know some of my long-time followers have thought I would probably end up doing one of those legs on a non-competitive team some day, but I've decided I would MUCH rather cheer on the winners, drink beer, and take pictures as they finish and ring the bell. Here's my post from last year's race. Please, stay safe this holiday weekend. I'll be remembering my missing loved ones.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lake Padden and a party

On the Lake Padden horse trails
Every year for the past six years, Norm and Gina have hosted a Memorial Day weekend party at their summer home on Cain Lake. We begin the day with a short hike at Lake Padden (a mere six miles) on the horse trails that are located behind the lake. Since there are so many possible paths to take, a map is located at each intersection.
If you enlarge this, you can read the text, but basically there is a "You are here" marking that shows where one is located in relation to the lake and the golf course. This is also a place where dogs are allowed to run free, and there's a dog park near the golf course as well. The area was filled with lots of people and their dogs today, since the weather turned out to be pretty nice, considering. It rained all night long, so it was rather muddy, but we had clouds and sunshine as more than a dozen of us laughed and chatted along behind Al.
The fresh green leaves that have recently appeared were so pretty against the older greenery. It wasn't exactly warm, but as we were moving along at a fairly brisk pace, I wasn't cold at all. My raincoat stayed in my pack. We also didn't need to carry any lunch, since we would be piling in our cars and driving to Norm and Gina's home to be treated to hot dogs, hamburgers and some wonderful salads for the vegetarians among us. We were told only to bring our drinks and a dessert.
Gina's fabulous salad
This bowl kept magically refilling itself and I myself had two enormous servings. Since everyone brought desserts, there were plenty of those, too, and (as usual) a special cake for the birthday girls, Amy and Peggy. Ward's birthday is in May, too, so he was required to be photographed along with them.
Peggy, Amy, Ward
The cake was very pretty, and Amy asked if I would take a closeup for posterity, so here it is. I didn't have any of it, since I had already indulged in some of the other goodies and was feeling a little bit of a sugar rush. Since I rarely eat any sugar, it doesn't take much.
Happy birthday, Amy and Peggy ...and Ward :-)
Both of the hiking groups were invited, so we had somewhere around forty Senior Trailblazers enjoying each other's company and being treated to lunch. I was so pleased to see that Jonelle has returned from her winter digs in the desert to join us for our upcoming hikes in the wilderness.
This may be the last time we gather here at Norm and Gina's summer home, as they are threatening to sell it, and we will need to find another place to gather to begin our summer hiking season. All things must come to an end, but being able to enjoy the moment with such wonderful friends is enough for me today.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Coffee shop and eye food

Yesterday Chase, my local barista for the day, planted this smiley face right there in my latte. It was delicious and also made me grin. I visited with my fisherman friend Gene and his girlfriend Paula until Leo showed up and took me away to play. Because of Leo, I've learned of several new toys, but yesterday we played with vampire bats and gummy worms.

It was a beautiful day yesterday, with abundant sunshine (of course: the weekend was over), but today the rains have returned with a vengeance. I walked to the bus in my raincoat and used my umbrella. Gene tells me that using an umbrella is a giveaway that I am not a native, and he's right. I see people here in Bellingham walking around in the rain with shorts and a t-shirt, with no apparent need for rain gear. I use everything I can to keep dry, but maybe one of these days...

After I saw that retina specialist last month, I started taking some different vitamins. Although I had been taking beta carotine and lutein for about a year, I have also added zeaxanthin to the mix. All three of these are carotinoids found in nature. Apparently lutein and zeaxanthin are essential to the retina. From that Wikipedia link:
Zeaxanthin is one of the two primary xanthophyll carotenoids contained within the retina of the eye. Within the central macula, zeaxanthin is the dominant component, whereas in the peripheral retina, lutein predominates.
It wasn't all that easy to find zeaxanthin in a supplement in the proper ratio with lutein (five parts lutein to 1 part zeaxanthin), and I was taken in by a supplement that purported to have both but nowhere could I find the amounts before I ordered it. It's called "I-Caps" and is completely misleading. I finally found one formulation on Amazon that is sold at Costco (Trunature) that has the correct ratio (25/5) and was fairly inexpensive. I read all the reviews on Amazon and finally bought it.

The most interesting thing that I can relate after about a month of taking this formation is that my night vision is significantly better. I noticed a distinct difference after starting the beta carotine as well, so I'm hoping all this will help keep my intermediate age-related macular degeneration from developing further. There are no promises and no guarantees, because all the possible benefits from vitamins cannot be proven. I don't want to take any of the AREDS (age-related eye disease study) formulations because of the massive amounts of zinc (80 mg) included.

Anyway, the good news is that something I am taking seems to be helping with my vision. I feel quite pleased to be in the hands of a good specialist as well. It really helps when you trust your doctor.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Clouds, rain, and a nice day anyhow

Klipsun Trail near Barkley Village
 No skydiving today. It's an overcast day with rain falling during most of the previous night. I woke to the sound of rain drumming on the roof, sighed, put on my walking shoes and headed out to Barkley Village to join the Fairhaven walking group at 8:00am. Not many women showed up, maybe a dozen, because of the weather, I guess. But by the time we introduced ourselves around the group and started out, the rain stopped and hasn't returned yet.
Peggy, Diane, Judith, before starting out
Most of the women who showed up this morning I already knew. As you can see from this picture, we were not overly warm when we started walking, but by the time we had navigated more than five miles with lots and lots of ups and downs, we were very warm. After a few minutes, almost everyone had their jackets tied around their waists, instead of wearing them. I had chosen my own layers carefully and was comfortable the entire time. As I've said before, the brisk pace gives me quite a workout, since I never walk this fast with any other group. We kept up a 3.8-mph average, even with around 700 feet of elevation gain and loss.
My plot on the left, Nate's on the right
After a quick lunch, I headed out to the garden to weed my little patch, and I worked with the hoe to get that green section between our plots looking a little less healthy. I also have two more plants, nasturtiums, to get in there soon, but I ran out of steam before I finished. Nate has constructed a very neat mesh lattice out of twine to give his snap peas something to climb up on. I put poles in mine, since I don't have anywhere near as many as he does.
Compost bin and containers filled with composted horse manure
Yesterday Clint put out a call to the community gardeners to help with the compost bin. I've been putting in my kitchen scraps, along with many others, and apparently there needs to be a balance between "green" and "brown" materials: green being stuff rich in nitrogen; brown, rich in carbon. He asked if anyone might be going by a nearby horse farm; if so, would we pick up a couple bins of composted horse manure, and I volunteered.

I drove out to the stables and found the pile, along with the promised pitchfork, filled those two black bins and brought them back to the garden. There was nobody around at the stables, but two ducks guarded the place, putting themselves right in the middle of the road leading to the pile. I tried honking the horn (no luck) and finally put the car in neutral and tried to shoo them out of the way. Of course the drake was having none of it and came at me, quacking menacingly and flapping his wings. I ran away, screaming. By the time he had driven me away, he got his mate and went off somewhere, proud of himself. I sneaked back to the car and got the manure and made a quick getaway.

There's a lot more to organic gardening for me to learn, but next time I head out to the stables, I'm wearing some high-topped boots!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mud Lake 2013

Getting to Mud Lake starts at Pine & Cedar trailhead
Seven Senior Trailblazers started our hike today under gloomy skies. It had rained off and on all night, but the forecast was for the rain to diminish and possibly give us some sunshine by midday. We hiked to Mud Lake for the first time last year, and I wrote about it here. Usually we would just head up to Pine and Cedar Lakes. We start this hike at the Old Samish Highway trailhead to those lakes, and it has a very steep first mile or so. It is my least favorite part of this beautiful hike, not because going up is so hard, but because coming down is a killer on my knees. Without the poles I simply could not do it.
The trail is very pretty, though. It's at its most lush and green right now, and we didn't have any rain at all during our hike. The best we had for sunshine for most of the day, though, was filtered light, and it was very humid. When we stopped for any time at all, we got cold. We passed the turnoff to Pine Lake and continued down an old logging road to get to Mud Lake.
There is an old fishing boat at the end of this old log in Mud Lake. Since it was still early, we decided to hike back to Pine Lake for lunch and get the uphill part behind us. The hardest part of this hike is the steepness at the beginning, and the fact that you need to lose at least 700 feet of altitude before getting to the lake. It was pretty, though, and I took this kind of artsy shot of a lily in the midst of some lily pads.
Lily in Mud Lake
As we were hiking back to the Pine and Cedar trail, I saw these two old trees with chinks in them that made them look to me like two old beings who were watching our progress. You can also see the filtered sunlight on and around them.
"And who are YOU?"
We reached Pine Lake a little after noon and settled down for lunch. Afterwards, Peggy and I walked onto the boardwalk that covers part of the area around the lake, which is very boggy and perfect for skunk cabbage. I thought it looked a bit like she was a traveler from another planet, checking out the aliens.
Big cabbages in a foot of water
As we walked carefully on the boardwalk, not wanting to have a misstep and fall in (it would not have been much fun), I saw that the skunk cabbages have grown to an enormous size. Looking down into one, however, was very rewarding, as it curls inwards very prettily. The cabbages were covered with raindrops from earlier in the day, and I was happy to capture this scene next to an old log.
By the time we reached our starting point, my knees were complaining mightily but have since recovered. We traveled up and down more than 2,600 feet in elevation and hiked more than nine miles in total. And yes, by 2:30pm, the skies had cleared and we were in full sunshine. It was simply a fine day: good company, good hike, and no rain!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TBM award in the mail today

The POPS award, the ladies, my TBM Award
When I was in Elsinore last month, weathered out for three of the four days of skydiving that were scheduled, our organizers intuitively assigned us ladies a videographer on the last jump so that we could attempt a two-point six-way skydive. (It wouldn't have counted if we didn't have a video to prove it, I found out). POPS (Parachutists Over Phorty Society) has been around for awhile, and they have a few offshoot groups, such as SOS (Skydivers Over Sixty), JOS (Jumpers Over Seventy), and JOE (yep, you guessed it: Jumpers Over Eighty).

From Parachute History
I had been expecting the SOS award, but I was puzzled by the card assigning me TBM #73, until I realized that TBM stands for the Tiny Broadwick Memorial award! Who was Tiny Broadwick, you wonder? Well, I had heard of her for years, and some of my friends even met her in her later years. She was a very interesting woman who set all kinds of records. You can read about her on this Parachute History page. She made her first jump at the age of 15 in 1908. Now POPS has begun this memorial award in her name, for all-women skydives. The biggest one of these was the Jump For the Cause skydive made in September 2009, with 181 women in a formation. (That link takes you to the post I wrote at the time, with pictures.)

But what makes my little six-way skydive special is that all of the women on it are over sixty years of age, and two of us are over seventy. Frankie and I could get a videographer and make a two-way and set several records, since right now JOS has no TBM records at all. There are a few perks to being in advanced years. Not many, but there are a few. Can you tell I am really pleased by this award?

I would also like to thank all of my readers who left a message for Gene about the loss of his bird. I sent him the link and he appreciates the condolences you offered him. I also went to the library to pick up the book Murr Brewster (from Murrmurrs) recommended to me in her comment. It's called The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds, and it's simply magnificent. Written by naturalist and storyteller Julie Zickefoost, I have been unable to put it down. With that, I'll sign off and get back to the book!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Requiem for a bird

Five years ago, and last month
My fisherman friend Gene has lost his companion of more than two decades, his parrot Poopstain. On Friday I was sitting the coffee shop having my morning latte when Gene came in, obviously upset. I looked up at him and saw that the bird wasn't with him. I asked if he was okay, and he teared up and said the bird had died. He found him in the cage that morning and wasn't sure when he had finally passed away during the night.

We all knew that the bird wasn't well. He had a stroke or something similar about a year ago, when he stopped squawking constantly and stopped growing new feathers. I refer to the bird as "he" because Gene does, but a few years ago "he" laid and egg and Gene realized that the bird was female, but it was too late for Gene to make the transition in his own mind. The bird's behavior had also changed pretty drastically lately, with him sleeping more often and crawling under Gene's beard, where he obviously felt safe, instead of perched on his shoulder. Gene also got in the habit of wearing a shirt so that the bird could nestle under it, and he spent more and more time when outside huddled in the safety of Gene's beard and shirt. He made little noises like baby birds do, and we speculated that he had reverted in his old age to becoming a nestling again.

Gene said he thought it would be a relief when Poopers finally died, but you just don't lose a companion of more than twenty years without suffering a real loss. He said that he should just go home and clean everything up and bury him, but I reminded Gene that his girlfriend Paula has a relationship with the bird, too, and would need to have some closure. I sent Gene off to Paula's house and will find out on Monday what they finally did to lay the bird to rest.

I went looking for a card to give to Gene, but after perusing all the sympathy cards, nothing was appropriate, so here is my gift to the bird he loved: a blog post. Goodbye, little bird! May you fly free and squawk to your heart's content. You gave my friend Gene an awful lot of love.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Oyster Dome 2013

Mikey's new purple boots
Only five of us showed up for the hike today, rated "hard" and boy is it! I looked up our crew last year, and there were only five then, too. Most people don't particularly like to climb an almost 12% grade for the first three miles and then add on another six miles after that. But the hardiest of the hardy showed up on another glorious weather day. It was Mikey's first time wearing his new boots, which were on sale because of the color. Except for the next one, all these pictures are from my iPhone, since I had to document the event somehow and had forgotten to bring my camera.
Our upward route and fog, taken by Diane
When we left the Senior Center, we were beginning to see blue sky through the marine layer that had moved in during the night, but as we began our hike, we ended up being in some pretty dense fog, keeping the temperatures down and making the upward part of the hike more comfortable as we grunted and groaned up the steep grade. The fog began to lift as we ascended, making for some dramatic shots through the trees.
As we headed upwards, we were convinced that the marine layer had dissipated and that we would have a cool view of Samish Bay once we reached Oyster Dome. But here is what we saw instead:
We had simply climbed up above the marine layer, which was still very compact at 11:00am when we got to the Dome. If you want to know why it's called "Oyster Dome," read my post from last year where I explained it (towards the end of the post).
By the time we had hiked to the Samish Bay Overlook, the clouds were almost gone, as you can see here. Although I've got lots of wonderful pictures of the bay, today's shot was just to show how long it took for the marine layer to lift (it was after 1:00pm when I took this picture). We met lots of people just starting up as we headed back down, and we were plenty tired and ready for a rest by the time we reached the cars. We hiked almost nine miles and covered a total of just under 2,500 feet of elevation up and down. There's a reason it's labeled "hard," and now that my feet are up, my wine glass is in my hand, and my post is almost finished, I'm smiling!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Artist Point snowshoe

This past weekend Al sent around an email to the Trailblazers to see if anybody wanted to go up to Artist Point with him today from the Heather Meadows parking lot to "snowshmush" as he called it, and he was right. With all the warm weather we've had lately, the plentiful snow was the consistency of sno-cones. We strapped on our snowshoes and went anyway. Nobody showed up except me, so just the two of us went out for one last visit to the area before the summer season.
Here you see Al messing with his new camera as we get started. We intended to head up to Huntoon Point, our usual snowshoe destination, but once we had navigated Cardiac Hill and made it to the ridge, we decided to head towards Table Mountain, just for a change of pace. It was slow going through the soft snow, making it much harder than usual. But the scenery was spectacular, not a cloud in the sky, very little breeze, and temperatures in the sixties.
Al took this picture of me with beautiful Mt. Shuksan in the background. I never tire of looking at it, and thanks to the many hikes taken with the Trailblazers, I've seen it from several different angles. Artist Point is the starting point for many of our summer hikes, and I was hoping I could find a picture of the parking lot at the end of the road to Artist Point, which doesn't open until the end of July, usually, but here's what it looks like today.
Underneath that mound of snow in the middle of the parking lot is a bathroom that will probably not even be visible until right around the summer solstice at the end of June. Two years ago, the road to Artist Point never did open because there was so much snow. Hopefully this year we will get to enjoy some of our favorite hikes once again. If the warm weather we've had the past two weeks continues, there will be no doubt!
But, as you can see here, there is still plenty of snow that needs to melt before the flowers at this altitude will be able to bloom. The bloom today is all in my pink cheeks, although I slathered on the sunscreen liberally. The incredibly fine weather will continue around here at least until the weekend, and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest. Not to mention how happy it's making my garden!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Playing in the dirt

My fresh dirt, ready to plant
Don't mind all that green grass between my plot and Nate's. I met him this morning and he asked if it is all right to remove the excess grass. Is it all right? Be my guest! It's the first time I got a chance to meet him, and I really enjoyed getting to know him. Plus he's rather easy on the eyes. Here's a picture of him (Nate) and Joan chatting over the fence in our community garden.
Notice that little piece of wire above Nate's head? It's supposed to keep the deer out of our garden, and it worked quite well last year. It seems this year we have a few more deer peering out from the bushes as they watch the progress in OUR garden (not theirs). And will you look at that incredible blue sky? As I've learned from my friends in the Northeast, we have switched weather for a week or two: they are getting rain, rain and more rain, while we bask in cloudless skies.
Linny in front, Christy, Tyson, me, Kevin (Donovan took the picture)
Yesterday I played in the sky with my skydiving buddies at Snohomish, for the first time this year. We made four jumps and I broke in my new skydiving helmet and packed my parachute four times, making me one really tired puppy as I drove home. Then today it was shoveling dirt, planning and visiting with my fellow gardeners.

I also read in the paper yesterday that a school here in Bellingham was canceled on Friday due to the weather. You can read about it here, but the story is that since they had no days off because of snow this past winter, the principal decided it would be a good thing to have a Sun Day. Isn't that a wonderful thing to do? It made plenty of people happy, even those who last saw the inside of a school a long time ago, like me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

An extraordinary day

Beautiful forest canopy in early morning light
Once again, eleven Senior Trailblazers showed up for our Thursday hike on a day filled with sunshine. We drove to the Blanchard Mountain trailhead to head up to Lily and Lizard Lakes, with a stop at the North Butte, which would give us a fantastic view on a day like today. When we climbed Blanchard Mountain at this time last year, we got rained on pretty much the whole day. This was the other side of the Pacific Northwest: full-on sun and flowers everywhere: mountain violets, salmonberries, and my favorite, trillium.
They come out quickly in the springtime and don't last long. Sometimes when we start our hikes in the High Country in midsummer, I will spy one a bit later in the season, but it's only because the snow causes everything at altitude to bloom later. Trillium have three petals and three leaves, and I love the way they look. Today we had dozens of them to admire.
After a quick stop at Lizard Lake for a snack, we headed on up to North Butte for the view of the bay. It was stunning, as we expected, but the real surprise is that there wasn't even a slight breeze, and we ended up taking much longer for our lunch break than usual. It was simply glorious, and of all the times I've been up here, this was by far the most pleasant.
We then headed to Lily Lake, where we took some time to lollygag, even though it hadn't been long since we stopped for lunch. It was just that kind of day: we were in no hurry to leave the magnificent woods on a day like today. I went over to the water and looked at the lily pads and discovered that they begin their journey from the bottom as soon as the sun begins to work on them, and they slowly make their way to the water's surface.
Underwater lilies making their way to the surface
In looking at previous posts about this particular hike, I notice that I never fail to take a picture of the beaver activity in the area around Lily Lake. Today was no exception, but this time those beavers have taken on the most ambitious cedar tree I could ever have imagined!
They will be working on this for awhile, I think. It's rather amazing, when you look at it and think of these small creatures gnawing this huge tree to the ground. Notice the small tree in the foreground that they have already taken down this year. I suspect this cedar tree will not be standing next time we visit the area.
Bob, Maggie, Linda, Mikey (peeking out), and me
Since I haven't been in any of the pictures for awhile, I took this one of myself by holding my camera out at the end of my arm. I was pleased with the way it turned out and had to share it. All in all, it was a simply extraordinary day, and now that I'm sitting here after having covered more than ten miles and 2,100 feet elevation gain and loss, my wine is tasting pretty darn good! Now I've got a day to recover before heading to Snohomish for my first 2013 Saturday with Linny and friends.