Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fun Saturday at the DZ

Margo and Smart Guy
You just never know what the Universe is going to throw your way between Friday and Saturday. I had plans to go skydiving maybe on Sunday, and do my usual Fairhaven walk and visit the Farmers' Market on Saturday, but plans changed when lovely Margo discovered that her friend (pictured above, my partner) is also a skydiver! While they were having a nice lunch yesterday, she said this was something she always wanted to do, and within minutes she scheduled a tandem jump for today!
Margo and Kory, her instructor
I called my friends Cindy and Dave and asked if they would meet me at Snohomish today, so we could make a jump or two while Margo made her first one, and they agreed. It turned out that a couple of other people would join us on the first skydive, where we went up in the airplane with Margo and her instructor, and the five of us had a very fun skydive, leaving the plane before her.
Highway 9 through the Caravan door
I slipped my iPhone into my jumpsuit and took some pictures as we climbed to altitude. Looking through the slotted Caravan door, I could see Highway 9 below us as we took off, headed for our full altitude of 13,000 feet. Although I eventually had to put everything away so I could concentrate on my own skydive, I was able to take a few pictures on the way to altitude. We are so fortunate to get a chance to jump at a place that gives us views of Rainier, Baker, and Puget Sound as we circle above Harvey Field.
Puget Sound from the plane, as we climbed ever higher
Not long after I took this picture, I tucked my iPhone into my jumpsuit and turned my attention to my four fellow skydivers, concentrating on what I was supposed to be doing on this jump instead of paying attention to Margo. We had a wonderful skydive, landing uneventfully, and went up to make one more before heading home. It was a sunny, beautiful day, and I'm now home and glad to have had such a very fun first day of the Labor Day weekend! What do the next two days have in store for me?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rainy Yellow Aster Butte

On the Yellow Aster Butte trail
Well, color me VERY surprised when eleven Senior Trailblazers showed up for our annual hike up the Yellow Aster Butte trail on a very rainy day, projected to stay that way for the whole day! I expected no more than Al, me, and maybe a few other regulars. Seven of us met at the Senior Center and then met the Ferndale carload at the Glacier Ranger Station. Everyone was prepared for a wet hike, and it was already raining, a nice soft mist.
All but three of us pictured at the Ranger Station
When we got to the trailhead, it was also surprising that we saw several other people getting ready to hike up to the top as well, since it was not, well, ideal hiking conditions. It was quite warm, and a few of us didn't put our raincoats all the way on, since we knew we would be working reasonably hard as we moved upwards. The rain was pretty continuous, although light for most of the time, until we got a view of our destination, Yellow Aster Butte.
Looking at the Butte, in the center of the picture
As we trudged up the trail, the rain let up for part of the journey, and there were still plenty of pretty wildflowers to see: fireweed, lupine, and Indian paintbrush. It was obvious, though, that we are near the end of the season up here in the High Country.
Al and Diane on the trail
The weather wasn't getting any better as we hiked, and once we left the valley and started up into the more exposed areas, the wind picked up. It was time for a conference.
No view, and wondering where to stop for lunch
We decided to try and find a place out of the wind and hope for the best as we stopped for lunch. The idea of making it to the top was nixed by everybody. We just didn't want to spend another hour or so working to get to the top and have (1) no view and (2) no place to huddle out of the rain and wind. So here is our view from the lunch spot we chose:
Beautiful in its own way
While we stopped for lunch, we saw another group of four hikers heading back down. I asked them if they had made it to the top, but they said no, the wind and cold got more intense as they climbed, so they retreated and stopped for lunch at a lower elevation, near us. After a rather quick lunch, we headed back down, leaving the summit for another day.
Mt. Shuksan is somewhere under those clouds
After we started down, the rain pretty much stopped, and we almost got a view or two of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker, which are both usually prominent on the skyline. If you are wondering what we didn't see today, here's a link to our hike in 2011. But today was just fine, in its own way. Every single time I head out into the wilderness, I take all the appropriate gear, and I know I will be accompanied up there by my fellow Trailblazers, and that it will be an adventure, no matter what.
It was still very beautiful, even in the rain
Today we didn't see the sun until after the hike, when we reached Glacier, the place where we gathered to start our day. However, by the time we got back to the Senior Center, the rain had returned. Here are the pluses: no bugs (they know better than to be out on a day like this), cool hiking temperatures, and good company. The minuses: we didn't make it to the top, it was raining and windy, and it was over way too soon!

Oh, and one more thing: we heard from Steve that the Forest Service checked out the fire we reported on Monday, and it was still burning and had grown to twice the size we described! They contained it and now all is well. I'm glad we did our part to keep the fire from growing, although considering the recent rain, it probably wouldn't have had much of a chance to become a real problem.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

High Divide adventure

Trudging up Welcome Pass
Yesterday nine Trailblazers went on our third "extra" hike of the summer, this time doing a loop from Welcome Pass across the High Divide trail and coming down Excelsior Pass. We left a car at Excelsior trailhead and all piled into one big van to the Welcome Pass trailhead. This is an almost twelve-mile-long trip, with the grueling Welcome Pass at the beginning, meaning that the majority of the difficult part of the hike is over quickly. You climb sixty-some switchbacks in 2.5 miles, ascending 2,800 feet. And the first mile is gentle, meaning that in the next 1.5 miles you climb 2,300 feet!
The views looking north from High Divide
Ah, finally we were at the pass! We traveled from east to west along the High Divide trail, and as you can see from the above picture, we had hopes of getting some wonderful views of Mt. Baker and Shuksan, if the clouds cooperated. Unfortunately for us, they didn't. But it was cool and very beautiful along the five miles we traversed along the High Divide trail. Not all the wildflowers are gone, either.
Aspen and flowers on the trail
The weather continued to deteriorate during our hike to Excelsior Pass, in terms of views, but the lovely vistas and lack of rain made up for it. We were all prepared for rain, since there was a distinct possibility, but we were actually very fortunate in that regard. However, the cold wind made us all bundle up quickly when we stopped for lunch. Much of the vegetation was wet from a recent rain, too.
Low clouds and wind as we continued on
We didn't have much for views looking out at Mt. Baker and Shuksan, which was a little disappointing, but since there were still so many wildflowers, not to mention ripe blueberries, along the trail, nobody was unhappy. We were really enjoying ourselves.
Mountains obscured by clouds
By the time we started our downward trajectory on Excelsior Pass, we had seen only two other people all day long. They were at the top of the pass, probably doing an out-and-back hike as we usually do. After about a mile of downward hiking, we began to smell smoke. It got more intense and we were not sure what was causing it. And then we saw it: a smoldering fire along the side of the trail.
Trying to put out the fire
We dumped all the water we had onto the fire, which had glowing embers on tree roots. We didn't have any shovels or any way to be sure we got it completely out, but some of the more adventurous hikers stomped on it as best they could. We took GPS coordinates and Al was able to mark the spot so we could tell the rangers where the fire is located. There is no cell coverage anywhere along the highway, so we discussed what to do as we continued down.

Al and Peggy hustled down faster than I could go, and once they made it to the trailhead, they flagged down a car. The driver was more than happy to head down to Glacier and report the fire to the appropriate authorities. This morning I got an email that Steve, who followed up this morning with the Forest Service, has an update. The Forest Service already had the GPS coordinates, which must have come from the driver of the car, but they wanted more information about the fire from Steve. As Steve said in the email, "I think we did our good deed for the year."

This fire could only have come from one source: humans, and probably from a careless cigarette thrown off the side of the trail on Saturday or Sunday. I suspect Sunday because other hikers would have smelled it and reported it if it had been earlier. It felt to me as if it had been smoldering and burning very slowly, but tree roots were finally involved and eventually the tree would have burst into flame.

After we were reunited with both cars, we stopped for dinner and made it home safely around 8:00pm. It was a long day, but filled with beautiful vistas and adventure. And, the rain stayed away until we were in our cars on the way home after dinner! The rain was actually quite welcome to us, as we thought of the fire that we hopefully (mostly) put out.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My favorite play dates

Norma Jean on my laptop
Every Wednesday when I get home from the gym, I "call" my sister Norma Jean on iChat, and we talk for a couple of hours. It's one of my favorite times of the week. We talk about books, what's new in our lives, whatever, and the time flies by quickly. So quickly, in fact, I am often amazed that it's time to hang up. She's in Florida, three hours ahead of me here on the West Coast, so I often forget that it's almost time for dinner there, while I've just eaten lunch.
Mattie caught a big fish
Yesterday I had another play date, new for me: I went to Leo's home where I played with him and his next-door neighbor Mattie. Robert (Leo's dad) was home, too, and we had a very nice time with Play-doh, and I got a chance to see all of Leo's amazing toys. Mattie was in a school play not long ago, and I was treated to hearing her sing songs she learned, as well as rather intelligent discussions about dinosaurs. I also discovered why Leo uses the word "actually" all the time these days, since Mattie must have said it a dozen times in an hour. Kids are sure fun.
Sweet peas at the Farmers' Market
Another play date that gives me a great deal of pleasure is the walk on Saturday mornings, with the Fairhaven group, and the Farmers' Market right afterwards. It's wonderful to have a chance to buy local goods and see the delightful flowers and veggies, along with lots of smiling faces.

Since the weekend does not seem like it will be conducive to skydiving (maybe, just maybe something will happen tomorrow), I'm going to head over to the library today to find some new books to read. The play date I have at Skydive Snohomish will have to wait for better weather. It looks like on Monday I will likely be joining some of the Senior Trailblazers for an "extra" hike of around twelve miles, so I'll try to keep my energy output a bit lower than usual until then.

And I do hope the weekend brings joy and smiles to the faces of all my blogging friends. How did I get by before I discovered you all?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Park Butte 2013

On the trail to Park Butte
Ten Senior Trailblazers (well, nine Trailblazers and Char, Rita's friend from Illinois) piled into two full cars and drove to the trailhead at Schreiber's Meadow, a long drive from Bellingham. It's the beginning of three different trails that we regularly hike during the summer: Scott Paul (which we did three weeks ago), Railroad Grade, and Park Butte, which we hiked today. This is a four-mile-long trek to an old lookout, which is still maintained by the Skagit Alpine Club and can accommodate overnighters. It was built in 1933. The Park Butte link will tell you all about it.
The lookout at Park Butte
We ran into two people who had stayed up there last night, and they said it was incredibly beautiful, with the full moon and clear skies. There were many other hikers other than us on the trails during this beautiful summer's day. Although it looks like a difficult climb up to the lookout, the trail takes us around to the left and the only scrambling to get to it was the last ten feet or so, well worn by many previous hikers.
Up the last few feet to the lookout
Once at the lookout, we pulled out our lunches and enjoyed the incredible 360-degree views. This railing goes all the way around the lookout, and although it's a bit exposed and gives one the feeling of vertigo, it's actually quite safe.
Diane, Char, and Rita having lunch
I sure did enjoy my lunch, after getting awfully hungry on the way up. Sitting on the porch and looking down at the views and across at Mt. Baker, I realized how lucky we all are to have the ability (and good leadership) to get us all to these wonderful places in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
View from the top
Just before we began our return trip, the clouds began to come in and provided us filtered sunlight instead of full sun. It caused the temperature to drop a few degrees, and since we were headed down instead of up, it was downright pleasant as we began our trek back go the cars. First, however, I talked everyone into letting me take a picture using my self-timer.
Char, Mike, Amy, Rita, Peggy, Jonelle, Diane, me, Al, Steve
Although you can't see our beautiful backdrop, it was simply stunning, even with the clouds as they rolled in. The views we had of Mt. Baker just continued to amaze us all, and I snapped picture after picture, but I think this might be the best one I got.
Lupines and Mt. Baker (picture enhanced by Kay)
Although the flat light made Mt. Baker sort of blend into the sky, the lupines in front jumped out at me and MADE me take this picture. I was really impressed with how much the flowers added to the picture itself. The temperature was perfect, and the trip down seemed almost effortless. However, we did notice that there were many groups of climbers on Mt. Baker, and Steve pulled out his binoculars so we could check them out.
Gazing at the climbing groups on Mt. Baker
There must have been a couple of dozen of climbers on the mountain today, and lots of our fellow hikers were headed to the three destinations one could reach without technical equipment. It was a busy day out there, but one I didn't mind sharing with everyone who was on the trails with us today. Oh, and there was one more exciting thing we discovered: the wild blueberries are just now getting ripe!
How many blueberries do you see?
Yes, it was not easy to hike back down the trail without stopping now and then to sample these incredibly tasty blueberries. I thought about maybe coming back someday soon and gathering as many as I could put into a basket, but of course I won't do that, because now here I am back at home and drinking my wine, and the last thing in the world that I want to do is get up and go out!

Another wonderful day in the wilderness with lots of good friends, good food, and just about perfect weather. We climbed over 2,000 feet up and down, and hiked almost eight miles to give us a day we won't forget any time soon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Having lots of camera fun

Me, Cindy, Christy, Dave on Sunday
Well, more fun with my Camera+ app. The picture above was taken with the app's self-timer (you can see the table in the foreground, where I set the phone on its edge) on a day with clouds and sun. We were all in shadow, so I used the "Clarify" filter along with the HDR, and look what happened. You can see all of our faces, but the sky looks a bit cartoonish, although I sort of like the effect. It was taken on Sunday at Skydive Snohomish, where I did more sitting around than actual skydiving. We made two jumps and then the clouds really moved in, so I went home about 3:00pm, feeling pretty good about the day. Since I had a cold last weekend and this past Saturday was almost completely clouded over, I felt fortunate to have the chance to play in the sky with my friends.
They have more than 50 years of sobriety between them
These tandem skydivers were also on the same airplane we took up for our second jump. They were bouncing off the walls, all friends who came to celebrate being together as Friends of Bill. I told them I would write about them today in my blog, so hopefully they will see this post. The lady in the middle was the instigator and was more than willing to talk about their adventure. I thought she was in her late forties, but she's actually 61! They all had the time of their lives, and I was so glad to have been there to see them in the plane and jump out before them.
What's my favorite color?
I asked Cindy to take a picture of me with my cell phone while I was all dressed up for the skydive. When I saw it, I decided to share it with you, my non-skydiving friends. You know, you might one day decide to make the leap, and if you do it at Skydive Snohomish, let me know and I'll be there! There's nothing quite like it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Clouds, a walk, and a new app

Morning sunrise from my porch
This morning I woke to the most beautiful sunrise and quickly grabbed my cell phone, which I already knew takes wonderful sky shots. I was on my way out the door to drive to Lake Whatcom so I could walk with the Fairhaven walkers, a six-mile out-and-back trip (3 miles each way) around the North Shore. It's a nice flat walk, and we kept up a brisk 4-mph pace.
Lake Whatcom
You can see that it was cloudy enough that I didn't need to wonder if I had made the wrong decision about skydiving today. I'm hoping tomorrow will be better (it's supposed to be), but the main thing on my mind right now is my new camera app! Because of my last post, where I extolled the virtues of the HDR setting on my iPhone 4S, I received an email from TexWisGirl sending me to another blog where I learned about a camera app called Camera+. After reading about it and wondering how I could go wrong by spending $1.99 to give it a try, I spent some time playing around with it this morning.
Linda, Peggy, Judith, with Riley anxious to get going
It has a 6x optical zoom and a whole lot of settings. The picture above was taken at the highest resolution (I won't do that any more, as it saved at over 11mb!) and I used the "clarity" filter, which wasn't the best idea because it flattened everything out. I'll get better at this. Unfortunately I saved it after applying the filter and then deleted the original. The app also has the option to focus on a specific area, so I tried this picture at the Farmers' Market of a zinnia.
Zinnias and dahlias
I took lots of other pictures, but I have a great deal to learn, and I was trying all kinds of settings, some good and some not. There are also filters to turn everything magenta or lime green, but the flowers in the previous picture were really that brilliant. The out-of-focus background has a curious look to it.  I'm thinking I will be hard pressed to use my Canon PowerShot for awhile; there's too much to learn with Camera+ and my iPhone! I've already had more than two bucks worth of fun.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Skyline Divide 2013

Mike, Al, Peggy, me, Amy, Linda (taken by wilderness ranger)
Last week there were fourteen of us heading up to the wilderness, when it was bright and sunny. Yesterday and most of last night it rained, so only six of us showed up today for a hike up to Skyline Divide. I've been on this hike in a driving rain, so I wasn't deterred. Plus, last week's hike in the hot sun and covered with bugs was not exactly one of my favorite excursions, even if the views were spectacular.
Al in a field of flowers, Peggy looking on
In the car on the way up, Al showed me some pictures he had taken with his iPhone in HDR (high dynamic range), which takes three different exposures and combines them into one shot. I was impressed with the difference, so I decided to see what kind of a difference it might make for me. When we reached the ridge, I captured these two shots, which show an amazing difference between my camera and the iPhone camera in HDR.
Canon Powershot on left, iPhone HDR on right
Although I was a little closer in the second shot, you can compare and see that the HDR with my iPhone took the superior picture, by far! Everything is better. This is a dilemma for me, since now I'm wondering if I should just use the phone for most pictures and forget the camera. The only downside for me is that there is no zoom on the iPhone.
Peggy, Amy, Linda, Mike, with Baker behind
Once we gained the ridge, a short but steep hike, we decided to have a quick lunch and then hike a bit farther along the ridge. As you can see here, Mt. Baker had decided to show its face amongst the clouds, but it wasn't for long. By the time we decided to get going again, most of our views were gone. We ended up walking along the ridge until almost 1:00pm before turning around. We ran into another group on the ridge, a bunch of really neat women. We found that they call themselves the "Wilderness Wandering Women" from Seattle, and they also go out weekly for excursions. Once a year they have an overnight stay and go a bit farther afield. Yesterday they hiked Chain Lakes and today Skyline Divide before they return to Seattle tonight.
Wilderness Wandering Women of Seattle
It was fun to meet some other hikers who appreciate the beauty of our wonderful Pacific Northwest environs, even if they ARE younger and do much more demanding trips. I really liked meeting them and hope we run into each other again! Wouldn't that be fun?
Amy in her bug shield and Linda in her smile
On the trip back down, I asked Amy and Linda to let me see what kind of picture I could get with my iPhone HDR, given the shadows and difficulty showing the clouds in the valley below. I couldn't be more pleased with this picture, since everything is exactly right, from the background to their faces, and I didn't need to alter the picture even a little.
Amazing flower display
This picture was taken with my Canon PowerShot, which shows the beautiful flowers we saw today, but it washed out the clouds and mountains behind. I will be making use of my iPhone capabilities much more often after today's discoveries. 

We reached the cars after having hiked somewhere around 7.25 miles round trip and covering almost 2,900 feet elevation gain and loss. However, compared to last week, I feel like I was on a vacation! I am feeling great, happy to be home after having had a wonderful day in the wilderness, and not feeling like I need a week to recover. As I take my last sip of wine, I'll be posting this and giving thanks for yet another wonderful day in the mountains with my BFFs. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Listening to my body

Diane, Doug and Mary on the summit of Hannegan Peak
I'm not absolutely sure, but I think last Thursday's hike to the summit of Hannegan Peak was the beginning of my decline of the last few days. I know when I reached the summit, I felt weak, a little nauseated, and chilled, even though it was very hot. These are the beginning symptoms of heat exhaustion. I've experienced it a couple of times before, but I thought that by the time we reached the cars after the hike I was totally recovered, no longer thirsty and was able to finally eat my lunch as we drove back down to town.

But the next morning, Friday, I noticed a little scratchiness in the back of my throat, nothing obvious. I took some extra Vitamin C and headed off to the Y for my usual workout. I usually attend the class, even after a hard hike, because it helps to loosen up my well-used leg muscles, and I usually feel like a million bucks after a shower. It was no different on Friday.

Friday evening, however, the scratchy throat was more prominent. When I woke on Saturday morning, I was able to pretend it wasn't anything and went off for a brisk walk with the Fairhaven walkers. By that evening, it was obvious I was coming down with a cold. I took some cold medication and went to bed early, even early for me. I was planning to go skydiving Sunday with my friends, and I was just not willing to admit I was sick.

When I woke on Sunday, however, I was sneezing and sniffling, so I called my friend Linny and begged off for the day, although I REALLY wanted to go. And then yesterday, Monday, the scheduled "extra" hike to Hidden Lake Peaks was going to have to be bypassed, too. In the old days, when I was in my sixties, I would have gone. But instead, I stayed home, took it easy, and now it's Tuesday and the sneezing has stopped and I'm almost over it. At least I hope so.

I am notorious for plowing through illness and injury and pushing myself to the limit. It's getting harder and harder to do that as I age, and I am actually rather proud of myself for listening to my body and taking it easy. Today I will also get a massage, and a smile is formulating just thinking about that treat. Yes, I am hoping that I will be back to normal by Thursday when I can go out with my hiking buddies again. But I will pay attention and listen carefully to what my body is telling me.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Meet the new Stewart couple

Russ and Sofia Stewart (photo by Megan Patterson)
Yesterday, my baby sister Fia (short for Sofia) married a wonderful man, Russ. She was married to the father of her two children for almost three decades until their divorce three years ago (or was it two?). She was having a very hard time over the divorce until she met this guy. Her name was Sofia Branch and due to a fortuitous coincidence, Russ' last name is the same as Fia's maiden name: Stewart. My sister Norma Jean texted her to ask if she would be taking his name or going back to her maiden name after their marriage, and Fia said she thought she would do both.

I met Russ during my visit to Texas for Thanksgiving, as well as to celebrate both of our birthdays, Fia turning fifty and me turning seventy. I liked him the minute I laid eyes on him. I think they will be very happy together. I can't tell you how happy it makes ME to know that Fia is beginning this new segment of her life. They will be traveling to Canada to visit our sister Markee's family and staying in Banff for their honeymoon.

Facebook gave me the photo above, which I snagged from Megan's page (Fia's daughter), and I studied all the pictures to bask in the happiness that flows from every shot. Their "Order of Ceremony" was very straightforward and made me smile:
I also snagged this from Megan's Facebook page. I wasn't sure whether my sister Markee would be there, but I saw a picture of her and realized that of course she wouldn't miss this! I know my brother was there, and I've sent a gift certificate to the Rimrock Resort Spa in Banff that I truly hope Fia will enjoy. Say what you want about Facebook, but it sure keeps those of us who cannot actually be there feeling like we're part of the experience. Blessings to the new couple!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hannegan Pass and Peak 2013

Peggy, Rita, New Guy Bob, Mary, Doug, and Terry
What a day! Fourteen of us headed up to Hannegan Pass. Since this is a wilderness area, we were stopped by the Forest Ranger and told to honor the no-more-than-twelve group size, so we decided to split up according to who would try to make it to Hannegan Peak rather than just hiking to the pass. Getting to the pass means hiking an eight-mile round trip, and going up to the peak is more than eleven miles round trip!
Fireweed as we trudged up the valley
I've hiked up to the pass several times, but it was only in 2009 that I made it to the top of the peak. It was a hot day then, too, but today almost everybody decided to hike at least part way towards the peak. It's just over a mile from the pass to the peak, but you gain another 1,200 feet in that short mile. The views are stunning and just keep getting better, but in the hot sun the going was very slow for most of us. After we reached the pass, three or four of the fittest started up to the peak, while the rest of us took our time.
Almost to the pass in fields of wildflowers
I looked ahead to see the others as they trudged ahead of me towards the summit, which isn't even visible yet from this picture. We began to sort out into smaller groups of people who have a similar speed up to the top. I ended up hiking most of the way with Diane and Rita, while others behind us began to stop and looked for a nice place to have lunch, forfeiting going all the way to the top.
The faster hikers in front of me
We stopped often and were very grateful for the strong breeze, which increased as we climbed above the trees. The flies and other bugs were relentless; I was slathered in bug spray and covered most of my body in clothing so that they wouldn't find me too appealing. It worked most of the time, but the breeze helped the most.
Rita and Diane (and me) taking a breather
The higher we got, however, the more spectacular the view of the surrounding mountains became. Al had decided to stop earlier and not try for the peak, since he was slowing down and realized that he needed to take a rest. Of the fourteen of us, eight reached the top, but everybody made some distance beyond the pass itself.
Rita and me on the summit
By the time I reached the summit, I was lightheaded and knew I had pushed myself right to the limit. But after having a nice lunch, which was enhanced by New Guy Bob's quart of hand-picked blueberries (yum), I asked for a summit shot. Unfortunately, I was not thinking with all my cylinders, having changed the settings on my camera for the shot above, and I didn't remember to change them back again before I got this shot.
Back: Diane, Bob, me, Rita, Doug, Mike
Front: Mary and Don (a guest visiting Rita)
The eight of us spent a good while on the top, but we knew that our friends below would be waiting for us to rejoin them, so we finally turned to begin our descent to the valley. Going down was almost harder than going up, since there were so many loose rocks and you had to watch your footing the entire way. When we got to the pass, there was Al waiting for us, and we learned that the other five had decided to go on down to the trailhead. We met them there, and it turned out they waited more than an hour for us before taking off for home.
Doug on the way back down
It was an absolutely beautiful day, if a bit on the hot side, with all of us having drained our water supplies dry on the way down. (I brought two liters and drank every drop!) We stopped at Graham's store in Glacier to get ice cream and cold drinks before heading back to the Senior Center parking lot and saying goodbye after another amazing hike!