Thursday, May 8, 2014

Rock Trail to Raptor Ridge

Great views of cool rocks along this new trail
Although we hiked the new Rock Trail back in February (read about it here), today nine Senior Trailblazers started at a different place and had a different destination. We drove to Gates Overlook and hiked down the steep but short Rock Trail to join a connector trail that would eventually take us to Raptor Ridge. For some, it was their first time on this fine new trail, which gives some incredible views of amazing rocks.
Al explaining how these holes are formed
These remarkable holes actually extend sometimes quite deeply into the side of the rock, caused by erosion: one little hole just keeps expanding, sometimes quite deeply, into the sandstone part of the rock face. The Bellingham Herald published a nice article about the Rock Trail dedication last month.
Using Sue's headlamp to look inside
Some of these holes penetrate so deeply into the vertical rock that we realized a person could climb into one (if that person was willing and able, that is). We had fun looking around inside them but then returned to the business at hand: getting down the trail to find the trail that would get us over to Raptor Ridge. The weather forecast was for rain in the afternoon, but by this point we were actually getting warm and needed to shed some layers.
Rita shedding some clothes, everybody else getting ready to
The temperature was actually very nice, bordering on perfect hiking weather. By the time we reached Raptor Ridge, which is often windy and rather unpleasant, we had some sun breaks and just a very light breeze. We stopped to have a quick snack. Al realized he had a signal, so he pulled out his cellphone, looking to find out how close the rain was approaching our location.
Searching for weather information
Since he couldn't get an image that would tell the tale, others began pulling out cellphones to see what they could find out. Even with all the phones and different coverage packages, we were unable to find out how much time we had before the rain would hit. We knew it was coming, though. You could feel it in the air.
A gnome? No, it's Mikey
We made our way back to the Rock Trail, knowing we would have a fairly strenuous hike up the stairs we had descended earlier. However, we still needed to have our lunch, so we stopped along the trail and enjoyed the greenery and continued nice weather while Mike explored this cave. It extended quite far inside, he said, but gets narrower. I had to snap this picture before we headed back up the trail.
Climbing the stairs back to the cars
One drawback to this trail is that you start off descending these stairs, more than a hundred of them, and when you return you must trudge upwards at the end of the hike. Most of our hikes involve the uphill at the beginning, but this one is the opposite. We covered more than eight-and-a-half miles and 1,600 feet up and down, but the weather held until we got almost back to the cars. Then the rain started, and as we drove home it came down heavily. We lucked out, yet again!

It was a very good day. I would much rather hike in cool and overcast conditions than in the heat of last week's adventure. But the best part, as always, are the good conversations with friends I've known now for half a decade. I hope I will be able to continue with my exploration of the Pacific Northwest outdoors for a long, long time.


  1. cool holes in the rocks! (scary to think about crawling into them, though!) really neat mossy cave area!

    hope your knees don't ache on the stair climb to end the day.

  2. You must feel as if you are constantly looking over your shoulder for rain. It would be interesting to know if these holes are just caves or tunnels.

  3. ha. i would totally be the guy to crawl in and get stuck in one of those holes...when i used to go caving we got into some rather scary spots...what a place to hike to though...

  4. Wow. Raptor Ridge is such an evocative name, and those rocks and the greenery were stunning.
    I admire you for those stairs though - up and down.

  5. How green it all looks now. An uphill hike at the end of a hike would finish me off completely.

  6. Those holes in the rocks are really neat and I would be one to see if I could crawl inside - not without shining the light first through.ha,ha I love the playfulness of your group and its not just a hike or a climb - its a good time with smiling friends. Happy Day :)

  7. EXCELLENT POST....loved reading about and SEEING the erosion/holes.

  8. I have never seen those roots before. Lots of interesting photos this week, DJan.

  9. As usual, DJan, your pics are great! I always enlarge them and feel like I'm right there on the trail with you. That first one is my favorite. It would make a great screen saver. I hope that you can continue your hikes up there with your friends for years and years!!

  10. Those holes are fascinating! I wonder if the side of the rock face will eventually fall off because of them? I have a touch of claustrophobia, so I wouldn't go into that little cave--LOL! But what a hike! I would think it would be a lot harder to do the climbing last. Glad you got back before the downpour. :)

  11. Those holes are fascinating! I wonder if the side of the rock face will eventually fall off because of them? I have a touch of claustrophobia, so I wouldn't go into that little cave--LOL! But what a hike! I would think it would be a lot harder to do the climbing last. Glad you got back before the downpour. :)

  12. Interesting article in the Herald, that trail was a work of art! You escaped the rain! It rained all morning here, I got sopping wet going to rummage sales:)

  13. Oh my gosh, I love your photo of Mikey the Gnome! It sounds like Mother Nature treated you well on this hike. Beautiful photos DJan. I got a kick out of the one with everyone pulling out their cell phones. Did you know NOAA has an app for Android and iPhone? It's great for weather updates.

  14. I would definitely want the uphill to be while I was fresh. That would be tough.
    Wonder if any animals or birds use those holes. Fascinating.

  15. OH wow! You really lucked out with the rain. The trail sounds really challenging, but it has such interesting places to explore.


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