Saturday, June 28, 2014

Garden news, plus a nice walk

Judith and Meredith outside of Woods Coffee
We expected rain this morning, and it was overcast and doing just that when I left the house early to join the Fairhaven walkers at Woods Coffee. But you can see it turned out to be a really nice day, with lots of blue skies with no more rain. We enjoyed coffee after a four-and-a-half mile walk with lots of uphill, and then I headed over to the Farmers' Market to gather some greens to complement what I am harvesting from my garden. I saw this beautiful sunflower at the market, with the sun shining through:
Smiling in the sunshine
Hmmm, I thought to myself. Nate has planted lots of sunflowers in his garden plot, and I haven't seen any blooms there yet, so I went out to investigate the garden before sitting down to write this post.
Nate's sunflowers growing next to the fence
There aren't even any beginning blooms, so I suspect that the one in the picture was grown in a greenhouse, don't you think? While I was out there, I noticed that the borage flowers in my garden were full of bees, both honeybees and bumblebees. They love those flowers so much that I'll wait awhile before I pull some of them out. Just look:
Borage flowers with bee friends
In the middle of this picture of the borage, you can see a black thing, a bumblebee, with the pollen baskets on its hind legs full to the brim. I figured he would be leaving for home soon, but I tried to get a closeup (all the pictures are taken with my cellphone camera), and this is what I got. If you enlarge it, you can see his left leg basket is so full of pollen it looks like it might overflow.
Look at all that pollen!
I wandered around the rest of the garden, looking at all the vegetables and flowers coming up, which also caused me to notice that I need to get out there and weed. Those blasted buttercups are invading, along with some other unwanted guests. Time to get out and spend some time out there, like maybe this afternoon. The clouds have returned and it should be fairly comfy outside.
Mystery squash
That volunteer squash coming up in the community section has produced blooms, and here's the beginning of what might be a spaghetti squash, or... any ideas? The plant is growing like crazy and has several other blossoms beginning. I've already gathered a few zucchini from the community garden, knowing that they are much tastier when a reasonable size. I remember how quickly they grow. You gotta keep on top of 'em.
Nate's raspberries
I see that Nate's raspberry crop is beginning to ripen, too. One of them accidentally fell into my hand and I was forced to eat it. What an explosion of flavor! Can there be anything more scrumptious than purloined fruit? It was all I could do to restrain myself. Some of them are in danger of falling right off the vine, into waiting hands. I'd better inform Nate.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A pleasant, different kind of hike

The start of our hike on an old logging road
Since there was so much snow on our last two hikes, with our upward progress severely impeded, Al decided to take us instead of our regularly scheduled hike, up to what we call the "Middle Fork area." We drove up the Mt. Baker Highway to Mosquito Lake Road and then followed an old logging road until we got to where we could walk up to the end, have lunch and then turn around. But we were assured that there would be no snow. Thirteen of us drove in three cars to this spot and began our hike.
The Twin Sisters behind us, to the right
Carl took this picture of me (below) at our first viewpoint. It turned out very nice, I think, so I used it to show the Twin Sisters in all their glory. And you can see that the weather was very nice at the beginning of our hike, although it would change later on. You can also see the bandage from my mole removal. Although I could have taken it off today, I figured I would wait until after the day's activities so it would be well protected.
Me in front of the Twin Sisters
And what are all those people looking at in the previous picture? Well, we finally got a good view of the Black Buttes and a peek at Mt. Baker, who was busy hiding behind a cloud on the left. But it's still a picture I was happy to see in my cell phone. Most of these pictures are taken with my camera, but I always sneak one or two with my cell phone, so I can compare them. This picture turned out to be FAR superior to the one taken with my camera.
Mt. Baker and the Black Buttes
If you compare the sky in this picture with the previous one of me, you can see what I mean. I might just stop carrying my camera and focus on using just the cell phone. I would miss my camera's zoom, but that's just about all.

As we were walking up the road, we saw some flowers (I think these are penstemon) that had taken root on the sheer rock walls. I used my camera with the zoom, so I would have missed this picture with only my cell phone camera.
Flowers taking root on a sheer rock face
After a leisurely lunch, we headed back down the same road we traveled up, gaining just about 2,000 feet in three-and-a-half miles to our lunch spot. I got this picture of Jonelle and Carl just before we left to return to our cars. These two intrepid hikers met a while back on one of the hikes Jonelle led in the Palm Springs area (where she winters), and I've learned there will be nuptials at the end of August, joining their two families.
Jonelle and Carl
You might remember that Jonelle and I jumped out of an airplane together just about a year ago. You can refresh your memory here, or if you missed it, read all about it. Not long after this picture was taken, though, as we were heading back down, there were these little drops of something coming out of the sky. As true Pacific Northwesterners, we ignored it for awhile, but then we donned our rain gear, which we all had with us, of course.
Misty rain, Trailblazers donning rain gear in the foreground
It was not bad at all, and by the time we reached the cars on our return journey, it had already stopped. I learned that down here in Bellingham it didn't rain at all. Since it was fairly early, we decided to stop at Caffe Refugio just outside the town of Deming, Washington, for a coffee and/or an ice cream. What a treat it turned out to be!
Trailblazers enjoying gelato, coffee, and buns
It turned out that they have lots of gelato of every flavor, and freshly made espresso drinks, as well as huge cinnamon/bacon buns, which several people enjoyed right there or took home for later. There was only one person serving, but he did a great job. He asked how our hike went, saw to all our needs, and we left happy and quite well satisfied.

It was a different kind of day from those we usually experience on Thursdays, and I found it to be just right for today. We didn't need to deal with snow and difficult conditions, we had good company, and a really good treat to end our time together. I look forward to more of these one of these days.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New life and a doctor's appointment

Some new residents in my neighborhood
In the six years we've lived here, I've seen twin fawns twice now. Once, a few years ago I was enchanted by them, and now it seems we have another set. It's even possible that the doe who gave birth to them is one of those fawns, who knows? I watched her for awhile from my parking lot (the asphalt in the foreground), and she washed one of them for quite awhile, not seeming to care much about my presence. And then I got in my car and drove away. They didn't even look up.

The flowering bushes behind them are non-native blackberry bushes, which are abundant and very tasty every year. It amazes me that they can eat the bushes without being bothered by the thorns, which make it very difficult for me to gather the berries myself. I've learned that a big stick to hold back the branches and long sleeves and gloves make it possible to gather quite a few.

The other new life that I see in my neighborhood are the leaves coming back on the trees that were butchered in my front yard. It was in February when they cut off all the branches, and I thought the trees were dead. But look!
Making a comeback
All those remaining bare branches, every one, now has a cluster of new leaves on it. I think these trees look a little like pictures I've seen in Dr. Seuss books. Or maybe a new species. They were full and lush last fall, and I simply couldn't believe they would grow back, but they are. I suspect by the end of summer they will even have new branches. I'll be taking pictures to document their growth.

This afternoon I have a second appointment with my dermatologist. He is going to remove a mole that has an uneven border and is more than one color, just to be on the safe side. I'm pretty much recovered from the first session, when he used liquid nitrogen to burn off a few growths on my face and neck. They blistered and scabbed over, but now they are completely gone. I'm not looking forward to this, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

I'm not sure where we will be headed for our hike on Thursday, since the amount of snow we have encountered on the last two Thursdays mean that our scheduled hike would be too difficult, and we could simply wait a few weeks and enjoy Welcome Pass without all that snow. It melts out pretty fast at this time of year, but we've had below-normal temperatures for a couple of weeks now. I think we are the only place on the continent that is not already sweltering!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fabulous first day of summer

Lake Padden, summer solstice 2014
What a beautiful day! This morning, early, I woke to sunshine and birdsong and headed over to Lake Padden to join the Fairhaven walking group. I took this picture on our second time around the lake. Afterwards, I went to the Farmers' Market to get some greens that will help to fill in what I am gathering from the garden. Yesterday I brought in lots of lettuce, sugar snap peas, early beets, and strawberries. I notice that the next crop of beets that I planted last week have germinated and are beginning to show themselves.
My garden this morning
My area is the one with the green watering can. I just went out to get a picture so you can admire all that is coming up in there. In about the middle of the garden are some orange and yellow nasturtiums, with lots of borage. I don't need or want all of the borage, but the bees are just plentiful around those blue blossoms, so for now I'll leave them alone. Behind the watering can, the arugula and kohlrabi are going strong.
Broccoli just about ready to harvest
See those cut branches underneath the broccoli? Well, just this week I learned that broccoli leaves are not only edible, but they have as much or more nutrition than the florets! When I buy broccoli in the store, there are only a few small leaves, which makes me wonder what happens to the rest. They taste a lot like collards, but are sweeter and have a hint of broccoli taste. They are simply yummy!
View from my front porch
Moving around to the front of my apartment, you can see my front porch view to the east. Although it's a bit washed out, that's Mt. Baker in the distance. Remember when they cut all the branches off the maple trees in the front yard? You can see that new leaves are indeed coming out, so I expect by the end of summer these trees won't look nearly so stripped and naked. I never knew they would grow back, and so quickly, too.
Leo and his toys
And last but not least, yesterday Leo came to play with me in the coffee shop. He sometimes arrives in a grumpy mood and doesn't want to visit with anybody, but yesterday he came over to show me his latest toys. Every one has a name and a story, which I was fortunate to learn. I treasure every minute I get to spend with him. It's nice to have a friend who is five, and smart, too. He teaches me a lot.

Well, that's it for my first day of summer. Last night I finished watching the new season of "Orange Is the New Black," and I wasn't disappointed at all, except that I must wait a YEAR to see any more of my favorite characters. There are pros and cons to having an entire series released at once, and I cannot seem to parcel them out slowly. I can watch them again later, though. Netflix knows what they're doing. Have a great first day of summer! I hope your day is a really good one, too.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Goat Mountain 2014

Carl, Ward, Linda, Mike, Rita, Jacqueline, Carol, Jonelle, Peggy, Rich, Steve
Although the weather conditions were not ideal, we had a great group today for our hike to Goat Mountain, one of our all-time favorites. (Al was not in the picture, and I took it; for most of the day we were thirteen.) We've done this particular hike more than once a season, since it changes so much each time. Today was an early attempt to get to the overlook, and some made it and some didn't because we had so much snow.
Carol, Linda, Peggy
As we set out, I noticed that three of the ladies were arrayed in shades of purple. I needed to capture it for posterity's sake, and they accommodated by letting me take this picture. It was moderately warm as we began our uphill hike. This particular mountain trailhead starts fairly high up, at 2,500 feet, and we saw lots of beautiful green plants just recently sprouting out from under winter's snow cover.
The trail towards the beginning of the hike
We start out by hiking through a beautiful old growth forest, with lots of lush plant growth, and today, there was just a little sunshine between clouds. The trail is rather unremittingly up for the whole distance, which would end up being just over three miles to the overlook. This part was delightful, with soft dry trail to navigate, but we all knew what was coming.
Woodland violets and a soggy trail as Al trudged upwards
As we gained altitude, our trail began to be a little less lovely, with lots of mud and early growth. The woodland violets were really profuse (on the left side of the trail), and we saw lots of trillium, which have been gone from the lowlands for a while now. It was interesting, really, that there were old and new ones. I prepared this picture showing brand new trillium just out, compared with old ones that have already gone purple.
New ones on the left, old ones on the right
When those trillium on the right were young, they looked just like the ones on the left. See the one that is actually both purple and white? It must be middle-aged. And then, suddenly, when we reached the meadow, all the plants were gone, and we had nothing but snow to navigate for the rest of the way to the top.
The group heading upwards
I remembered how steep this climb is when you get towards the top, to the overlook, and since it wasn't sunny, I knew I could make it. But not everyone was so sure it was a good idea to plow through the snow to an uncertain place. We would need to turn around and descend this snow. Eventually, four Trailblazers decided to stop for lunch at a lower elevation, while the rest of us struggled to reach the place where we might have a real view.
Mt. Sefrit on the left, and Mt. Shuksan's summit behind clouds on the right
This is where the majority of us stopped for a quick lunch on the snow before heading back down to join the others. The descent on the snow was quick and a bit treacherous. I fell, naturally, and managed to fill my left pocket with snow, which made for an interesting trek back down to the exposed trail. (What is that weird coldness on my leg? Why is my pocket bulging like that?)

By the time we had returned to the cars, we all agreed that it had been a good day, that we had a modicum of fun, even if it wasn't our favorite trek to the overlook, and we will return again later in the season to see what awaits us, to see how much it has changed from today's adventure.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How far that first typewriter has come

Top row: typewriters - Bottom row: computers
When I was in high school, I was taught to type on that first typewriter, the Underwood, in the upper left. I remember that it took a LOT of strength to depress those keys properly, so that they would strike the paper. My pinky fingers weren't as strong as the others, so I had to work to get those letters to show up. You couldn't type very fast, or you'd find, as you checked your work, that you had misspelled the words. Then my first actual fancy typewriter, still manual, looked like that red portable Olympus.

Most of my working days before the advent of computers were spent typing on that final one in the top row: the Selectric. I supposed we used that one exclusively in our office because all you had to do to change the type was to replace the little ball, and it was electric (hence the name). I actually bought one of these for my home use, and as I remember I paid quite a lot of money for it, even though it was well used.

In the mid-1980s, we moved to computers, if you can call them that when you relate them to what we use today. That first picture in the second row is a Micom computer, which all the secretaries in my office shared. It used 8-inch floppy disks; you put in the disk and launched the program, and it would type out your manuscript. We were producing scientific papers, so you couldn't very well use a dot matrix printer. Everything was typed out, letter by letter. You could finally fix a typo on the screen and not have to start over! Wow, was that ever cool.

Then came my first actual personal computer, an Apple II, which had a 3.5-disk drive and seemed so very small! I had its use all to myself, and my productivity went way up. I loved this computer and was very sad when we moved to PCs with Windows 98. But I did get accustomed to it very quickly. The days of keys striking a paper through a ribbon were long gone.

That final picture is of a MacBook Air, on which I am typing this post. It's all right there in that little tiny flat thing in that last picture in the bottom row. When you open it up, you have the keyboard, and the internet gives me the ability to talk face to face with my sister, import pictures from my camera or iPhone, and basically be connected to the world.
My MacBook Air
How far we have come from those faraway days when I first learned to type on that old Underwood! And now many people type into tiny little phones, using their thumbs, one stroke at a time. But it's all MUCH faster that I was able to accomplish on that old manual typewriter. I found this funny, very short little video showing a woman who was out of the work force for awhile and returned. You would only understand this little 5-second video if you are a Boomer or older.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Now this is more like it

Light rain and overcast, no view at all
This morning I woke to the sound of rain on the roof. I knew the entire weekend would be unsuitable for skydiving, so I decided to go on the morning outing with the Fairhaven walking group. Since it was raining, I figured only a few of us would show up. But no, 24 women gathered to head up the Galbraith trails together. We walked around five miles or so, with a light rain at times, and otherwise it was just dark and rather gloomy.

The conversation, however, was anything but. By the time we finished, we were all in a pretty good mood and started our weekends on a very nice note. We were all glad we went, despite the weather. It was a first for this particular trail; we will be going back and maybe seeing a view of Bellingham from that vantage point someday. This weather is way more normal that the weeks of constant sunshine we've been having.
From bottom: arugula, kohlrabi, gourmet salad mix, beets, nasturtiums, borage
Not that I'm complaining. It's just that our summer typically doesn't even begin until July 5th, and there were 17 days in a row at SeaTac without any measurable rain. The sunshine has caused my garden to burst forth in a way that has surprised me. I just took these pictures, showing the abundance of my plants. Those kohlrabi starts were just put in a couple of days ago and I do hope they "take." I took out four of my six red cabbage plants because of an infestation of aphids. When I went to Joe's Garden, he told me how to deal with them, and I realized I didn't have to take them out after all: I could use a natural fungicide made of water, olive oil, and dish soap. He suggested going online and learning what proportions to use. Now I have a spray bottle filled with it and I watch my plants carefully.
My first broccoli
And look! I've got broccoli florets beginning to form, making me so very happy. No aphids or mealy worms on them so far, but I'm watching! I gathered the ripe strawberries for the day while I took these pictures just a few minutes ago. The berries are such a nice treat; yesterday I sliced them and mixed them into some plain greek yogurt. Incredibly good and hardly any calories.
Volunteer squash
We've got this squash plant that nobody is sure about, since it's a volunteer and is going crazy out there in our community garden. The yellow zucchini (which is flowering already) is in the lower right foreground. Comparing the leaves, we've decided it most likely is a pumpkin, but nobody is sure. We didn't have any of those in our community garden last year. Who knows?

Anyway, the rain should help my just-planted kohlrabi and beet seeds to do well. Oh, and I also planted some leeks, from starts, so they are taking over the area where the red cabbage used to be. I don't want to waste even a little bit of space in my tiny garden.

Well, that's it from my little corner of the world. I'll watch another episode or two of "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix and read one of the books I picked up at the library yesterday. As I mentioned happens occasionally, I had several on hold and three became available at the same time. I never remember where I first heard of the books, because I sometimes wait for weeks before I get a message about availability, and that's the story with these: The Dinner, and Time and Chance. Hope they are good!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Just one of those days

Twelve Trailblazers going to Church
Just one of those days when you get to have a little bit of everything! Last year, we had three tries before we could even get to the Church Mountain trailhead. And you never know what you're going to find when you get to Church Mountain meadows. I wrote a post three years ago to show the difference in the conditions at the meadow one year apart, in July. You can see the picture here (be sure to enlarge it to get the full effect). Today, in mid-June 2014, we had a day with sunshine, rain, clouds, mist, and lots of snow to walk on at higher elevations.
Honeysuckle in bloom
Not to mention, at lower elevations, lots of wildflowers, too. We not only saw honeysuckle, but columbines, lupines, fairy flowers, star flowers, and even a few more. However, after we had gone a fairly short distance, our sunshine disappeared and it began to rain. We thought it was the beginning of a downpour, so we stopped to put on our rain gear.
Rich in umbrella and rain skirt
Rich, new last week, has returned to give us an idea of his way to deal with rain: an umbrella (we didn't even have Mikey along today) and a skirt he made to wrap around his pants. We are nothing if not innovative in our ways to deal with rain. But the rain didn't last long as we plodded upwards, finding our first snow at about 4,600 feet of elevation.
Snow crossing
Before we reached the meadows, we had a few snow crossings where avalanche chutes caused the snow to accumulate. But we sort of expected this, knowing that by the time we reached the meadows, we would be in full snow.
Mel at the Church Mountain meadows
These meadows from this point onwards will only become more and more beautiful and green as the summer progresses. But today, we had little sun at this point and went a bit farther along before stopping to enjoy our lunch and head back down. We didn't expect that we might get much farther than this. But we did go a little farther just in case the sun might break through and give us a few of the mountains.
Our lunch spot
It wasn't raining, and there was little wind when we stopped here for our lunch, making use of our blow-up seats to sit on the snow. In the distance we could see the clouds breaking a little here and there, but mostly this was the view we enjoyed as we ate lunch. I thought you might like to see what we twelve had for lunch today.
Quite a variety. Mine was the only one eaten with chopsticks :-)
And then we headed back down the trail, knowing that we might eventually make it to the top later this year, given the condition of the snow at this early date. On the way back down, we saw the misty clouds move in here and there, mixed with sunshine. This picture was quite representative of the conditions of our lovely trail as we made our way back to the cars.
Our trail on the way back down
We traveled a mere three and a half miles (more or less) to our lunch spot before turning back, making our day's total around seven. But in those few miles, we gained and lost around 2,600 feet in elevation. So it was a really nice day, with a little bit of everything in the mix. I am now back home enjoying my wine and soon to have my dinner. Here's a picture of me that Jonelle took while we were having lunch. I kind of like it.
Happy to be here, having fun with my friends
Yes, it was another good day, another good hike into the Mt. Baker Wilderness, and it's not even summer yet! I hope you have a great time until we meet again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Time flies when you're having fun

Organic and tasty
I am getting a half dozen ripe strawberries from my little patch every day now. And they are the sweetest and most delightful strawberries I've ever eaten. Could it be because I grew them myself? My garden neighbor Joan transplanted some of her strawberry bushes into my area last fall, and I really didn't think I would get much from them. Boy was I wrong! It looks to me that I might actually end up at some point getting a lot more, if half of the ones on the plant ripen.

I'm so enjoying the garden this year. However, it was about this time last year when I began to get discouraged by aphids and mealy bugs, so I am watching my plants carefully and hoping everything will be better this year. I've planted no kale, no brussels sprouts, since they were basically infested almost immediately. My broccoli and red cabbage are coming along well; I've got my fingers crossed.

In about an hour, I'll leave for an appointment with a dermatologist. When I changed insurance this past January, I immediately called my new provider for a referral, as required. I got on a list to receive an appointment, and here it is June and I'm actually going in to see someone. It's not like I have any real issues, but at my age (and with melanoma in my family history) I'd like to at least have a baseline examination.

I laughed because Smart Guy got a woman doctor (he sees her tomorrow), and I have an appointment with a man. I didn't have any say about it, but if I could have switched, I would have. It's no fun to undress in a doctor's office with someone you've never even seen before! Or is it just me? But at least I've got health care; I should be grateful. The clinic I belong to is a good one, and I really like my primary care physician (another man), even if he doesn't look old enough to drive yet.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday rolls around again

Edible borage flower
I got up this morning and looked at the calendar, and I simply could not wrap my head around the fact that it's already almost the first day of summer (3:51am PDT, two weeks from today). But then when I go out and look at the garden, it's obvious that we are well into the time when we can begin to harvest our first fruits and veggies. I've already gathered salad stuff three times now, with yesterday the first time I picked any arugula, which is fantastically strong, at least compared to the stuff at the supermarket.

I'm going to be inundated with borage, which is good to eat. I steamed some up and found it to be slimy like okra, and I ate too much of it, I think. Now I almost have an aversion to eating more. The flowers, however, are just fine and will make a nice addition to any salad.

I've finally managed to see some results of my lowered calorie consumption. I see why it's important to weigh myself every day, since the fluctuation from day to day can be as much as two pounds. But the good part is that every day I see the scale trending in a downward direction. I've seen a fairly consistent 3-pound loss, but I've got a ways to go before getting to my ideal weight. And then the hard part comes anyway, which is maintaining it.

This morning I would normally be joining the walking group right now, but my skydiving friends and I will be getting together in Snohomish to have some fun in the air, hopefully. Right now there are low clouds and we're thinking it will be clear by noon. That means I could have gone on the walk, since it's usually from 8:00 to 9:30 or so and then a more-than-an-hour drive south, but I decided against it. I'm in a different mode right now.
Sugar snap peas already!
I went out this morning to check my garden plot and saw to my amazement that I've already got some sugar snap peas that I could pick and eat! But there are only those two, and there will be many more very soon, so I'll wait. I'm now finding a half dozen ripe strawberries every day, but soon there will be lots of them all ripe at once. It's a great year for strawberries.
Broccoli and red cabbage
My broccoli is also doing great, along with the red cabbage. I was disappointed to learn there's not much you can do with those great big cabbage leaves. Every day I peer down into the middle of the cabbages, wondering when they will begin to tighten up and start to make a head. Not yet. You'll know when that happens.

Enough! I'm going to gather my stuff together and start that long drive. After I stop for my latte, that is. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Excelsior Pass attempt, again

Heading up the Excelsior Pass trail
I was intending to lead into this post with a picture of the group of Senior Trailblazers who decided to attempt to reach Excelsior Pass from the Mount Baker Highway today (fifteen of us), but when I looked back to see what I wrote about last year, that's exactly what I did, as you can see here. And it turns out it is just a week earlier than we attempted it in 2013. Today was a perfect day, as you can see in the above picture.
Mike took this, so he's here but behind the camera
We had two new hikers today, Chris and Rich, third and second from the right-hand side, standing. They had intended to join us many times before (they are experienced hikers), but Chris is a teacher and this was the first Thursday she could find where the weather was nice and the hike sounded interesting. Since school will be getting out soon, I hope the two of them will join us on some more summer hikes.
Chris and Jacqueline
We stopped partway up to adjust our equipment and have a quick snack. I caught the two ladies having an animated conversation. The dappled sunlight through the trees made for a perfect backdrop. But it wasn't long after this picture was taken that we began to find a little snow on the trail. By the time we reached 4,000 feet of elevation, the snow was pretty much solid. The trail wasn't easy to follow, and then it was noon and we decided to stop for lunch.
Our lunch spot, sitting on our blow-up seats
These kinds of lunch spots, sitting in the sunshine on snow, is where our blow-up seats come in so incredibly handy. You can enjoy whatever you brought along to eat and be perfectly dry and comfy on the snow. Not to mention the great company and scintillating conversation. We had a conversation about whether or not to try to get a little higher after lunch, but the consensus was to head back down.
Looking up towards the pass, which would be to the right
As you can see, there was a lot of snow that we would be plowing through if we decided to try to make it any higher at all. After we stopped for lunch, the clouds began to thicken and make it seem a lot colder, so instead of trying to gain any more altitude, we headed down.
Some of the group, making our way across the snow
Here we are beginning our descent. As you can see, the sun had pretty much disappeared and the nice dappled sunlight that warmed us was gone. Nobody was cold enough to begin to don cold weather gear. We knew we had about a short mile of this to navigate before we would be back down in the greenery and on a nice trail.
No more snow, and the sun came back out
It's truly amazing, the difference that a few hundred (or thousand) feet of elevation can make in the conditions of the High Country, but that's one of the reasons we love it so much. Although we probably didn't make seven miles total, some of it was on that snow, making it much harder to walk on, and we went up and down 2,600 feet, a significant elevation. Next week we'll visit the Church Mountain meadows near here, for a bit longer and a bit higher trip. I can only hope the weather is half as wonderful as we enjoyed today.

So here I am, finishing up my wine AND my post, and it's not even 6:00pm yet. There are at least three more hours of daylight, time for me to check my garden (especially those strawberries), before settling down for the evening. It was a truly delightful day, one I won't forget any time soon.