|Doug, Kirk, Chris, Carol, Rich, Steve, and Mikey|
Today looked like it might not be as wet as last week's hike, and sure enough, it wasn't quite that wet, but still. Nine Senior Trailblazers showed up on an overcast but still dry day in Bellingham, and after much discussion we decided to drive the sixty miles up the Mt. Baker Highway to Artist Point and attempt Ptarmigan Ridge. There have been many similar days on this trail in recent years, but last year, on the same date, we had some magnificent views
, along with snow. Today was our first hike of the fall season as well.
|Mike, Rich and Chris getting ready for the rain|
As we drove up the road, the rain began, and didn't let up much at all as we arrived at the Artist Point parking lot and got ready for a wet hike. There's Rich in a poncho and his rain skirt, and Mikey looking on from behind with his umbrella. Chris had devised a belt to hold her poncho in place and it seemed to work very well.
|Al in his poncho, Ptarmigan Ridge visible behind him|
After we had gone less than a mile, the rain began to lessen, and we even had a quick glimpse of our shadow. Our views (and I know there are some spectacular ones here) were pretty, even if they were a little less inspiring than last year's
. It was pleasant to be hiking along in cool weather, especially when it wasn't raining.
|Clouds and fall colors|
Once we reached the ridge, we decided to chance it and take off some rain gear. Not everyone did this, of course, but some of our number get very hot encased in plastic while exercising. We were also confident that it would not be a constant rain like we had last week. It turned out to be the perfect description of "occasional showers."
|Mike, Chris, Rich, Kirk, Doug, Al|
As you can see here, Rich removed his poncho and skirt, and Al changed from a poncho to his raincoat. Kirk stashed his poncho, and Mikey put away his umbrella (but not for long). We made our way along the trail to Ptarmigan Ridge. It was actually quite pleasant, but once in awhile the rain would remind us it wasn't completely gone.
|Me in my new raincoat (Carol's picture)|
I left on my raincoat, which I purchased new yesterday. Yes, I know I have that great eVent jacket from REI, but it sure didn't keep me dry last week, and I wanted something I could carry with me that would be very light and keep me drier. It worked perfectly; I was very pleased, even though it's not an expensive jacket, it did what I needed it to do today.
|Return of the rain|
And then the rain returned in earnest, and we decided not to stop for lunch but to turn around and make our way back to the trailhead. We thought we could have lunch at the Beer Shrine
(or maybe beer and pizza instead of our packaged lunch) if we were willing to wait awhile longer. Nobody wanted to stop and eat, knowing we would get cold, so off we went back to the trailhead. We ended up hiking six miles with a moderate amount of up and down, but nothing like our usual distance.
|The muted fall colors on our return|
It wasn't even 2:00pm when we returned to the cars, so we drove off hoping for a late lunch at the Shrine, but it was closed. So down the road we went to Refugio's
, having a nice (if very late) lunch before heading home. I was very pleased with my own updated rain gear, and we were happy to say goodbye to each other after having spent another fine day in the wilderness together. It turns out it was dry all day in Bellingham, so we actually drove sixty miles, unbeknownst to us at the time, just to play in the rain!