Thursday, April 30, 2015

Oyster Dome and Samish Overlook

Maidenhair ferns
Today eleven Senior Trailblazers went on one of our regular Chuckanut hikes, this one from Chuckanut Drive up to Oyster Dome and then a loop back around, visiting Lily Lake and Samish Overlook. We've done it once a year, sometimes with good weather, and sometimes like today, some clouds and some sun but no You-Know-What (starts with an R). It's springtime here in the Pacific Northwest, and many of the pictures I took today were of springtime beauty.
Old trail on the left, new trail on the right
This has always been a very hard hike because of the steep uphill to Oyster Dome over lots of roots and sketchy trail. But today we discovered that much of the difficulty has been alleviated because parts of the difficult and muddy trail have been improved. As you can see here, much of the old trail has been replaced with a wonderfully designed new one.
This is what most of the trail once looked like
Towards the top, before we reached Oyster Dome, we ran into old trail that is apparently scheduled for renovation. The amount of improvement on the trail already means that if we had wanted to, we could have turned around and descended with a minimum of fuss and bother. Before, it was so treacherous that we have always extended the hike by making a longer trip out of it, going back by way of Lily Lake and Samish Overlook, and that's what we did today.
The view from Oyster Dome
We reached the top right around 11:00am and discussed whether we should wait until we got to Lily Lake to have lunch, but nobody was all that interested in waiting. All that uphill (well more than 2,300 feet of uphill in around three-and-a-half miles) made us all interested in resting before going on. We had covered about a third of the entire hike but had most of the uphill behind us.
Sword fern unfurling
Everywhere I looked as we hiked towards Lily Lake, I saw sword ferns, wood ferns, and (as Peggy informed us) lady ferns. Although many of them looked the same to me, there was no shortage of greenery and flowers to look at. I saw Siberian miner's lettuce, star flowers, and when we got to Lily Lake, Peggy told me that this pretty double flower is called a twinberry. I looked it up, and sure enough, it's called a twinberry honeysuckle.
Twinberry honeysuckle
That's Lily Lake in the background, and this pretty yellow double flower will become a twin fruit during the summer. I was so pleased to be able to capture it today. And then we left to start our hike to Samish Overlook via Max's Shortcut. As we walked, we know that there was a rather unpleasant part of our trip ahead: for many years, we have been seeing signs that the area would be logged.
Our beautiful trail to Samish Overlook
Although I had seen the signs on the trees for ages, it has finally come: this is what we had expected to see all the way to Samish Overlook because the timber sale has done its work. Instead of all the greenery we knew from before, we saw this:
The trees are all gone
We trekked through what seemed to be endless devastation, but this is what Washington state allows and even condones. This area, I have been told, will be reseeded once again. It will never be what it once was, but one day it will recover to some degree. I wish I could say I don't use or care about wood products, but it's not true; you and I all use the products that will come from the trees that once stood here. Some day we may find a better way, but until then, I will mourn the loss of habitat.
Samish Overlook
And then we reached Samish Overlook, at low tide as you can see here. It was finally beginning to clear, since we had clouds and some sun until we got to this place. As you can see, there is a little breeze, and we commented to one another that it was perfect for parasailing. We know that many parasailors use this spot as a starting point, and while we were there, several of them showed up. We watched them set up, and I saw this guy launch right in front of us.
Top left: before takeoff; top right, stepping off; bottom, flying
It was really exciting to watch the parasail catch the wind and watch him step off the side of the cliff, right into what looked to our eyes like the void. But his sail caught the wind and carried him high above us. Many asked if this is anything like skydiving, but it really isn't. The shape of the parasail is nothing like a parachute; it's a different thing altogether. Although we watched another launch, by the time we left to continue our hike, that parasail was still catching updrafts and flying high above us.

And then we finally reached the cars, having covered almost nine miles and climbed around 2,500 feet total. I'm sitting here in my chair finishing this post, and thinking how glad I am that I was on today's hike. It was a wonderful day, filled with lots of highs and lows, lots of ups and downs.


  1. improved trails look nice. love the ferns. really beautiful view from the overlook, then much less beauty. i agree. we all depend on wood products and it must be very expensive to try to do 'selective' logging instead of cutting a huge swath. hard to look at, though. glad you didn't have any 'r'!

  2. Ferns are among my favourites, and Maidenhair fern is my favourite fern! I wish we had Sword Ferns here.

  3. Improving trails makes a big difference in the pleasure of a hike. the roots are really hard to navigate. There's lots of clear cutting here as well.

  4. Lovely view on top of Oyster Dome. Yeah, I hate clear cuts too. No fun to hike through....Very cool that you got to see the parasailers.

  5. Trails look inviting; and the view looks amazing ... worth the tirp!

  6. That overlook takes my breath away!!!! And I thank you...sharing your senior hikes takes us all to a virtual brochure of the beauty in your area!!!! Wow.

    But...those roots in the trail....I'd still be flat on my face...I just KNOW I'd be the one to trip over them.

  7. Logging isn't pretty. But you still managed to get some lovely photos, the ferns are so pretty and that Twinberry Honeysuckle is very pretty and I bet it smelled good too:)

  8. I am glad you showed photos of that parasailing. I wonder how he landed, though. Was there some cord he pulled to bring him down?

  9. The improved trails were really nice--- that clear cut not so. Surprised you haven't tried parasailing. That looks right up your alley and my wouldn't it be wonderful.

  10. You share so much information with us. I love learning all the little tidbits like the names of the flora and fauna that you see. Those maidenhead ferns are breathtakingly lovely. I love ferns. The photo at the top is especially striking because the juxtaposition of the greens and the browns.

  11. What a dramatic view with the parasail! You are one hardy group of people. That trail looks rough and exhausting!

  12. Big improvement on that trail for sure. Methinks climbing those steep elevations would require the motivation 0f fairly reliable rumors of giant rainbow trout waiting for a fly at the end...:)

  13. Yikes! 9 miles! Wow! I am all admiration. You do have the BEST mountain views in the Pacific Northwest, DJan. I don't think I've ever seen a sword fern before.


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