Thursday, August 6, 2015

Railroad Grade 2015

Starting out
Fifteen Senior Trailblazers set out from the Senior Center this morning in foggy conditions, with every expectation that it would clear off, since we've been having nothing but blue skies for weeks. We drove in four separate cars to the Schreiber's Meadow trailhead to make our way up Railroad Grade (which has nothing to do with railroads but has earned its name because of the way it looks). Anyhow, we sent the fast hikers, who were in their own car, on ahead so that we could stay within the limitation of 12 hikers in the wilderness area. It was still foggy when we started hiking, with a light mist, but it only made it feel very pleasant.
Notice that Al is leading once again
As we continued our upward trek, the sun didn't magically appear like I thought it would. Instead, the fog grew thicker, and one might even be tempted to call it rain, but we never went that far. Some of us did put on our raincoats for the thick fog, but we were SURE it would clear and we'd have wonderful views. You can see what we missed today by looking back to 2012. Nevertheless, we kept going and had beautiful views, but they were mostly of the fog.
Climbing higher, we could see Railroad Grade
We ran into many groups who are actually going to make camp tonight and attempt to climb Mt. Baker tomorrow. They were carrying full packs and heading up to the climbers' camp on the far side of the Grade. We were just wanting to climb upward until it was time for lunch.
The final push to the knife edge
You can tell the ones who were not with our group in this picture, because are carrying much more supplies than we did. Two of them are right at the top of the edge, while we made our way up behind them. 
The knife edge along Railroad Grade
It's hard to describe what it feels like to reach this spot, because on one side you climb up a steep slope, and on the other you reach a sheer drop-off into a deep moraine scoured out by an ancient glacier. You hear the sound of the water rushing at the bottom before you can actually get a feel for the immense open space on both sides.
Starting back down the Grade
After we had gone a fair distance along the knife edge (which only has a few really scary spots), we decided that the view was not getting any better, and we made our way back to the safety of the trees to have lunch.
Our lunch spot
You can see the nice protected spot where we chose to have our lunch before heading back down. And from our clothing, you can probably surmise that we weren't exactly bathing in sunshine. Yes, it's true: the sun never made an appearance on the entire trip today. I went looking for a picture to show you what the day was like.
Mountain ash berries covered with moisture
Yes, you might be tempted to call that heavy mist rain, but we were certainly not going to. After we began our downward trip, it never got any worse, but it wasn't until we were almost in sight of the cars at Schreiber's Meadow before we saw our shadow. By the time we drove back the 65-mile-long return trip, the sun was completely out. 

On the plus side, we had perfect hiking conditions, covered around 7-and-a-half miles and went up and down around 2,000 feet of elevation, making it pretty darn wonderful, even if we never saw Mt. Baker today. And the company could not have been better! Now that I'm home, my wine only half finished, and my post complete, I can say it was definitely a great day!


  1. 'just a few really scary spots' made me laugh. :)

    so glad al is back! :) nice you got a gloomy day to break up all that sunshine and heat!

  2. I kep wondering what this has to do with railroads!

  3. Wow! That's quite a trek! You deserved that glass of wine. Lunch must taste extra delicious when you're on a hike and eating outdoors. I hope you had a thermos of hot soup.

  4. You know, although I love sunshine and views, I also like hiking in cool weather. And I'm happy you're enjoying some cool temps - and hopefully maybe a tiny bit of precip!

  5. What a glorious excursion! You truly know how to LIVE. Thanks for sharing! :)

  6. I am so happy that Al is at the front of the pack again. Can you pass our pleasure to him please?
    And I loved the moody mystery that the fog/mist/almost rain gave. Thank you for taking us with you. So much.

  7. It'd be those few scary spots that I would be wary of. Those big packs on the other hikers camping looked heavy enough. You are right DJan, there are some beautiful views of the fog. I laughed when you said that, for I once had a visitor from Belgium and I took her for a drive up the coast to see our beautiful Bay Of Fundy. The fog chose not to go out that day. ha,ha We had our lunch sitting on a hilltop on a blanket looking out at the fog :) Welcome back Al.

  8. I'd surely take a day of foggy weather 'bout now!! And such gorgeous scenes at that...fog and all. Eating lunch so near the huge pines would be heavenly. So peaceful.

    And now I'm wondering...just why is there a limit to hikers in a group?

  9. I don't mind Grand Canyon type trails and views as long as there is a good solid railing to hang on too. The "Knife Edge" no thank you. And in recent years I've added occasional vertigo to my phobia....

  10. Good to see Al back as your leader. Not many views but the good company made up for that.

  11. I remember this climb, that knife edge is not my kind of trail! I would be on my hands and knees! Good to see Al is back, I hope in top form too! :)

  12. It is good Al is feeling well enough to again be your leader. He must be feeling much better and he usually sets a doable pace for you.
    What an awesome view looking down at the river.

  13. I just love seeing a group of you colorful hikers on a hillside. Makes me smile! Glad to be back catching up with you, DJan. It feels good. :)

  14. Looks wonderful to me too. You must have been very tired at the end though. I did look back and yes, you did miss the spectacular bit but never mind, maybe next time.

  15. Well, certainly nothing to whine about!


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