|Al at the spot where we first hit snow|
I was a little late getting to the Senior Center today, because the cold weather caused the locks in my car to freeze up. It was only 23 F (-5 C) a half-hour before sunrise, as I sauntered up to my car dressed in plenty of warm clothes.
When I finally did get in (through the passenger door) I had to spend quite a bit of time scraping ice off the windows. But I made it! Nine of us set out for the Pine & Cedar Lake trailhead, which starts at Old Samish Road. I've done this hike at least half a dozen times, and somehow I always forget about the beginning: you ascend 1,300 feet (almost 400 meters) in just over a mile and a half.
|I wasn't expecting so much snow|
After navigating the steep part, the trail was pretty much covered with snow from then on. I didn't have much problem going up, but I knew the downhill was going to be challenging, to say the least. I wasn't disappointed.
|The sun finally made it through the trees|
Although it was cold, our exertions kept us plenty warm as we headed to the viewpoint above Cedar Lake. I've been at this place many times, but I had never been fortunate enough to see the view. Today I did, and it is really spectacular.
|Me, Lisa, Linda (taken by Bill)|
Not only did we have a brilliant cloudless blue sky, but the trees were decorated with snow, and Mt. Baker smiled at us. Wow! After a while we began to get a little chilly, since we had stopped moving, and left for Cedar Lake. We continued to have plenty of snow to navigate, but everyone was in a very good mood as we made our way to the lake.
|Steve, Linda, Ward, Bill|
This spot at the lake was in full sun, which made it hard to leave. We lingered at this point and had a little snack and decided, since it was still early, that we would have our lunch at Raptor Ridge.
|Frozen Cedar Lake|
Looking the other direction from the previous picture, you can see Cedar Lake and that it is totally frozen over. In all the times I've been coming here, I've never seen it like this. Although occasionally there is some ice in the lake, the cold weather has caused it to completely freeze, but I suspect it's not very thick. Sure is pretty in the sunlight, though.
|Snow crystals on Raptor Ridge|
We decided to skip Pine Lake and head directly to Raptor Ridge for lunch. When we got there, I was surprised to find that the ridge was covered with snow, which made for some pretty designs. Al called it "snow stubble." It was almost noon when we sat down in the snow and sunshine to have our lunch.
|Sun, snow, and happy Trailblazers|
That sun doesn't hold a lot of warmth, and I checked the temperature to find it was only 28 F, even with all that sun. It was so clear that we could see Mt. Rainier very well, but it was so far away that I couldn't capture it with my iPhone and I'd forgotten (again) to bring my camera with the zoom. All of these pictures were taken with an iPhone 6.
And on the downhill, I fell twice on the slippery snow and broke one of my trekking poles. Steve was my hero when he gave me one of his to use. I was unable to continue on the slippery snow without two functioning poles; I will be heading off to REI to see if they will replace it or whether I'm going to need to buy another set. They are essential to my ability to hike these days.
We covered somewhere around seven miles and went up and down around 2,000 feet, so it was a good day. By the time I'd returned to the cars, my knees were complaining mightily about that downhill, but all in all I was happy to spend the last day of 2015 in the snow, the mountains, accompanied by such good, good friends. Happy New Year!