Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chuckanut Ridge 2016

Starting up the Chuckanut Ridge trail
Before I tell you about today's not-very-wet hike, I want to start with the meaning of the word "Chuckanut" since it never fails to be mentioned in the comments. It is a Native American word that means "beach on a bay with a small entrance." We have a wonderful labyrinth of trails in Chuckanut Mountain Park, and one of the most challenging hikes we do every year is the Chuckanut Ridge trail. Before we finished, we had covered more than 11 miles and hiked up and down around 2,700 feet (823 meters) of elevation. No wonder I'm tired!
Ten Senior Trailblazers did the ridge today
Ten of us met to hike the ridge this morning, even though the forecast was for rain, which is expected to get heavy by this evening (when we would be safe and warm in our homes, hopefully). This ridge trail goes steeply up and down, meaning we climbed the same elevation over and over again. The rain, however, held off for most of the day, although it threatened with a sprinkle or two. We never saw the sun but had better views that we expected.
Looking southeast from the ridge
By this time of the day (around 11:00am), I expected to be ensconced in rain gear, but no, a few clouds in the valley and overcast skies were all we experienced. It was lovely hiking weather, so we headed over to Gates Overlook for lunch. Still no rain.
Bellingham Bay from Gates Overlook
Last time we were here (a few weeks ago), it was soggy from previous rain, but today we were almost dry. A Pacific Northwestern kind of day, for sure. It wasn't wet exactly, but not dry, either. One Trailblazer said it's just the right kind of day for ironing. It made me think of my mother's long-ago coke bottle with a sprinkler head on it for dampening the clothes for the iron.
Enjoying our almost dry lunch break at Gates Overlook
That's my pack in the foreground with the rain cover added, just in case. But as you can see from the way everyone is dressed, it wasn't exactly pouring down rain. We were almost warm and almost dry, not a bad way to have lunch on what was supposed to be a washout kind of day.
Mountains and clouds to the east
As we began our return journey, it was an unexpected treat to get a glimpse of Mt Baker and the Sisters on the skyline to the east. More fluffy clouds in the valley now, but nobody was complaining about the weather at this point, just the long trek back to the cars. I began to tire but there was nobody to carry me out, so I just put one foot in front of the other.
Trees with tutus
When we were almost back to the trailhead, I saw these trees with the ferns coming out of them, making me think of flounces or tutus. Peggy said these are licorice ferns, and they certainly make the trees more interesting, don't you think? A very Pacific Northwestern-y sort of look. All in all, we had a great day, and the rain (which you notice I haven't mentioned yet), stayed away until pretty much the end of the hike. By the time we reached the cars, it was noticeable, but not very heavy at all. In fact, nobody had even put on their rain gear, just rain hats and smiles.

And now I'm resting in my chair, happy about the day's activity, with my wine still at hand and nowhere to go but horizontal for the rest of the day. It was a wonderful day!


  1. I love reading about your hikes at the end of my day. You challenge me to keep moving, set my sights higher, and increase my mileage. It must be wonderful to have hiking friends and the beautiful mountains to keep you company.

  2. You all must be fit to cover this kind of mileage and altitude gain week after week. The moss and ferns are incredible. Glad you (mostly) stayed dry!

  3. When the rain holds off all day it's a bonus. Heavy rain makes things very unpleasant.

  4. Can't believe your luck in avoiding rain!

  5. You have been sooooo lucky with the weather lately.
    Love those views.
    Yay for (a well deserved) wine o'clock.

  6. Eleven miles of up and down is a major hike!
    I thought of you all day, wondering just where the rain would fall. We had heavy rain early and late, but not much in between. we got in our 3.75 mile walk without even a few sprinkles. Today's weather was a pleasant surprise.

  7. Beautiful....

    Ironing? Well, all I know is IRON is a four letter word. I was going well, tagging along with y'all on the hike 'til that word was brought up!!!

    Love the low lying clouds in the mountain view image.

  8. Gorgeous pictures! This trail sounds exhausting...

  9. Mountains, Clouds, Moss and Ferns - you discover a new photo of life everytime you hike. Lovely......and you got by the rain again. :)

  10. You guys have been so lucky with the rain lately.
    Too bad there aren't more picnic tables when you guys stop for lunches. That looked really nice to have on a damp day.
    Love the views and the ferns on the trees. :)

  11. The view of the Bay looks so beautiful. I am so envious of your walks as I am unable to go on any rambles at the moment due to tendon problems.

  12. Just as I thought. A good bunch would show up and hike no matter what. Sure do admire your group's pluck. Mom Nature usually rewards your determination.
    That mountains and cloud pic is so pretty and I love the unique names for trails and lakes in your area.

  13. loved the tutus. day for ironing made me lol! yay for almost no rain!

  14. Love the name, "Chuckanut"! Wasn't there a coffee once called "Chock full of nuts"? Anyway, I love the pics... especially the second one. If I enlarge it, I can imagine that I'm treking right behind that lady with the stick. Glad you'all had a good hike!

  15. That is a long hike! Glad the rain held off. It turned way cold here and the wind is raw. No fun to be outside with wind chills -35 BELOW :(

  16. It seems you always have a good time no matter where you go. Congrats on the nice hike.

  17. I love the idea of the trees with tutus. Licorice? I wonder if it has some kind of licorice taste.

    That is such a lovely hike. I'm happy you had such a lovely day.


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