|Me in the Church Mountain meadows, Mt. Baker behind|
Yes! Today eighteen (!) Senior Trailblazers set out for Church Mountain up the Mt. Baker Highway. Five of the group decided to try for the summit, while the rest of us would be content to make it to the meadows, which (as you can see) are still under lots of snow. Later in the year the meadows open up to fabulous wildflowers, and I will hopefully at that time be able to climb to the summit.
|Sun coming through the maple leaves|
This hike starts at a fairly high elevation, 2,400 feet, and meanders up 17 switchbacks to the meadows, covering somewhere near 2,500 feet of elevation gain in around three miles. It was a sunny day, with a few clouds but plenty of sunshine to make us happy to have the tree cover for those three miles before we broke out into full sun at the meadows.
|Stopping to add gaters and Yak-Traks before the snow|
I was not at all sure how my knee would behave on this rather strenuous hike, but it was without any problem at all going upwards. It was the downhill that I worried about, but I wasn't going to let that get in the way of the wonderful views and fun in the sun! We stopped just before we hit the snow to don paraphernalia to help us navigate the snow, such as gaters (to keep the slushy snow from going into our boots) and Yak-Traks to give us some traction.
|Lots of snow ahead|
This picture looks 180 degrees from the previous one, showing what we had ahead of us. The summiteers were already ahead, and if you look carefully you can see their tracks in the snow. We were headed to a viewpoint on a ridge a little to the left of this picture. First, we had to cross the stream, which is still mostly surrounded with snowpack, as you can see here.
|Still lots of snow as we headed to that ridge|
We did have to cross a snowbridge to cross this stream, but it is still safe, but in a week or so it won't be. We made our way across to that ridge with the trees, where we stopped to have our lunch. Once we got there, we had the option to sit in shade or sun, or even make our way down a short slope to ground.
|Carol and Melanie, with a great view behind them|
This was the first hike where I got to meet Melanie, a new Trailblazer who joined the group right after I got injured. We rode in the same car at my request, so I could chat with her a bit. She's just moved to the area and will be a great asset to our group, I am sure.
|Bill and Bob opted to have lunch on snow-free ground|
Dr. Bill sometimes hikes with the other group, and Bob travels often, so I was really happy to be on a hike that included them both. I asked for a picture and they accommodated me. At this point, it was just about time for us to gather our gear and head back down to the cars.
|Heading back across the snow to the switchbacks and cars|
We never saw the summit group, except once while we were having lunch we thought maybe we spied them as they made their way upwards. The rest of us headed back to the cars, and after we had gone a short distance on the downhill, I realized that my knee needed some help. I took a couple of Vitamin I pills (that would be ibuprofen) and asked Mike if he would carry my pack, saving my knee from further trauma. He agreed readily, and I have to say that right now, after returning home and quaffing most of my wine, I am feeling as good as I ever do after a hike of this magnitude. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mike, for being my porter for those three miles!
And now I think I can say that my knee really is working again, if not completely healed, at least mostly recovered from the meniscus tear. And what a day! I would not have wanted to miss this wonderful hike with some of my BFFs.