Thursday, June 2, 2016

Excelsior Pass, almost

A damp forest and hikers
Today ten Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to discuss our options on this rather rainy Thursday. Of course the only day during the week when rain was forecast was today, so we decided instead of trudging up Goat Mountain and then not having a view, we'd venture up Excelsior Pass from the Mt. Baker highway. This is a strenuous hike, going up around 3,500 feet (1,000 meters) over four-and-a-half miles. The group attempted this hike three weeks ago, when my knee could not possibly have taken the strain, so I missed it. That made me rather happy to be going today, to see how my knee would fare.
Our route today
This map shows where we went today. First an hour drive up Highway 542 to the trailhead, and then up the Excelsior Pass trail, just about in the middle of the above map. Starting at 1,825 feet, we slogged up the red wiggly line on the map to right around 5,000 feet of elevation.
Our beautiful forest
Starting out, it was raining gently, not hard, nothing to give us anything we were not prepared for. Now and then, as you can see from the above picture, the clouds thinned and occasionally gave us brief moments when the fog in the trees lighted our way upwards. It was really rather beautiful.
Rich in his rain skirt in the snow
But as we climbed, we finally hit patches of snow that eventually ended up being a deal breaker for reaching the pass, as you can see here. Rich is getting ready to have his lunch, with the only view we had today behind him. The view came and went, but the rain lessened until it was almost nonexistent. Not completely, but almost. We stopped here, at 5,000 feet and less than a mile from the summit, to have our lunch.
Our lunch spot
The snow made the summit possible but not likely to give us anything we had not already experienced. We refreshed ourselves with food and piled on every bit of warm clothing we had with us and then started back down the way we had come. It took a bit of hiking before we were all warm and toasty again.
Out of the snow
Finally we descended enough to be out of the snow. It makes it quite difficult to walk safely and took all my energy just to make sure I didn't fall. As you can see from this picture, it never did get sunny. But not long after this picture was taken, we began to see patches of sunshine and the misty rain came and went, sometimes completely.
The trail 
This final picture was taken at our last stop before we returned to the trailhead. The light green foliage, combined with the misty trees, were lovely to see. We were truly bathing in the forest. We talked about how wonderful forest bathing is for the soul, and today ten of us were scrubbed clean by Shinrin-yoku (森林浴).

And now I am home, filled with joy and happy to be off my feet, drinking my well deserved wine, and rejoicing that my knee did not complain much today! Between yoga and proper rehabilitation, I am well again!


  1. I agree "forest bathing" is good for the soul. Glad to hear the knee held up.

  2. Thank you so much for taking us to bathe in the forest with you. I am thrilled that your knee only whinged a little. Yay you.

  3. Oh my! I love the idea of shinrin yoku. Sigh... With all the forest bathing you do, your soul must be squeaky clean. Sigh... the woods here are full of mosquitoes, unfortunately.

  4. I'm a bit like Kay....too many mosquitoes to enjoy much walking ANYwhere these days. And as far a Texas goes, everything is either soaked, flooded, or BEING soaked. Your hike is absolutely breathtaking. Love the idea of being bathed in the forest.'s good to read that your knee didn't give you fits. Yes, a well deserved glass of wine indeed.

  5. I envy you for the mountainous in your area. We live in a pancake-like area. Your walks are challenging and exhilarating. It must be interesting and cold to walk into the snow as you ascend. Yay for the fixed knee!

  6. Congratulations on your knee holding up well, and on not falling. Be careful out there!

  7. Great news! Now just keep being super careful on all downhills! I hope you are still wrapping that knee just in case:)

  8. One of my favorite hikes is to go up and hike in the snow. You have to take more clothes as you did. The spring s now is always hard and only shoe deep slushy on top. In fall snow you have to wade through all of it.

  9. I'm glad your knee behaved for this strenuous hike. Love those photos of the foggy, PNW woods. One of my favorite things is a hike in the misty, foggy forest.

  10. I wondered whether or not you would hike on Thursday. I am glad there was little pain, if any, going downwards, because in the past, you did complain about it. Nice photos, DJan.

  11. I just ran across a video this past week on forest bathing for your good health. Sweet! I am so glad your knee held up on a strenuous hike!! I can imagine what a relief that was to you. :)

  12. hooray for your knee holding! what a difference between elevations!

  13. I'm amazed that your knee is so well so fast. Just shows how healthy athletes are! I've read about forest bathing, though I don't think of your hike up the mountain as a "leisurely walk in the forest"! I on the other hand do a lot of "shinrin-Yoku".

  14. I had not heard of forest bathing, so I Googled it. I get it. It is a feeling I get when I walk in a forest!.
    That was a lot of going up and coming down. If your knee could handle that, you are doing very well.


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