Thursday, September 8, 2016

Park Butte 2016

Looked like the clouds were on their way out
Only seven Senior Trailblazers showed up this morning to drive south to Schreiber's Meadow and begin our hike to Park Butte. This was partly because the weather wasn't exactly perfect (although it was supposed to get better as the day wore on), and because of a local protest against the logging of Blanchard Mountain, one of our favorite winter destinations. I think many of our usual hikers chose to go there. We drove in drizzle and low clouds to the trailhead.
Dave, Melanie, Al, Ellen, Carol
By the time we reached the junction that goes one way to Railroad Grade and the other to Park Butte, we had not seen much of that elusive sunshine. It wasn't raining, but a cold wind would come through now and then, along with sun breaks, tantalizing us. It was very pleasant hiking weather as we ascended toward Park Butte.
Pea-soup fog continues
Although most of us had been there before, both Ellen and Melanie have not seen the spectacular views on this hike. They will need to come back another day to see what they missed.
Dave, Melanie, me, Carol, Ellen
And then we made it to the historic fire lookout cabin, which is open to anyone who wishes to stay overnight, as long as you follow the rules. There was one young man who had spent three nights up there and said he would pack up and leave himself, once we finished with our lunch. He said the fog moved in yesterday and had not yet shown any signs of lifting.
Our return trip, still no views
Although the fog continued, we did have moments when the sun would break through and the wind died down, and then suddenly we would be too warm in all our clothes. I could feel that it was a little lighter, that there was a sense that soon we'd be in sunshine.
Mt. Baker peeking through
When we had descended for around an hour, we passed by the spot where you usually have a magnificent view of Mt. Baker, and this was what we saw. The sun was shining in spots, but the summit is obscured on the left. We stood around for awhile hoping it would clear, but it didn't.
Ellen at the junction to Mazama Park
Ellen is showing where the trail splits off to Mazama Park and down to the Ridley Creek trailhead we'll do in a few weeks. The sign shows which way to go to get to the Park Butte Lookout. We meandered down our return trail until we reached the meadows with lots of ripe blueberries.
Trailblazers picking berries
It was really almost impossible to keep from stopping now and then and tasting them. They were so ripe and the red leaves would fall away, exposing lots of berries. One person said he had just uncovered a horde and had to pick them, making me wonder about the word usage (hordes? passels? bunches?) for the abundance we discovered.
Crossing over the bridge almost to the parking area
When I finally got back on the trail, I heard the roaring of Sulphur Creek, the main stream draining from Easton Glacier on Mt. Baker. We crossed over the final bridge and were back at our cars, having covered around eight miles and 2,000 feet of elevation up and down. Not one of our hardest hikes, and the cool fog and breeze kept me comfortable for the entire time, delightful even without the views.

Of course, by the time we were halfway home, the skies had cleared and it was sunny. It didn't matter, though; we had just enjoyed a fine hike and an adventure with good friends. Sometimes I can't help but give thanks for the group and the beautiful places we have to hike in. Now it's time for a shower!


  1. Too bad about the fog, but it kept you cool! Blueberries for lunch and fresh off the bush...and no bears! :)

  2. Another great hike. I love the look out, and the berries too, which we would call huckleberries.

  3. I love long as I don't have to drive in it. :) I think I even prefer the beach on foggy mornings, compared to summer sun!

  4. Even with the cloud cover, the hike looked glorious. I smile every time you write the distance and over what elevation you travelled. Amazing!

  5. pea soup is right! hordes, passels, bunches. :) i'd add 'gobs'.

  6. Wow, that fog is thick! But it looks like a beautiful hike regardless!

  7. Well, you did find ripe blueberries to eat. That in itself is a blessing. Lol.

  8. I did a huckleberry hike a couple of weeks ago - is there anything better than finding berries as you hike? Even though there were no views, it looks like a pretty trail and always good to be out with friends.

  9. There's something about being out doors and challenging the elements. You know that you can't run in the house when the weather is down.

  10. That's a great photo of everyone picking the berries.

  11. That might be the thickest fog I have seen you hike through. How wonderful to have dessert growing by the trail for you. The view had to have been dampened but the cool had to feel good.

  12. That's a lot of fog. I do love fog, but climbing UPhill was never my happiest thing to do. Still doing so with good friends is the absolute best thing of all.

  13. I do like fog, but don't know if I'd like hiking through it (certainly don't like driving through it). But it's kind of mysterious... always reminds me of Merlin and the dragon's breath.


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