Thursday, June 15, 2017

First wilderness hike of the year

Heading up to the Church Mountain meadows
Only eight Senior Trailblazers gathered today to head up for our first hike into the High Country, up the Mt. Baker Highway to the Church Mountain trailhead. It's a long drive, and we figured the entire time outside would be spent in our rain gear, since the projection was, once again, for heavy rain for the entire day. It had been so long since we'd visited some of our favorite hikes that we went anyway. We first did this hike last year in mid-May, and there was much less snow than what we encountered today. It varies from year to year. We went last year a second time in early June, and it was more like today, but the weather was better. Check out last year's hike to see what I mean.

We hiked for most of the early part of the day, before we reached the meadows, in either no rain or light mist. Nobody, you might notice in that picture, was wearing rain gear. Yet. That would change, but we sure felt blessed by the lack of it to start.
We met our first snow not far from the meadows
It was still not raining, and we had hiked up most of the switchbacks that lead us to the meadows, and only a very light sprinkle caused most of us to keep going upward without rain gear. As soon as we came out into the meadows, however, the light rain began to pick up and we got ready for the snow and rain.
Reaching the meadows
Rich's cool umbrella setup has been modified again, based on last week's test case, and it seemed to work really well. He didn't have to put on any more rain gear (except a pack cover) until we ventured out into the snow. Several people put on their "spikes" or traction gear on their boots, but unfortunately mine was left behind; I just forgot.
Church Mountain Meadow today
By the time we got to this spot, it was raining and blowing quite hard, with nobody really wanting to go much farther. We weren't going to have a chance to do anything but trudge upward and go nowhere. So we stopped for lunch, since it was already noon anyway.
Today's lunch spot
We found a place mostly out of the wind in the trees and settled down for a quick lunch. I found that my poncho was much warmer in the wind than my rain jacket, and as I hunkered down in the trees, I was able to capture this shot that shows our attempt at staying warm while we replenished ourselves with a little food.
Mountain Man Jim
Before we left, I got this picture of Jim, looking happy and content in somewhat difficult circumstances. Although Jim hasn't been with us long, he's made himself someone I look forward to seeing every week. Plus he was my helper today, holding my gear while I rearranged things accordingly.
Thanks to Jim for the picture
His picture turned out so well I asked him to take one of me, in my red poncho and rain hat. If you can believe it, I was warm and toasty when he took it, but just a bit anxious to get going before anything changed. Standing around was not a good idea, since it was anything but warm.
Returning to the trailhead
We hustled pretty quickly down through the snow and onto the safe and secure path to return to our cars. It was raining a little harder by this time, but we were on our way back to the cars. We knew that all eight of us had managed to deal with the challenging conditions, and nobody was hurt or hypothermic. Yes, a good day. We covered just over six miles of distance, but elevation gain and loss of 2,700 feet (823 m). Not shabby at all. A good hike with great company, and I'm excited about more visits to the High Country in the coming weeks!


  1. Your group are really die hards! Good for you for getting out and hiking despite the weather.

  2. Challenging indeed! I don't know how you do it! Awesome!

  3. I'm relieved that you turned around in the face of that snow field. You can come back when the flowers are blooming.

  4. Amazing that you people seem to traverse seasons on your hikes!

  5. Wow! A LOT more snow this year. Love the red rain poncho! :)

  6. It startles us in the 90's seeing so much snow. I really liked the red poncho--makes you easy to spot and it is a good color for you. I'm sorry, I know it is effective but that umbrella makes me a smile. We tried a similar gadget when meter reading but we kept getting it caught in the bushes and shrubs. Kept the dogs at a distance though.

  7. Love the meadow pic...and his rain gear mechanisms trials are pretty nifty.

  8. What an inviting trail! Can't get over how you have snow in the high country still.

  9. A good challenge makes for a good hike. Once you get going in difficult circumstances , you just keep going until you get home.

  10. Great photo of you! Nice red poncho too! Hope someone made a snowball or two :)

  11. Snow? I'd like some right now. I'm sweltering over here in Hawaii.


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