Thursday, July 20, 2017

Soaked on Yellow Aster Butte

Al on the trail
Nine Senior Trailblazers showed up at the Senior Center on a day that was forecast to be a little rainy, with showers expected on and off all day. It was raining here in Bellingham when I set out for the Center, and we were ready for any weather (we hoped). Since it's been dry for well over a month, I was not unhappy about having a little rain to freshen things up. We expected that, if we had any luck, it would clear enough to give us a view. Not even close. Here's what we missed this year. Last year it was hot and sunny.
Looking toward Yellow Aster Butte

When we started out, the rain had lessened enough that we didn't immediately put on our rain gear, thinking that it would get better as we hiked. The weather was cool and it was actually quite lovely, especially since we all expected it to get better, not worse.
Junction on trail to Tomyhoi
By the time we reached the junction to Tomyhoi Lake, it had started to rain hard enough for us to put on our rain gear. Almost everyone had ponchos, which was perfect gear for some air to move around us while hiking.  As it turned out, we didn't get to take our rain protection off again.
Al and Carol with a snowfield behind them
Much of the time, we didn't have any view at all, but every once in awhile the fog and rain would let up enough for me to get at least a smidgen of a view across a valley, as in the above picture. We had to cross that rather large snowfield, as you can see here.
Ellen smiling as we crossed the snowfield
I was enjoying the adventure, as well as the rain, since I STILL expected that it would stop coming down at some point. The flowers just kept getting more and more beautiful, although I only stopped to take a few pictures. I was worried about my iPhone in the wet conditions. It is supposed to be somewhat water resistant, but I don't know what works and what doesn't, quite yet.
Linda and Ward, hiking separately from us
After awhile, we ran into Linda, Ward, and Peggy hiking down the trail, after they had hiked a bit farther up the trail. They were not sure where the group was going today, and they wanted to see Yellow Aster for sure, so they went on their own. Plus our groups have been getting much larger than the Forest Service group size, limiting us to 12. As it was, they would have made our number exactly right. But they started earlier and at this point were busy looking for a place out of the wind and rain to have lunch. We said goodbye and the nine of us continued our trudge upward.
Looking at the fields of valerian
I didn't take many pictures of the flowers because I really was worried about how wet it was, but this picture showed that they were incredibly abundant. We also saw lupine, columbine, penstemon, heather, and much more. I wish I could have captured it better. After awhile, we looked for someplace out of the rain for our own lunch spot. We turned around and found a relatively dry place under some trees for a quick lunch before heading back down the way we had come.
Heading back down the trail
I didn't get a picture of our lunch spot, which I usually like to do, because I was unable to keep myself or my belongings dry. It was raining hard by this time and stayed that way until long after we reached the cars. After we turned around and it was still raining, I began to lose my enchantment with the rain and was very glad to finally reach the trailhead. We only went around seven miles and around 2,000 feet up and down, but because of the difficulty factor, I think we should add on another mile or two!

After a scare trying to take a picture with my phone, I was reluctant to do an more photography after this last shot. Now that I am home and was able to ascertain that my phone and my pictures are safe, I feel a little silly that I was so anxious about it all. By the time we reached Bellingham, we learned that it didn't rain here at all after those first few showers early this morning. So we drove many miles to hike in the rain, and down here everything is still parched. But we Trailblazers who hiked the Yellow Aster Butte trail today got soaked to the skin!


  1. Damp and delightful. I LOVE the abundance of wildflowers - and the lession you learnt about your phone will stand you in good stead for future moist meanders.

  2. You've got to have one of these miserable hikes once in awhile. With scheduled hikes you take the risk of what the weather throws at you.

  3. The wildflowers are gorgeous! And wow, you guys are true troopers. I would have turned back after the firzt mile!

  4. We had not a drop here, and since "here" is at the airport, the official weather monitoring site, we are still rainless in Seattle. That would have been a glorious hike on a sunny day.

  5. Yes, you and your friends got wet, but it still looked like a fabulous hike! You have to test your raingear once and awhile :)

  6. Such a beautiful area, shrouded in fog! I could never do that hike as you did, my friend! Well done!

  7. Sorry about that west coast weather! But you are all dedicated hikers to still go out in the rain!

  8. I am glad your iPhone did not get damaged in the rain. Your photo of the wildflowers is really beautiful.

  9. I'd be scared to take pictures in the rain, too. Snow and rain is an odd combination for this Minnesotan. Oops, I guess I've been a North Dakotan now for 12 years. Either way--still odd. ;)

  10. I only take my old camera out in the rain or when it is real cold. It looks like a gloomy day there, hope you have some sun today:)

  11. I am amazed at how much snow is still around. What a pity the weather didn't improve for you. Your wild flower meadows are stunning.

  12. Glad your camera survived. Walking in the rain takes you back to being a kid when that was a perfectly fun thing to do. Still, it would have been nice to have had a dry lunch.

  13. That was the first thing I thought of when you mentioned the rain worsened...your camera and other seniors' cameras.
    But oh the scenes...the misty backdrop in the first photo and the beautiful

  14. Wow - that's some hike. Very atmospheric shots!

  15. I'm glad you say you became disenchanted with the rain. Now I know you are indeed human! But, well, still a little super human when it comes to hiking adventures. Trail blazers indeed! Sorry I haven't been commenting quite as regular as I'm finishing up the illustrations for a children's book.


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