|Taken from the parking lot|
Seventeen Senior Trailblazers went out on one of our favorite hikes of the year, Chain Lakes, a loop hike that starts at Heather Meadows parking lot, where I took this picture. Little did I know that flowers would be in incredible abundance all day long! We had sun and clouds and a cool breeze, perfect hiking weather. We split up into two groups, 8 and 9, and went separate directions so that we would satisfy the need to stay under twelve for wilderness regulations.
|Bob, Noriko, Melanie, Peggy, Brent, Dave, Rick (Linda's poles) and me|
We went in the counter-clockwise direction while the other group went clockwise. Kirk led the other group. Al did not join us again today, so Bob was in the lead for us today. We start out this hike by following the Bagley Lakes trail that leads up to Herman Saddle, while the other group goes up to Artist Point via the Wild Goose trail, which meets the Chain Lakes trail.
|Bagley Lakes trail|
At this point I was bringing up the rear, and I'd stop every now and then to take pictures of the incredible variety of flowers we were treated to. You can see the lake below us on the left, and Table Mountain looming above. The clouds came and went.
|The steep trail to Herman Saddle|
And then we began the long slog up to Herman Saddle, around 1,500 feet in a short distance, and I began to lag behind, as you can see. Every time I would stop to take a picture, I'd look ahead and see that the others were far ahead of me. I was moving as fast as I could, but I couldn't catch up, which put me into some distress. They recognized I was having a hard time and slowed down for me, and I stopped taking pictures so I could concentrate on the job at hand.
|Bob and Linda at the top of the saddle, with Mt. Baker between them|
Finally we reached the summit, and I knew that most of the uphill was behind us. I appreciated my fellow hikers not making me feel bad about slowing them down; I was doing that just fine by myself. And then we hiked downhill to Iceberg Lake, where we would have lunch.
It's such a beautiful spot, and once I had lunch I felt much better. The other group had reached the lake and were just finishing up when we arrived. I've done this hike often enough to know pretty much what's ahead, so I was able to pace myself and stay with the others without any problem from then on.
|Mt. Baker showing through the clouds|
We had a really nice view as we started the second part of our hike, going in the opposite direction from the other group. It was nice to see everybody, even if just for a short time. Not more than ten minutes after I took this picture, Mt. Baker was again obscured by clouds.
|Trail on the left that goes to Artist Point|
If you look carefully at the picture, you can see the trail that traverses the left side of the valley below, which still has snow in it, as you can see here. That's Mt. Shuksan partially hidden behind the clouds. The mountain did show itself in full view now and then.
|Mt. Shuksan almost in view|
We only had to get to Artist Point and then make our way down the steep Wild Goose trail to be back at the cars. This is not a terribly long hike, less than eight miles total, with an elevation gain and loss around 2,800 feet.
|Finishing the last part of the trail to Artist Point|
I know my fellow hikers will be putting lots of pictures on Facebook, but this is the place where I usually like to chronicle my day. We finally got back to the cars and started down the long road home. We hadn't gone very far when we got a real treat:
A large black bear crossing the road! As you can see, the car traveling in the opposite direction had stopped, as did we. The bear was not moving quickly, even with the cars in full view. And then we saw why!
|Two cubs following Mama|
Two cubs made their way across the road following Mama, and when we saw they were no longer in view, we started across the road ourselves. We saw a steep incline and one of the babies had just finished making its way up to join the others. I was inside the car when I took these pictures, but I was pleased that I got something to show you. We felt incredibly blessed to have seen these beautiful creatures and hope they will have full and interesting lives ahead. With that last wonderful sight, we headed down to Graham's for our ice cream cones before heading home.
Although I'm tired, I'm not as worn out as I was last week; we only went eight instead of ten miles, which makes a huge difference in how I feel. And then at the last, we saw some REAL wildlife! Doesn't get much better than today.