Thursday, September 21, 2017

A truly relaxed hike

Mountain ash in foreground
Fourteen Senior Trailblazers, in the "relaxed" group, met at the Senior Center to hike the Chain Lakes loop. I intended at first to go with my usual "half fast" group, but when I learned that Al was not going, I decided to slide over to join the other group. Also, the first group was going to Heliotrope Ridge, which is not one of my favorites, and Chain Lakes truly is one I can never get enough of. Since we were over the limit of 12, five decided not to sign in at all and instead hike the counterclockwise direction, while we headed up the other way.
Far-off mountains and lots of clouds
We started our hike from Artist Point, and before we left we made a car shuttle, with two drivers taking off for Heather Meadows after dropping us off so we could avoid having to do a longer hike. It worked perfectly, and I have to say I am feeling really good after a six-ish mile hike instead of being worn out.
Charlene giving her opinion of our hike
Charlene, our leader, impressed me with her ability to keep an eye on everybody, reminding us often to take care of each other, drink whenever we stopped. Her skill at organizing a well-designed hike is rare. She doesn't like to have her picture on line, but she allowed me to take this one. Plus it's nice to have someone who can take a picture of the rest of us. Unfortunately, today that picture had too many of us looking like we were lining up for execution, so I left it out.
Jean, Carla, and Kathy at our lunch spot
It was Carla's first time with the group, and she did just fine and I enjoyed getting to know her and Kathy. Kathy had been on a couple of hikes with the other group, but we never had a chance to really connect. Today we did. We stopped for lunch a little bit past Iceberg Lake, and after we got up to leave we ran into the five others going the other direction. We exchanged pleasantries and continued on our way.
Heading up to Herman Saddle
Now it was time for us to make our upward trek to Herman Saddle before starting down. Although there were plenty of clouds, by this time they had start to lift a little. And the temperature was perfect for hiking. I did wonder how the other group was faring on Heliotrope. I hope it was as good as this.
Iceberg Lake on the trail
Looking back at the lake on our way up to the saddle, you can see that Mt. Baker (hidden behind those clouds) although more visible than earlier, was still playing hard to get. In any event, it was such a beautiful scene, and I was very happy to be hanging out with this group.
Jean and me, with Ed hoisting his water
Here we are at the saddle, having climbed up from the valley to this spot. For whatever reason, it didn't seem nearly as hard as I expected to get here. Jean was on my previous hike with this group, and I suspect that it won't be long before we will be fast friends. And then it was time to start down.
Heading back down from Herman Saddle
We we traveled downwards, we could no longer see any sign of Mt. Baker, but Mt. Shuksan now began to emerge from the clouds. I simply love this mountain and never tire of seeing its magnificence. Today we saw it with its first dusting of snow from the recent precipitation, which only made it more gorgeous, in my opinion.
The five heading to the Visitor Center
When we got to the bridge, Charlene gave us the option of continuing down the rest of the Chain Lakes loop, or joining her and Bill (the other driver) in order to make the car shuttle. We would hike another half-mile or so while the rest went to Artist Point to retrieve her car. I opted, along with four others, to continue the hike and wait for them. We only ended up waiting a few minutes before our rides showed up.
Jean with her ice cream reward
And then it was a short drive down to Graham's for our ice cream. It turned out to be a most excellent day, with everyone filled with smiles, ice cream, and a wonderful adventure to add to our memories. I will definitely be going on more of these "relaxed" hiked with some super friends.


  1. I am repeating myself : fabulous pictures!!

    I am wondering... could I keep up with you? It is a relaxed hike... : ))

  2. Very few people get to experience the high country and it's beauty.

  3. I am so glad that you had such a wonderful day. And in awe at the beauty you shared.
    I suspect any hike I could join with you would need to be described as 'nearly comatose' but I am very grateful that you take me along.

  4. Such a fine description of your hike!

  5. That ice cream looks like the perfect end to a great and beautiful hike!

  6. Seems like a superb group of people. So glad you are getting to know some of the other groups. I would think at a more relaxed pace you actually can get to know the other hikers a little easier, too. Looks like you and Jean hit it off well. Has to be fun meeting new people. :)

  7. Loved that shot of Iceberg lake. It is great that you have two groups to choose from depending on the hike and your mood. This relaxed group sounds more like my cup of tea.

  8. Another delightful walk at a relaxed pace. How civilised.

  9. Your mountains are beautiful. Fall is such a nice time for hiking!

  10. That is an especially beautiful hike! I like the idea of a "relaxed' hike.

  11. Oh, what magnificent landscapes, DJan! You're lucky to have a compatible hiking group. Glad you're still going strong!

  12. Those mountains are spectacular. I would stare a lot! A relaxed hike is my speed for sure!

  13. Such beautiful photos! What a fun day for you!! You sound happier being with the relaxed group:)

  14. It seems to me like a never-ending series of spectacular places for you to hike! Awesome.

  15. My favorite time to see the mountains, love your photos.


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