Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter Eve

The high point on today's walk
It was a beautiful walk this morning, with sixteen ladies showing up to cover more than five miles on Galbraith Mountain. I'm afraid I wasn't actually recovered from Thursday's long hike, so I lagged behind the others as we gained altitude to this lovely view. You can see some high clouds, but when we started out, it was full sun. And the rain is supposed to stay away for the entire day.
I was the last in line as we climbed
Today I think I'll go flower shopping, since all the places I like to shop have just this week put potted flowers on display. Pansies, daffodils, and other early bloomers are everywhere, making me want to pretty up my front porch with them. But first, I have to peel myself out of this comfy chair and get moving. Hope you have a wonderful holiday tomorrow. It's not only Easter, but Passover as well, so... Happy Easter/Passover. Read about the significance of these two holidays here.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mud Lake 2018

Today's destination: Mud Lake
Starting from Old Samish Highway, nine Senior Trailblazers went on our regularly scheduled hike, even though it was raining, as we didn't have to travel far to begin our hike to Mud Lake. It starts at the Pine & Cedar trailhead, but once you get to Pine Lake, you take a side trail that is unmarked to get there. We do this one every year, and it is nobody's favorite, but it's a good workout, for sure.
Misty view from the trail
We saw no sign of the sun today, but the rain wasn't terrible, more like the usual Pacific Northwest drizzle instead of a downpour. We were, of course, prepared for it. Plus, this trail has a good canopy of trees that blocks some of the rain.
Trees and ferns
I am very familiar with the Pine & Cedar trail and have traveled it often, but once we turn off the regular trail to Mud Lake, it's much less familiar. Fortunately, our hike leader Richard (along with Al, who was also with us) kept us on the right track. There are many side trails and you have to pay attention.
Mud Lake in a light rain
And then we reached the lake, took a quick look around and had a snack, since it was still too early for lunch. If you look carefully at the enlarged picture, you can see a triangle shape just about in the middle. Someone had rigged up a makeshift zipline and we figured that handle was probably how one might get started on it.
Frank thinking twice
Frank examined this ramp and actually thought about stepping on it and taking a look at how it all might work, but he discovered it was incredibly slippery from the rain and backed off. We speculated about it all and then returned the way we had come.
Our lunch spot overlooking Pine Lake
We made our way to Pine Lake, a short distance from the trail, and settled in for a fairly quick lunch. It was raining lightly, but we were sheltered among the trees and nevertheless enjoyed ourselves and the lovely view as we ate. We thought about going out on the boardwalk, but again it was slippery and not very appealing.
Swamp lanterns popping up out of the muck
I walked a short distance toward the lake and saw that the swamp lanterns (also known as skunk cabbage, Lysichiton americanus) have begun to emerge. Spring may not be in full swing up there yet, but it's starting. They grow to an enormous size by summer. The link tells you all about the plant.

By the time we returned to our cars, I was very tired and sore from the steep downhill, the nine miles and almost 3,000 feet of elevation. Although this hike is rated "moderate," I myself find it more challenging than that description. However, I'll be fine by tomorrow. I think riding the stationary bike at the gym has strengthened the ligaments around my knees and helps me recover more quickly. Another good day with some good company!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

From gloomy to gorgeous

Eric Vogt Photography
One of my Facebook friends posted this recent picture of a scene in Portland, Oregon, showing that the cherry blossoms are already out! What amazes me is how quickly everything is beginning to bloom, after such a long and tedious winter. Even though it wasn't all that cold around here, it was sure rainy. And in the last two days, we've received another bout of rain, more than an inch.

To top it all off, we are supposed to have MORE rain on Thursday for our weekly hike. I'm really ready for us to have some more no-rainers. But whatever happens, I'll be there as long as my short little legs will carry me.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A walk and a march

Eagle perched in a tree
When I took this picture on the waterfront during our walk, I thought it would have shown the distinct markings of a bald eagle, but no, you'll just have to take my word for it. We walked in a light rain for the entire time, but we were hoping it would stop in time for the March for Our Lives, happening at 10:00am just a few blocks away.
Listening to the speeches in the rain
But no such luck: it rained persistently while the crowd gathered at City Hall, doing what we could to stay dry. I foolishly believed the forecast, which said that it should be just a few stray showers this morning, and had no rain hat or proper clothing. Instead, in the hour we stood outside waiting for the march to start, it just plain old rained. Fortunately, however, by the time we started to march, the rain stopped. The turnout was pretty incredible; I was so glad to see so many people wanting to support the young people whose idea it was to hold these marches today.
My smashed bumper
When I returned to the coffee shop where I had left my car, I discovered that some awful person had smashed the rear of my car and knocked it out of alignment enough that the entire bumper was pushed out of position by about two inches. There is no way they could not have noticed what happened, but there was no note, no apology. I will get it repaired, at least a little, but why do people these days feel no need to take responsibility for these things?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Another change of plans

Indian plum in bloom
Today the Senior Trailblazers were scheduled to drive 40 miles south to hike up Mt. Erie. But, as Al succinctly said, why drive 40 miles just to walk in the rain when we have perfectly good rain right here? The weather forecast for today was for plenty of rain all day long. Nine of us met at the Senior Center and decided to change our hike to the Chanterelle trail, a short drive and a fairly sheltered forest to hike in instead.
Kirk and two intertwined trees
We started out without putting all our rain gear on, but once we stopped, not long after beginning our upward trek, I saw this great couple of trees and asked Kirk to step in to give them some perspective. That's his poncho beside him, which he donned right afterwards.
Lichen-covered branch
Peggy pointed out this pretty branch lying beside our trail, with plenty of different textures and colors, so I stopped to take a picture of it. I don't know what they are named, but they cover much of the different vegetation in the area.
Chris, Peggy, Jim, Richard, Al, tree, Kirk
We hiked up to the viewpoint (there wasn't any view) and decided to head off to the power lines on the logging road before turning around. It gave us about seven miles total, but the higher we got on the trail, the colder and windier it got. And we were not dry, that's for sure. We returned the way we had come, an out-and-back hike suitable for a day when the weather was anything but wonderful.
Indian plum on left, licorice ferns on tree in center
I am always enchanted with the way the trees in our beautiful part of the country are covered with greenery, even in the winter. But the Indian plum shows that it's actually springtime, and things are beginning to green up everywhere.
Our lunch spot
This is where we had our lunch today, the Senior Center. It was too cold, wet and windy to stop while we were out, but this warm and delightful place gave us an opportunity to chat and enjoy each other's company. Three of our number decided to skip lunch and head home to warm clothes and a hot shower, I'll bet.

For such a wet and rainy day, we still had a great time and got some exercise as well. Not too bad!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fun facts about the equinox

Feathery frost
A couple of weeks ago I posted one of the two pictures I took of my car's windshield when I went out to clear it on a clear, cold morning. It's so lovely I thought I'd share it once again. I won't have many more occasions to scrape ice this year, I hope.

Today is the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox, and the first day of fall in the Southern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox. However, whichever side of the equator you're on, we both share one fun fact: it's the only two days of the year (in March and September) when the sun rises due east and sets due west, worldwide. Here's some fascinating information, if you want to learn more.

Our days and nights are also of (almost) equal length, which is where the name equinox comes from: the Latin words aequi, which means "equal," and nox, which means "night." That link will also tell you about how the Mayans celebrated the equinox, which I found interesting but also a little scary.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sunny and glorious

Early bloomers
Today there were 22 of us ladies who met on a cold and clear Saturday to walk to Fairhaven and up Taylor Avenue and then down the stairs. Some women decided to go up the avenue and down the stairs, while others (me included) walked up Mill Street, so we could go up the stairs and down the steep street instead. It's easier on my knees, and the day was simply beautiful whichever direction you took. Blue cloudless skies and no wind made us warm up quickly. Starting out was cold, but it didn't last long as we hustled along. We all met up again and started back.
New building going up in Fairhaven
I smiled at the whale going through the side of this building. It's being called the Orca Building, so I guess the whale makes sense. It certainly is an eye catcher. No wonder they are listed as endangered if they act like this (smile).
Almost back to level ground
Taylor Avenue has an elevation of somewhere around 400-500 feet in a short distance, which is why it's such a great workout. Here you can see some of my women friends walking ahead; we were on our way back to our starting point. It was just simply a perfect way to begin the weekend.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Lizard Lake and North Butte

Car windshield this morning
I knew it got cold last night, since after enduring an inch of rain in the past two days, it cleared off last night and got quite COLD. But when I went out to the car before sunrise and saw these ice crystals on the windshield, I was mesmerized by their beauty. The apartment lights shine through, illuminating them. This kind of ice is also pretty tough to scrape off, but I managed. Sixteen Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to drive south to Blanchard Mountain.
Map of our trail
We drove to the Upper Trailhead and hiked on the Lily-Lizard trail all the way to Lizard Lake campground. The lake is still frozen, but the vast majority of the trail is clear.
Sunlight dappling the frozen lake
We stopped here for a brief snack, before continuing on the British Army trail at the top of that map. We noticed that there is plenty of beaver activity (see the tree in the middle of the picture?) At the bottom of the tree, you can see lots of beaver tracks. That tree is not going to be standing long, I think.
Another well chewed tree
This one is bathed in sunlight and caught my eye. All the wood chips underneath are fresh, so this tree is also scheduled for the beaver lodge. We couldn't see it, so it is probably under the ice. They've been busy as, well, you know.
Some of our large group today (taken by Melanie)
We then continued on the British Army trail until just before it ended, turned around and retraced our steps until we got to the red line in the picture and took the Lily-Lake connector trail to North Butte. Since it was such a nice day, we knew we would have a wonderful view of Samish Bay as we ate our lunch.
Looking out towards the Olympics, the bay in view
I would have taken a few more pictures, but there were so many of us scattered around the rocks (with a rather daunting drop-off) that I contented myself with this one. A few high clouds obscured the sun where we were, but you can see many places where it was full sun.
Pretty waterfall
We saw lots of evidence of the recent rain, but it had also cleared most of the trail so only now and then did we have icy patches to cross over. I know that a couple of weeks ago, it was snowy everywhere in this area. After lunch at the Butte, we went back down to Lizard Lake and picked up the Alternate Incline trail.
Frank's sweatshirt
I also have to share with you Frank's sweatshirt, which he wore today, although yesterday was Pi Day. He said it was a birthday gift from a few years ago. It made me smile every time I looked at it.

By the time we had reached the BL-ML road, we had to walk the final mile on it, before reaching the cars. We had covered a little more than nine miles and 2,300 feet elevation gain and loss. And now I'm home, finished with my post, and am looking forward to the wine I earned.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Our weather is back to normal

Sunrise from my front porch
Last weekend we had some of the most beautiful weather I've seen around here in ages. Just yesterday, we reached a new record high for the date in Bellingham, and we beat that record by 6°F! I didn't need even a light jacket to walk around in the amazing sunshine.

But today I woke to clouds and, while it's still warm, it's normal temperatures again. Somehow it feels much more normal to have some rain in the forecast, and temperatures in the more average range. Anyway, it was sure fun while it lasted. I do hope it isn't a harbinger for the summer being much warmer than normal. Usually I love the summers here because it doesn't get too hot.

Whatever, there's nothing I can do about it but enjoy it, or grumble about it. So I'll just say thanks and plant some flowers. They are busy popping up all over the place!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Not a cloud in the sky

Lily, Cindy, Maria
There was only one day this past week with lots of rain: Thursday. But today, Saturday, there isn't a cloud to be seen anywhere, and we ladies had a wonderful walk in the sunshine along the Interurban trail to Arroyo Park. Some of us (these three and me) didn't go the entire way, for various reasons, but we sure did have fine weather for our outing. Cold and clear, no wind, just perfect for walking.

Lily is back from her month-long excursion to Guatemala to visit her family, and it sure is nice to see her again. She's not quite up to the brisk pace the other ladies kept up this morning, and Cindy has hurt her knee. I really prefer the slower pace myself, but I do manage to struggle to keep up if nobody else is willing to walk more slowly with me. I love this group and it takes quite a bit to keep me from going out with them. What a beautiful day!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

We found Lost Lake

Fragrance Lake trail in the mist
Nine of us Senior Trailblazers showed up for a walk in the rain. The forecast didn't leave much doubt, so everyone was prepared for it, and we discussed our options before starting out. Our scheduled hike was again not a good one for the weather, so we decided to hike to Lost Lake instead, via the Fragrance Lake trailhead.
Turkey tail fungus
Usually we hike up the road to the Lost Lake turnoff, but it's closed at the moment, so we did an out-and-back hike, going both up and down the Fragrance Lake trail. It's very pretty, a bit on the steep side, but it gave us a chance to see this fungus on the side of a log. We didn't see the sun all day, but it was very pleasant nevertheless.
Taking off some of our rain gear
It was raining lightly when we started out, but heading up the steep trail, we realized we were too warm and decided to shed some of our gear, since the rain was nothing we couldn't handle, and the mild weather allowed us to be quite comfy during the first part of our hike. Although we had to stop and put stuff on and off, we were delighted that the rain was minimal.
Kirk, Chris, Richard, Peggy, Al, Jim, Frank (Mel in front)
We made it to our favorite rock in time for lunch, at Lost Lake (behind us). While we enjoyed our lunch, the wind came up and made patterns in the lake and whistled through the trees.
Our lunch spot
The rain picked up at the same time as the wind, so we finished our lunch and began our return trip. It wasn't a long lunch break, but it was fun to sit in relative comfort before heading back the way we had come. However, by the time we started back, the rain and wind were in full force.
The boggy swamp didn't allow for slipping
This particular section of the Lost Lake trail is always challenging, and today was no exception. Nobody fell in, but Al did stick a trekking pole into a spot where it went into the bog alarmingly far. He didn't take that way across after all and found another way. We all made it without incident.
Four ladies' rain gear
I asked Jim to take a picture of the four women who were on the hike, from behind, to get a sense of our degree of wetness, and our preparedness. Rain hats, raincoats, and pack covers made all the difference in our ability to stay relatively dry today.

By the time we reached the cars, we had traveled around ten miles and 2,000 feet up and down. No wonder I'm feeling a bit tired right now; there is nothing more I need to do today, now that my post is written. What's that sound? Oh, that's just my wine calling...

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Signs of spring

Yellow crocus popping up
On the way to the gym from the coffee shop this morning, I saw these pretty yellow crocuses have opened and reassure me that indeed, nothing is going to stop the flowering from taking over and blessing me with a gorgeous Pacific Northwest springtime.
Purple crocus too
And then, by the back door of the parking lot as I left the gym, I saw that these lovely purple crocuses are also busy announcing the advent of spring and enjoying the full sunshine we are having today. Sadly, the sunshine will be gone in time for our hike on Thursday, but nothing will dampen my enjoyment today!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Sublime Saturday

Early morning at Lake Padden
This morning, we ladies were gathering at Lake Padden for our two loops around the lake when I looked up to see a two-person kayak in the water, and in just the few seconds between taking out my phone and getting the picture, the kayak had slipped between the trees. It was so close to being a perfect shot, but alas, here's what I got instead.

Nevertheless, it shows the excellent weather and lack of wind as we set out for a chilly walk. By the time I had reached the far shore of the lake, however, I was pulling off clothing and marveling at how warm it suddenly seemed. It's that effort that makes me warm. When you exercise in temperatures below 64 degrees, you increase the amount of calories you burn, according to a study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. It was 35 when we started out and warmed to around 40°F by the time we finished.

 I found this interesting website online while looking for information about why it feels so good to exercise when it's cold outside. This one lists six reasons why it's even more important to exercise in winter. It says that
The rise in your body temperature, during a workout, has a soothing, calming effect on your body, not unlike a long soak in a warm bath or lying in front of the heater.
I can attest to the truth of that statement. Anyway, I'm not done for the day, but I certainly do feel soothed and calm right now!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A change in plans

Our group today (plus me)
When we met at the Senior Center to talk about the schedule, which had us heading up Blanchard Mountain and the British Army trail, Al showed us a picture sent to him by a fellow hiker showing lots and lots of snow at Lily Lake, which would have been our destination on that hike. Nope, let's not go there, we decided. Instead, we went to Chuckanut Ridge. Eleven of us spent the day in sun and clouds, cool but without any rain or snow, except a tiny bit of the white stuff on the trail.
Discussing our options
It was a nice day, and once we reached the ridge, we expected a better view than the one we received, since clouds covered the mountains, but the sun felt so good we decided to go ahead and walk farther along the ridge.
MaryLou amidst the signs
Once we got to this junction, it was still too early for lunch, and we didn't really want to go too much farther along the ridge, because from this point on it becomes much more difficult, with lots of ups and downs and would make our hike longer than we'd like. So, we only went a short distance past this point before we turned around and looked for a place to have lunch.
It's a long way down
This was the view from my lunch spot. We found as much sun as we could as we spent a short time enjoying our lunch before heading back down. We decided we'd also stop at Chuckanut Falls on our way back.
Oyster shells
Someone had decorated this tree with some oyster shells, for some reason we didn't know, but they were pretty and reminded me that soon we'll be having lots of flowers decorating our walks. Not today, though; we smiled at the shells and left them alone.
Jim, Frank, Sue, Chris, LouAnn, me, MaryLou, Owen
Melanie took this picture at Chuckanut Falls, while Al stayed up at the trail and skipped the side trip. This nice little overlook of the falls is downhill and added somewhere around an additional mile to the hike.
Chuckanut Falls
Then we had to walk back up to join Al and, eventually, the Hemlock trail. We meandered down the trail, making somewhere around 8 miles total, with some elevation gain, around 2,000 feet, I think.
Our trail back to the cars
It was a lovely day, and everyone enjoyed themselves, I believe. We were not hampered by the weather and it was nice to see a couple of faces I'd missed having around, like Jim (he's back from travels and cruises) and Owen (usually hikes with the other group). Now I'm home and feeling glad to have had another wonderful day with the Trailblazers.