Thursday, June 21, 2018

Excelsior Pass, almost

Excelsior Pass trail, close to the start
Today fourteen Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to attempt to make Excelsior Pass or, hopefully, Excelsior Peak. Since we were over the Forest Service limit of 12, we had four people who decided to try for the peak and broke into their own group, while the rest of us would attempt to reach Excelsior Pass. This is a hard hike, nine miles round trip and more than 3,500 feet of elevation gain and loss. We never saw the other group as we trudged up towards the pass.
Some of the group
I cannot emphasize enough what a wonderful day we were given: the overcast skies at the beginning (which never showed any sign of turning into rain) kept us cool as we labored up the trail, and we began to see signs of sun breaks as we ascended.
Yep, plenty of snow up there still
And then, at about 4,100 feet of elevation, we ran into snow. Not just a little bit, but plenty of it obscuring the trail. Al's GPS kept us running into parts of it, showing we were on the right track.
Heading upwards on the snow
Up, up we went, but the snow made it very slow going. By this time, we didn't know how far the snow continued, whether we'd make our way out of it on our upward push.
Excelsior Pass and Peak
Finally we got high enough to get a glimpse of our intended destination. Behind those two trees in the middle of the picture is the peak, and to its left is the trail to the pass. Between us there is pretty much nothing but snow and more snow. So we gave up our desire to reach the summit and sat down to enjoy our lunch.
Today's lunch spot on the snow
There was a very light breeze, but most of us didn't even need to put on more than a light jacket as we savored the food we had hauled up to this spot. Before we started down, some of us pulled out our yaktrax and microspikes to strap onto the bottom of our boots. My 75th birthday gift from Melanie was finally used, my own microspikes. They certainly helped in my descent to the trail. They are their first use, but definitely not their last.
Most of the snow is done
We stopped to take off our gear once we reached mostly trail. You can see the last of the snow behind us as we rested once again before finishing our trip back to the cars.
Returning to the cars
And as we descended, we enjoyed plenty of lush greenery all around us. Since we gained more than 3,000 feet of elevation during the day, we passed through many microclimates: while in Bellingham the salmon berries are ripe; up here they are still blossoms. And the trillium, while gone from lower elevations, are still here for a while yet.
Trillium quartet
I love these flowers and am always happy when I get to see them once again for the season. I was so pleased to see these and am glad to share them with my readers.
Wild ginger blossom
I saw a patch of wild ginger and remembered that Peggy had told me to look under the leaves for a glimpse of their flower. And here is one, a beautiful alien blossom, which I am thrilled to have captured. I was very tired as we continued our return trip, which turned out to be eight miles and 3,100 feet up and down. No wonder I'm so tired now.
Al and me
But before I go, I'd like to share this picture of Al and me looking a bit like the old hippies we are. I had put the band around my head to catch the sweat that was blinding me, and when someone commented on its look, I decided to see for myself. Yep, we are old hippies, all right. What a great day, and I'm happy I went along.


  1. Huge smiles. And from one old hippy to another loud applause.

  2. I love climbing through all the microclimates in the Cascade mountains. Glad you had good weather for your hike.

  3. Lots of snow makes things interesting and more challenging.I'm surprised there's snow at 4100 ft.

  4. Love your spirit of adventure Jan. No wonder you were tired.

  5. Not OLD hippies....AGING hippies. There is definitely a difference.

    Amazing trip; thanks for sharing. You are so incredible!

  6. Love the trillium and ginger blossom. All that snow!
    Great picture of you and Al and glad your new microspikes worked so well you will use them again and again. ;)

  7. The trilliums are a delightful sight!

    Yaktrax and that sort of gear do come in very handy.

  8. So odd to see snow when we are enjoying? 90+ weather. You really have to pack for every weather occasion don't you?
    Love the hippy look.

  9. After a week in Seattle I still couldn't get used to looking up on a hot day and seeing snow in the mountains. And something else. What's all this I hear about rain? We had a beautiful week, sun every day, no rain, perfect high-70-degrees temps. Have you found paradise?

  10. You look great as a hippie! Al too!
    Looks like lots of snow! Thanks for the Wild Ginger flower they keep the blooms well hidden:)

  11. We have some of that native ginger growing in out secret garden, where it is happy and spreading.
    That was a rigorous hike, with all of the snow.


I really appreciate your comments! If you see a word verification box here, just ignore it. I don't use the darn thing and Blogger is trying to get us to use it, I guess. Ignore it and your comment will still appear.