Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Bellingham Bay

Lily in the bay at low tide
This past Sunday, I went with Lily down to Bellingham Bay so she could get a nice walk and some fresh air on her one and only day off work this week. She wasn't along on Saturday's walk with the ladies because even though she asked for the day off, everyone else also wanted to have the day off, too. She doesn't have any kind of seniority and they work her very hard. She works in a fish packing plant and does physical work all day long, twelve hours a day and sometimes ten days in a row without a day off. All of us who care about her hope she can find something less demanding one of these days.
Lots of stuff sticking to that rock
We were out there during low tide, as you can see from all the barnacles and shells attached to that rock. When I moved here ten years ago, I was clueless about tides and didn't know that they come and go at such speeds; we get two low tides and two high tides every single day. You can see the tide chart here, if you're interested. Anyway, it was a really nice way to spend part of the weekend, and people were out in force, enjoying the beach along with us. I love it here.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Herons, gardens, and humor

Heron posing for a picture?
This morning on the walk with the ladies, I was pleased to find that my legs had returned to their usual springiness after more than a week of recovery from my Church Mountain efforts. And halfway around Lake Padden, I saw this heron who does seem to be posing prettily for me. Or maybe he was fishing, but still I was happy to say hello to him (her?).
Our cornfield today
Then I went out to the garden to pull some weeds before it gets too hot, and I see that our corn has tasseled and has some ears beginning to form. Our garden is a veritable cornucopia of goodies right now: I am harvesting beans, zucchini, Sun Gold tomatoes (the little cherry type ones), and cucumbers. My friend John will bring me a bunch of kale from his garden tomorrow, so we are in vegetable abundance here at the end of July.
Aww, so cute!
After I left some zucchini on my neighbor's porch, she sent me this image in  text, and it's so adorable I have to share it with you. None of the squash I left her were crookneck, but after seeing this, I just might have to grow some next year!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Skyline Divide 2018

Our eight and Mt. Baker
Today we had two separate groups tackling Skyline Divide: a group of nine that left the Senior Center at 7:30am, and the other, a group of eight, that left at 8:00am. We figured this would qualify for us to stay under the wilderness limit of 12, and it worked quite well. When our group got to the trailhead after navigating an awful 12-mile access road, we saw that the other group's cars were there, but they were nowhere to be seen. Our group was led by Jim, that's him on the left in red. A passerby took the picture of all of us.
Pretty lupines and bistort
It was hot and the biting flies were out, not terrible like last year, but still annoying and requiring bug juice liberally applied. On the way to the ridge (where the first picture was taken), we made our way slowly up the switchbacks, unable to stop for too long before the bugs moved us along. A light breeze made it feel better, but on the way up to the ridge, climbing around 2,000 feet, I found it hard and I again lagged behind.
Our leader Jim and Heather in front of Mt. Shuksan
Once we reached the ridge, we decided to meander along it until we felt like stopping. We figured the earlier group would make it the entire 4.5 miles (and another 1,000 feet of elevation) to our usual stopping place. There was a bit of haze as we looked at the mountains, but as we walked along the ridge, with lots of ups and downs along the way, mostly the skies were wonderfully clear, especially when looking toward Mt. Baker.
Mt. Baker with glacier lilies
The glacier lilies only appear shortly after the snow melts, and this picture has plenty of them dotting the landscape in front of Mt. Baker. We had some very high clouds on and off, but none of them were right over us.
Me in front of Mt. Shuksan 
As we wandered along the ridge with no specific destination, I decided to slow down and take it easy. Melanie stayed with me and took this picture of me in front of Mt. Shuksan. It was quite comfortable along here, even with full sun, because of the delightful breeze coming up from the valley below.
An exposed place on the ridge
Sometimes we had to cross over some dicey spots, but they were brief and perfectly do-able, as long as you didn't look down. We had two neophytes who had never hiked Skyline Divide before, and they did fine, but afterwards Marsha said it was only because the rest of us managed it easily that she went across.

We ran into the other group on their way back down, and we stopped to admire the views and share some brownies and chocolate with them. Our group hiked somewhere between seven and eight miles, while the others went the entire distance. Everyone had a great time, and believe me, we'll sleep well tonight!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Cloudless skies ahead for days

Me on the Chanterelle trail
Last Saturday Lily took this picture, unbeknownst to me, and I have to say I really love it. The trail looks just like this in many spots; in others it's more hilly, but it's truly a beautiful place to walk, as you can see. I was still recovering on Saturday from having overdone it on Thursday. Today, however, I'm completely recovered other than a bit of an achy left knee. I'll head to the pot shop later on to get some CBD for pain. I know it will be useful, and I wish everyone had the opportunity to take advantage of its effects. It doesn't make you high but it sure does erase all my aches and pains. You can read all about it here.
Tiny little thing
I captured this lovely little butterfly (or moth, I'm not sure which) on Thursday. And no, I don't know what the plant is that is landed on, but the picture turned out well because I didn't have any direct sunlight. That won't be the case for the next week or so around here, since we are in a heat advisory (along with most of the country) and there won't be any clouds to help keep us cool. I heard today that Seattle is the largest city in the US without ubiquitous A/C. It's no different a bit north where we are. It's comfortable now; it's only later, around 4:00 or so, that it begins to really heat up. I'll be staying in the shade. Don't forget to drink water (reminder to myself).

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Our morning walk

The viewpoint on this morning's walk
This morning fourteen of us ladies met at the Lake Whatcom parking lot (that's the body of water behind us) and went on a new (for this group anyway) destination, the viewpoint on the Chanterelle trail. The Trailblazers use this particular trail as a beginning for a longer hike, but today all these wonderful ladies went on it together for the first time.

I learned that it's taking me longer to recover from hard hikes like I did last Thursday, because I went to turn on the juice and walk at our regular fast pace, and the legs just wouldn't go. I lagged far behind today, and Lily stayed with me while I struggled to deal with my painful quads and calves. It's not a long hike, just five miles round trip, so once we reached this view I suggested that the two of us would mosey back slowly, since going downhill is more difficult than going up  on these legs right now.

A nice person who was also at the top took this lovely picture of us, so I am in it as well! And now it's afternoon and my legs are doing just fine. Tomorrow I'll be back in the swing of things, I'm hoping. It's my rest day anyway.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Church Mountain summit

Cathy on top of the summit
Today, fifteen Senior Trailblazers met to complete the second half of our two-week destination. Last week ten of us went to Heliotrope Ridge, while the other six went off to the summit of Church Mountain. Today, those who went to one, went off to the other this week. This way, we can stay within the wilderness limits of 12. We had eight going off to challenge the summit of Church Mountain. Cathy had never been to the top before, so she is celebrating here.
Jim in front, Dave, Bob and Cathy behind
I took this picture just before we emerged into the meadow on our way to the top. After weeks of hot and dry weather, we had low clouds and cool temperatures, which thrilled me, but with the hope that before we got to the summit, the clouds might clear off for a great view. Results were mixed.
Al and Peggy entering the meadow
But oh! the meadow, which had been covered with snow when we were here a month ago, is now filled with greenery and flowers everywhere. Although we couldn't really see the view, we were able to hike in perfect temperatures, with a clear path to the summit.
Heather in bloom
We saw magnificent patches of heather in full bloom, both pink and white, and the clouds, as you can see here, continued to obstruct our view for most of the day. We met people coming back from the summit who said they hoped we'd have better luck with the view than they did.
Stream crossing
By the time we crossed the stream in the meadow, some decided to stay here and enjoy a leisurely lunch, while most of the rest of us decided to try for the summit. Now, I realize when I speak of the "summit," it's not the true summit of Church Mountain, but the place where the lookout was once, long ago, placed. I've never truly been the rest of the way, because it's way beyond my comfort level. That said, the rest of us began our slow ascent to the lookout.
Trail to the top
We had a few, very few, snow patches to cross, and they were negligible, so with mostly cool weather, we climbed at a steady pace. Those who were faster when on ahead, but Cathy, Jim, and I all got there pretty much at the same time.
Bob coming down from the summit
Bob and Dave were just coming down from their trip to today's final destination, while the rest of us were just beginning to climb it. Behind Bob you can see that there is some tricky climbing to get there, but we were determined. Dave decided to come back up with us, which made us feel a little bit safer. We ate our lunch up there.
Largest snow field we crossed today
And then it was time to head back to the meadow to rejoin the rest of the group. You can see Bob and Dave crossing the snow field ahead of us. Once we got across this, it was pretty much an easy trip to the meadow.
Sparse view of our mountains
And we never really got the view we hoped for. While on the top, it was completely socked in, but as we descended we got a few glimpses of our beautiful mountains. In 2013, several of us made it to the top, and our views were spectacular. You can see them here. It has been five years since I last was there, and it was lovely to realize that I can still climb that far.
Tiger lily
So after a long climb and descent of nine miles and 3,800 feet of elevation, I can truly say I earned my wine, and that I am still, even though I'm getting up in years, able to climb to the top! It was a great day with great friends, and we stopped for ice cream afterwards, making it a perfect day in every respect.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Front porch flowers today

My renovated flower show
Some of my pretty flowers had died or were simply not doing so well, so I went to the local flower shop and got some new ones to spruce up my front porch flowers. Notice that our lawn has dried out to its summer tan, and it will stay that way until the rains return. Fortunately, the grass is not dead, just dormant. On the plus side, it doesn't need to be mowed.
Favorite flowers
This plant has needed nothing from me; it just keeps getting more beautiful. It's hard for me to remember that those pretty fuschia-colored petunias were just a small little plant when they went in, with just two tiny flowers. And now look at them! Just beautiful.
New flowers
The plants on the left are just purchased. It was filled before with pansies, but they began to die and wilt, so I pulled them out and filled it with petunias and that pretty silver plant (the name of which I've forgotten). I'm looking forward to seeing how it fills out as the days and weeks of summer moves ahead. It gives me such pleasure to sit outside and feast on my pretty plants. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Summer is in full swing

The rosebush taken from inside my car
Last week I mentioned that lovely rosebush I see every time I park my car. If you knew how sparse those roses have been in previous years, you would be even more impressed. The tenants' front porch inside the apartment above is also covered with lots of flowers. I took this picture just moments ago.
John, Carrie and Shane
This morning I asked if I could take a picture at Avellino's to send to Lily, who is having to work the weekend, which means she didn't get to join us either for coffee or the ladies for our walk. We had a small group this morning, just 12 of us, as we walked from the ferry terminal down the Interurban trail. It's almost 80°F here in Bellingham already today, and when I look at the forecast for the future, we'll be sunny and warm, verging on hot, for the next week or so. But it's MUCH better than many parts of the country, so I'm not complaining.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Heliotrope Ridge 2018

Heliotrope Ridge group today
Today sixteen Senior Trailblazers met to decide where to go today. Heliotrope Ridge was on the schedule, but we had too many to stay under the wilderness rule of no more than 12. Al decided to break the group into two, sending one group to Church Mountain, and the other group would go to Heliotrope. Six people volunteered to do Church, and the rest of us went off to hike the relatively short (under three miles one way) trail to the ridge.
On our way
This trail requires crossing many rushing streams, most of which have no bridge across them, and when the glacier melt is really strong, it keeps us from getting across the final one. We had heard that the crossing is possible, however, so we were hopeful.
Jim with waterfall
There are two magnificent waterfalls along the way, and this one sent out a cold mist as we crossed under it. It is so beautiful that we all had to stop to take at least one picture of it.
The hardest stream to cross
As we made our way upwards, most of us managed to get our feet wet. I sure wish I would have brought my water shoes, then I would probably have been able to join the six who went across the final stream. That's Paul and Louann picking their way across. I decided to stay on this side to have lunch, since I've been to the glacier a couple of times in the past. We waited over an hour, enjoying a leisurely lunch, with a fine mist from the rushing water making it quite pleasant. The others stopped at the glacier for lunch.
Coleman Glacier at base of Baker
This is the view that the others had of Coleman Glacier as they had their lunch. Louann took this picture and sent it to me when we stopped for ice cream on our way home. The moraine in the foreground was once covered with glacier, but it is on retreat, joining the global withdrawal of glaciers as our earth warms.
Finding the best way across
And here are the six on their return trip across the stream. They went down quite a ways to find a good place to cross, as the rushing water where they originally crossed had become even stronger as the day warmed up. It doesn't look all that hard to get across, but by the time we were all back to the cars, most of us had wet feet.

It didn't matter, since nobody got hurt and the worst we endured was squishy soggy boots; everybody helped everybody else as we hopped from rock to rock. Some Trailblazers are better at this than others.
See you next week, Mt. Baker
This is the view of Mt. Baker from the road. We bade it a fond farewell, and the other part of the group will visit Heliotrope Ridge next week, while we will see Baker from the viewpoint of Church Mountain. We didn't go all that far, for me around five miles, while those who crossed the stream probably made it closer to six. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful day spent with the best BFFs in the world!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Flowers everywhere

Walking up the steps to my apartment
The neighbor's garden that they inherited from Keith, who moved out earlier this year, greets my eye every time I walk up to my place. And there are flowers simply everywhere. Just a few steps away is this lovely rosebush that has been here at least a decade. This is the best season I've seen of these gorgeous roses, though.
Just beautiful
Some of these roses are mostly yellow; others are peach or pink. I love to see them, as they are right above where I park my car. I can gaze at them and enjoy their abundance whenever I want. Oh, and then there's the garden!
My pretty snapdragons, zinnias, borage
I have taken enough pictures of my spectacular snapdragons that I'll be able to enjoy them for a long time now. I notice that my fennel is beginning to turn yellow. Perhaps I should just harvest the bulbs and enjoy them. The two zinnias are the only ones that managed to survive the slugs, and the borage (in the foreground) are volunteers from plantings of previous years.
Corn and sunflowers
And we have corn coming up quickly. It was "knee high by the Fourth of July" or even taller than that in places. Oh, what we've got to look forward to, although it's an amazing thing to be alive right here, right now. Counting my blessings.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Celebrating a birthday

Lily surrounded by her BFFs
Yesterday Hedi (in red, behind) hosted a very nice birthday party for Lily, in the middle in green. We all live in the same apartment complex and have grown quite fond of our sweet Guatemalan transplant. Lily doesn't look her age, and since she is far younger than I am, she has allowed me to "adopt" her as her American mother. Hedi says since I've usurped the mother label, she'll act as the aunt.
Gene, Lily, John
This morning, Lily and I joined the ladies for a nice five-mile walk, and then Gene treated all four of us regular Avellino customers to breakfast at Greene's Corner. I had a wonderful kimchee breakfast bowl, super healthy and delightful. I sure like it when I get to enjoy someone else's birthday as much as I would my own. In fact, maybe even more, since I didn't have to endure becoming another year older!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Goat Mountain 2018

Hiking up the Goat Mountain trail
Seventeen Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to hike up Goat Mountain today, one of our favorite Mt. Baker Highway excursions. It was sunny and hot the whole day. Hot for us might not be the same as it is for some of you, but it was well over 80°F (27°C). We broke into two groups, since the wilderness area regulations don't allow more than 12 people in one group. The faster group left before us, as we made our way up the steep grade. The first part of the hike is in heavily forested area, with plenty of shade, which was great.
Mel admiring the glacier lilies
The meadow is in full sun, which we had to navigate up to the viewpoint. Although it's hard to see them in this picture, that field is filled with glacier lilies, which emerge for a short while after the snow recedes.
Seeing everybody up ahead
And then the hard part starts: going very steeply uphill to the viewpoint, and I began to fall behind. I was sweating profusely and worried about staying hydrated and got a little dizzy at about this point, so I slowed way down. But eventually we all made it up to the viewpoint.
The viewpoint, Mt. Baker, and our lunch spot
We settled in to enjoy our lunches, with a light breeze making it possible to sit in the full sun and still be relatively comfortable. The shade was sparse, but we didn't stay up there too awfully long. The mountains were splendid.
Mt. Sefrit with Mt. Shuksan on the right
We don't get a chance to see Mt. Sefrit very often, and this is one of the best places to admire it. Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker are often in my pictures, and today they were just beautiful, too.
Me and Mt. Baker
Melanie took this great shot of me. I laughed when I saw that Al is also in the picture, reflected in my sunglasses. I'm not sure why I couldn't see Mel, but we then got busy taking pictures that showed different views. Like this:
What a gorgeous view, eh?
And then it was time to make our way back the way we had come. It was a long but really wonderful day. I'm feeling the warmth from the sun on my cheeks, but otherwise I'm doing quite well. We covered over seven miles and 2,700 feet up and down.
Our return trip
It was a lovely day, and although I had a little problem with the heat and sun before lunch, I rallied and had no problem on the return. There's a reason this hike is rated "hard" -- we will all sleep well tonight!