Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Spooky Halloween faces

My new hairdo
I've been having fun with the Messenger app from Facebook, giving myself a couple of new looks. It's interesting how well these apps work to make whoever is playing with them look so, well, different from their usual appearance. Some of them are so complete, they don't even look anything remotely like the person. In the above picture, at least you can tell it's me; maybe it's the forked tongue that gives it away.
Yeah, it's me
But this one? if I didn't know it was me, I wouldn't know it was me. I think it's supposed to be the Bride of Frankenstein, but with all that makeup and those beauty spots, I'm completely unlike myself. The hair is a step up from the Medusa snakes, though, don't you think?

Happy Halloween!!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Glorious day for a walk

Lake Padden today
We ladies made our way twice around Lake Padden this morning. The sun was just coming up when we started our walk, and then the sun lighted up the lake, which had steam coming off it because of the temperature change overnight. It was at least twenty degrees cooler this morning than yesterday. However, the morning could not have been more pleasant for a nice brisk walk.

Now, a little after noon, the clouds have begun to thicken overhead, and the temperature is definitely on the cool side, but it doesn't matter. I am enjoying the experience of fall colors everywhere, smiles on the faces of passersby, and generally feeling the love. And of course my family and friends! Feeling very blessed.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

We had fun playing in the rain

Today's group (plus me)
We are standing at the trailhead for North Chuckanut Mountain, here in Bellingham. We were scheduled for our last High Country hike of the season, but the weather has taken a turn towards rain and clouds, so instead Melanie suggested one of her favorites, a hike to Raptor Ridge from this starting point.
On the trail to Raptor Ridge
When we started our hike, it wasn't raining, but we were getting a few sprinkles now and then. When you're expecting rain, sprinkles don't really qualify. It did make for a few extra gear stops, however, trying to get it just right. Eventually we had some light rain, but it didn't deter us. Once we approached Raptor Ridge, however, the wind was howling, so we didn't stay long.
Tom braving the wind on Raptor Ridge
We even had the tiniest bit of of a view from the top, if you use your imagination, anyway. This was four miles from our starting point, but we still needed to find a nice place out of the wind and rain for lunch, so we kept going for awhile.
Local color
When I saw Joy in front of me with this dramatic rock behind her, I asked her to stop so I could get a picture. She took her hat off so I could capture all her great colors. Very pleased with the way it turned out.
Two happy mushrooms
Somebody decided to show that even mushrooms can have personalities, and that they can make strangers smile at their discovery. All of us with cameras stopped to save them for posterity.
Big leaf maple leaves
We kept swishing our way through big leaf maple leaves along the trail. I recently learned that something is causing these trees, which have the largest leaves of the species, to begin a die-off. You can read about speculation of what is causing it here. (Hint: nobody knows.)
Me, Tom, Heather
I asked Melanie if she would take a picture of me, so that I could also be present in the post, and she accommodated me with this one. We had a really good day, covering almost eight miles total and an unknown elevation gain and loss. It wasn't flat, by any means, but it was also not too difficult, and the rain was minimal. All in all, it was fun, and we ended up finishing early in the afternoon, so we still have lots of day left. It was a great way to spend most of my Thursday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Showing their rear ends

Um, guys, up is this way
While we were walking back to the parking lot after our walk on Saturday, several of us noticed some geese popping up and down in the water. It's pretty shallow here (as you can see from the old dock pilings), and I think these two guys are looking to find their breakfast. I watched for a few minutes, hoping to get all four of them upended at once, but it didn't happen. I had to be fast to get these two showing their butts as it was.

I just drove home after my yoga class and noticed a distinct change in the weather. Our sunshine is gone, a cold wind is blowing, and the sky looks like rain is imminent. Brrr! I still have an acupuncture treatment today, but after that I'll head home and hunker down. Our Indian Summer was wonderful while it lasted. The trees all over town are in riotous color, which I have had every intention of trying to capture, but it looks like if I don't do it soon, my chance will be over for the year.

On the bright side, I remembered my Tuesday post once again!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Last week's hike adventure

The PTP hikers on High Divide (Chris photo)
Since I wasn't able to hike with the group last week, I asked someone from the Excelsior/Welcome point-to-point (PTP) hikers (Chris) and someone from the Welcome Pass only hikers (Cathy) to send me some pictures of their adventure and a little information about how it went. It turns out that nine Trailblazers did the entire PTP, which turned out to be almost 13 miles since the Welcome Pass road is impassable and they had to hike back to the highway. Three Trailblazers did the Welcome only segment.
Some of the PTPers (Chris photo)
After hearing how challenging it was, even for these strong hikers, I was glad I wasn't able to make a spectacle of myself by being (1) slow, (2) grumpy, or (3) whining. Chris described it like this:
You are soooo glad you didn’t do this hike!  It was a killer. There were 9 of us did the whole loop ... 3 people went up Welcome Pass.  The high meadows were so beautiful!! The ridge walk was continual views (although still gaining some altitude for much of it). We met Al, Cathy, and Ken near Welcome. And then the steep steep steep hike down. And we had to walk an extra mile out to the highway because the road had a terrible hole in it. A marvelous but challenging hike, good company, and tired feet!
And as I said in my previous post, I did do this entire thing once before, five years ago. It was hard then, but I think maybe the Universe arranged for me to miss it when I banged up my knee. (Or maybe it was just me being clumsy.)
Richard and red blueberry bushes (Chris photo)
 The fall colors are still pretty stupendous up there in the High Country, aren't they? And then finally the Welcome Pass group saw the others arriving, looking happy and still doing great. That's Tom and Jim in front here.
Here they come! (Cathy photo)
They probably stopped for a quick breather, or maybe not, before starting down the steep Welcome Pass trail. I don't think I'll ever attempt those 67 switchbacks again, since I know if I had done it last week, I probably wouldn't be walking without pain quite yet. Cathy, who did the Welcome Pass bit, said about her experience, "In a word--grueling.  And I 'only' did Welcome Pass and maybe a mile into High Divide with Al and Ken."
Getting ready to descend to the pass (Cathy photo)
Since Cathy took this picture and Chris is in front of her, I suspect that this is the order they went on the descent. You can see that even with all the downhill work in front of them, the shadows were getting long. But what a beautiful day they had! I am so happy to be a part of such a wonderful group, and I'm also glad it was them and not me!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A different kind of Thursday post

Twinkly lights on our trees
I captured these pretty blue lights on the trees in our downtown on my way to the coffee shop. Yes, I went there this morning since I still cannot hike long distances on my injured knee. Well, I can, but I sure couldn't do the one Al scheduled, with an elevation gain and loss of 4,400 feet over 11.6 miles. We did this in the past, and it wore me out, and that was in 2013, five years ago. Check out the description here. Around nineteen Trailblazers are attempting this today. From that link:
Excelsior Pass to Welcome Pass via High Divide Trail is ... a point-to-point trail located near Deming, Washington that features a river and is rated as difficult.
I would go along with that: it's difficult partly because Welcome Pass is hard to hike in either direction because it's so steep. In 67 switchbacks, it's impossible not to shred my knees going up OR down, even when they are in good shape. Nope, not for me today. Instead, I walked gently around Lake Padden and got some wonderful pictures of the fall colors, like here.
Lake Padden's fall show
I went back in my blog archive to see if I could find any pictures of the High Divide trail, and I found this one, which I still love because of the mist.
High Divide August 2009
What the group is doing is a car shuttle, with the majority doing the entire hike and going up Excelsior Pass, walking the five miles along the High Divide and then descending via Welcome Pass. A smaller group decided just to hike up Welcome and meet the others and when everyone is together, mosey back down to do the car shuttle.
High Divide October 2014
They are likely to see pictures like this one, because the weather is perfect for such an attempt, partly cloudy and cool, with lots of fall colors. Me, I was happy to see Lake Padden this morning and will visit the acupuncturist in an hour.
Calm and peaceful Lake Padden this morning
Once I get some pictures from this hike and a description of how it all went, I think on Saturday I'll fill you in on the adventure. I'm curious about it all, too. I love it when old people push themselves to the limit, as long as it all turns out okay. I suspect it will fine, because everyone knows what they are getting into. Right? What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Adventures with needles

Needles and electric currents
I just got back from the Prime Sports Institute where I had my first acupuncture treatment for my various aches and pains. This one concentrated on my sore heel as well as my sore knee. I asked Warren, the acupuncturist (whom I like very much) to take some pictures of me while I was needled up. Once he stuck in about a dozen or so needles, he then ran an electric current through some of them, as you can see in this picture.

This was not my first adventure with needles. When I lived in Boulder, Colorado, I went to a Chinese acupuncturist for several sessions to deal with menopausal symptoms. He also managed to fix up some other issues I had. He didn't speak any English and his wife (who was only intermittently available) translated for him. It was an experience that convinced me that this treatment is invaluable for all kinds of physical issues.

Today's visit wasn't fun exactly, but I rather enjoyed it nevertheless. I could actually carry on a conversation with my acupuncturist, and I have made appointments for the next six weeks and am looking very much forward to them. Since I won't be hiking on Thursday this week, I will see him then, and once a week thereafter until my appointments run out. I got a deal for signing up ahead of time. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

A busy Saturday

Local color
Sorry I didn't capture who took this picture, I saw it on Facebook and noticed that it is taken locally, but that's all I remember. It's just gorgeous, though, so I snagged it for my post.

It's a little late, because it's been a very busy day, although I didn't walk with the ladies because of my knee. It's probably just as well, because every time I get up after having been sitting for awhile, I show every single day of my age. No hopping around like a teenager. It's better than it was yesterday, but that's not saying much. It still hurts mightily when I walk.

And then I came home after the coffee shop and watched a little Netflix and then had wine with Lily on my front porch. Now it's almost time for bed, and I'm just now getting around to writing my Saturday post. Oh, well. I'm getting more and more negligent with my self-imposed routine, aren't I? I'm the only one who cares, but I cannot seem to let it go. Yet.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Back to the mountains

Mountains, sky, clouds
It was only two weeks ago that I went with the Senior Trailblazers to visit Ptarmigan Ridge. Because the weather decided to stay nice, and our scheduled hike was a long drive away, we broke into two groups: one went to Ptarmigan Ridge to allow those who haven't yet enjoyed it this season, and the other went to Ridley Creek, another long drive and not one of my favorites. So I decided to do it once again, and what a beautiful day we had! Eight Trailblazers drove to Artist Point and set out in temperatures just a few degrees above freezing.
Ice crystals
This closeup of ice crystals show what we dealt with in the morning, lots of ice and slippery footing to begin our adventure. The sun reached the majority of the trail, and the only places that were difficult were where the sun hadn't yet reached.
Cathy, me, Jim, Victoria, Chris, Al, Judy, Melanie
I just this minute received this wonderful picture from Cathy, which was taken by a passerby, of the eight of us. We had hiked three miles to the overlook, before we started across the trail towards Mt. Baker.
Judy, Baker, Melanie
At the beginning of the hike, we had this view of Mt. Baker, which seems far in the distance. But after hiking several miles towards it, we get much closer indeed. By the way, Judy is a new hiker with us, and I'll bet it won't be the last time she joins us.
The same three at our lunch spot
When we stopped for lunch, the clouds had moved in and gave the entire day a much different feeling than our cloudless visit of two weeks ago. Plus all the incredible colors we saw then have become muted. Winter is moving in quickly.
Me in front of Baker
Melanie took this picture of me at our lunch spot, and I like it very much. It was not long after she took it that we began our trip back, covering the same trail we took to get here. All was well, until a short time later, I took a fall on the trail, hitting my left knee on a rock. It hurt so badly for a few moments that if Victoria hadn't caught me, I would have tumbled all the way down into the valley below.

Once I regained my wits, I realized that I would need to tape my knee with an Ace bandage in order to get back down the trail. Victoria taped it (she is an occupational therapist) and I struggled down the trail, with the help of Jim, who carried my pack the entire distance back, so I would have as little stress on my knee as possible. I carefully hobbled down the trail with my taped knee.
Mt. Shuksan today
And then, as if by magic, the sun came out to light up Mt. Shuksan, giving me a chance to capture what I think is the best picture of this glorious mountain I've ever taken. The mixture of clouds and light make it look (to my eyes anyway) like something taken by a professional!

Now I am home and have discovered that nothing is broken in my knee, and a few days of R&R should make it good as it gets. We covered more than eight miles today, and went almost 2,000 feet up and down. Nobody is happier to be home than I am, and I must say that the wine I've almost finished has helped me appreciate what a wonderful day we had together. Thank you to all my friends who helped me today.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Another Tuesday post

John catching up on some missed sleep
I walked into the coffee shop at my usual time and couldn't find my friend John anywhere. I had walked right past him, as he slumbered away in this chair at the front of the coffee shop. He had a half-full cup of coffee, which was obviously not doing the trick for him.

After I got my own coffee, I went over and touched him gently on the shoulder. His eyes opened and it was obvious from his confused look that he had been FAST asleep. "John, didn't you get enough sleep last night?"

"I went out for my usual dance class, and I didn't get to sleep until 9:00. Late for me."

But since he had apparently gotten about a half-hour of quality sleep in the chair, he was then awake, and we moved over to our usual table and then had a nice chat, until it was time for me to leave. I saw our friend Gene arrive just as I left, meaning he'd continue to have somebody to talk to instead of sleep.

He offered me five bucks if I wouldn't put this picture on my blog. It's worth more than that to me, but he wasn't willing to bargain, so here you go!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Another glorious day

Summit of Church Mountain at 6,100 feet elevation
My friend Cathy sent me a bunch of pictures she took while we were on last Thursday's hike to Church Mountain. I never get her stuff until a day after I've posted on my blog, and this one is so spectacular of some of our group on the top I just had to share it. I wasn't among them, since I did this earlier in the year and didn't want to wear myself out like I did that day. I stopped a short distance from the top and didn't do the last push or the final climb.

Anyway, it seems like we are in the midst of Indian Summer, although it's cool and foggy in the mornings, we've had lovely weather for days now. This morning we ladies walked to Zuanich Park from town, not a long walk, around 4 miles round trip, but sure a nice one in the sunshine. I didn't take any pictures or I'd share them with you.

I just got my flu shot, which I decided to get right after our walk in case I had any adverse reactions to it. I take Sundays off from exercise, and by Monday I figure I'll be back to normal. I hope so, anyway. Linda, one of our regular walkers, is back from a three-week-long trip and had some updates about Peggy's husband Lyle. He is back in the county at a rehab facility, rather than being at the trauma center in Seattle. That's really good news.

It's been a month since he was run over by a garbage truck and has endured numerous surgeries and now seems to be on the mend. I so look forward to the day when I can see Peggy again, knowing that when she returns to her regular routine, it will mean it's as good as it is likely to get for their situation. I think of them both daily, sending good thoughts their way.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Another visit to Church

Al, Rick and Haven  amongst the fall colors
Fourteen Senior Trailblazers set off this morning for Church Mountain, since we thought the Mt. Baker Highway was closed to our original destination. We did find out that the road had reopened, but we decided instead to go ahead and visit Church Mountain once again, the third time this year. It's definitely fall up there.
Mt. Shuksan and mountain ash in foreground
The first few miles of this hike are in the trees, but then we open up into the meadow, where we had views of the surrounding mountains. The meadow was as far as we got on our first visit this season, because of rain, and the second time we went all the way to the top without any view because of clouds and fog. Today, however, it was sunny and glorious, views all around.
Mt. Baker with fall colors in abundance
Once we started to climb towards the summit of the hike, we separated into those who would go to the top and those who would go part-way. But eventually, twelve went all the way, while Al and I stopped short of the entire hike.
More mountains, more color
Al and I sat about a half mile from the summit, happy to enjoy the solitude and the beauty to be seen everywhere. You see all those red bushes? Well, they are only really red when backlit. The rest of the time they are a sort of purple, and they are blueberry bushes, abundantly covered with blueberries. How many can you see in this picture?
Blueberry bushes 
We did enjoy many handfuls of these beauties, and most were sweet and delicious, with only a few past their best days but still good. Al and I had a nice lunch while the others enjoyed theirs on the summit, which I know well and was glad to skip today. Then before too long, the others began their descent to our location, and we started back down the long trail to our cars.
Melanie on her way back down
The entire day gave us as much exercise as we wanted. Those who went all the way to the top got close to 9 miles and almost 4,000 feet (1,200+ meters), and Al and I figured we got 3,300 feet and almost eight miles. Enough for me today, for sure. On the way back down, I captured more pictures of my favorite mountains.
Just a beautiful day
It was simply a wonderful day, just what I needed after feeling irritable from having watched too much of the news. And tomorrow I get a much-needed massage and will enjoy a wonderful day, filled with smiles and happy thoughts.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Becoming proficient at yoga

Yoga props and challenge sheet
I think one of the best parts about having a blog is being able to go back in time and see when I started different activities. It will be three years in January since I started attending yoga classes at Yoga Northwest. It's not the first time I have gotten involved with yoga, but getting older and stiff and unable to bend and twist in ways I did without thinking in my youth, well, it was time to return.

I started out with what they call "gentle" yoga, meaning that there would be no inverted postures and the class would be geared to those of us older folks. Iyengar Yoga makes plenty of use of props, like blocks and bolsters and blankets. So when I decided I needed to start a home practice, I went to Amazon and got everything online.

Plenty of time went by with the stuff just gathering dust, but I did move from taking one class a week to two, and then this year the studio organizers decided to make a "100 Day Challenge," to celebrate B.K.S. Iyengar's 100th birthday in December (he died at 95, but his birthday will  be a good excuse for parties all around the world). I decided to try to do it, having moved up to harder poses.

It started on September 5th, and I've managed so far to do at least fifteen minutes of yoga every day, and now I make plenty use of those props. Once the weather is too cold for the front porch, I'll move into the living room, but I am amazed that I've made it this far without missing a day! Wish me luck.