|Melanie, Mike, and Kirk (and me behind the camera)|
Today, when I arrived at the Senior Center for the regular Thursday hike, I had no idea where we might end up going. The scheduled hike wasn't feasible, and after last week's hard hike, I wasn't really interested in going back up to the High Country in iffy weather. So, Melanie convinced me to make a fourth for a hike to Pine and Cedar Lakes in the Chuckanuts. The rest of the group, twelve of them, decided to try Excelsior Pass up the Mt. Baker Highway. It is longer but similar to last week's trip to Church Mountain. I don't know how that turned out, since they are not back yet. (I tried to call Chris, one of the hikers but they are still out of cellphone range.)
|Our beautiful surroundings today|
Anyway, those of us who decided against going a long distance were on the North Chuckanut trailhead by 8:30 and headed up the Hemlock and Huckleberry trails, to our first destination, Raptor Ridge.
|Raptor Ridge, looking towards Mt Rainier|
When the skies are clear and the conditions perfect, you can see Mt. Rainier in the middle of the picture. Obviously today wasn't one of those days, but the clouds did thin out eventually, in defiance of the forecast.
Melanie took this shot at my request, so I could have one with me in it while we were on the ridge. We also heard a loud raven calling across the valley, and he did sail past us at one point. I'm not sure if it qualifies as a raptor, but it was definitely a very big bird.
|Me, Kirk, Mike (Melanie's picture)|
And then we headed down a different direction than our approach to the ridge, and made our way to Cedar Lake. The weather was really nice for hiking, with only a sprinkle or two as we hiked along.
|Banana slug on the trail|
Who says we don't see wildlife? This massively huge slug (probably more than six inches long) was making progress across the trail as we watched. These kinds of slugs are native to the area, and many times I've watched Peggy pick them up from the trail and move them out of harm's way. I did that only once, because they are slimy to the touch! Since there were only four of us, we were careful not to disturb him and went on our way.
|Very big trillium leaves|
We saw these huge trillium leaves and, although the flowers are gone, they are still quite beautiful to see. This was pretty much the only rain we had while we hiked, just enough to give some texture to the scenery.
And then we were at Cedar Lake. Since it was close to noon, we decided to stop here for lunch. Three men on horseback had tied their horses and were looking for a place to have lunch, too. They joined us for lunch and we had a very nice conversation with these three men from Lynden who have lived in the area their whole lives. They go out once a week for a horseback ride together.
|A natural valentine|
I happened to look down at one point on our way back and saw these two pretty bleeding hearts surrounded by foam flowers (those pretty white ones) and thought it looked like a painting. The environment was just a delight, and my company was delightful, too.
|The sun came out on our way home|
And the dappled sunlight began to appear through the trees. By the time we were back to our starting point, almost all the clouds were gone. Just a perfect day, if you ask me. We hiked more than nine miles and some elevation gain, just enough for me. (News flash: I just got a text from Chris from the other group, who said they just now reached Maple Falls, a place near the town of Glacier that has cellphone coverage. They got snowed on and hiked 8.7 miles with lots of elevation: 3,300 feet. So they will be home in another hour or so.) I'm glad I took it easy today and went rogue!