|Six of the eight of us on the way to the Divide|
Only eight Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to carpool up to Skyline Divide. I've been up this trail more times than I can count, and each one has been different. The service road to the trailhead is almost 13 miles long, and it's in the worst shape I've ever seen it. It took us almost an hour to travel those miles. We didn't get to start hiking until 10:30, as we had all those potholes to navigate. But we did finally get going, on a cool and absolutely lovely day weather-wise.
|Frank and me, taken by Melanie|
Frank is often our "sweep," the person who stays in the back and makes sure no one gets left behind. Every hike has a leader and a sweep, and Frank is one of the best sweeps: he helped me so much today. Although my back was fine, my right knee wasn't. Even wrapped in a brace, it was moderately okay going uphill, but it hurt like crazy going down. And there is plenty of up and down on this particular hike. Frank encouraged me and kept my spirits up.
|Mt. Baker view from the ridge|
We went a bit farther once we reached the ridge, but nowhere near as far as we usually go. It was partly because of the late start, and partly because I was lagging behind everyone else because of my knee.
|Our lunch spot|
We had a very nice place for lunch. You could sit out in the sun like these hikers, or in the grove of trees there were some nice places in the shade. That's where I enjoyed my own lunch. Afterwards, the others decided to hike on a little farther, but I said I would go back to the junction that leads back down to the cars and wait for them. I didn't want to push it.
|Flowers and more beautiful mountains|
While I waited, I tried to capture some of the amazing flowers, but none of my pictures give much of a flavor of their beauty. Many of them are past their prime, but everywhere I looked I saw bistort, daisies, arnica, lupine, valerian, and harebells.
|Hikers rejoining me|
At first, I waited for the others in the shade, with a cool breeze blowing, but before long I was chilly, so I went out in the sunshine to watch for them. Here they come, having added perhaps a mile to their outing. I traveled around five miles or so, while they went over six, with 2,000 feet up and down.
I struggled mightily on the downhill, taking knee braces on and off, trying to find the most comfortable way to descend to the cars. At last we made it back, and after 4:00pm we began our return trip. It was a long day, but it was wonderful to be back after my hiatus. Now all I need to do is figure out how to make my knee work again. It's always something, it seems.