Saturday, August 31, 2019

Lovely final August day

Cool clouds
We've had some beautiful weather this past week, even with a little rain and reaching the 80-degree mark (for me, this was on the hot side). But today, it's pretty perfect, in the low 70s, and the trees around town are beginning to show their slow march towards autumn. The feeling of fall is in the air, and the days are getting noticeably shorter. We are 23 days from the equinox, two full months away from the solstice in June. As I said, pretty perfect.

Today eighteen of us (all ladies except for one; Gordon has joined us again) walked from the downtown Farmers' Market to the ferry terminal in Fairhaven, a round trip of about five miles. I did pretty well,  but I was nowhere near the front of the group. It was just fine with me to be in the middle of the pack, or even close to the back, but with a spring in my step just to be out and about.
Last Thursday's treat to myself
Since I still couldn't hike with the Trailblazers because of my knee, I walked the first part of today's walk with the ladies to Fairhaven and then took the bus back to town, so I wouldn't overdo it. (I'm learning patience, slowly but surely.) I treated myself to a delicious smoothie and sat and gazed at past hiking pictures while I enjoyed it. When I saw the pictures posted by both Trailblazer groups, my usual one and the other, I was just a tiny bit sad that I wasn't there with them, enjoying the absolutely gorgeous day.

I'm hoping to join them this coming Thursday, since it's only a seven-mile hike, with moderate uphill. And I could stop at any point and wait for them to return, since it's an out-and-back trip. I'm hoping to make it all the way to the glaciers, however. We'll see what happens. In any event, I am feeling better every day and hoping for the best.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Sauk Mountain memories

Mt. Baker peekaboo on Sauk Mountain 2013
The Senior Trailblazers are hiking up Sauk Mountain today, without me. Note: see below; they went somewhere else after all.) I figured maybe it was time for me to reminisce about some of my earlier visits to the mountain. My knee is still a little wonky, and this hike is pretty challenging on the uphill. The trail winds interminably up the side of a mountain, and while it's not long, it is definitely steep. So I stayed home.

In 2013, when this picture was taken, I realized that I had left my trusty camera at home, and it's the first time I ended up taking lots of wonderful camera shots with my phone. I was simply amazed at the quality, and so it was also the last time I carried another camera. According to my blog, I've been on this hike with the Trailblazers five times, and each time I got some tremendous pictures. The first year was in 2009, ten years ago.
Switchbacks up the mountainside 2017
This picture shows the steep switchbacks that take you to the ridge above. It's claimed a few lives lately, with two people in two subsequent years slipping on the steep dusty trail and falling to their deaths. It was one factor in my consideration about whether to risk it today or not. I am not feeling my best, and after yesterday's colonoscopy, my balance is also a little off. There's always next year.
Looking down at Sauk Lake
Only once in my trips up Sauk Mountain did we end up taking the side trail down to the lake. It's another mile and around 1,000 feet down, and the trail is not as well traveled, so there were a few places where it wasn't obvious, but we made it. Of course Richard decided to go swimming, which he almost always does when there's a body of water, summer or winter.
Heading down to the lake in 2016
The one thing I remember the most about the trip to the lake (other than having to climb back up) were the numerous bugs: flies and mosquitos seemed impervious to my repellent. The entire trip only covered a mere six miles in total, but the elevation gain and loss was considerable. I hope to get a good trip report for today's hike and will add an addendum if I do indeed get one.

(News Flash: Melanie just texted me that they didn't even do Sauk Mountain but went to Park Butte instead! Oh well. Here's a picture of the group that Melanie sent me.)
The Park Butte crowd (taken by Melanie)

Note about yesterday's colonoscopy: the good news is that I don't have any obvious signs of cancer, but I did have a few small polyps (3-4 mm in size) removed. The bad news is that I apparently have a rare condition: a tortuous colon, which meant that my highly skilled doctor had to work hard to accomplish the procedure, but she did, and for that I am very grateful.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Housebound Tuesday afternoon

Gorgeous ripe tomatoes
This morning I took the bus downtown to have coffee with my friend John, and then over to the gym for a class before heading home to begin my colonoscopy prep. I walked by my friend Judy's front yard garden, and she beckoned me in to see some of her veggies, and offered me some to take home.

I knew that once I got home and would begin my prep, I wouldn't be going out again until we venture out tomorrow morning to the doctor's office for the procedure. This is not a fun afternoon, but it is progressing as expected. In other words, I am staying close to the bathroom.
Big green and yellow squash
She tried to get me to take one of these home, but it's the time of year when I'm busy trying to give away my OWN zucchini squash before they get too big. I had never heard of a "honey bear" squash, which is what she says that large green one is called. As she picked some tomatoes and cucumbers for me to take home with me, I began to feel my hunger. I won't get anything to eat today until it's all over, but it's not too many hours before I take my next dose of prep to clean myself out. The best part will be when I step on the scales tomorrow to see a number I'm not likely to see again for a long time.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Walking with the ladies

Lake Padden walk this morning
At least twenty of us ladies headed out for our usual monthly walk around Lake Padden. It's 2.6 miles once around, and a few of us only went around the first time, but these briskly walking ladies were beginning their second lap. I was fine with going around once, not wanting to push my knee too far again, too soon.
Cindy, Maria, Lily
I had finished my first lap and went back out to find these three, who I knew were walking much more slowly than the rest. I knew they also weren't going to make another lap, so the four of us went off to Whole Foods for a nice breakfast together. My knee is pretty happy right now, but it was beginning to complain. Frankly, I think I had the best of both worlds, and now it's time to enjoy the rest of what feels like a fall day: cool and overcast, with occasional sun breaks. I'm gonna kick back until Wine O'Clock.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Not hiking again today

Lake Ann in 2013
My usual group of Senior Trailblazers is heading to Lake Ann and the Shuksan glaciers today. I am not with them, since my knee is still healing from the trauma I subjected it to last Thursday. At first I was not convinced that the knee pain is related to my tailbone/sacrum injury of a month ago, but now I'm pretty sure they are related. A few of the exercises that my acupuncturist gave me to do have demonstrated a clear correlation between them. This all started because of a 19-year-old injury that caused me to break my pelvis in 6 places and pretty much shattered the right sacrum.

I have long been aware that my right leg is not as strong, and that the loss of the internal iliac artery sustained at that time, along with nerve damage, would one day come back to haunt me. It seems this is that time. However, the good news is that my knee is gradually getting better, and I can carry out my usual activities, as long as I rest the area and don't stress it like I did last week. The Lake Ann hike is a difficult one, with lots of elevation gain, rocks to navigate, and plenty of sunshine to deal with. Not a good one for me today. I've done this hike at least ten times, maybe more, and look forward to the possibility of another visit one day, maybe next year.
Tomatoes galore
In the meantime, I am enjoying the lovely markets around town, showing off the beautiful fruits and vegetables that are now available. My own little garden has lots of those Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, pickles, and kale; everything else has been harvested. Late summer is a wonderful time in my part of the world.
Fall flowers
These beautiful bouquets of fall flowers were for sale, but after I admired them, I left them for others to buy. Uppermost in my mind is that if I'm good to my knee, I might be able to make next week's hike, or the one after that, if not next week's. The one thing I don't want to do is make the same mistake of trying to get back into the High Country too soon and suffer the consequences. You'd think I would learn my lesson, but it seems the one lesson I fail to learn is patience. Oh, the rationalizations I come up with continue to make me smile ruefully.

Time to pick up my latest book and enjoy the rest of the day in my easy chair. (I did get in some exercise at the gym today, not much, but some.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Sneezy times ahead

On my way to the bus yesterday, I saw this golden plant in full flower. Uh-oh, I thought to myself, I think I'm allergic to this stuff. I have recently noticed an increase in itchy eyes and nose, and lately the signs of early fall are appearing everywhere. At first I thought this was ragweed, so I (of course) read up on it. Nope, they are very different looking, and goldenrod is a favorite of pollinators.
Snagged from
Having been unaware of the differences between these two plants, now I'm on the lookout for ragweed in my area. But it's nice to learn that the pretty goldenrod is not a significant sneeze maker. Do you have any allergies that make the season miserable for you?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Fifty years since Woodstock

Snagged from Where Is the Way Forward?
This weekend marks fifty years since the Woodstock Music Festival happened. Many people were there, in fact around 400,000. It was planned to have no more than 50,000, so it was quite an event to have so many people in the Yasgur Family's meadow. I laughed to learn that more than five million people claim to have been there.

Although I was alive back then, and aware of the festival, I was a young mother and worked full time. Plus I wasn't much into music, but I sure remember this period of time. The festival is now the largest ever held: read all about it here.

I didn't walk with the ladies this morning because my knee is still not okay. I'm hoping that time will make it better, but if not I'll go to the doctor's office, unwillingly, but I'll go.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Skyline Divide 2019

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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Romanesco broccoli
This is one of the most amazing vegetables I've ever seen. They have a form that is similar to fractals, and one year I baked some in the oven, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and salt, and they were delicious. That link under the picture tells you where they came from. I'm pretty sure they weren't around when I was young, or I would have remembered them. They taste a little like cauliflower and are related to both vegetables.

I tried a couple of years ago to plant them in my garden, but they bolted almost immediately and now I let the experts at the Farmers' Market grow them for me.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Almost back to normal

Me on Skyline Divide a few years ago
This morning I joined the ladies on a hilly five-mile walk, one I was thinking I'd skip this week. But then last night I began to wonder if I might actually be well enough to attempt it, figuring I could bail if I needed to, since it is a local trail, with no chance to get lost or left behind. And I did it! I kept up with the middle group, which is all I've ever been able to do. A little sore, but nothing too bad.

So, this means I'll go with the Senior Trailblazers on Thursday to Skyline Divide. I found this picture from a few years back, and I'm hoping that we'll have similar weather, not too hot, not too buggy. It's been a month and I'm tired of missing out on all the fun, so wish me luck!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A mixed bag for Thursday

Skydive formation in Arizona
I really had to work to forgive myself for not making a Tuesday post. I thought of it several times during the day, and then promptly forgot about it when I started binge-watching on my laptop. My bad! And I know I said I'd write a blog post about my skydiving days, but I'll just put a few pictures in as snippets among some "photo safari" shots I took this week. Both me and SG are in this picture: I'm on the far left in purple, with his white legs directly underneath me. It's a favorite shot.
Lake Padden this morning
I decided to take one more week off from hiking with the Trailblazers, because my lower spine is still sore, but I really think I could have done it today. Instead, I walked around Lake Padden, and I did just fine, even if I'm not a speed demon (yet). The uphills were the only times I felt discomfort, but it was minimal, really. I was very happy to discover that. You can see that it's overcast, and the fisherman had just arrived on the dock to get started. A beautiful morning.
Fishermen's Memorial at Squalicum Harbor
Last Sunday Lily and I had a really nice walk around Squalicum Harbor together, a couple of miles, I'd guess, and I saw this cute little bird taking a look around from the top of the fisherman's head. Makes me smile every time I see this picture. The memorial is entitled "Safe Return," and lists many fishermen who didn't come home.
Boats in the harbor, with summer flowers
It was a lovely day, and we did enjoy ourselves. It's always a treat to have some time to spend with Lily, since she works every other weekend and I don't get to see her nearly often enough.
This morning at the coffee shop, one of the regulars, R.J., decided to show the cover of the most recent Cascadia Weekly. He is MUCH better looking than this guy.
Lily, me, John, looking pretty goofy
And another day when we were playing with that silly Messenger app, I got this picture and was looking for a good time to share it. We do have fun playing together; you would never know we are two old fogies and one quinquagenarian (yes, she really is in her fifties).
Landing after a skydive
I'll finish with this other favorite picture from my skydiving days. I had just had a wonderful skydive with a student who is still in the air. I suspect that fellow is watching her set up her landing pattern, but I don't remember for sure. I was an instructor for twelve years and enjoyed it very much.

I haven't made a skydive since 2015, and it's amazing that I don't miss it any more than I do. Every once in awhile I'll see something on Facebook that brings back memories, but my life has moved on. Twenty-five years was just enough. I've only been hiking for eleven and truly hope I've got more years yet to come to dance in the forests.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Hertz trail walk

Submerged log has a tree growing out of it
The Hertz trail along the southeast shore of Lake Whatcom has long been a favorite place to get around six miles on a very mellow, almost flat terrain. This morning the ladies met there for their walk, and I decided to go, since it's an out-and-back and I could go at my own pace and then turn around when I ran into the others on their return from the end of the trail. I knew it would be foolish for me to go the entire distance at their brisk pace, but it was a perfect way for me to see how I'm coming along.

Cindy, who had a knee replacement several months back, has been struggling to regain her usual pace, so she was happy to walk along with me, going slower than the others. It was a lovely walk, and I was pleased to feel only minor pain. I went out for a half an hour, then rested before returning. Cindy joined me, and although I have a bit more pain than I did upon awakening this morning, I was encouraged by how well I'm coming along. Slow and easy.
A nice view while resting
I'm feeling like maybe I can spend some time in the garden today, doing some much-needed weeding, and picking some veggies to snack on during the day. We've got some warm weather coming up for the next week, so I'm going to be getting any afternoon exercise indoors. Thinking about Thursday already, and pretty sure I won't be ready quite yet. It's coming soon, but maybe not that soon.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Three weeks post-injury

This morning's latte
It has now been three weeks exactly since I slipped and fell on that muddy boardwalk, and I'm definitely much better. This morning when I got out of bed and walked across the living room to peek out the front door, I felt little discomfort in my tailbone/sacrum area. I decided to treat the day like it was just another weekday (not a Thursday) and take the bus to the coffee shop, then to the gym. I like the pretty design in my coffee; you can also see my new glasses and iPad to complete the picture.
Our apartment, upper right
Then I took the bus back home and pondered what I would write about today. The Senior Trailblazers are on the Yellow Aster Butte hike, one of my favorites. I went to the search widget on this website and searched for last year's trip, which is linked here. I haven't missed this hike in ten years, but there is always a first time.
A poem
I saw this poem outside the downtown library, written by a three-year-old artist. It's titled "Sky Goes Flying." If you enlarge the picture, you can read it for yourself. It made me consider perhaps it would be fun to put up pictures chronicling my own sky flying, pictures of my skydiving career, but I decided to save it for next week, if I am still unable to hike. It's possible I will be healed enough to attempt it, but it's too soon to tell. That's a whole week away.
Lots of herbs
Last Saturday while walking around the Farmers' Market, I saw this picture and decided to save it for my "photo safari," but I didn't get enough gathered to make it worthwhile. However, this picture sure shows the abundance we have around these parts in locally grown herbs. I wandered around for awhile longer and then came home.

I'm under the care of my acupuncturist, and he is admonishing me to take it slow, walk briskly for no more than 15 minutes at a time, and eventually I'll be my old self. It's interesting how long it took today for me to start having pain with each step as I walked home from the bus. Every day it's a longer distance, but it's still there. One day soon, I'll be able to throw caution to the winds and dance in the green mountains again.