Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Here's to a brand new year

Beautiful Lily with a toast to the last day of 2019
I have just returned home after a day out and about. I walked to the bus this morning in the dark, in the horizontal rain and blowing wind. After spending some time at the coffee shop and then the gym, I headed home in order to go out yet again, to enjoy lunch with my friend Lily before my appointment with the acupuncturist.

Between my delightful visit to the chiropractor and his teddy bear yesterday, and the needles carefully placed in my hindquarters today, I am pleased to report that my sacroiliac is happy and at peace, along with the rest of me. Although it looks like snow outside that window, it's only a trick of the light: it's simply rain, lots and lots of it. Mild temperatures, too, relatively speaking.

Tomorrow we begin a new year, a new beginning, and I'm hoping, along with much of the rest of the world, for a more peaceful and gentle time ahead. And I am thrilled that I get to share my own little corner of the world with my fellow bloggers, as well as friends and family who brighten every single day.

As I quaff my last glass of wine of the decade, I raise it to a bright and shining future, which can be anything we wish. We have it within us to do that.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Post-Christmas hike

Most of today's hikers
It seems that many of the Senior Trailblazers wanted to get out and about today, since we ended up with seventeen! Most of us met at the Senior Center, but others met us at the Lookout Mountain parking lot, where we headed up the lovely trail for a fine day. It was very cold (for us) last night, getting down to around 25°F (-4°C), but the sun kept trying to come out from behind the clouds.
Me, my new hat, and the trail sign
We decided to head up the Rufus Creek trail, and go to its end before stopping for lunch. Everyone was dressed for the weather, and we expected not to encounter any rain. Sure enough, it stayed dry, and the trails were in great shape. I don't usually wear a hat while hiking, but this lovely chapeau was a gift from my friend Lily, and it worked quite well to keep me toasty warm.
Hair ice on a piece of rotting wood
We saw white growths like this one on numerous branches on the forest floor. Although it looks like a flower, it's actually something called hair ice, which is a rare phenomenon only recently discovered to be caused by a fungus, Exidiopsis effusa, which allows the ice to form thin hairs as water emerges from the branch. Hair ice grows when the conditions are just right, usually during a humid winter night when the temperature drops below 0°C (32°F). The link I provided above (from an article written in the Daily Mail in 2015) describes how the researcher figured out the mystery behind this delicate and beautiful ice flower.
We didn't go this way
The Rufus Creek trail has many side trails, and I saw this one that I believe we ascended last time we were on Lookout Mountain. Now it's restricted to one direction, because of (as the sign says) "bikes traveling fast downhill." We encountered several bikers today, but there was never any problem sharing the trail with them.
Can you see the mountain?
We got to a place where we should have been able to make out Mt. Baker quite well, but because of the grey skies, it faded into the soft sky.
This is where I took the above picture
As you can see, there is a bench and when the sky is blue, a lovely view to enjoy. Today, we took a short break here and then went to the terminus of the Rufus Creek trail to have lunch.
Today's lunch spot
This is the end of the trail, although another one heads up towards the top of the mountain, we were ready for a break. It was truly a fine day, and although the forecast is for the weather to deteriorate later today, everything held off for us.
We took a different trail back down, so that we could check out this waterfall, which is roaring for a change, because of the recent rain. I've not seen this much activity before. We then headed back to the cars, having traveled a little more than eight miles and 1,800 feet up and down. A good day, and I think I'll sleep quite well tonight, after such a wonderful day on Lookout Mountain with my pals.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Day is here

Inside a Bellingham Christmas bus
Yesterday I walked in the dark before sunrise to catch the bus to my favorite coffee shop and then to the Y for a truncated workout. I was able to get out and about and all my steps before returning back home. It was mostly sunny and not raining, for a change.

We had so much rain in the past week that several rivers flooded and caused my favorite bus route to have to take a detour, making it about ten minutes late. It wasn't all that difficult to wait in the dark, since I was dressed for the weather. As you can see in the picture, hardly anyone rode the bus yesterday. And today there aren't any buses to ride: the bus drivers have the day off.

I was pleased that on the way home yesterday, I accidentally caught this bus, one decorated for the holidays. Only one or two are decked out like this, so it was a real treat for me to enjoy. And not fattening!

After the holidays are over, I'll be returning to my regularly scheduled diet, but for now I'm allowing myself to eat whatever I want. It amazes me how quickly my clothes begin to tell me what I already know, but in just a couple of weeks? Wish the pounds would come OFF as quickly as they go on.

In any event, I truly hope that you will have a happy, safe, and delightful holiday! I will be enjoying it, in fact I already am!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Listening to the rain

Some of today's hikers before our party
Early this morning we intrepid hikers met at the Lake Whatcom North Shore parking lot, to have a gentle (flat) six-mile walk along the trail, before heading over to Dianne's house for our annual Christmas party. She was our hostess last year, and the size of her lovely home, along with its proximity to where most of us live, made us happy to have a return holiday visit. I didn't take any pictures of the walk; suffice it to say it was not raining, and the company made our excursion seem short.
The salad bar
We gathered just a bit before noon at Dianne's home, everyone with their dishes to share. Some people took the time to head home to change into festive duds and to pick up their food. Just as I hoped, there were plenty of salads of every kind.
Main dishes (more kept coming)
In the foreground is a huge half salmon covered with lemon slices, a vegetarian lasagne behind, a delicata squash casserole, meat balls, and much more. Those were the only signs of meat in the entire spread.
Dessert table overflowing
And oh, the desserts! This picture only shows perhaps a half of all the treats; the others either had not yet arrived or were on a nearby table. A late arrival of a homemade pumpkin pie was also enjoyed, but I could not eat another bite after I indulged in these delightful desserts. We were also to bring any drinks we wished, and I brought along an interesting hard cider that was new to me. It was a good light drink to accompany all the food.
My plate
The bright colors and delicious variety of foods made for pleasurable eating, as well as looking good as I loaded up my plate. We were all supposed to bring our own table setting, and I realized I was one of the few with a paper plate; others brought larger plates that would accommodate lots more food!
Quite a crowd
We ate and enjoyed ourselves immensely. You can see how crowded the kitchen is? Well, the downstairs area and living room were also bustling with people and conversation.
Al giving Dianne a gift certificate
To thank Dianne for her hospitality, both groups took up a collection and Al presented her a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant for her and her husband to enjoy some time later. He also thanked her for being willing to host such a large gathering.
Where are my shoes?
When it was time to leave, I gasped when I saw the pile of shoes and wondered how I would ever find my own. Fortunately, I had my cell phone, which I took out of my pocket and turned on the flashlight. Digging through the mound of shoes, I finally found my own.

And now I sit here at home, listening to the heavy beat of rain on the roof, thankful that it waited until we were done before the skies opened up. It's supposed to continue from now until the end of Saturday, so the weather gods must still be watching out for us. A nice walk, a great celebration, and the best company one could ever ask for.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A dark day on Blanchard Mountain

Walking to Lizard Lake
First of all, let me say that I guess I will continue to put up posts after our Senior Trailblazer hikes, because I really enjoy both the workouts and the ability to chronicle our adventures. It amazed me to see that fourteen of us showed up on a wet dreary day to hike up to Lily and Lizard Lakes.

We met at the Upper Trailhead on Blanchard Mountain and hiked up to Lizard Lake first. We do have a few trail options on the mountain, and we knew it would be a wet one, considering the forecast. But I didn't realize how dark it would be among the trees. I could have used my headlamp most of the day, it was that dark.
Lizard Lake
By the time we got to Lizard Lake, the light rain had almost stopped for the moment. It was still early, so after a short stop, we made our way to Lily Lake. We thought about stopping here, or maybe even having another two-lunch day, but we decided against it.
Melanie capturing some good shots
It was not a great day for photos, but I did get a few good ones. This shows Mel in her element, dressed for the weather and using her phone (which she kept a close eye on, after almost losing it last week).
Lily Lake (Mel's picture)
Since we were all struggling to stay warm as we stopped for lunch, most of us pulled out all our extra clothing and bundled up before starting to eat.
Today's lunch spot
From this spot, we are looking out at the lake as you see in the above picture, but the darkness and lack of sun made us much more interested in what everybody was having to eat. Some people pack a fancy lunch, while others bring energy bars and more utilitarian fare. I often bring something from the salad bar at the Food Co-op, sort of in between the two.
Time to head back
By the time we packed everything back up, everybody was getting cold, so we decided just to take ourselves back the way we had come, rather than adding any more to make the trip longer. It was not raining at the moment, and we considered that an eight-mile day, with around 1,700 feet up and down, would keep most of us happy until next week.

Although it wasn't what I would have actually desired for our hiking day, it turned out to be exceptionally enjoyable anyway, with all of us dressed properly for the conditions, and lots of good company as well. It was just the best way to while away the hours on a dark and rainy late fall day.

I am still trying to decide what to do about the other days that I usually post on this blog, Tuesdays and Saturdays. I am not quite ready to make a decision about the next steps, but it sure does feel good to take this break, if that is what it really is. Maybe I'll find some direction that would capture my interest for those days. Any ideas?

Thursday, December 5, 2019

All's well that ends well

The view from Burnout Point
Yes, I know I'm on a blogging break, but I couldn't bear not to post about our hike today. Sixteen (!) Senior Trailblazers started our hike from the Lost Lake trailhead. Three cars of four each, and four others who joined us at the trailhead. The weather was mild, with a 20% chance of rain, but we didn't have any at all.
Heading up the Burnout logging road
After that lovely view, we trudged up this service road, instead of taking the South Lost Lake trail. This is not a favorite hike, since much of it is on road like this (not to mention with some serious uphill), but there has been much logging activity and clear cut areas that gave us some views we hadn't had before.
The road and the view
As we ascended to the top of the viewpoint (and you can see a bit of the uphill here), I noticed that some low clouds were beginning to fill in below us.
View, trees, and clouds
I love the low clouds and the way they make the scene look rather mysterious. Once we got to this place, it was early, but we decided to have some lunch anyway. Al said we could call it our "first lunch" and then go down to Fragrance Lake for our "second lunch."
First lunch
It was so mild that some people didn't even put on all their warm clothes when we stopped. But after eating and not moving for awhile, it felt much cooler than when we first sat down. So, after a short break we started down the trail to Fragrance Lake.
Fragrance Lake reflections
It was another day where the lake was as smooth as glass. Not a breath of wind and although it was overcast, it was easy to stay comfy as we ate our "second lunch."
Our final return trail
We were all quite satisfied with our eight-and-a-half-mile hike, up and down around 2,000 feet. We took a wrong turn not long I took this picture, thinking we were returning to the parking lot, but the trail ended with no way to continue. Some smart people turned around and went back to the main trail, but others of us bushwhacked our way downwards to join the main trail.

When we got back to the cars, Melanie realized that somewhere she had lost her iPhone. We discussed what to do and wondered if we had lost it in the bushwhack area, which meant it would be impossible to retrieve. Al suggested that, since she has an iCloud account, she use my phone to log in as herself and see if we could locate it. Although when you try to find your phone you need two-person authentication, there is an emergency button to push in such cases. She did all that, and lo and behold, we discovered that her phone was not far away, and that she had indeed lost it during the bushwhack. My phone now showed a crude map of the area, with an icon for her phone. Al said that when we got close, we could tap the icon and a ping would sound. We walked back to where we had been and guess what? We found it, thanks to the loud ping and determined hikers! It was buried in the bushes and would have been invisible.

But when we got back to the parking lot, it turned out that one of our drivers could not start his car. Fortunately, Melanie had jumper cables, and we were able to eventually get the car going, drove back to the Senior Center, everybody was happy that it all turned out so well. As I said in the title, "all's well that ends well"!