Thursday, February 27, 2020

A wonderful day on Stewart Mountain

Owen, today's hike leader
Fifteen Senior Trailblazers decided to do the scheduled hike for the day, the Chanterelle trail, even though Mel, our leader, is sick with what sounds like a bad cold or the flu, and Al (who leads most of our hikes) was also out with what he called "the sniffles." I am glad both of them decided to stay home. We may be doing more of that, considering the anxiety we are all feeling over the coronavirus. In any event, Owen was a wonderful leader, setting a good pace.
The "slow" group (plus me behind the camera)
Before we left the Senior Center, we decided to break up into groups of faster and slower hikers in separate cars, so that the people who wanted to zip up the Chanterelle trail would not be slowed down by the others (meaning people like me who hike at a slower pace), and it turned out to be seven in the "fast" group and eight in the "slow" group. As we were making our way up the trail, we ran  into the fast group on their way back to the overlook for lunch.
Hikers on the trail
The Chanterelle trail on Stewart Mountain is broken into two parts: 2.4 miles to the overlook, and 2.6 miles to the trail terminus, which makes exactly five miles altogether, one way. Each of the two segments gains about a thousand feet of elevation.
Signs of spring
Although I couldn't seem to get these little pink buds in focus, you can sure see that it won't be long before they are full-fledged flowers. After a short break at the overlook, we continued on up the second segment.
Some patches of snow
As we gained in elevation, we did run into a few patches of some fairly significant snow. Although it didn't last long, I was sure happy I had my trekking poles, making it a much easier ascent and descent over these spots.
Our lunch spot
We had a nice lunch at the end of the trail, before returning the way we had come. By the time it was over, we had covered ten miles and boy, do my feet feel all those miles! I decided that once I got home and wrote this blog post, I'll take it easy for the rest of the day.
Collie wearing his bodyguard outfit
We saw some other people on the trail today, and one of them was this gorgeous collie wearing a curious-looking getup. We found that it is called "Bodyguard all-weather protective dog pants." (I added a link to the company, FouFou Brands.) They come in different sizes, but I didn't see anything that tells whether you can get them for shorter-legged dogs. A very clever item!
Beautiful tree bark
I saw this tree bark as we were standing around towards the end of the day's hike, and I was taken by its lovely natural designs. We live in a really delightful part of the country, and the trees bring me so much enjoyment.
Licorice ferns growing out of the trees
Every time we reach this part of the trail, I stop to enjoy these trees that are covered with ferns. We were almost back to our starting point, and I was glad to reach the cars and take off my boots. If a hike is eight miles or less, my feet don't bother me much, but any longer and I am hurting by the end. Today was no exception.

However, all in all it was a wonderful day, filled with fresh air, no rain after the first few minutes, and pretty much perfect temperatures. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed being out on the trail.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Memory Lane

Senior trailblazers, March 2013
Not knowing what to write about on this rather lovely Monday, I went on a trip down Memory Lane by visiting my more than 5,000 pictures stored on my laptop. I especially like this one, taken by Sue Dabney seven years ago now. I am actually in it, third from the left, but since we are all silhouettes, we could be any generic hikers. I happen to know, however, we are all on the elderly side. Probably the oldest person would be in his eighties, and the youngest over sixty. And since it was taken seven years ago, we are all getting older, but most of us are still hiking.

What surprises me, when I gaze at pictures taken long ago, is how many different lives I've already lived. A mother, one of six siblings, world traveler, journalist, skydiving instructor, life partner, gardener, hiker, and blogger. More would probably bubble up, given a bit more time. But that's enough for now.

It feels good to look back over so many decades and be grateful for all the opportunities and accomplishments that comprise the person I am today. The only poignant part of this trip down Memory Lane is knowing that memories are what I have left of many great life adventures. Travel no longer excites me, skydiving is a thing in the past, and I have unfortunately outlived my offspring.

This is the great mystery of life: nothing lasts, nothing stays the same, but somehow my sense of self is constant, having passed through life's many stages and now I reside in old age. I am content, no matter what lies ahead.
Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new... but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its design? —Paracelsus
I wish you many good days and years ahead of joy and gratitude.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Fabulous February fun

West Beach at Deception Pass State Park
Today was a day like we haven't had in what seems like ages: full sun with little breeze, temperatures rising all day long to almost warm! (10°C or 51°F) Nineteen Senior Trailblazers drove down to Deception Pass State Park to hike up to Goose Rock. I know I swore I would never do this hike again after the last one, when we were subjected to nonstop Growler jets overhead. But Melanie found a website that showed us today's skies should be much less noisy, with only a few afternoon sorties starting farther south of us.
Indian plum in bloom
We saw signs of an early spring everywhere, along with the great weather. This is the first bloom I've seen this year in nature, other than domestic ones in town. I look forward to our first trillium, which can't be far away now.
Hikers passing under a madrona tree
There are so many beautiful madrona trees in this area, and I have enjoyed them every time we've come here. Today was no exception. We circumnavigated Goose Rock before the day was done, but because of some trail closures, we took a bit of a different route than usual to the top.
Our magnificent view as we ate lunch
We sat in our usual place at the top of Goose Rock, enjoying the beautiful view, and I didn't even have to put my coat on as I sat in the sunshine. Occasionally we would have a jet pass overhead, but mostly the entire day was just plain delightful. We spent a fair amount of time here, not really wanting to return to the cars too quickly.
Not quite ready to go
In this picture, you can see one of the jets, looking a bit like a stray (and very large) mosquito. Not long after I took this picture, a vulture soared overhead, wings spread to catch the light breeze. And then, reluctantly, we packed up for our return trip.
Mt Baker through the trees
We had many views of Mt Baker as we returned, and we saw a few other mountains in the distance. That first photo shows the Olympic Range, and we saw some others we are rarely able to see, because of the clear skies and lack of clouds.
Deception Pass bridges
We walked down to the beach before we reached the cars, just to spend some time picking up rocks and enjoying the perfect day. There is some kind work being done over there, so I looked it up and found this notice.
At 83 years old, the Deception Pass Bridge and Canoe Pass Bridge are looking really good!  But, it's time for a paint job.  So, starting in May of 2019, crews will be on the job.  They'll be painting the bridge the same color it is now, Evergreen Green.
This will continue for several months, finishing sometime late this year, it seems. In any event, I'm glad they are doing upkeep on these magnificent structures, and it didn't impact us too much on our hike today. We covered just under eight miles by the time we got back to the cars and made our way back to the Senior Center. It was such a great day, and I'm feeling so glad I went along with the others!

Monday, February 17, 2020

One of those days

Lily and her mom
I sent a text to Lily yesterday, telling her how much I have been missing her presence in my day-to-day life, and she sent me this picture of her and her mother. Lily has been in Guatemala for the last two weeks, visiting her mom and hoping she will be able to get through this rough patch. I didn't ask about the prognosis, but I am sure glad Lily has been able to be there. She's missed here, though I know why she had to travel to be with her during this time. You can sure see the resemblance between them.

John must be finished with his urologist's appointment, so I'll find out in the morning what has been decided for his treatment. There are many options for prostate cancer treatment, but since he has a rather aggressive form of it, I suspect the options will be limited. I just want him to get better, selfishly.

On the way to the bus this morning, in early twilight, I saw a woman with her dog on a leash on the sidewalk in front of me. She had stopped at the local kiosk that dispenses doggy doo bags, so I went around them, stepping out into the street from the sidewalk. At least I tried: as soon as the dog saw me, he lunged at me and bit my hand. I was wearing heavy-duty gloves, thank goodness, or it would have been much worse. Here's a picture of the damage:
My glove was not torn, but my skin sure was
The owner said I should never have come up behind the dog, which (she claims) is just a puppy and didn't know any better. Well, it didn't LOOK like a puppy, being around 40-50 pounds, I'd guess, and how was I supposed to know that the dog is so vicious? She had to restrain him in a stranglehold as we yelled back and forth at each other. I left in disgust, but I sure wish I had taken a picture of them so I could report the incident. In any event, I'll be much more circumspect if I ever see those two again.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Rainy day turned out nice

Some of today's hikers posing for a picture
When I walked out to get in my car and join my fellow hikers, the sky was dark and threatening, but it wasn't raining. Yet. By the time the twelve of us gathered at the Senior Center, it was raining big, fat drops. The forecast was not encouraging. We decided not to drive to the Deception Pass area, which was on the schedule, and instead went to the North Chuckanut trailhead to spend some time on Chuckanut Mountain. By the time we started hiking, it was only raining a little.
Kirk and Mel at Huckleberry viewpoint
First, we left the Hemlock trail for the Huckleberry trail that leads up to this viewpoint. Although there is often a good view, as you can see behind Kirk, there's not much of one today. But it was fairly mild and only rained on us a little.
Raptor Ridge (Mel's picture)
Then we headed on up to Raptor Ridge, not expecting a view (and sure enough, we didn't get one), but by this time the wind picked up and the rain as well. Nobody stayed up there for long. It was still a little early for lunch, so we scrambled down out of the wind and made our way back towards the Hemlock trail. Going back this way, we cross over a bridge.
A little rickety, and wet as well
Once we had hiked far enough to get a little bit warmer, out of the wind, we decided to return to the Huckleberry viewpoint for lunch. We had been walking downhill, but the return to the viewpoint meant going uphill for a short bit, and I was glad for it, because I get warm much more quickly when we're heading up.
Thank you, Sir Galahad
Frank, our hike leader today, spread out a poncho onto the bench for us, since it was very wet. (That's him second from the right. Such a gentleman!) We had a rather quick but satisfying lunch. And then it was time to return back down to the cars.
Heading home
By the time we were almost back to the main trail, the rain had stopped and we even saw some sun, just a little, but enough to lift our spirits as we continued our return trip.
This lovely scene is just before we returned to our starting point. As usual, it's more impressive and abundant because of all the recent rain. It made for some muddy spots on the trail, but nothing we hardy hikers couldn't deal with. We covered right around eight miles and 1,800 feet up and down. A good day after all. It reminds me once again that the hardest part is just getting up and going anyway, even when the weather forecast is not the best.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Oscars 2020

Voice cast of Frozen 2
Yesterday afternoon, my movie-going cohort Judy and I went to the theater to see one of the last movies nominated for Best Picture that we had missed: Jojo Rabbit. It didn't win, but I have to say I really enjoyed the movie. Neither of us had any idea what we would be seeing, but it's a mostly humorous satire set in Germany at the end of World War II. A young boy, Jojo, wants to become a Nazi and is in the Hitler youth trying to prove his mettle to the camp counselors. He is ordered to strangle a rabbit, and he couldn't do it, giving him the nickname.

The director of the movie, Taika Waititi, plays the part of the imaginary Hitler that Jojo sees as a mentor. Somehow Hitler is playful as well as menacing, but it helped to make it less scary, to me at least. The movie did get the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Anyway, once we got home from the movies, I realized I had missed the first hour of the Oscars, but I watched the rest with real interest. There were no surprises about the four actor awards; they had also won in all the previous award shows. But the Best Picture was a total surprise: Parasite, the first foreign-language movie ever to win the big prize. I saw that movie, too, and would never have picked it for the best of the year. My favorite was Little Women, but the director didn't even get a nomination, so I knew it wouldn't win.I also enjoyed seeing all the gowns and hoopla that always accompanies the Oscars. Several of the acceptance speeches resonated with me. But oh, the dresses! I especially liked Scarlett Johansson's dress. Check them all out here.

That concludes the awards season for the time being. Now I guess I'm going to have to find something else to watch, like Netflix and Hulu stuff so I can avoid most of the political drama; I can only take so much. Did you watch, and if so, what did you think?

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Nice dry Saturday walk

Ladies taking in the view
Today I headed over to the meeting place to start our usual Saturday walk. Some were going to "go flat" while the others would hit the hills and make for a bit harder walk, but after hearing about the view of the falls, we all decided to stay away from the hills and see the falls instead.
Whatcom Falls today
Every time I've seen these falls lately, there has been even more water roaring under the bridge. But the good news is that we do have a few days ahead without any rain, and hopefully many of our flooding rivers can stay within their banks. It's really pretty, though, and quite exciting as well.

After the walk, Hubby and I went to the local Target store to change over from Verizon to Consumer Cellular. Many of my friends and family have already done this, and the difference they are paying in monthly bills was what finally pushed us to make the change. Although I want to buy one of those newest iPhones, I decided to wait to do that at a later time and just get the SIM cards switched out. It was relatively painless, because we had a good tech person to help us.

And now I look forward to saving money, too! Not to mention that we have more text and data than we did before, and should see a bill about a third of the amount we paid to our previous provider.

So now we're beginning to think about severing the link to cable, but I'm in no hurry to leap into that steep learning curve. We've got plenty of time to figure out the best way to do it. The world is changing right before our very eyes!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Wimped out today

Ten brave wet hikers (Mel took the picture)
I went to the Senior Center this morning, thinking I might be able to deal with the rain, if I would just adjust my attitude a little. But I just couldn't. The wet and cold rain pattered on my hat as I stood around outside and made me grit my teeth, thinking about the day ahead. So I simply didn't go.

At first I thought I'd skip the 8:00am group and go with the relaxed group at 9:00am, but somehow I just couldn't get my head around it at all, and so I left for the Y to get a bit of time in the workout room. I knew I'd miss my step count today, but it still didn't motivate me.

Melanie went with the 9:00am crowd and sent me this picture of their lovely group, which headed up the Pine and Cedar trail, deciding to skip going to Raptor Ridge but still getting out. As you can see from the snapshot, it was quite drizzly and never let up. Now, however, at noon, I see that it's beginning to change over to "showers" from "rain" on the weather app. Too bad, I'm inside and happy to have escaped the fun my friends obviously had.
Trudging up the Pine & Cedar trail
Although I didn't actually get wet today, there's just the tiniest bit of sadness (guilt?) for not being willing to head out in the elements today. The rivulets of water running down the steep trail made me realize that perhaps I'm just getting too old for all this. Then I think, nah: look at these other old geezers making me look bad! I'm hoping for better conditions next week.

Monday, February 3, 2020

A bit of this, a bit of that

Snowdrops through the fence
While walking home this morning from my bus trip downtown (for my usual coffee shop visit and gym workout), I spied my neighbor's snowdrops through their fence, and see that they have begun to emerge from the ground, with some daffodil sprouts as well. And I realized that we have indeed turned the corner from the dark of winter towards spring being just around the corner. (I suspect that those are fake flowers on the right, though.)

When I first woke up two days ago and went outdoors, I was surprised at how warm it was: 51°F (10.5°C). But then all day long the temperature dropped, until we got below freezing that night. This morning it was still cold, but a few degrees warmer. Tonight, however, we are expecting some snow and colder temperatures before a gradual warmup.

I myself would much rather have those pretty snowdrops than actual snowFLAKES. It's true that we are usually blessed with exceptionally mild weather in the winter months, other than a wee bit of rain. We have had so much of the wet stuff that several of our rivers are currently overflowing their banks. The town of Sumas to the northwest is pretty much underwater.
Sumas on Sunday, courtesy Whatcom Emergency Management
Here, however, we aren't suffering quite so much, although make no mistake about it, we are getting just a tiniest bit tired of so much rain.

In other news, although I was rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, I watched the last quarter of yesterday's Superbowl and thoroughly enjoyed it. After all, it had been fifty years since Kansas City had been in the Superbowl, and it made me happy to see their joy at the outcome. It would have been fine either way, for me. It was a good game. If you watched it, I hope you enjoyed it, too.