Thursday, October 29, 2020

Chanterelle once more with feeling


Chanterelle trail threesome

Today six of us Trailblazers wanted to hike up to the viewpoint on the Chanterelle trail, which we have already done many times this year, and will probably do quite a few more before we are able to go back into the High Country. Because of Covid, we are supposed to keep our groups limited to five, so we broke up into two groups, a faster group and a slower group. I was with the slower ones and walked happily behind Al, the Trailblazers leader for many years, and it was so nice to remember days when we could actually have whole groups all hiking together.

Golden leaves and Al

We started out in mild temperatures and Al had just taken off a layer (as had I) before heading onward and upward. This hike takes us up about a thousand feet in 2.4 miles to a viewpoint, before heading up another 2.5 miles if we wanted to go further. We called it quits at the viewpoint, though, so we could head home early, some of us with appointments and other things to do.

Overlooking Lake Whatcom

The view today shows clouds, no sun, but there was also no precipitation from those low clouds, which made us very happy. You can see we have already lost a lot of leaves from those deciduous trees and bushes, but with the mild temperatures and very little wind, we stayed long enough for a picture.

Dianne, Joy, Terry, Mel, Al (and me behind the camera)

It wasn't as cold as it looks like it might be, considering how we are dressed. I didn't see many mushrooms, as we saw last week, but the morning was lovely anyway; it was delightful to be out with good friends. I didn't take many pictures, as I've visited this spot so many times before that I was not exactly inspired to take the same shots once again. It was just a good way to spend a Thursday morning, and now that I'm home, I can look back and be grateful once again for the wonderful places we have around here to enjoy.


Monday, October 26, 2020

It's getting spooky out there


Fun tombstones

I just went for a nice walk around the neighborhood to finish up my steps for the day, and to take some pictures for this post. I laughed at the one on the right, which has the phrase I've seen a few times in my life: "Hey guys, watch this!" I think those two skeleton feet sticking out in front of it are related, don't you? I also wondered who the heck "Pat Riarchy" is, until I put the two names together. Funny!

My neighbor's pumpkins

I walk by these two guys every time I go into my apartment. Although they are not socially distanced, they are probably pretty safe from Covid. And the Masked One brings a smile every time.

Some of you may remember that I bought myself an Apple Watch a few weeks ago. I have gotten used to it now, and have even taken a few phone calls from my wrist. It doesn't seem possible to make private calls, unless I already have earphones in, which of course I usually don't. I really like the fact that the exercise rings are not super easy to close, but I manage most days. Just getting in 10,000 steps is not enough to reliably close the "Move" ring, which measures the number of calories you have burned. And I've gotten the watch face close to what I like to see at a glance: my exercise status, the time and date, the weather, battery level, how much sleep I got last night, and record a new workout. Take a look:

My current watch face

The number of watch faces I can choose from is enormous, and what I want to put up front is also enormous. Hundreds of "complications" are available, and I've fiddled with them often, but I've used this combination for a week now. Sometimes I get a little annoyed when my watch tells me that it's time to stand up and move, and those three rings (upper left) are blank every morning, and make me want to fill them up.

At first I called the watch "the bully on my wrist," but I've changed it to "the cheerleader on my wrist," because she wants nothing more than to please me and help me get strong and fit. And it's fun, too. We need all the smiles and fun we can get right now, don't you think?


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Mostly mushrooms

Ellen and Melanie on today's trail

 Today four Trailblazers met at one of our familiar hangouts, the Chuckanut trailhead, to hike to Madrone Crest and make a loop to include a trip to visit "the Dude," a tree formation that reminds us of the Big Lebowski. You'll see what I mean later on.

Up the tree they go

First, we saw these mushrooms climbing up a tree in formation, looking quite regal as they ascended. We had no idea early on that most of what we would see on today's hike would be dozens of different 'shrooms. 

More pretty buttons on this tree

We spent lots of time photographing mushrooms, and Melanie had an app on her phone that identified some of them. I don't remember the names of most of them, but we sure appreciated knowing that many of them are not poisonous.

Amanita muscaria

These, however, I remember from my trips into the forests in Colorado, and I know that they are considered to be "magic mushrooms" and, if they don't kill you, they can make you high. We were just happy to take pictures and move on.

Madrone Crest, our lunch spot

We made it to our destination, in time for us to have a nice lunch. Melanie is between the two trees, and Joy and Ellen chat together as they eat. We didn't stay too long, because we began to get very cold (it was only in the low 40s (5°C) and once we had a chance to replenish our energy supplies, we had to get moving again to stay warm.

Cute little guys

On our way back, one of our signposts even had mushrooms sprouting from the wood, which helped give us our theme for the day. They were everywhere!

It takes a village

Some of them even gave us a chance to smile as we considered what seemed like a community of mushrooms. We laughed as we considered these little guys that wrapped entirely around this tree stump.

Two different kinds

Some look like scallops, and others are very delicate and look like they would blow away in a strong breeze. Maybe they could, who knows? There were so many more, dozens of different ones, and I've only scratched the surface with these pictures.

"The Dude" complete with doobie

We took a side trip to check him out, and to see if he's still got his characteristic smoke. Yep, we did have to find it on the ground and stuck it back in his mouth, but the eyes and mouth are unmistakable and still intact.

Heading back

And then it was time to find our way back home, along the Hemlock trail, covering almost eight miles and an unknown elevation. My tracker showed what must be an undercount. I figure at least a thousand feet up and down, but whatever amount it was, it felt like the hike was just right. Now it's time to sit back and enjoy the rest of my day. The sun is still out!

Monday, October 19, 2020

A quick update


John and Norma, his caretaker

Yesterday we got together for a late breakfast with John, now eleven days post-surgery, and his friend Norma (usually a dance partner), who is taking care of him, feeding him and driving him around. John's left arm has a completely new shoulder and rebuilt rotator cuff. He can't use it very well yet, and as Norma pointed out, he still cannot open the car door by himself. But every day he's making progress, and it was good to finally see him in person. He'll have the staples out and see the doctor this coming Friday, and hopefully can go home by then, or soon after.

Fall bounty at the Farmers' Market

On Saturday, I visited the Farmers' Market after a fun walk with three other ladies. It was so nice to see all the wonderful produce and see the well-attended weekly event doing so well. It helped that it wasn't raining, as it had been during the previous two Saturdays.

More veggies to ogle

I am also always pleased to see how well my community is functioning during this pandemic, with everyone outdoors wearing masks (they are a mandatory fashion item) and social distancing as well. Almost every store has markers on the floors to help keep people apart. It seems that the coronavirus will be with us for some time to come, even though many of us wish it would hurry up and go away. We are still in Phase 2 of opening, with some counties already in Phase 3. 

Our weather has been cooperating, with some rain showers but not every moment of the day. I can seem to find openings for a nice walk to help me close the exercise rings on my new Apple watch. It doesn't let up for a minute.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Lily and Lizard Lakes from Blanchard

The trail at the beginning

 Five of us (the maximum allowed at this time) decided to take the Upper Trailhead from Blanchard Mountain and hike up to Lily and Lizard Lakes. This is not an especially hard hike, but one of our favorites during the winter months. We'll be returning again soon. Our wilderness hikes are over for the season, as the road is closed to Artist Point already.

Back, Dianne and Terry; front, Mel and Chris

It was chilly most of the day, but once we got moving we had to take off some clothes pretty quickly. You can see that the leaves are falling and we were enjoying the still air, with no rain.

Lily Lake

It was not yet noon when we got to Lily Lake, but we had a small snack and then moved on to Lizard Lake via the Connector Link, where we would have our lunch.

Lizard Lake

The only real difference between these lakes is their position in my photo lineup. I was pleased, though, with the reflection in this one. It was a nice place to spend maybe a half-hour for lunch, but we began to get cold, so we packed up and went back the way we had come.

Dianne, Terry, me, Chris

We had donned much of our extra clothing, since as I said, the lunch break caused us to get pretty cold. We warmed up on our way back, however. 

The return trail with lovely trees

We covered almost eight miles and skipped heading up to North Butte, since we didn't think we'd have much of a view. Our elevation gain and loss was around 1,700 feet: enough to let us know we had a good workout, with good friends, and another day away from the news!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Slowly getting to my new normal


View of mountains from my front porch

Today I did something that I haven't done in months: I rode the bus to town, walking the quarter-mile from my apartment to catch it. The bus administrators have done a great job of keeping people safe: no more than 12 people allowed on at a time, disinfecting between runs, and requiring masks to board. There were only three other people on the bus with me, and I felt quite safe.

Outside the Community Food Co-op

After getting my morning coffee and drinking it outside by myself, I strolled over to the co-op to get in a few steps. That is a real pumpkin in the foreground, and if things are the same as other years, customers will have a chance to guess its weight and win a prize. What do you think it weighs? I've entered many years but never got anywhere close to winning.

We have just finished with a couple of days (and nights) of rain, and now the clouds have cleared and the brisk delightful air is a great tonic. I also walked by the YMCA, and I saw someone enter, making me realize that it is open! Well, not exactly "open" as in any member can come in and work out. No, once you walk in, you must have your temperature taken and to use any of the equipment you must have a reservation. No more than ten people are allowed into the exercise room at a time. I was allowed to check out what they have done, and I was quite impressed. There is only one stationary exercise bike available, and I can only reserve a workout space 24 hours in advance, but at least there are some options for me to get a workout on rainy or cold days!

Someone's beautiful garden

When I was out walking with Lily last week, I saw this really beautiful garden, and the fall colors and well-tended area made us both stop and admire it for a few moments, before continuing on our way. I am a fan of dahlias, and this display is one of the prettiest I've seen. 

After spending a couple of hours out and about, I took the bus back, with another quarter-mile walk to my home. It was nice to feel a little bit of normal activity, and I've discovered that, although very limited, I will be able to ride that stationary bike in the future and strengthen my knees! 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Hertz Trail and Whatcom Park

Lake Whatcom from Hertz trail

 Today, my friend Melanie and I walked the entire 6+-mile trail (round trip) on the north shore of Lake Whatcom. It's a lovely place, and I've been on it in sunshine, rain, and snow, with comfortable to freezing temperatures. Since the weather would be cloudy all day, with a chance of rain, we decided against traveling out of town. It was a good choice: we kept up a brisk pace as we navigated the out-and-back trail, noticing that they have done a good deal of work on it lately, possibly getting ready for the winter weather to come.

Cute whale rock

When we got to the terminus, this little rock was there to greet us, left there by an anonymous artist. On the back, it said simply, "Whatcom Rock." No signature, but I was pleased to see it and placed it carefully back in its original position.

Remains of an old pier

There wasn't much new to see on this familiar walk, but I gazed at the stumps of a long-ago pier and thought of what this place looked like back then, when our wide and pretty trail had another use.

The Hertz Trail follows an old logging railroad bed along the fairly wild northern shore of massive Lake Whatcom, one of the largest natural lakes in the state. 

Yesterday, I went on another short walk in Whatcom Falls Park, not far away from today's walk. We (myself, along with my friend Lily) made our way down to the falls, to see what they look like at this time of the year. With the changing leaves and a respectable amount of water rushing by, it was a lovely scene.

Whatcom Falls from the bridge

I've shown this exact photo many different times in the past, but yesterday's view was especially memorable. The sound of the water and the mist in the air made us stop for several minutes just to take it all in.

Spider web art

Walking back to the car, I saw this spider web, sans spider, as we kept looking in the bushes for ripe blackberries. We did find some delicious ones (actually, Lily has an unerring eye for them) and since they were perfect, we stopped looking for more and just enjoyed the aftermath of the tasty fruit before heading home.

I was happy for the two outings, and again allowed myself to be very grateful for all the wonderful places I can choose to enjoy here in Bellingham. I hope you will also have a chance to get out and about!


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Life changes and loss


Praying for Lily

Anybody who has followed me for any length of time knows by now how much I enjoy routine. Our lives have been upended by Covid, but until yesterday (when this was taken), I could at least gather outdoors with my coffee buddies for conversation and more. Right after this was taken, John drove down south to Seattle for his pre-operation procedures. On Thursday, he'll have a major operation on his right shoulder, replacing much of it and rebuilding the rotator cuff. He's been hampered by both shoulders being very painful and unable to function very well at all. Starting today (Tuesday), he'll start staying away from any gatherings like this and will be staying with a lady friend for a couple weeks afterwards. By the time he comes back, our outside gatherings will be over for the season.

And yesterday, I learned that my friend Lily's mother passed away. Lily is from Guatemala, and she will be unable to travel back home to say goodbye. We are all heartbroken for her, but Lily is glad that her mother is no longer in pain and has other family members around to take care of the necessary details. Her mother had esophageal cancer, which had been successfully treated, until it returned and she decided not to go through it again. Lily and her family are in our prayers.

And I forgot yesterday to write this post. I've been following a two-times-a-week schedule, and, well, oops. Maybe it's time to just go with the flow and write whenever I feel like it! But I am one of those people who does better with routine, so maybe I'll see where all this goes. Right now Thursday is the only post that I absolutely won't miss. It's been more than a decade now that my Thursdays are reserved for hikes. And a post. 


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Raptor Ridge

Hemlock trail and Huckleberry trail junction

Today I was joined by my three hiking buddies to make our way up to Raptor Ridge. We have several different ways to get there from the Chuckanut Mountain trailhead, but we decided to make it a direct route up the Hemlock trail and then return by way of the Huckleberry trail.

Lots of leaves have already fallen

It's October, and we were graced with a beautiful fall day, complete with heavy fog early on, but the forest seemed hushed, very still with mild temperatures, as we walked upwards towards our destination. Even with the most direct route, it is still more than seven miles round trip and around 1,800 feet of elevation gain and loss.

Almost to the ridge

By the time we had done most of the climbing, the sun had finally made its way up and through the trees. We have some haze from the California fires, making the sunlight seemed quite filtered and not really warm at all. But then, we walked out onto Raptor Ridge and found it delightful.

Raptor Ridge, looking northwest-ish

You can see from the ridge (above) that the sky isn't really all that clear, but it was very pleasant in the weak sunshine, with no breeze at all. Very unusual. In many of the times I've visited this spot before, it's been very windy and usually not a place to spend much time. Today, however, we enjoyed ourselves and took our time.

We can't see Mt. Rainier today

Looking in this direction, in the middle of the picture, I've been able to see Mt. Rainier quite clearly in past visits. Today the haze kept us from seeing it. I think this is looking south, but I'm not quite sure. Anyway, we ate a snack and then went back down. On the return trip, we went down the Huckleberry trail until it joined the Hemlock trail, as you can see in the first picture.

Pretty big leaf, huh?

We had a really nice time today, and now I'm home and trying to do several things at once. My new Apple watch just came, and I cannot set it up until I finish this post, so I'm going to head off into the world of technology. As if writing this and posting it on my blog isn't already technology, right?

Melanie amongst the changing scenery

This is my favorite picture of the day. You can see the sunlight coming through the trees, and we are almost back to the starting point and our cars. It's been a wonderful day and there is much more excitement to come if I can figure out how to make my new toy work!