Thursday, September 23, 2021

Lake to lake easy hikes

Green composition

For once, Melanie and I went on an easier hike — for her sore foot. Usually it's me who is hurting somewhere and asking for a shorter excursion on Thursday. While the rest of the Senior Trailblazers headed to the High Country for a nice journey up to Boundary Way, Mel's foot needed something short and not too far out into the wilderness. 

Lake Padden this morning

First, we made the two-and-a half-mile loop around Lake Padden, and her foot did all right, so we decided to venture up the highway to Squires Lake. We could have just made a second loop around Lake Padden, but for some variety, we wanted to visit a second lake and add a little interest to our day's fun.

Trailhead off the parking lot

The trail heads up a steep section, but it doesn't last all that long. It's only about a half mile from this spot to the lake, and we went up slowly to make sure Mel's foot wouldn't be bothered. She discovered that uphill was more uncomfortable than downhill, but she was doing fine by the time we reached the lake.

Squires Lake this morning

It was so still on the lake that the reflections were stunning. Although there were a few cars in the parking lot along with us, we saw very few people out today. We decided to follow the loop around the lake and skip the beaver pond for today.

Magnificent reflections

When we do this hike with the larger group, we go up to Alger Alp after visiting the lake and beaver pond. But today we just wanted to enjoy ourselves and not push it. We saw spider webs with spiders in them, and I accidentally stepped on a garter snake basking in the sun. After apologizing to it, a quick scurry into the forest told me it would be okay.

Mel's caterpillar capture

The only other wildlife we saw was this guy inching his way across a bench. Mel tried using the portrait mode but it didn't work; this one seems quite perfect to me. He's not very furry, and I wondered if this means we'll have a mild winter. They know lots more than we humans do.

Another green composition

I was struck by the mossy tree growing from the top of an old stump. It almost looks to me like a rocket getting ready to launch. Using my imagination, anyway, and I felt it was worth a picture to share here.

Lily pads on the lake

As we walked around the lake, it was sunny and warm and felt suspiciously like summer, not fall. Of course these sorts of days are ubiquitous during our Indian Summer, which hopefully has begun and will continue for awhile, as the days shorten and the nights lengthen.

We have passed the autumnal equinox, and that means that now, until we reach the winter solstice in late December, the length of our nights will get longer, before once again beginning to recede. Until we reach spring, we'll have lots of darker days but then the hope of much light to come. The good part is that in Australia, they have just passed from winter into spring. The cycle of the seasons continues.


Monday, September 20, 2021

Dahlia days

Taken at Farmers' Market Saturday

I love dahlias, even though when they appear, summer is almost over. Fortunately for me, autumn is my favorite season, because there are plenty of days in summertime when I am hampered by the heat. I've got friends who would turn on their home heat when the temperature turns is right for me. That would be right around 64°F (18°C). Often when I'm hiking along with friends, I'll be pulling off layers while others are still shivering. 

Just a hot chick, that's me (that's a joke). When you get to be my age, nobody is categorizing me like that, unless it's a direct link to actual heat. That wasn't always true: back in the day I think I was pretty good looking. You know, though, that doesn't last all that long. While I am still vigorous enough "for my age," now that eighty is in the crosshairs, I need to find gratitude for the little things. And not so little, like my life partner, SG, who has been by my side for more than a quarter century now. How cool is that?

SG and me, December 2017

This picture was taken on my birthday, at my dear friend Hedi's home, a few years ago. Hedi died suddenly this year at the end of May, and I still miss her but will not forget what a good friend she was to me. It reminds me not ever to take a day of life for granted, and to remember to thank my lucky stars for each day I have with this guy.

I hope that you, dear friends of my heart, will not forget to add gratitude to your daily diet. It sure helps the medicine go down easier.


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Fragrance Lake today

Blue skies once again

We had some rain and clouds between my last post and this one, but now it's sunny and delightful again. Tomorrow the floodgates are supposed to open, with lots of rain breaking our long drought. It won't be just a few raindrops this time; we are expecting several inches of rain. Melanie and I headed to Fragrance Lake for another local hike, on a very beautiful day indeed.

Incredible root system

We went up the Fragrance Lake trail, which gives us lots of elevation and some great views. I've taken pictures of this before, but whenever we pass by this system of roots on top of a huge rock, I must stop and admire it, as well as photograph it.

Beautiful bay

We took a side trip to view Samish Bay, a short jaunt off the main trail. The view is rarely this clear, where you can see long distances, and we enjoyed seeing the still, clear bay through the trees. We had the viewpoint all to ourselves.

Me in my element

Melanie snapped this picture of me, and I quite like it (which is why you are seeing it). I am definitely in my happy place, on a beautiful day, and with a dear friend. What more could a person ask for? 

Fragrance Lake

When we reached the lake, we saw that there was very little breeze and plenty of reflections of the trees on the far side. We couldn't make our usual trip around the lake, because part of the bridge is being replaced and it's blocked off. We headed the other direction around the lake, so we could get to the beginning of the Two Dollar trail.

Melanie and golden tree reflections

I was able to capture a picture of Mel that I think she will like, too. Another happy hiker in her element. I think both of us couldn't have imagined a better day than the one we shared.

Our trail around the lake

I suspect that these other worn bridges will eventually be replaced, too, but I was glad that they didn't take more than one for now, so that we could get to the far side of the lake and make our way down the beginning of the Two Dollar trail, which leads to Cleator Road. We decided to call our excursion on that trail our very own "Two Dollar Fragrance."

Such a pretty rock

Someone found a delightful place to insert a hand-painted rock, don't you think? It caught our eyes, and of course I had to share it with you. It lights up that little crevice, and I do hope that all passers-by will enjoy it and leave it there. We'll take a look next time to see if it's still there.

Our road back to the parking lot

We took the trail to Fragrance Lake on the way there, but we decided to return via the service road, which is about the same distance but a little more gentle and straightforward. We could walk next to each other and chat as we headed back. We ended up covering a little more than six miles and 1,400 feet up and down. Not bad, I'm thinking. The other Senior Trailblazers went up into the High Country and will not be home for awhile yet, but they also had a perfect day for their adventure. A good day all around!


Monday, September 13, 2021

Sunny again

Sundial at Cornwall Park Rose Garden

It started raining on and off yesterday afternoon and kept it up most of the night. The overcast skies and rain kept the night from cooling off very much, until the clouds parted and the sun came up this morning, bright and beautiful. Lots of puddles as I walked to the bus, but there is no chance of any more rain, for awhile at least.

I asked John (who drives me to a trailhead on mornings I take the bus) to drop me off at what has become my favorite walk, through the Cornwall Rose Garden and then through the park itself. There is this sundial in the middle of the garden, a gift from a garden club, and I enjoyed looking at it. It was 8:45 DST, and you can see the sundial was spot on. I didn't notice it until I downloaded the picture, but there is a coin on the far side of the dial, a quarter I think. I'll have to check again tomorrow to see if it's still there. 

I did smell the roses, including this one

It's always nice to stop and smell the roses, taking my time before setting out on the rest of the walk, just under three miles, to my front door. This rose was captured a couple of days earlier, but it is so beautiful in its perfection I had to share it with you today.

I've got two books going on my Kindle right now, one for daytime and a very soothing book about Buddhism meditation practice that I like to read before slipping into Dreamland. And to tell you the truth, any self-care that I am administering to myself is very much appreciated by those around me. Hubby is at the doctor's office right now getting the results from his latest blood test. Fingers crossed it will all go well.


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Back to the Chuckanuts

Melanie and Al

The rest of the Senior Trailblazers headed up to the High Country to hike the Yellow Aster Butte trail. Since I was pretty wiped out by all the rocks on last week's trip, I asked Mel if she'd stay local with me, and she agreed. Al went to the Senior Center parking lot to send the 14 Trailblazers on their way and then joined us for part of our hike up to Madrone Crest. 

A mound of pine cone chips

I was really enchanted with this picture, showing a stump covered with little pieces of pine cone chips, left there by myriad squirrels and chipmunks after feasting on the tasty inside parts. We could hear them chattering away in the trees for most of the hike.

Mel taking a picture of me taking her picture

Mel likes to call this spot on the Lower Salal trail the "over and under" place, since we have to climb over a large tree root and then under this natural bridge. Once we finished this part of the trail, Al turned back to head home.

One of the many signs

These trails are well maintained and the signs certainly help hikers to tell just where you are. We had just finished the Salal trail and rejoined the North Lost Lake trail after having enjoyed a quick lunch at Madrone Crest. There is no view there any more, as the trees have grown up to cover it, but it's still a pretty spot. 

Coming down the Madrone Crest trail

I did get this picture after we stopped for lunch, showing what a lovely place we had all to ourselves today. We didn't see any other people until we were halfway back down the Hemlock trail.

Banana slug

We did see a little wildlife (ha!), if you can call this banana slug wildlife. He's outnumbered in the forests by the black slug, which is not native to the area, but this yellow one is. We were careful to give him a wide berth on the trail. Pretty big guy, huh?

Turkey tail mushrooms

And we saw lots of this variety of mushroom, hard to the touch and nothing like the ones we see when it's not so dry. They are very pretty, though, and apparently harvested sometimes for their medicinal properties.

Ferns galore

Our forests are definitely filled with plenty of lush greenery, even after a long period of drought. The streams are dried up, but we still have plenty of beauty to enjoy. I never used to hike these areas in the summertime, before Covid, but now I know these trails so much better, seeing them year round.

Maidenhair fern

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this beautiful maidenhair fern, my very favorite of the many different kinds of ferns we have around here. By the time we reached our cars, we had covered more than seven miles (7.22 to be exact) and 1, 600 feet up and down. I was tired by the time we finished, but now I'm rejuvenated after sitting for awhile. I'm so happy to still be able to do these wonderful adventures with my pal Melanie.


Monday, September 6, 2021

Labor Day 2021

Another Cornwall Rose Garden rose

 Ah, the weather could not be much more perfect outside than it is right now, for me anyway. It's cool and sunny, not even reaching 70°F. I just returned from a nice walk in Cornwall Park, since the buses are not running today, meaning I needed to just go out by myself and walk. I went to the coffee shop as usual but ended up with lots of extra time to decide how to spend my holiday. They aren't the same when you're retired.

Now it seems that the only thing I get out of a long three-day weekend like this is a disruption to my daily routine and the need to find alternate ways to exercise. It was lovely to be outdoors, in any event. And I managed to close two of my three exercise rings on my iWatch. Not too bad.

It occurred to me yesterday that it would have been my ex-husband's 80th birthday, if he had not died at the young age of 51. I wish I could have had a conversation with him about how it feels to get old, but he never had the chance to get there. I guess I'll have to wait until I'm on the other side to have that talk with him, since I got there without even trying.

Me, surrounded by Chris, Mama, and Derald

This is the only picture I could find that I have of Derald, along with my son Chris and my mother. It occurs to me that I am the only one in the picture who is still alive. It was taken at a Thanksgiving long ago at my sister Norma Jean's home in Michigan. I'm not sure of the actual year, but it was sometime in the eighties, I suspect. The mullet hairstyle I'm wearing, and hair that actually has color, sort of tells the tale. Now I'm older than Mama!


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Ptarmigan Ridge 2021

Mt. Shuksan

 Today fourteen Senior Trailblazers all drove our cars up to Artist Point in the Mt. Baker Wilderness Area to begin a hike on Ptarmigan Ridge. Three of our members basically stayed away from the rest of the group to keep us legal, under the limit of 12. There were so many people on the trail that it makes little sense to try to keep groups limited, but it's the law, so we followed it.

About a mile into the day's hike

I took this picture when we stopped for our first "equipment adjustment," taking off some of our gear since it was no longer feeling so cold. Ken (in the white headgear) is allergic to the sun and always suits up like this. The temperature was cool with a brisk wind to start out, and by this time we were shedding some, but not all, of our layers. I think I had taken off my jacket and gloves by this time.

Mt. Baker from the trail

This is the other magnificent mountain that we see during this hike. Usually we get much closer to it than we did today, since we didn't go the entire distance. With so many people to keep track of, our pace was not all that fast, which suited me just fine. Richard led the group and set the pace since Al was not with us today.

Mt. Shuksan and the skyline

Both this picture and the previous one are taken from the first major stop, a viewpoint about 2.5 miles in. If you were only wanting to hike to this place, you'd have a nice five-mile round trip, but we always head off farther before stopping.

Heading off to our lunch spot

Here we are leaving the viewpoint and starting off on the trail to find a place to get out of the wind and settle in for lunch, a short distance down the trail. We found a nice spot and enjoyed our lunch, before continuing on to round the bend and start off towards our usual ending point.

The rest of the group continuing on

I had forgotten how rocky this hike is, and my feet were beginning to complain. Since I knew we would have to return the same way, and I didn't wear to myself completely out, I decided to stop and take in the view while the rest of the group went off to see the lakes. I was happy just to rest, but I did get this great shot of them on their way. I rejoined them when they returned.

A rest stop before heading down into the valley

We stopped at this place for another rest before continuing into the part of the hike that I think is the least fun part, all rocks and going back down into the valley before having to climb back up to the final part of the day's efforts. By this time I was tired and my feet hurt from walking on the rocks for so long.

Richard on the home stretch

I took this picture mostly to show how rocky the trail is, but we had done all the ups and downs for the day, and this is the final mile back to the parking lot. We had covered around 7.5 miles and maybe 2,000 feet up and down. Enough to make me glad to finally get to the end.

Almost back

I turned around and saw this picture just as we were finishing the day. You can see some late-summer flowers and pink fireweed in the foreground, and Mt. Baker hiding behind a ridge. All in all, it was a very good day, and I think everyone had a good time. I know I did!

This was probably my last time on this hike, since it gets harder for me every year. It has been many years and lots of fun, but right now I am too tired to even consider anything this difficult in my future. But who knows what I might feel like this time next year? Anything is possible.


Monday, August 30, 2021

It's beginning, fall is almost here

Leaves are changing color

 I took this picture earlier today as I began my walk home through Cornwall Park, after having visited the coffee shop and enjoyed my daily latte. It was a bit more crowded than I was comfortable with, but most people got their coffee and/or food and left quickly. Everyone was wearing a mask, but when you sit down to drink your coffee, you need to remove your mask. I couldn't help but think about that schoolteacher in California who lowered her mask to read to a class of elementary school kids and, through that action, infected more than half of the classroom. That means that this new Delta variant is incredibly contagious, and although I'm vaccinated, I don't feel nearly as safe as I did before.

I'll be in line to get a booster as soon as they make it available to me. I know it seems a little selfish for those of us who are already vaccinated to want even more protection, but at my age (and never having been tested for antibodies), I'll take whatever additional protection I can get. Our hospital is already seeing enough new infections that they are asking anybody who doesn't need to go to the hospital to stay away. This new surge is really worrisome.

It's obvious to me that, with such an incredible number of new infections every day around the entire country, there will be more variants to deal with in the future. Will we ever be truly over this pandemic? I'm beginning to wonder.

We are, however, just beginning to enter into my favorite time of the year: fall, when the leaves turn glorious colors and the air seems fresh and clear in a way it never does during summer. Sometimes we'll have Indian Summer for as long as a month, and I'm holding out hope that this will be one of those years.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Blanchard forest hike

Trail to Lily and Lizard Lakes

My friend Melanie and I decided to hike up to Lily and Lizard Lakes on the Blanchard Forest Block, south of Bellingham. There are trails that go several different places, so we wanted to head up towards a couple of our favorite lakes. We started at the Upper Trailhead and were joined by a friend of ours for part of the hike, Chris and his dog Bo.

Bo, Chris, and Melanie (I took the picture)

The four of us hiked up to the junction that leads to several different trails. Chris and Bo went off towards Lizard Lake, with a plan to hike up the British Army trail. After they left, the two of us went up the middle trail, one I had not been on before, that leads to what I hoped would be a vista overlooking Lake Samish and a view of Mt. Baker. With the overcast skies, there was little chance of a good view, but we went anyway.

Lizard Extension trail

There were three trails, one to Lizard Lake and one to Lily Lake, with another middle trail that I had never been on before. It went mostly uphill and joined the service road, with what I hoped was a view. But after quite a distance and no view, we turned around to go back to the trails we knew.

Upon reaching the service road

Before heading back, when we reached the end of the existing trail, we noticed many signs on trees, telling us of logging that will be taking place shortly. There were many doomed trees giving us the bad news. I was glad I got to go up there to see these lovely trees before the logging starts.

Lizard Lake

We turned around and returned to the junction and decided to take a quick trip over to Lizard Lake, just to see what it looks like today. Skipping Lily Lake, we took the trail over to the Alternate Incline Trail, which leads back to the service road that would take us back to the parking lot.

Alternate Incline Trail

This lovely trail meanders downwards towards the service road, and it was nice to walk down it today, as we made our way back. I enjoyed it very much, although not so much the service road (which tends to be hard on my feet), but we made it back in good time. We had been expecting rain all day, but we returned, dry, without mishap.

Me and Mel at the junction

Before he split off, Chris took this picture of the two of us, just before we started down the Alternate Incline Trail. Today, we climbed and descended around 1,500 feet during our hike, and covered around 7.5 miles. It was a really good day! And as we came into sight of the car, it began to rain. We were once again blessed by the Weather Gods. And now I'm home, finishing up my post, and ready to rummage around looking for something I can eat on my diet. Another great outing with a dear, dear friend.


Monday, August 23, 2021

Lovely rain

Raindrops on the roses

I walked home from the coffee shop once again through the Cornwall Park rose garden, with the hopes of seeing them covered with beautiful drops of rain that has cleared our air and given us some especially delightfully cool weather. Looking ahead at the forecast for the rest of the month, we are not likely to see temperatures reaching anything close to hot. Next month will be September, with a chance to experience some Indian Summer weather, but it is so much nicer than the heat and humidity of midsummer. We'll see. Today is perfect for someone like me.

I just watched the news that the Pfizer vaccine for Covid has been given full approval by the FDA, not just the "emergency use" status it had until today. I received the Pfizer vaccine in March, so it looks like I will be eligible for a booster shot in early November. Considering the virulence of the Delta variant, I will probably want to get it (the booster, not the variant).

I am making progress with my desire to lose a few pounds and have been counting my calories on the Lose It! app, and this morning, 12 days in, I saw a welcome number on the scales today. At this rate I'll be back to where I want to be within a month. The hard part, with any diet, is to find a way to maintain after reaching your goal weight and not just start the rollercoaster heading the other way.

But I'm optimistic. I've managed before to maintain my goal weight for more than a decade and only seemed to get derailed by the pandemic, which unfortunately doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Today starts a new mandate in Washington State to wear a mask inside. I was pleased to see this past weekend that my favorite indoor places had already started. I have seen almost everyone in the grocery store wearing a mask, and I'm glad to be living somewhere that enforces these mandates. It makes me feel so much safer. My sister who lives in Florida is not so lucky.

One of the things that drives me crazy lately is not being able to remember things very well. I had just decided I need to make a quick trip to the grocery store, but I can't remember what for. And I have all these convenient reminders available to me on my phone, but I always think I'll remember and don't record it. Sigh. Oh well.