Thursday, September 30, 2021

Rainy day today

Golden leaves

All plans that the Senior Trailblazers had made for the day were scrapped when we saw the weather forecast: rain, rain, and more rain. As our fearless leader has said before, "why drive for an hour to hike in the rain when we have perfectly good rain right here?" One group decided to stay local and hike up the Chanterelle trail, which is mostly tree covered, while the other one also stayed local but carpooled to Blanchard Mountain to head up to Lily and Lizard Lakes.

(NB: I don't know what happened to cause this glitch, but after trying to fix it, I've given up.)

Lake Padden on a grey and rainy day

Mel and I took off in yet another different direction: we went to Lake Padden, since Mel's still nursing a sore foot, while I was happy to go anywhere at all, as long as I could share the raindrops with a good friend. We went twice around the lake, for a hike of 5.2 miles, and by the time we finished, most of the rain had stopped from being a soaker to just light raindrops, which felt great in comparison.

Mel looking bright and cheery

There wasn't lots to photograph today, so I got this one of Mel, and she reciprocated by taking one of me. She also captured our Yellow Brick Road for the day: the trail around the lake.

It's still raining in this one

One of the things that is nice about this trail is that even when it's wet, it's quite passable, and I was quite surprised to see that the parking lot was almost full. There was a middle-aged tourist who was taking pictures of kids playing in the rain, and he remarked that this was very different from his home, where they would be sitting inside in front of the TV. Yes, we can't let a little thing like rain keep us from exercising, or we'd never get outdoors!

Trees and ferns

I love the beautiful old trees around the lake, as well as the abundant ferns and vistas that my lovely hometown offers to anyone who gets out in all weather. I am also proud of the large number of rain jackets I've amassed since I moved here. And I am not happy about wearing rain pants, but I've managed to wear out a couple pair in fourteen years of hiking.

Now that's a root system

I noticed this amazing set of roots under this handsome old tree as we walked. You can also see that plenty of detritus has fallen under the tree to coat the roots. Most of the trees are evergreens, but there is always other bits of debris to nourish them. And lately, lots of rain.

Now I am home, with nowhere else to go, all my exercise behind me for the day, and a cozy and warm place to enjoy the rest of it. Not bad for a day when we have received close to an inch of rain already, wouldn't you say?


Monday, September 27, 2021

Sun, rain, and booster shots

Another beautiful rose

This rose was captured last Friday, when I walked from Cornwall Rose Garden to home, after the coffee shop visit. It had been foggy earlier that morning, and the rose was covered with little bits of dew from the fog. In just a few minutes, it was gone as if it had never happened.

It rained all night last night, and I expected more would be around for my walk to the bus, but it was not only dry, most of the sky was kept clear of clouds. It was just before the wind started, which blew in quite a few clouds, but so far we are rain free for the day. I wouldn't mind a little more, but I never mind a sky filled with fluffy white clouds and a brisk wind to keep things interesting.

I made an appointment for my Covid booster shot on line, hopefully it will happen this afternoon when I scheduled it. But until it's actually in my arm, I am skeptical. After the times I tried over and over to schedule the original shots and being so disappointed, I'll keep my fingers crossed for it to happen. At my advanced age, I am just happy to be eligible. Who knows how much the vaccine took in the first place? Anything I can do to up my chances of avoiding the virus, I'll take!


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.