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.
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.