Thursday, March 31, 2022

Another fine day

Scene at the trailhead

 Melanie and I had thought about going up the Fragrance Lake trail again today, but I wasn't feeling all that strong and was not anxious to spend so much energy hiking up that particular trail. So Mel was amenable to changing our hike to one that is almost flat, the Hertz trail, instead. Although it's more than six miles round trip, the elevation gain and loss is negligible. It rained last night but the weather was supposed to be pretty nice today, and sure enough it was. We did have a little sprinkle here and there, but nothing even requiring a raincoat.

Salmonberry in bloom

One thing that surprised me is that the salmonberries are coming into bloom, which I found to be rather amazing. Where did all this green and all these blossoms come from so quickly? Actually, tomorrow is the first day of April, so it's not really all that early, it's just seems that way; time is rocketing by.

Lake Whatcom

In three miles or so, this flat trail crosses two streams that are graced by lovely covered bridges, and is quite well maintained. It gets lots of use by hikers, dog walkers, bikers, and runners. We saw a little of each today, but basically it was not very busy at all.

Fresh buds everywhere

We happened to look out at the lake just as we saw a cormorant (we think anyway) dive down and disappear from view. We watched to see it surface with a fairly good-sized fish in its beak (bill?) and wrestle with it for a bit before getting the fish above its head, dropping it down into its mouth, and swallowing it whole!

Our trail

As we walked, we had a few little sprinkles from passing clouds, then a bit of sunshine (as seen here), and the occasional passerby, but mostly we had this lovely place all to ourselves. After we got back to the car, Mel wanted to stop by a restaurant she visited yesterday, to see if by chance she had left her hat and gloves there. Sure enough, she did, and so we decided to stay and enjoy some lunch. It was just right, and by the time we headed back home, we were treated to full sunshine and warming temperatures. All in all, a lovely day!


Monday, March 28, 2022

Bunny tales

Can you see him in there?

Another rainy morning, so I decided to make my walk home from the coffee shop shorter than normal. I walked just over a mile, and during that time I saw this cute little bunny run across the trail in front of me. I wondered if he would hold still long enough for me to get a picture, and sure enough he did.

I also heard a rooster crowing, which I sometimes manage to hear on my walk, and it always makes me happy to hear his insistent voice. Although I pass by the same way every day, even on my shortened walk, I don't often hear him. And a bit later on the walk, I also heard a hooty-owl calling. There is probably much more wildlife than I am aware of, but it's lovely when the sounds of nature fills my ears.

Although I got enough sleep last night, I'm still feeling a little drowsy, even after my usual coffee and a good breakfast. In another hour, I've got a lunchtime yoga Zoom class to attend, and after that a massage scheduled downtown. Not a bad way to spend a rainy day, eh?


Thursday, March 24, 2022

Wonderful hike, great weather too

Lots of bridges to cross

Today, Melanie and I made our way to the Upper Trailhead on Blanchard Mountain, to hike to both Lily and Lizard Lakes and return via the Alternate Incline Trail, making a sweet loop of almost seven miles and almost 1,500 feet elevation gain and loss. The best part is that I am doing just fine with that distance and elevation, and that is saying something. Last week I was grumpy and grumbled about a five-mile walk in the rain. This was the other side of that kind of day: pretty darn perfect.

Lily Lake

As you can see from this picture, there was little breeze, and although it was cold when we started out, within a short amount of time I was shedding my jacket. Almost all of the uphill is on the way to this lake, and although we didn't see any lilies (it's early for that), we stopped for a quick snack before heading over the Lizard Lake.

Lizard Lake

In all the times I've visited this lake, I've never seen a lizard lounging around, so I'm not sure where the name comes from. We did see some squirrels, but that was the extent of our wildlife sightings today. From Lily Lake, you climb a bit up and down before getting to Lizard Lake, and then if it weren't for the position of this picture in my photos, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them. Just lakes.

Reflections in Lizard Lake

Before we headed over to the Alternate Incline Trail to return to the parking lot, I saw this picture between the trees of the stumps and trees reflected in the lake, where the water was smooth as glass. If it weren't for the trees in the foreground, I think I could have inverted the picture.

Buds just emerging

I wanted to show you in this shot the state of our springtime foliage: just at the beginning of leaves showing up. Behind you see one very mossy tree in the middle of the frame, and a tree decorated with various fungi just behind the bush in the foreground. It was so wonderful to be outdoors in fine weather, feeling good, and enjoying the company of my favorite hiking companion.

Mt. Baker and a pesky branch

Why I didn't see that branch right in the middle of my picture of Mt. Baker I'll never know. It was there, but apparently I looked right through it as I took the shot. Oh, well; it's still a lovely picture. On the way back down the road, this view is the only one we get on this particular hike, and it sure was pretty. We were only a short distance from the parking lot at this point, and I was truly amazed at how good I was feeling. Perhaps now I'm finally getting over this malaise. Or not. It's possible it was a fluke, but I don't think so.

And now it's time for me to enjoy a nice little glass of wine and catch up with the news of the day. It sure was great to be away from it for a while. I hope your day is as fruitful as mine as been. And as an aside, I got the Wordle puzzle this morning in two tries!


Monday, March 21, 2022

More rain after a break

Very soggy camillia

 As I walk back home after my trip to the coffee shop, I pass this lovely shrub of camillia flowers, which is just now beginning to open for the season. It's an early sign of spring, which officially started yesterday. On Saturday Melanie and I made two loops around Lake Padden, and for some reason the clouds cleared and we were treated to full sunshine instead of the predicted rain. But last night and today we are back into the rain. If you look closely at the camillia, you can see it's pretty wet. So was I, but I took a shorter walk today, two miles, and I was dressed for the weather, with raincoat, rain pants, hat, and waterproof shoes. Got home in a pretty good mood, actually.

It's not that I really mind the rain, mostly. There are times when it seems to bring me down and make me grumpy, but it wasn't that way today. The puddles are everywhere, still, very full and reflecting the raindrops falling at a pretty good clip. I just checked the weather and it's supposed to keep up for most of the day. Sure wish there was some way we could send much-needed rain to California; they are still in a years-long drought with no end in sight. We could sure spare some of ours.

Yesterday for the first time this year, I heard the song of the white-crowned sparrow, who shows up around now and stays for the entire summer. Robins are ubiquitous and unremarkable these days, but that sparrow's song says "spring" to me. We only have a few more days left in March, and then April's abundant beauty will be here, with tulips galore and the scent of flowers everywhere. It's a time to be grateful and notice its brevity before summer's heat begins. I'm just grateful for it all!


Thursday, March 17, 2022

Rainy but warm hike

Forsythia coming into bloom

Yes, the weather gods were right about today: wet, even if the temperature was mild. We drove to Fairhaven to walk the Interurban trail, wipers on full as the rain came down on our way there. We of course donned all our rain gear and set out for a five-mile hike on St. Patrick's Day. I was sure that eventually it would let up a little, but it never did. I was just glad we chose a place close to home and one that Melanie and I could cut short if necessary.

Indian plum in bloom

Everywhere we looked, we saw Indian plum along the trail, all of it in full bloom, which means in no time at all there will be leaves filling in and creating a thick shrub. It also has a plum-shaped fruit that is purple-ish when ripe, but apparently the fruit is bitter even then. If you want to know more about Indian plum, I'm providing a link here.

Melanie looking at all the green

We walked down to the bridge in Arroyo Park, to see if there has been any progress since it was knocked down by a huge tree more than a year ago, but no, nothing has changed. When we turned around to head back, I thought this picture had enough green for St. Patrick's Day, with all the moss, Mel's green pack cover and raincoat, too. Fifty shades of green...

Springtime woodlands

On the way back, I saw some white blossoms emerging (on the left) and the stream below roaring by, making for a lovely woodland scene, which changes every time we visit the area. My mood did not improve today, as I was wishing that the rain would give us a break. It's rather unusual for us to have constant rain like this.

However, once we got back to the car, Mel pulled out some homemade cookies and chocolate, which I must say did make the day much more appealing. I watched the windshield wipers going back and forth as we drove back home. And now at home, it's a bit later and I can STILL hear the rain hitting the roof. At least I am warm and dry, feeling much more like myself. I was pleased that my new rain pants worked as expected. Let's hear it for good rain gear!


Monday, March 14, 2022

Pi Day 2022

Frank showing off his timely sweatshirt

 This was taken on a Senior Trailblazers outing sometime before the pandemic hit. Frank is wearing this shirt on the day after Pi Day, which falls on March 14 every year, but we always hike on Thursdays. I don't join the group much any more, but I hear that Frank doesn't either. Times change, but I will always remember Frank as a truly gentle soul who took care of those of us who are not as strong as he is.

Do you know why today, March 14, is  known as Pi Day? It's because the date's digits are also the first three digits of pi (π) 3.14. Also, Albert Einstein was born on this day, and in 2009 it was declared to be a national holiday. Now remember we are talking about Pi, not Cow Pi as Frank's shirt suggests. The numbers 3, 1, and 4 are the three most significant figures of π in its decimal representation, which goes on and on and on...  3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 ... There is even a song to help you memorize the first 100 numbers, but I won't go there. You can look it up if you're really interested.

We are sitting here in the Pacific Northwest waiting for the atmospheric river headed our way. I walked home from the coffee shop without rain, but it's coming, and we are supposed to get somewhere around two or three inches in the next few days. I might have to curtail my walks, or maybe I'll head over to the YMCA for a workout, which I've avoided since Omicron emerged. Our statewide indoor mask mandates were lifted yesterday, and in shops and gyms fewer than half the people are still wearing masks inside. I'm one of them, but maybe one day before too long I'll feel safe not wearing one. I'll take it one day at a time. 

First leaves emerging

I have been walking right past the Cornwall Park Rose Garden, since there haven't been any roses, or even leaves, until now.These red leaves showed up last week. I'm not sure what the fine stringy bit is on these leaves; maybe some reader knows. They are too finely intertangled to take them off. Anyway, it's one more sign that spring is not far behind. I'll be looking for the first buds to show up soon. 


Thursday, March 10, 2022

Another real favorite

Sunlight and shadow

 Melanie and I went on what is fast becoming another favorite hike of ours, the Chanterelle trail near Lake Whatcom. There are two places we can go from this trailhead, this trail and the one that follows the north shore of Lake Whatcom. But this one, to the viewpoint above the lake, is the one we took today.

Viewpoint overlooking Lake Whatcom

One of the nice parts of the Chanterelle hike is coming to this viewpoint at 2.5 miles, with the possibility of continuing upwards for another 2.5 miles (which we didn't do today because it was more than I wanted to do). Mel and I did venture up the trail from the viewpoint for around a quarter-mile, giving us another half-mile of distance before returning the way we had come. 

Last night the temperature dropped to below freezing, so we weren't in any hurry for an early start. There was little wind, so we were quite comfortable and extremely glad to be outdoors in the forest together. The other Trailblazers have taken on a lengthy and arduous hike today; I read where they were going and was glad I have a friend willing to take it easier on Thursdays, with me setting the pace.

Deep and dark tunnel ahead

As we started back to the viewpoint from the extended part of the trail, I saw what seemed to be a mysterious shady tunnel, but it was just a trick of the light. We entered and found ourselves back at the overlook. There weren't many possibilities for photos today, none that I haven't already shared many times here.

Mossy trees with licorice ferns

One thing nobody can deny: in regards to our Pacific Northwestern forests, there is no shortage of moss, giving us greenery year round. All the tiny buds on the trees are beginning to emerge as spring continues its advance, and I am looking forward to seeing the days grow longer and longer. Spring is less than two weeks away, March 20. But first we must go through the annoying changing of the clocks, where we lose the hour we "gained" in the fall. That happens this coming Sunday. I'm hoping this nonsense will stop one day, when somebody in power decides we've had enough.

We ended up hiking 1,100 feet up and down, and covered a little more than five miles before all was said and done. We saw a few other hikers, not many, but I suspect that before the day is over, more people will come out to enjoy the day. I sure hope so, and also hope that their mood is improved as much as mine was by again enjoying a forest bath. We were both reluctant to leave the trail, but since I'm older and not in as good shape as Mel, I am glad to be feeling like I still have some energy to spend for the rest of the day.

I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees. —Henry David Thoreau


Monday, March 7, 2022

Early signs of spring

First daffodil of the season

I was so pleased to see that the early daffodils are already beginning to bloom in various gardens I encounter on my walk home from the coffee shop. And when the sun comes out as well, who can resist these lovely sights? Certainly not me. It helps to raise my spirits, since they have been rather low as I continue to watch the news and read about the awful invasion of Ukraine. 

Yesterday I did myself no favors when I saw a picture of an entire family, two young daughters, their mother, and a family friend all murdered by shelling while they were trying to escape the violence. The only thing still alive was a family pet in a carrier. I wondered what happened to it, hoping that someone who is also fleeing would see it and carry it to safety. It was either a cat or small dog, from what I could tell from peering through the door, trying to see if it survived the onslaught. 

Why didn't I just turn off the TV at that point? Tears sprang to my eyes, and I wondered how those in the midst of the invasion with no way out must be feeling. Although it's spring there, too, the darkness of the war must be the only thing anybody is aware of. Just writing about it is enough to cause me to despair. I need to take care of myself and my mental state, I know. But there is so little I can do to help, other than to provide some small amount to UNICEF as I continue to feel the pinch of inflation and rising prices all around me.

During the month of April, I will visit the tulip gardens in Skagit Valley, a real treat not only for the eyes, but also for the soul. I'm looking forward to it, and the month of March will pass quickly enough, so I'm not trying to hurry it. Every day is a blessing to be cherished, and I will do that, not just for me, but also for those suffering through a miserable war. 


Thursday, March 3, 2022

Becoming a favorite hike

Long shadows early in the day

Today Melanie and I decided to go once again to one of our favorite places, Fragrance Lake. It was supposed to be raining in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon, but that's not what happened. As we drove to the trailhead, more and more sunshine emerged from the quickly dissipating clouds. By the time we got to the trailhead, it was incredibly mild and sunny. We almost don't know how to act when the weather is friendly rather than something we have to be ready for, just in case.

Viewpoint looking out at Samish Bay

By the time we got to the viewpoint, it was really lovely, but the clouds, as you can see, are not completely gone. All the rain we've had lately meant that sunshine would cause the humid air to form more clouds. But we really didn't care, it was just a fine day and all our anxieties lessened as we soaked in the forest setting, far from the news of the world. Everything was quiet and serene.

Quiet green solitude

We did see some people on the trail, mostly runners or dog owners, but mainly it was just us as we made our way up the two miles and 1,000 feet to Fragrance Lake. We didn't see many signs of spring, but they will be coming soon. On days like today, being in the forest around here is delightful.

Fragrance Lake today

The water was almost still, with little breeze to disturb the reflection of the trees. We walked past the lake and took the path counterclockwise around the lake to meet up with the trail that takes us to the Two Dollar trail. We walked a short distance (about a mile) to our lunch spot. We found a nice protected place overlooking the lake below us and settled in for a quick bite or two. Mel had brought her latest version of vegan cookies, and I didn't exactly inhale them, but it was close. Yum!

Me and Mel at our lunch spot

We walked back to the trailhead via the service road, rather than the trail to the lake, so we could have a loop hike rather than an out-and-back. As we started down, we noticed that the clouds had pretty much taken over the sky again, and it even began to rain a little. Nothing that a couple intrepid hikers couldn't handle.

Washed out part of the road

We came to the place on the road that has been damaged by the rain and wind we've experienced lately. It's actually closed, with a notice to take a side tour on one of the bike trails. We decided to check it out, and as you can see, if you stayed close to the left-hand side it wasn't too awfully difficult to navigate.


We finished the day's adventure by stopping by the waterfall to check out today's look; it was pretty full but not overflowing, as it sometimes is. This is not far from the trail's end, we had maybe another mile to walk. It was so beautiful and in such good company, we found when we finished that we had walked around 6.2 miles in total and went up and down around 1,400 feet. To say it was an amazing day was an understatement. I didn't fall even once, feel pretty darn good after all that exercise, and think I'll try for 7 or 8 miles next!