Thursday, March 30, 2023

Early spring at Fragrance Lake

Viewpoint looking out at Samish Bay

I never tire of looking at the views we have on a sunny (or mostly sunny) day at Fragrance Lake. That's where Melanie and I decided to go today, the last nice day before a series of rainy ones ahead. At least it held off for our hike.

Our trail, with ferns galore

We went our usual direction, up the trail on the way to the lake and down the logging road on our way back. There was a little breeze, and it never quite reached what I would call "warm," but it was quite tolerable and made for easy uphill hiking.

Narrow spot between two trees

I have taken pictures of this spot on the trail before, but I am always seeing it looking a bit different, depending on the time of year and the weather. It never looks the same to my eyes, sometimes dramatic and sometimes just another lovely spot in the wilderness. 

Fragrance Lake and reflections

Today you can see the light green in the trees on the far side of the lake. By the time we reach this spot, we have done most of the climb for the day. Not long after this spot, we started up the Two Dollar trail. Large boulders are on our left and a bubbling stream on our right.

Tree growing out of a boulder

I happened to look up on the left just as we passed this scene, one I have passed by many times, but I didn't look up far enough to see the spectacle of the tree that has become one with the rock below it. I wonder how long these two have been together; from the look of the tree, it's been quite awhile.

Looking down at the lake

We finally reached our lunch spot, where we rested before taking the return trip pretty much the same way back. By this time, the wind had increased and high clouds made it seem rather cold, so we didn't linger for long. And since we knew that we would be descending the entire way back, we put all our warm clothing back on, which had gradually come off as we worked our way upward.

The ever-changing waterfall

And, as usual, we stopped for a picture at the place on the logging road back down that has this magnificent waterfall, which changes with the amount of rain and the seasons, but never fails to look wonderful. We covered 6.72 miles on today's outing, and went up and down more than 1,600 feet. I think my old hiking days where I would climb and descend much more than this are behind me. But who knows? Melanie says I am in good enough shape to try Church Mountain this summer. We'll see when we get there. At any rate, I am happy to be feeling as good as I do, knees and joints relatively happy, and my mood has improved mightily by just being out in such good weather with such a good friend.


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Sunny, cool and windy

Above the ground but a long ways from a bloom

Walking back from the bus this morning, I took some pictures of the burgeoning plants coming up in this garden. I had to hold my phone on the other side of the chain-link fence, and I was hoping I wouldn't drop it, since two rather large dogs decided I was paying way too much attention to this area, so I quickly snapped this and hoped for the best. I thought I might need to straighten it, but no, it's pretty perfect just as it is. 

I know from previous years that these will be tulips once they bloom, but our cool and unusually dreary winter has delayed all our pretty flowers. This weekend, April 1, begins the Tulip Festival, and I did look at the Bloom Map and found that the only thing in bloom right now are the daffodils, and they are not yet at full strength. The tulips will be coming in another couple of weeks, I believe. And I will be visiting the Tulip Festival once again, hoping for a sunny day in mid-April.

Camellia Japonica

I did pass by this lovely bush that catches my eye every spring, since the blooms are so big and beautiful, and way earlier than even most daffodils. I did have to look it up and believe I have correctly identified the Camellia japonica. If I am incorrect, I hope one of my more astute readers will enlighten me. Here's a closeup:

Gorgeous, aren't they?

Although it's beautifully sunny today, it's also very windy. I realize that I am going to have to find something to cover my ears in such conditions, since my hearing aids began to whistle and complain. Before long, I received a warning on my iPhone that I was being exposed to a very loud and damaging sound volume. But it wasn't true; it was just the wind, and when I realized that I have found another glitch in my bionic ears, I'll need to take care to cover these puppies when it's so windy. And this was mild, compared to what I've endured in the past.

I am hoping to have a sunny and warm hike on Thursday; the weather deteriorates for the weekend, but until then, I'll be listening to the cacophony of birdsong and enjoying the sunshine. Hope you have a great day!


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Stimpson Family Reserve

Our hike today

Although yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, today was the exact opposite: we woke to rain, with lots of big puddles showing that it rained quite a lot overnight. So, we decided to go to one place that is lovely, even in the rain: the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve.
Humans have been on a trajectory of distraction and overconsumption for centuries, and we had to reach the breaking point for the great transformation to begin. We’ve become completely misaligned—with ourselves and the earth. Now is the time to begin the process of coming back to ourselves and to one another. This is what forest bathing is all about. ―Julia Plevin

Yes. We went on a sweet forest bathing experience, and for the first part of it, we were actually in close familiarity with the wet side of things. It didn't take away anything from the moments we spent walking in this beautiful place, with ancient trees surrounding us.

Bits of sunshine filtering through the trees

We didn't have a long or arduous hike in this magical place, but more one of contemplation and enjoying the incredible views. Dogs are not allowed here, and so this is not a place people come to walk their dogs, but after awhile we did see lots of other fellow travelers who were taking their own spiritual bath in the forest.

Geneva Pond

We reached the only actual destination point on the reserve, which is the pretty pond that lies on the far end of the acreage. There were moments when we thought the clouds would clear off and give us a sunny day, but as you can see in this picture, all of the recent rain kept the clouds building. We even had the occasional sprinkle, but it would be gone in a flash.

Melanie heading back to the trailhead

It was a wonderful way to refresh our spirits and made for another lovely outing with a good friend. We only covered just under five miles in total (not much for us), but it was actually just right for today. I am well bathed and enjoying my comfortable chair at home, glad for the Thursday adventure.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

First full day of spring 2023

First growth at Cornwall Rose Garden

I asked John to let me out of his truck last week at the Rose Garden itself, rather than my usual spot on the sidewalk, before starting my walk home from the coffee shop. I was hoping to see some growth on the rose bushes, and sure enough, there were a few leaves that might turn into rosebuds in the near future. This was taken last week, since our brief moments of sunshine and gorgeous weather have turned into drizzle and cloudy skies. 
In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.—Mark Twain
It's still plenty warm, but it's the nature of the season to be changeable. Unless you're living in California lately: it's been nothing but one atmospheric river of precipitation after another. There is another one, the twelfth in a series, inundating the state at the moment. When will it end? I really feel for those people who have lost everything and have nowhere else to go.

I feel quite fortunate to have chosen this spot for our retirement years. It seems like the weather has been moderate all this past winter, where other places have had extreme events in many different flavors. Here at the moment, it's sprinkling a little, but 12°C (54°F) and quite pleasant to walk around in. Unfortunately, by Thursday it will be rainy for our usual hike, as in all day long. I am trying not to mind too much; my favorite raincoat and hat should keep me pretty dry.

I have reluctantly decided that taking up knitting again is not going to work for me. I'm afraid my eyes just don't like doing such close work, and I'm going to save whatever eyesight I have to keep being able to read books on my Kindle. It took me quite awhile to admit that I am compromised in yet another part of life, but that's the breaks as I am growing older. The good thing is that I am able to be physically active, even if there's not a whole lot of speed or agility in my step, I'm still kicking! I will be grateful for what I have and remember that being an octogenarian is a privilege!


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Oyster Dome and Lily Lake

Stand of trees in sunlight

 Melanie and I made the long drive to the Samish Overlook trailhead in order to hike up to Oyster Dome and make an excursion to Lily Lake, one of our favorites on Blanchard Mountain. I hadn't been all the way up to Oyster Dome for years, even after the trail had been renovated. It was a beautiful morning, and the road to Samish Overlook has been improved, basically (unfortunately) to give the loggers better access to the trees. For whatever reason, we will be using this trailhead more often as it's way easier to navigate now.

Trail to Oyster Dome

Other than being fairly steep during many switchbacks, as you can see the trail was lovely when we started up. The "up" word, though is the reason it didn't stay so nice.

Junction either to the Dome or Lily Lake

Yes, we ran into snow, and lots of it before it was all over. Here we are at the junction, one way to Oyster Dome, and the other to Lily Lake. Although it was pretty snowy and slippery, we decided to hike the half-mile trail from here to the Oyster Dome.

Melanie on the Dome

As you can see from this picture, it was a glorious day as we looked out over Samish Bay. It looked pretty much the same from our starting point, so I decided just to show you this view, rather than repeating it from where we started out.

Another view from Oyster Dome

We made our way from the Dome back to the junction, and this time we took the trail (named the Oyster/Lily trail) towards Lily Lake. Before long, we were in full snow, with little to no part of the trail free of the white stuff. 

Bridge as we headed to Lily Lake

As you can see from this picture, this was the name of the game: snow everywhere. And we knew when we got to the lake, it was not going to be free of snow, obviously.

Lily Lake

The lake is frozen over, but I wouldn't want to walk on it, as it's probably quite unstable. But it sure was pretty to look at. We spread out our inflatable seats on those benches and Melanie pulled out her newest creation: brownies, made with lots of chocolate (of course) as well as made with some Guinness beer.

Yummy brownies

They were really good (as usual with her cooking), chewy and filled with lots of flavors. She said although the recipes only fills a 9x9 pan, it called for five eggs! I can attest that they are really, really good. And then it was time to make our way down Max's Shortcut, which took us back to the beginning of our day's hike.

Some neat trees on the Shortcut

We didn't have to descend very much before we left the snow behind, and we had a very nice trip back to the car. I was going to post some pictures of the clearcut and the desolation left behind in the aftermath but it just makes me sad, so I decided to skip it. We covered 6.54 miles and 1,750 feet up and down before it was all said and done. A very wonderful sunny day in the company of my favorite chef (and good friend). I am so glad to have this sort of recreation available to me so close to home, and to be in good enough shape to continue to enjoy the wilderness. I hope it continues for a good long while.


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Pi Day 2023

Today's pussy willows 

Walking home from the bus today, I spied these pretty pussy willows bursting out of their coverings. It won't be long before I'll figure out what they are going to become, but for now their pretty, soft fuzzy resemblance to a kitty's paw is good enough. And soon I'm going to the store and most likely will be confronted with actual pie to consider buying. I probably won't, since neither I nor my hubby need the calories. My dad used to say, "a moment in the mouth, an hour in the stomach, and a lifetime on the hips." 

However, if I were to choose a pie, it would probably be apple with lots of cinnamon, or maybe even lemon meringue. I'm telling myself to stop with the pi reminders. Do you know why 3/14 is considered Pi Day? Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:
Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 (the 3rd month) since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant figures of π. It was founded in 1988 by Larry Shaw, an employee of the San Francisco, California science museum, the Exploratorium.

The link has plenty more to say and explain about the meaning of the day. I didn't realize that it's also Einstein's birthday! Or that some people celebrate Pi for the entire month of March. Just because there is no end to pi and the number goes on forever... I suppose it would be nice to have a pie that never ended.

It would be nice to find a reason to help yourself to a piece of pie, and today might give you that reason. I'm off to the store, and I do hope I am able to contain myself from buying a pie. I hope you have a good day, whatever you do! (Maybe just a tiny little piece...)


Thursday, March 9, 2023

Madrone Crest

Lower Salal trail

 Today Melanie and I headed up to the North Chuckanut Mountain trailhead, with hopes of reaching Madrone Crest, if I could manage it (more than seven miles and plenty of elevation gain and loss). And I did, with Mel offering me a couple places where we could shorten the hike, but I was feeling good.

Such a pretty day

Unfortunately, there was little of interest to see, other than lots of trees, a nice trail, and a bit of snow here and there, as we gained in altitude. We didn't have any footgear today, but we didn't need it if we stepped carefully in the snowy spots.

On the way to the Crest c

Once we left the Lower Salal and got onto the trail to Madrone Crest (having gained around a thousand feet in elevation), we began to see snow on the trail. You can also see that it's quite sunny, so we would run into places with no snow and others with quite a bit. 

Trail in the snow

It was pretty easy going, and other times I've been on this trail, we have had a torrent of water running down it. Today, it was actually quite manageable. I never felt like I should have brought my spikes, but I was glad for my waterproof boots. 

Viewpoint at Madrone Crest

When I first began to hike to this viewpoint, you actually had a pretty good view, but today the trees have made it less visible. You can still see the mountains peeking through. We stopped here long enough to have Mel's latest creation, a purple cookie with mochi in the middle. I loved it, but she said she spit it out, not liking the taste of the mochi. I helped her out by eating hers, enjoying it thoroughly.

Last of the snow for today

As we returned to the main trail, the snow gradually grew less and less, until there was just a small remnant. We had hoped we might be able to see the first little shoots of our favorite flower, the trillium, but instead the only white we saw was the frozen kind. But as you can see, it was truly a glorious outing, and I have no doubt I will sleep well tonight. Kudos to Melanie for helping me get more than 20,000 steps!


Tuesday, March 7, 2023


Way back in 2015

I heard this bird singing from the tree while I was visiting the Tulip Festival in early April, 2015. I could hear the bird and followed it to where it was sitting there, singing away. and captured this lovely picture. 

But since it was taken almost a decade ago, I've been saddened to realize that many of them are no longer around. Which is NOT true, I've discovered, since receiving my hearing aids last week. After much frustration about trying to get them inserted properly into my tiny ear canals, once I managed to get them correctly situated (with help from the audiologist), I was completely blown over by the incredible number of birds I could hear, once again! Although I've never lost the ability to hear the big ones, like crows and gulls, I really did think the little songbirds were gone. Walking to the bus in the morning, I am once again thrilled by the sounds of trees filled with delightful song. That is probably the most conspicuous change I've noticed so far.

Four-legged neighborhood denizens

And yesterday as I was about to leave in the morning, I saw these deer strolling across our front lawn. They are so accustomed to people that they looked up at me but didn't change their pace as they looked for fresh green sprouts for breakfast. I saw one running across the road to avoid a car the other day, which was helped by the driver slowing down. I pondered those skinny little legs and realized it wouldn't take much for a deer to get seriously hurt. I'll continue to watch the road and hope for the best.

Pretty tulips

While I was looking for that bird picture, I spent some time admiring the tulips that will look like this in about a month. Spring is just around the corner now, and I see signs everywhere that our drab winter colors will soon be replaced by scenes like this one.


Thursday, March 2, 2023

Grateful for today

Lummi Island from the viewpoint

It was supposed to rain today and only get a few degrees above freezing. But after watching the weather forecast this morning, I began to feel we might actually end up with a nice day after all. It looked to me like the worst of the weather would skip us, so we decided to head to the Lost Lake trailhead and see if we could make it to Fragrance Lake, one of our favorites. It's been awhile since we were there, so off we went. You can see from the clouds in the first picture that we already had some possibly decent weather for the day.

The trail got a bit dicey

We had made it quite a distance upwards toward the lake, when we ran into snow. Quite a bit of it, actually. But Melanie had planned ahead and brought footgear for the snow, and she figured I probably would bring any, so we had some for me, too!

Microspikes (left); Diamond Grip Yaktrax (right)

Once we had added these to our boots, it was like night and day: I no longer was slipping and sliding, and the adventure ahead became much more to my liking. We made it to the lake in good time and found it still had some snow on it.

Fragrance Lake and snow

Most of the lake was snow-free, but the trail all the way around the lake and up the Two Dollar trail were all covered. I was so happy to have Mel's spikes to make it easier to keep going.

Reflection on a smooth lake

When we started out, it was pretty windy, and we thought it would keep up all day. But fortunately for us, it didn't, and as you can see here, it became calm and peaceful. We stopped at a bench in the sunshine, and we enjoyed Mel's latest creation.

Oatmeal orange cookies

Whenever Mel gets a veggie delivery and caracara orange are included, she makes these. They are so good, filled with delicious orange pieces, cranberries, and lots of love. She says they are almost healthy (for a cookie, that is). 

Such a gorgeous scene

The sun came out while we were heading back, and I love seeing the way the snow added some extra embellishment to the scene. It looks much colder than it felt, although as I said before, the temperature never got more than a few degrees above freezing.


On the way back (we usually come up the trail and return along the logging road), we pass by this waterfall and today, I noticed that we had some icicles as well as being fairly full. Sometimes it's pretty sparse, but today it looked just right, not too full and not too skimpy.

We ended up covering 6.6 miles and more than 1,700 feet up and down. Not bad for a hike that we were afraid wouldn't be much fun at all! It was mostly good because I have a friend who never fails to think of me and what I might need and not remember to bring (like the footgear). And who feeds me as well!