Thursday, April 27, 2023

Burnout Loop hike

Part of the nine hikers today

With Melanie out of town this week, I decided to join one of the Senior Trailblazers group (Group 2) to hike what is called the Burnout Loop. Nine of us hiked up almost to Fragrance Lake and then went over to the South Lost Lake trail and followed it up to the Burnout area.

First trillium of the year

And I saw my first trillium of the season, surely not to be the last. Gorgeous flowers and a delight to see once again on my favorite trails. The weather was perfect, mild temperatures and overcast skies to start, making it easy hiking.

First shafts of sunlight

As we climbed upwards, then sun began to filter through the trees. This sunlight was the first of the day, but soon all the clouds would lift and we would be in full sun.

Mt. Baker and the Sisters

One of the fun parts of this hike are the wonderful views we get of two major scenic highlights: this first one shows the beautiful mountains that we got to see in almost full view. I'm sure later on these clouds left, but in the meantime we walked farther on the road to the other viewpoint, this one of Samish Bay.

 A little hazy but quite lovely

This is where we decided to have lunch, since it was almost noon, and we were all ready to stop. We had climbed well over eight miles by this time, and everyone was hungry as well. I asked for a picture of the group, and they accommodated me.

All new to me except for two

This great group of hikers are now dear friends, after spending the day with them. Chris (on the left) and Owen (on the right) are the only ones I have hiked with before, but we were all very compatible and went at about the same pace, which delighted me. I was not too slow at all!

Overlooking the bay

We took a different way back to the logging road than I had taken before, which was all downhill and only a bit steep in places. I did just fine and was happy to have such good company. We ended up covering more than eight miles and up and down around 2,100 feet of elevation. I expected to feel much more tired than I feel right now, so I am giving myself a pat on the back (and many thanks to Melanie, who has continued to help me with my conditioning). It was a great day, not one I'll soon forget!


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Coping continues upwards

Magnolia blossoms

 Yesterday as I was walking to the bus stop, I saw these lovely magnolia blossoms covered with raindrops from the rain we had all night long. I was forced to stop long enough to capture this picture. I love magnolias, and before moving to the Pacific Northwest, I had only known them from my time in southern states. But they grow in many places, in many varieties, from deciduous to evergreen.

I was surprised to learn more about them, from this website, especially finding it interesting in how long they have been around:

Magnolias are believed to be the earliest known flowering plants, with their fossils dating back over 100 million years. Magnolia trees even existed before bees, so they rely on beetles for pollination. Instead of nectar, the flowers produce large quantities of pollen that the beetles use for food.

 There are dozens of these beautiful trees in my neighborhood, and now I have an enhanced appreciation of these long-lived trees. From tulips last week to magnolias this week, it's certainly a very special time in the annual progression of the seasons to enjoy myriad floral beauties. Our lilacs should begin to bloom by the end of the week, too!

I have also noticed that there is a ubiquitous flower appearing in every lawn around here: dandelions are exploding with golden nuggets to catch the eye and gladden the hearts of bees everywhere. (Do bees have hearts? They must.)


Thursday, April 20, 2023

Tulip Festival

Tulips galore

Today we, Melanie and I, headed down south to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival which is, I can attest, filled with tulips at the RoozenGaarde display gardens. It's really late for the flowers to be appearing, and we saw lots of fields that are still only showing buds, with unopened flowers that will be showing their beauty at some time in the next week or two. Since Melanie will be out of town next week, we decided to venture down to the fields today. The one good thing I will say about the weather is that it wasn't raining.

Melanie and I bundled up

You might be able to tell by our clothing that it wasn't warm: a twenty-mile-an-hour wind really brought down the temperature, and the fact that we never saw even a little bit of sunshine, meant that we wandered around snapping pictures while trying to stay moderately warm. Thank heavens for gloves, hats, coats and the ability to walk at a fast pace. When the wind was at our backs, it was much easier to enjoy the tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils.

River of hyacinths

One of my favorite places is the display garden hear the entrance. This river of blue hyacinths made for a wonderful fantasy of flowers among the multicolored (and multi-petaled) tulips. There are so many of my favorite tulip varieties mixed in. 

Red tulips make a lovely heart

When I saw this design, I was sure it was multicolored tulips surrounding a red tulip heart, but when I showed the picture to SG, he said maybe it's a glass of red wine. Who knows for sure? I loved seeing the bright colors all around it. 

Tulips to infinity... and beyond

Then we went out to the massive fields of tulips in the area behind the display gardens. They are so beautiful, and the brilliant colors were in no way diminished by the overcast skies. Although I would have spent more time out there, I was trying my best to stay warm and managed to keep walking, even when I would have liked to linger. The wind made it difficult.

Fields and fields of color

We walked around for as long as we could without getting too uncomfortable, and then we went back to the main area to shop in the great gift shop at the gardens. We did make a stop by some favorite displays, like this one.

Another hyacinth ribbon among the tulips

We really did enjoy the fabulous eye candy, and Melanie introduced me to her favorite fudge, available for purchase and to eat there or take home. I bought a sampler of several different kinds of fudge and managed to keep myself from eating too much of it all at once. It's rich and delicious. After that, we went to the gift shop to warm up and also to buy some souvenirs. Or she did, I looked but didn't end up buying anything in there after all.

Farewell until next year

And then it was time to say goodbye after another wonderful trip to the Tulip Festival. We climbed into Mel's car and headed back to Bellingham and drove to Lake Padden to walk 2.6 miles around the lake before going off to have a nice lunch together. It was truly a lovely day, but I am glad to be inside as the rain begins. We are so lucky to have such beautiful places to visit near our homes. Once again, I am grateful for all the fine places available to enjoy, just a short drive from Bellingham.

Melanie snapped this of me unawares

This picture gives me the ability to use it to say, "It is definitely springtime in the Pacific Northwest and thanks for coming along!"


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Fifteen years

Lilac buds ready to pop

Walking home today in the blustery wind with raindrops spitting every few minutes, I was hunkered down inside my fleece and with my raincoat pulled up to protect me from the wind and wet. It wasn't pleasant, but on top of that, the sun kept trying to come out to change the narrative. Before long, I was almost home and happy to be thinking about coming inside and getting warm and dry once again.

Just before walking up the driveway to my apartment complex, I saw these lilac bushes sporting beautiful buds, soon to become flowers. Lilacs don't last a long time, but while they're around, they are one of my favorite flowers. And they're purple, too!

Yesterday marks fifteen years since SG and I pulled into this driveway with a U-Haul filled with our Colorado belongings, ready to start our retirement years here in the Pacific Northwest. He had come here earlier, with his car, to find a temporary place for us to use as a "jumping-off place," and he had found a nice two-bedroom apartment and starting staying there for a month or so, before flying back to Boulder to finish our journey. As it has turned out, we are still here, in that same apartment, fifteen years later. 

And we decided that Bellingham was just the place for us after all, not needing to look any further for a good community to join. It was important to find somewhere close to the ocean and not too far from the mountains. Bellingham fits us just right. I am still hiking in the mountains and know the trails around town intimately. We didn't know any of this when we got here, but I cannot imagine having found anywhere else that fits us so well. 

At first, we traveled to Canada (just a half hour away) quite often, but as the years have passed, we have stayed closer to home, and the pandemic closed the border for a few years anyway. Now we make short excursions to local stores for supplies, but otherwise we have graduated from being world travelers to elders who enjoy puttering around in our small home town. Having each other is the best! I hope we can continue like this for awhile longer, while we still have our health and mobility. Who could ask for more?


Thursday, April 13, 2023

Lost Lake via the Rock Trail

Rock trail in dappled sunlight

 Melanie and I decided to do a rather short hike but an extremely beautiful one, with plenty of elevation gain and loss to make it more strenuous. We went to Gates Overlook and hiked down the Rock trail to the South Lost Lake trail that would take us to Lost Lake. We had to traverse somewhere around 100+ wooden steps from the Overlook down to the lower trail.

Rock, large and small on the Rock trail

There are so many beautiful rocks and trees on this trail it is hard to capture how gorgeous it is. Plus you navigate those steps to lose more than 1,000 feet of elevation in just over a mile's distance. Of course, what goes down must, well, you know: go back up. But before we had to do that, however, we joined the lower trail and made our way through mud and downed trees to the lake.

We found the Lost Lake

Of course, we have been here many times before and were pretty confident we could find the lake, and here you see our usual lunch spot when making this our destination on longer hikes. We were way too early for lunch, so we had a quick snack.

The water's edge

Just for fun, we followed some side trails down to the water's edge, and saw lots of emerging leaves and blossoms beginning to open during this early spring excursion. We walked almost to the end of the lake, just to give ourselves a few more steps before starting back up the way we had come.

Skunk cabbage (a.k.a. swamp lantern)

Although there were a few very muddy spots, and the notorious bog we had to traverse before we got to the lake, you know it must have been much wetter here not long ago, for these guys we be sprouting up next to the trail. They usually are in actual swamp water, but I think they will not make it too much longer as the weather is drying up. They are sort of pretty, don't you think?

Woodpecker markings on that tree

Although Melanie could have skipped right up the trail, no matter the elevation gain, I had to stop often to catch my breath on the way back up. I saw this tree that may have fed a woodpecker or two, making those holes while looking for grubs and other insects. 

View from Gates Overlook

And then just like that there we were, back where we started out, at the Overlook, with a beautiful view of Bellingham Bay. We covered only four and a quarter miles today, but we went up and down more than 1,100 feet. That means it was not a ho-hum hike, but one to be cherished for months and years to come. I am so happy to know I can still make it up those steps and hope I get another chance to try them again later this summer.

It was another wonderful day, filled with lots of fabulous scenery, and Mel's bought cookies (very delicious macarons) before heading back to our respective homes. With such a short hike, I suspect Mel will be out on the trails near her home before the sun goes down today, but I will be happy with my day's hike as it stands. In every way, it was a winner!


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Sun and rain make rainbows

Taken by Eric Jean Weissenborn

Knowing that when it's raining all day long, there are likely to be rainbows when the sun comes out, I found this wonderful picture, taken Easter Sunday and posted on Facebook's Seeing Bellingham Group. I snagged it for this post. If I had been proactive and not actually getting ready for bed myself, I might have been able to capture something as lovely as this. Bellingham Bay sure looks good through the rainbow. I thank Eric Jean Weissenborn for having shared it, and I hope he had a wonderful rest of his Easter Sunday. The Facebook group is filled with rainbows from Sunday, if you want to spend some time looking at them. I love rainbows.

When I went out this morning, it was raining, but it gradually let up and by the time I was heading home, there were no rainbows to be seen. I looked just to be sure.

Heavily laden with blossoms

I did see, however, lots and lots of blossoms everywhere. Spring is in full swing in these parts, and sometimes I think it's my favorite season, but then again, each one has its own charm and delightful moments. So I won't pick one but instead will just enjoy them as they come, and be grateful that I am able to be in this wonderful place. 

And I did look to see what's happening in the Tulip Festival fields, which were also on display in that Facebook group. Yes, the tulips are now beginning to open and give plenty of color to those fields. I'll be getting there soon, hopefully. I'll be posting plenty of pictures when that happens, never fear.


Thursday, April 6, 2023

Sprinkles on the Chanterelle

Osoberries (Indian Plum)

 Today Melanie and I decided to hike the Chanterelle trail, where we could be sheltered by numerous trees as we made our way to the viewpoint, in sprinkles, as it turned out. Rain was forecast for the entire day, but when we started out, it was just a light but steady drizzle. It stayed that way for the entire hike.

So many mossy trees

I love the wonderful trees that grace this lovely hike, many of them covered with moss; others showing off their elegant symmetry. The trail is well maintained, and although there were a few muddy spots, nothing actually hampered our ascent. We climbed 2.5 miles to the viewpoint, and we then went a bit farther just to increase our distance a little.

Lake Whatcom from the viewpoint

I didn't expect it to be so clear, with rain only softening the edges, not obscuring the view at all. We stayed here long enough for a light snack, then we started up the second part of the hike. We didn't get all that far.

Spooky spot

We traveled up for a short while, but I wasn't interested in making it all the way to the top (which would have made for a ten-mile round trip). When I saw this place along the trail, I figured it would be a good turnaround point. We were hoping to go far enough to give us a total of at least six miles, and this did the trick. We went 6.29 miles round trip, with more than 1,500 feet of elevation gain and loss.

Lake in view between the trees

As we descended back to the trailhead, a few times we got a glimpse of the lake below through the trees.  A couple of times I almost put on my raincoat, but the sprinkles were light enough that I never did. 

Many shades of green

It became another one of those lovely days when we didn't have nearly the discomfort we have endured on other hikes, and it turned out to be just about perfect. The wind came up occasionally, but it never was terribly strong, as it whistled through the trees and then settled back down. 

All in all, it was a really lovely day, and we came back to our regular lives after a fine day in a beautiful Pacific Northwest wild place. I am so grateful to live here, to have a wonderful hiking partner, and to be able to navigate and enjoy the environment without too much difficulty. Life is good!


Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Still cold temperature outside

Pretty blossoms in a blue sky

Everywhere I am seeing blossoms appearing on trees, bushes, and in gardens as I walk around in the sunshine. At least, that is, when we have sun. We've been having on and off showers for a week, although there are plenty of times when we see the sun and even a few times when the clouds clear away entirely. But because the atmosphere is so unsettled, that pretty blue sky can change to showers and overcast conditions in nothing flat.

I just read that we here in the Pacific Northwest have had one of the coldest months of March in a long time, and that might be one reason why our tulips are behind schedule in the Skagit Valley. As soon as there are some to enjoy, I will be heading down the road to see them. I just checked on the Bloom Map and found that they still have no idea when that might happen. Plenty of bright and beautiful daffodils, though.

In the meantime, I'll just have to wander around my own neighborhood streets for lovely sights like the one above. Life is not too hard; I'll manage. (smile) The next atmospheric river is scheduled for (you guessed it) Thursday. Good thing I know how to have fun in the rain.