Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Galbraith Mountain

The view of the bay from Galbraith Mountain

Today, eighteen Happy Wanderers were directed to this viewpoint by our leader, Terry. She gathered the group together at the tennis court parking lot before taking us up (yes, it's definitely up) to this viewpoint. We managed to eke out over five miles round trip before we got back to our cars.

It was very cold as we started our hike at 8:30am, well below freezing, but mostly full sunshine promised that it would warm up considerably. It did, and we started by climbing up pretty steeply, which was welcomed by all of us who were cold, until finally we had been moving long enough that most of us were finally able to shed some of our heavy clothing. I was able to take off my warm hat and gloves and stash them away, but I kept my jacket on until later.

Sandy's selfie plus thumb

I took a picture, too, but somehow I managed to cut two people off the side, so this one is by far the best hot, even with Sandy's thumb taking out the lower right. It was a good group, and we talked and hiked and enjoyed the environment. I've been up Galbraith Mountain many times, but it's been years. Much of it is the same, but it was up for sale a few years ago and I wasn't sure we would ever return. It's a wonderful place to visit, and mountain bikers love the trails.
In July of 2018, the City of Bellingham, Whatcom Land Trust, and Galbraith Tree Farm LLC entered into an recreation easement that secured the public’s recreational use on Galbraith Mountain and protected​ the area from development. The easement covers 2,182 acres and adjoins 4,250 acres of public land managed by Whatcom County. (City of Bellingham)

 We saw plenty of mountain bikers on the trail, but mostly it was just our big group and the occasional cluster of three or four bikers. We were all courteous to one another, and the only surprise was (to me) wondering what these young people must do for a living, to be out and about on a frosty Tuesday morning. I'm glad they are able to get their exercise and thrills and chills on the trails, though. Everyone was having fun.

A quick snack break

We stopped for a quick bite to eat at around 11:00am, and then afterwards we made our way back down the hill to our cars. It was probably over 1,200 feet of elevation gain and loss in 5.5 miles, and I was happy to finally get off my feet and snuggle into Terry' warm car at the end. It was a very good hike, a good day, and great company!


Thursday, October 26, 2023

A down sort of day

Bellingham Bay from Gates Overlook

Not "down" in terms of the day itself, I should clarify, but one where my down jacket and down comforter have made their first appearances to help usher in the cold weather, both outdoors (the jacket) and indoors (the comforter). 

Today's Senior Trailblazers (I took the picture)

Only six of us showed up in the chill (37°F) to make our hike to Raptor Ridge from Gates Overlook. We drove up to the Overlook to start our hike, which would take us on an out-and-back, going down the 100+ steps of the Rock trail, heading down to the South Lost Lake trail until reaching the North Lost Lake trail, which then took us to the junction to Raptor Ridge. It was somewhere around 4 miles to get there, with plenty of elevation gain and loss, but I don't really know how much.

The massive rock that gives the trail its name

There were two hikers, Don and Cindy, who had never done this route before, and it's always fun to see how much people appreciate the incredible beauty of this trail. The steps were dry but steep, and I couldn't have done them without my poles, but I did manage the entire hike without a spill.

The hikers on Raptor Ridge

It was another absolutely beautiful day, with little to no wind (which is unusual and twice in a row!), and after we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the sunshine, we turned around and went back the way we had come. 

Mushrooms that look like bouquets

Similar to our hike on Tuesday, there were so many mushrooms sprouting up from the ground and on the rocks everywhere around us that I could have spent the entire hike taking pictures of the myriad types we saw, but we also had some distance to cover.

Big leaf maple leaves

Now that we've had a good bit of rain, which caused the mushrooms to flower, we have also had some wind that helped these leaves fall off the trees. They are so pretty, even on the ground, that I had to capture their abundance to share with you.

White buxom mushroom

I thought this mushroom captured the season perfectly, from her two eyes to her buxom arms, to the "skirt" she is displaying. I some ways, she personifies the season, and brings a smile to my face. By the time we returned to the Overlook, we had covered a long eight miles and plenty of elevation. I never underestimate those steps, and by the time we were done, I was quite happy to sit in the car as Owen drove us back to the Senior Center. 

It was yet another wonderful day in the beautiful forest, and as we said goodbye, I think everyone who came was glad for the adventure. I know I was. 


Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Mostly mushrooms

Today's Happy Wanderers

Eleven Senior Trailblazers gathered to begin a medium-sized hike at the Lookout Mountain trailhead. I took the picture so I'm behind the camera, but our fearless leader, Joe (second from right in blue jacket), took us on a trip up the Rufus Creek trail for a hike of around five miles. We were wanting to make it back to the start before the forecasted rain hit. 

We had about a 1,000-foot elevation gain and loss, but the hike felt to be just about the right distance for us on a drizzly day with heavy rain a-comin' round the mountain. Around nine, we set out on the trail, feeling good about being together and being ready for almost anything. It was surprisingly dry when it started, and we even saw a few brief rays of sunshine. 

Yes, they are purple mushrooms

We saw an abundance of mushrooms of every size and shape. They have just recently sprung up out of the damp environment, and they caused much oohing and aahing as we admired them and took pictures.

Signage along the way

People who are familiar with Lookout Mountain could, I am sure, pinpoint our exact location from this sign, but it was all new to me, and I appreciated the signage to figure out where we were and how far we still had to go.

Now that's a lot of shrooms

This mushroom "village" was the most spectacular gathering of mushrooms I've seen in awhile. They resemble a condo of elegant domiciles, to my eye at least. I can just imagine little fairies snuggled inside, staying warm and visiting with their neighbors, maybe calling each other on their teeny tiny phones. And I would bet that this village wasn't even there last week, and won't be there next week. So ephemeral and lovely.

Forest sentinels

A hiker pointed out these straight trees, magical and delightful to see, and I felt happy to see them where they belong, standing where they have been growing for decades. I wish I knew more about trees, but I can contemplate their beauty and enjoy them in the moment.

What a pretty color

Just before we finished the hike, I captured this beauty, and sitting among its surroundings, I felt happy to be able to be a part of the scene myself. I also noticed that it was still not raining, but the feeling in the air was that it might be imminent. Just before we reached the cars, it began to sprinkle. Then rain for real, and we drove back to the Senior Center happy and content, with another great hike behind us as the windshield wipers swished back and forth. 


Thursday, October 19, 2023

Drizzly Thursday

One big pumpkin

I went back and forth trying to decide whether or not to join the Senior Trailblazers today, since they decided at the last minute to head back into the High Country and try to wrest one more trip before staying down at sea level for the duration. It was when I realized that the weather had deteriorated and that it would be rainy, or at least not wonderful up there, and with a car shuttle in the plans, I decided to stay home. On the way into the Food Coop this morning for a breakfast sandwich, I saw this huge pumpkin (they do this almost every year) and are offering a gift certificate to whomever gets closest to guessing its actual weight. (I'm thinking maybe 650 pounds? Or more. Or less.)

Instead of joining my friends on the hike, I went over to the Senior Center to attend the Zumba Gold class. As usual, I could only make the first forty minutes of the hour-long class before I left, out of breath and tired. Then I walked home the long way, giving myself all the steps needed to close my fitness rings. The day was living up to the forecast, with a light drizzle accompanying me all morning. I had neglected to wear a raincoat, because I was hoping that the light rain would finally relent. Nope.

Gold and rainbows

We have recently had the kind of weather that causes such gorgeous scenes as this one, which was captured by one of my favorite artists. She posts frequently in the Seeing Bellingham Facebook group, Emily Polis Gibson. She also has a website, linked here, with wonderful scenes and stories that she shares. I wanted to find something that shows the incredible beauty of our region, and this picture did just that. Yesterday between rain showers, I saw a scene similar to this one, but before I could capture it, the light had changed and it was gone. So, thank you Emily, for this golden gem.

I also had a wonderful acupuncture treatment yesterday, which always helps to bring me back into a place of equanimity. That, and limiting the amount of news I allow into my day, has helped me cope with the awfulness going on in the Middle East. Most of the time, good news is overlooked because it doesn't cause visceral reactions, but rest assured, every moment of every day there is peace, joy, and happiness lurking within the crevices of our world. And here is a little bit of wisdom from someone who has given the world an enormous amount of all those things:
We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams. —Jimmy Carter


Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Lots of rain and clouds

Carpet of wet leaves

This time of year, we expect rain, and we usually get it. Although this picture was taken a few years ago, it could have been taken today. It is rainy and misty right now, and it was yesterday, too. But the sun keeps coming out and drying everything back up, which is nice; it won't last, but for now I am enjoying the breaks.

Taken last Friday, Lily and me

I went bowling with my friends Lily and Ace again last Friday, and although I did enjoy it, I suppose that I will never be much good at it, unless I decide to take it seriously and spend more time learning the techniques. Yes, I can pretty much throw the ball down the lane and keep it out of the gutter (mostly), but if I get a second shot that has the pins all separated from one another, I'm at a loss. I didn't get even one strike in two full games, but I still had fun. A few lanes away, there was a senior bowling league taking up a couple of lanes, and I enjoyed watching these people who obviously know what they're doing doing so well. It's tempting, but I don't think I'll be joining any other groups for awhile yet. If ever.

I just learned that the local hike scheduled for Thursday has been changed to one from Artist Point in the mountains, once again. Frankly, I am disappointed because I was looking forward to another hike similar to the one I took in the Chuckanuts last week. I am debating whether or not to go. It's an hour and a half drive each way, but I haven't been to Artist Point this season, so if I'm going to see it, it's either now or wait until next spring. Sigh. Decisions, decisions.

In the meantime, I'm keeping myself entertained with some favorite TV shows, and I just finished watching a sci-fi adventure on AppleTV. It's not for everybody, but it's based on an Isaac Asimov volume that I read several times years ago. Although they changed much of the story, it's still recognizable as the one I enjoyed back then. And it does help to keep me away from watching the awful news of the day. That's a real plus, to my mind.

I do hope you are doing well, friends, and keeping yourselves active and paying attention to what is going on around you. I am constantly astounded by how many people don't even look up from their devices and notice the world around them. Just taking a breather now and then would be a plus! It's an especially pleasant time of the year in this part of the world, so rest assured I am smiling at the sparkling raindrops.


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Raptor Ridge hike

Today's pretty trail

Today, the Senior Trailblazers decided to head out to the High Country for one last trip before being stuck with local hikes until next spring. But I really didn't want to try Hannegan Pass, even on a lovely sunshine-y October day. I'm not feeling quite ready for another hard hike, so I called my friend Barb, who leads lots of hikes with both the Happy Wanderers and the Relaxed groups. I figured she would probably also not be going with the others, and I was right: she had made plans to go with three others to Raptor Ridge, two of whom had never done this particular hike. I asked if I could join them, and she readily agreed. So, five of us intrepid hikers met at the North Chuckanut trailhead to make our way to Raptor Ridge.

Lost Lake trail

We headed up from the parking lot to the Lost Lake trail via the Hemlock trail and went up that trail the entire way until we got to the back entrance to Raptor Ridge. This is pretty steep in many sections, but Barb took plenty of breaks, allowing us to hydrate and catch our respective breaths.

BIG mushroom

Since we have received a fair amount of rain in the last few days, the mushrooms were proliferating everywhere. This was one of the biggest I saw, but unfortunately there is nothing near it to show you its size. Take my word for it; it's huge. We saw many different varieties, some beige and some purple, and a few tiny delicate ones that looked like they belonged to fairies.

Barb pointing out a landmark

There are two approaches to Raptor Ridge; this one follows the Lost Lake trail until you come to a junction that takes you uphill towards the ridge. It is the least traveled of the approaches, and it had been awhile since I'd been there. I was reminded once again what a beautiful forest we have to enjoy year round. The sun peeked through the trees, but when we reached Raptor Ridge, we were treated to full sunshine.

View from Raptor Ridge

It's been many years since I've visited the ridge when it was almost without a breeze, and with the sun shining like that, it felt much warmer than it really was. We enjoyed our lunch and reluctantly began our return trip. We decided to make it a loop, going back the more traveled direction. We ended up getting somewhere around eight miles of hiking, with lots of elevation gain and loss, not sure how much, but it was at least 2,000 feet.

More mushrooms

I will leave you with this final shot of mushrooms that looked to me like they had been toasted to perfection. But they were out of the sun and I guess that's just what they are supposed to look like. Aren't they pretty? Another fine forest bath.


Tuesday, October 10, 2023

My non-routine Tuesday

Interurban trail today

I didn't go again with the Happy Wanderers today, although I kind of wanted to. It was raining this morning, and I had to get to the clinic for my blood draw at 7:30am. That meant I would probably miss a chance to join the other Senior Trailblazers in time. And since I hadn't had any breakfast or (my main need) coffee, I decided to simply make my way to the coffee shop in the wind and rain after the bloodwork part was done. Sure enough, I wouldn't have made it in time, but instead I enjoyed a really especially tasty cup of coffee and a marionberry scone with my friend John.

Then, I had a completely different day, since my chance to hike with my friends was gone, and there was the possibility of going to the Senior Center and taking the Zumba Gold class, but I just didn't feel like it. The news has been really difficult to process lately, and headed home and spent some time with my partner, just being grateful for our humdrum life and our connection to one another.

I decided to ride the bus to Fairhaven, since the rain had lessened, and walked the interurban trail by myself, for about four miles or so. You can see in that picture what a beautiful trail it is, and I enjoyed listening to a podcast as I walked. It really helped my spirit to be out in nature. 

When I tried to return to Bellingham via bus, I accidentally took one that would arrive back at the downtown station sometime, but not until after we took a circuitous route through campus, so students could get back to their dorms. The bus was eventually quite full, actually more than full, and another bus took the stragglers that couldn't fit on ours. The driver then took the dozen or so riders to another stop, so that yet another bus could take them to their destinations. It was actually rather exciting to be involved in the melee, but it sure did take a bit of time to get to the station, where I could catch another bus back to my neighborhood.

But indeed I did make it home, and now I'm writing my usual Tuesday post, a bit late, but feeling very glad to have gotten out and about. I'm feeling much better and even a bit centered and happy to be watching the rain from inside. Aahhh....


Thursday, October 5, 2023

A beautiful local day

Pumpkin head

 Lily took this picture of me in the midst of all those pumpkins and other signs of the season. I was surprised to see that my head didn't even begin to fill the spot, but never mind: I sure had fun hanging out with my pal Lily. 

Even though it was a beautiful day today, I didn't go with the Senior Trailblazers up to the High Country. Instead, I had a different kind of Thursday, one that is beginning to become a habit. I went for a really nice walk in my neighborhood and got enough steps to satisfy my hungry fitness rings. It is amazingly warm for a day in the first week of October, shirtsleeve weather! It won't last, of course, but for now it feels like a gift.

Spooks and pumpkins galore

All around town, these signs of summer's end and fall delights are cropping up. The owners of this particular home sport fun displays during October, and then more elaborate things for the Christmas season. Red and orange are the colors showing up everywhere right now, with leaves turning and pumpkins around every corner. If only Indian Summer lasted longer and didn't lead to a long and dreary winter ahead. But no matter: the seasons are enjoyed as they come, and as they progress into the next one we will find the joy and look forward to the next as they come. It's nice to know that part of the globe is already in springtime, just as we head into fall.


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Samish Crest to Lake Padden

Just a few of the twenty-two

It was an amazing turnout for the Happy Wanderers hike today: 22 of us raring to go, starting from Racine Street through to Lake Padden. The story of this particular hike is told on a website from Bellingham Trails. A little snippet from that site: "The trail brings you up to a lookout over the city and bay. It also continues from Racine Street through to Lake Padden for the adventurous in spirit!"

We wandered through lots of damp forest on our way to the lookout, which was a bit of a dud today, with little to no view. 

Hmm, what am I looking at?

The rain had stopped before we began our hike, but it was wet enough that we kept our warm gear on for most of the day's six-mile-plus hike. Although the view from here was not impressive, the deep forest around us was quite beautiful.

So pretty, even the fungi

That curious fungus (lower right) caught my eye as we were walking. You know it must be brand new, since we are got plenty of moisture in the past week, for the first time in months. And then we walked on as we made our way to Lake Padden, where we would stop for a quick bathroom break and a snack.

Lake Padden

And you can see that it's beginning to brighten up a little as well. Although the clouds were still there, occasionally we began to see some lightening in the sky. I finally removed my jacket, since I was getting warm and we were ready to begin our return trip, with lots of ups and downs.

More mushrooms

You can almost see this mushrooms growing as we watched. Not quite, but one of them caught some rain in the middle, reminding me of a magical kingdom where fairies drink out of such things. 

Licorice ferns growing out of that tree

It was, by this time, beginning to lighten up enough that we saw our shadow now and then, and the gold leaves in our path looked radiant as the sun peeked through the clouds. By the time we returned to our cars, there was more sun than clouds, and everything sparkled from the earlier rain. 

All in all, it was a lovely day, filled with lots of laughter and even quite a bit of exercise before it was all over. I'm not sure of our total altitude gain and loss, although there was some to help us keep our muscles challenged. I was very happy to be part of such a great outing!