Thursday, April 18, 2024

Oyster Dome from Samish Overlook

A gorgeous day at Samish Overlook

Today eleven Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to arrange carpooling to Samish Overlook, where we would begin our almost-seven-mile hike. We had three new hikers with us, and John took his name off the list once we got there, so he could make a longer hike than we were planning. He is a very strong hiker and I could understand, but I was happy to make the shorter hike myself.

Our three new hikers and Cindy, our leader

I spent most of the uphill part of our hike just behind Diane, one of our newbies. She was so nice to make sure I was okay when we would confront a stumbly-possible section; I felt quite well taken care of. As usual, I was again the oldest person on the hike, and that meant I felt an obligation not to mess up too badly. All went swimmingly, I can report.

The view from Oyster Dome

It was a simply wonderful view from Oyster Dome. We stopped here, and although it was early for a leisurely lunch, we spent a bit of time enjoying not only the view, but the company, and learning about our new members.

Heading back on Max's Shortcut

Once we began our descent, we decided to make it a loop, coming back via Max's Shortcut (although it's really longer), and finishing with the Larry Reed trail before reaching our destination and starting point.

My favorite trillium from today's hike

As we lost elevation coming down, we started seeing trillium everywhere, some in bunches, and this one, which smiled right at me as I captured its beauty. I love them so much and they always make me think of my friend Melanie, who loved every last one. She is now capturing them in Wilsonville, Oregon, but she is right there with me every time I admire another trillium.

We covered just under seven miles, and around 1,300 feet of elevation gain and loss today. We were all delighted with our day's accomplishment, and meeting and enjoying our new members. I cannot be happier with my day!

:-)

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Tulips on Tuesday

Fields of tulips

Last Saturday, my friend Lily and I took off bright and early to get to the RoozenGaarde display gardens before the crowds hit. We got there a little past 8:00am and noticed that they were already letting people in, so we joined them. It was a little windy and more than a little cold, but we were ready for anything and went in to see this year's wonderful tulip festival flower displays. The vibrant colors and incredible varieties were a sight to behold. We covered every inch of the display gardens, as well as the fields behind them, and managed to find ways to avoid pictures with most of the other early birds, but as we spent more time there, we had a harder time finding areas where people were mostly absent. It was crisp and cold for most of the morning, but as more of the clouds cleared, we got a little warmth from the April sun. The difference between sun and clouds on our shoulders was quite noticeable. From "ahhha" to "brrrr" in a few seconds!
People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. —Iris Murdoch

Planting them must have been fun

Although I couldn't quite get high enough to see the design, several people told me that this was a hearts-and-flowers picture. I believe them, but I wouldn't have known it if someone didn't tell me.

The pink ones are just opening

Looking at the intricate designs and colors that these tulips and hyacinths make, I wonder if those people who were planting them in the fields a few months ago were also having fun. There are so many tulips that have not yet begun to show their colors, and others that are fully on their way to the petals falling onto the ground, ready to be carried back into the earth.

Aflame with sunlight

I had such a good time on Saturday, when after filling our eyes with as much beauty as they could hold, Lily and I went off to our reservation in La Conner for lunch. And now that our wonderful tulip adventure is over for another year, I am already looking forward to our summer adventures to come.

Dreaming of our next time together

I went on a walk in Hovander Park this morning with the Senior Trailblazers, but I didn't take any pictures, as the wind was blowing and then it began to rain. I caught a ride home with two friends who were leaving early, so now I am back home, gazing at the mostly clear skies and looking at the chilly temperatures outside, and I'm just glad to be home, warm and toasty. And dry.

:-)

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Burnout once again

Our small but mighty group today

One of the things that I have trouble wrapping my mind around is the amazing difference in size of our Senior Trailblazers Group #2. I was surrounded by almost twenty of us when I went with Group #3 on Tuesday (the Happy Wanderers), but today the group of "Relaxed" Senior Trailblazers was a total of five. I have to admit I prefer the smaller groups, and I decided to come on today's hike because Beth (on the left in the picture) was leading, and she always gives us a good workout. Today was no exception, as we went up the most difficult of the different ways to get to Burnout Overlook, but I was pleased that, although I did whine a little, I was able to manage it without too much trouble.

The Burnout Road

We hiked up the logging road to the clearcut area, that goes up and up and UP without much relenting, until we got to the crest, where we stopped for lunch. In my younger days, I hiked up this without much complaining, but I didn't expect that I would ever do it again. Today, we did, and much to my surprise, I did pretty well, although I was the slowest in the group. Beth finally put me in the lead so I could set the pace, which meant I went even faster, because I was afraid I would be holding up the others.

The view is a great payoff

We ascended upwards until we got to the really great view of Samish Bay, and where we would finally stop for lunch. The weather was supposed to bring us some rain, but it held off until we got back to the cars (yay!).

Beth and me

One of the reasons I wanted to come on today's hike is because Beth is an exceptional leader, and I wanted to support her efforts to give us a wonderful day in the wilderness. She is one of my latest fun hikers to discover, and because of her the group continues to excel.

Our lunch spot

I not only was very pleased to have made it to this spot, but I also enjoyed a treat given to us by John, who brought cookies and fig bars to share. I did my part to help lighten his load. 

Mt Baker and the Sisters

We stopped by the overlook to see if we could see any of the mountains, and sure enough, there they were, not exactly standing out in front of the grey skies, but still very beautiful and worth a picture. I have taken many a picture from this spot, but it's been a long time since I got there via this route.

Lovely trillium

And yes, there were a few trillium out for us to admire and enjoy. Not many (it's early yet), but they are definitely one of my favorite springtime delights. This one was downright perfect. We covered around nine miles and around 2,000 feet up and down. Once I got home the first thing I did was open a beer and draw a bath. After a short while, I can attest to the fact that even in my ninth decade, I am still able to accomplish such feats without complaining too much. It was pretty wonderful to be there, with such good friends! All I can say is "thank you" to all.

:-)

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Mud Bay and Woodstock Farm

Happy Wanderers at Inspiration Point

This group continues to bring many Senior Trailblazers out for some camaraderie and exercise. Today Barb brought us through the Hundred Acre Wood and over to Mud Bay to see the area. It was new to me, so I enjoyed learning about the place where the estuary wetlands joins the sea. An estuary, I learned, is exactly that: where freshwater joins saltwater and makes a brackish environment that is home to many different kinds of life forms.

Mud Bay at low tide

When you look at this picture, you can see the brackish water and far in the distance, the sea. The cliffs above this area, seen on the right-hand side of the picture, are being considered for development, which would of course negatively impact the entire area.

Checking out the estuary

We spent some time checking out the estuary. It would be a real shame if development were to ruin it for all but a few wealthy residents. Then we gathered together again and made our way from this place to nearby Woodstock Farm. It's open to the public during the summer months, but we just went to see what it's like today. This 16 acre park is nestled in a bluff with panoramic views of Bellingham Bay. Woodstock Farm connects 23 acres of public land around Chuckanut Mountain and Teddy Bear Cove. As we walked there, we saw lots of beauty surrounding us. And guess what?

First trillium of the season!

Yes, I saw the first trillium of the current season, and I expect to see lots more before they are gone for the year. They come out quickly and don't last long, but I cherish every one I see.

Pretty star-shaped daffodils

We decided to have a quick lunch on the lawn at Woodstock Farm, as well as taking some time to enjoy the mild and almost perfect weather. It was a bit cool in the morning, but once it warmed up, jackets were shed and plenty of sunshine graced our time at the Farm.

Our lunch spot

It was so lovely there, and I imagined what it must have been like to visit there. We are so lucky to have such wonderful places to explore and enjoy so close to town.

Familiar waterfall

We walked from there to the Interurban trail, which I know very well, and I saw that the waterfall is in good shape, after the rain we've had lately. It was a very good day, and after hiking back to our trailhead, we had covered somewhere around 6.5 miles, varying distances with different devices, but nevertheless just about right. After that, some of us headed out for our Taco Tuesday at Mi Rancho on Northwest Avenue. It was another wonderful day with great friends. 

:-)

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Chanterelle Trail

Viewpoint on Chanterelle

Many of my regular readers will recognize this picture of the viewpoint on the Chanterelle trail. I did this hike regularly with my friend Melanie all during the pandemic, and once she moved away I stopped going here. But the Relaxed Group of the Senior Trailblazers, as well as Group 1, still do this hike, but they also include the top half of the hike, which doubles the five-mile round trip hike to ten miles, with plenty of uphill. There is a new connector trail that brings together this trail with the one on the Hertz trail, but the entire trail is even longer, more than eleven miles.

Lake Whatcom peeking through the trees

Today, on Cindy's first time leading a hike, we decided to do it a little differently: do the usual visit to the viewpoint, and then head up the upper trail until we got within a mile of the terminus, and then turn around and make our way back to the viewpoint for lunch.

Me and Ina at our turnaround spot

By the time we got to this point, we had covered a little more than four miles and around 2,000 feet of elevation. It was great weather for uphill hiking, as it was cool but not really cold. I was glad we decided not to hike that last mile but turned around and went back to the viewpoint for lunch.

Today's hikers, plus me taking the picture

I was very glad to get back to this overlook and have some lunch and a bit of a break from hiking. I knew I would be a little sore, because when we got up after lunch to continue that last two-and-a-half miles back to the trailhead, I could feel my knees, my back, and I felt every one of my advanced years. However, once we got moving again, I felt better and we made it back without a hitch. Not a bad first hike for Cindy! Plus we had fun. You can't ask for much more than that, eh?

:-)

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Whistle Lake in Anacortes

Senior Trailblazers at Whistle Lake

Twelve Happy Wanderers from the Senior Trailblazers set out for Anacortes on a beautiful, sunny and mostly warm day. We traveled up I-5 in the Skagit Valley to find our trailhead for the trip around Whistle Lake. I had not done this particular hike before, and I was very glad I brought my trekking poles, since parts of the trail around the lake were steep, covered with gnarly roots, with drop-offs right into the lake. Mostly it was much more accessible, but those spots would have been very difficult to navigate without poles. Some managed quite well.

Our first view of the lake

Whistle Lake is one of the many lakes in the Fidalgo Island vicinity. I have been to Mt. Erie, Heart Lake, Sugarloaf, and had vistas of the San Juan islands in previous trips, but this was the first time I saw this large lake in the middle of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL).  From that link:
In the heart of Fidalgo Island lies a natural gem of a forest with wetlands, lakes, and rocky bald meadows with great views. This nice little hike will take you around the lake on a hiker only trail. Take this hike in spring for the fresh new leaves and the dainty spring flowers, or hike on a rainy day in winter and watch the mist float above the lake among the trees. The lake is very popular on hot summer days. 

Peaceful and scenic Whistle Lake

I took this picture because of the cormorant sunning itself on that log sticking up from the middle of the lake, but when I saw it, I also noticed all the beauty of the area. Most of us were smiling most of the day as we hiked, it was so pleasant.

Barb checking out where we were on the map

This lovely wooden sign was fun to see and use to orient ourselves, although many already had paper maps to help us get through the maze that is the ACFL. I have been lost in this area more than once in past years. Today, however, we went around the lake and took a few side trips but nothing that made us feel lost.

Me at Whistle Lake

This was where we stopped for lunch, before starting back in another way to make a loop rather than retrace our steps. It's truly a beautiful area, and when we saw this gorgeous Old Growth tree that is probably hundreds of years old, I stood next to it so you can get a feeling of its size.

"Wow!"

I am often awestruck by these magnificent creatures, and glad to know that the loggers, long ago, decided to leave a few of these beauties untouched by their need for lumber. And that three, it hugged me back, I swear!

Winding trails through the forest

Although our hike was only around five miles, we had a wonderful time getting to know the environment around Whistle Lake, and I do hope we will return again to explore some of the other nearby tantalizing trails. After our outing, we headed to Anacortes to visit the Lopez Island Creamery ice cream store. Oh my, that is some of the best ice cream I've ever had! I hope to have a chance to try some of the other flavors on future trips to the area. Some of the hikers decided to go to the Tulip Festival afterwards, but I have a date with my friend Lily later this month, so I didn't go today. Plus, I was plenty tired and didn't feel like I needed any more exercise for the day. It turned out to be just right, just as it was.

:-)

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Laid back Thursday

Beautiful flowering tree

You know it's spring when you see the trees bursting out with gorgeous flowers like this one. I see it every day on my walk home from Cornwall Park. They don't stay as amazing as this for very long, so I stopped to take a quick picture. We only have a few more days left in March, and then all the rain and longer days will bring us more and more scenes like this.

When I got my Covid booster on Tuesday afternoon, I didn't expect to spend the entire day feeling like I did yesterday: weak and achey. I hadn't had as strong a reaction to a Covid shot before. I went to bed early last night, and that's saying something for me, who normally gets to bed when most people are sitting down for dinner. When I woke this morning, I felt much, much better, but I wasn't sure it was a good idea to go out and test myself on another uphill jaunt. I'm happy to stay home and maybe get some laundry done instead. There will always be next week. Plus, I have to remember that I don't bounce back from setbacks as quickly these days.

First signs of lilac buds

Walking up my driveway, I spied these little guys, who will soon burst forth into fragrant flower. At first, I didn't want to think winter is already done with us, but now I'm getting the feeling that spring is undeniably here! Tomorrow is Good Friday, reminding me that when I was spending Holy Week at the Convent of St. Walburga, this was the day when the nuns would ceremoniously wash the feet of the retreatants, This was to remind us of Jesus humbly washing the feet of his disciples as one of his last acts before being crucified. The Abbey has since moved away from Boulder, where I got to know about it.
The Abbey of St. Walburga is a community of Benedictine contemplative nuns of the Roman Catholic Church. They are located in a valley in northern Colorado, where the high plains meet the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Yes, there was a time when I toyed with the idea of becoming a nun, but I was young and impressionable in my youth. There are so many alternate paths I could have followed, but my life would have been completely different. I guess this is true of most of us. I am happy in my marriage, which I never thought would happen; however, we will soon celebrate our thirtieth anniversary, which is quite something when you meet and marry in your fifties. Life is filled with surprises, isn't it?

:-)

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Sehome Hill Arboretum

Explanarion of the Arboretum

The Western Washington University campus has an arboretum, which we, the Happy Wanderers of the Senior Trailblazers, visited today. We started from 24th Street in Fairhaven and walked on various trails until we reached the observation tower. There are almost 200 acres of protected land within the boundaries of the "Arb." Classes, I learned, are often taught there, to better help students understand the natural environment.

Closer to the steep parts, we were warned

There were sixteen senior adventurers today, on a day when we expected a fair bit of rain, but woke to sunny skies and nary a sign of any possible precipitation. It did rain all night, though, so there were some muddy spots, but not many.

Tunnel through the rock

At one point, we entered a tunnel through rock to continue on our way to the tower. There were plenty of birds around, making for some really lovely birdsong, and even a few eagles flying overhead. The mood was jovial and we had a good almost six-mile walk through the forests, until we reached the observation tower.

View of Bellingham Bay from the tower

It was a lovely way to spend our Tuesday morning, and afterwards, since we were in town again, some of us headed over to the taco place for Taco Tuesday. I enjoyed another quick lunch of tacos, chips, and salsa. This could become a really fun way to finish our local hikes, for sure.

On the way home, I stopped by our local Rite Aid to see if I could get the latest Covid booster without an appointment. Sure enough, they accommodated me and I am now up to date with my hopes of prevention from getting ill from Covid. Everywhere I turn, someone else I know has gotten it again. Some day all this will be over, but Covid is not done with us yet.

:-)

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Pine and Cedar to Raptor Ridge

Signpost at junction

Today, seven Senior Trailblazers in the "Relaxed" group went up the Pine and Cedar trail to this junction, where we then turned right and went up to Raptor Ridge. This trail is exceedingly steep to this spot, so I didn't take any pictures but only stopped to catch my breath a time or two. In just over a mile, you ascend more than a thousand feet of elevation. It was cloudy and at times a little damp from the mist, but quite warm otherwise. And a little muddy from last night's rain. But we didn't actually have any rain on us today.

Cindy resting before heading to Raptor Ridge

The entire day was pretty perfect for hiking, even if we didn't have a view, but nobody cared all that much. Once we knew we had done most of the uphill at this point, we sauntered up to the Ridge.

Beth, Donna and Cindy on the trail

There weren't many possibilites for great pictures, since the trees were shrouded in mist for most of the day, and the seven of us were happy to keep going until we got the the ridge, hopeful but not optimistic about any views,

Beth and Donna on Raptor Ridge

Yep, that's what we saw when we got to the Ridge: more clouds, more fog, nothing to see here. But it was still a nice spot for a bit of lunch.

John breaking out his lunch

John also brought along some nice chocolate covered blueberries, which he's been trying to use up for a couple of weeks now. I helped and really enjoyed them once again. I think finally the package is done. Then, after lunch, it was time for us to retrace our steps back to the parking lot.

The group, taken by Beth

And here is a picture of the seven of us, since Beth is on the other side of the camera, I was able to be in this one. I wasn't looking forward to the steep downhill, but I made it without my knees giving out, partly because of having taken one of Beth's Aleve tablets before starting out. I did feel my knees, but they didn't make too much fuss. There were three hikers who had not done this hike before, and I asked them what they thought of it. All said it was hard. It's the darn unremitting steepness, especially (for me) on the downhill that makes it difficult. 

Beth taking a picture

When Beth stopped in the trail to get a shot, I took the moment to capture one myself. All in all, it was a really good day, and I sure feel like I got a bit of exercise this week, between today and last Tuesday. I should sleep really well tonight!

:-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Campbell Valley in Canada

Campbell Valley Regional Park

Today, seventeen Senior Trailblazers carpooled to a British Columbia (Canada), regional park, to hike more than six miles and a bit of up and down in this lovely Canadian regional park. It was sunny and cold when we started out, but we knew in no time we would be getting warm from the sun after a chilly start.

Shaggy Mane trail

From the parking lot, we set out on the Shaggy Mane trail, which we shared with horses, their riders, and their, well, voluminous droppings. It was easy to step around the horse apples, but some were very fresh indeed.

Long early morning shadows

The trail is very wide, and we could walk four abreast at times. Look at how long those shadows are, on the first official day of spring. Far in the distance you can see some of the hikers as I walked faster to get back to the group. I stopped to take a few pictures, which always makes me fall behind.

Lots of sun

You can see one of the corrals where horses and their riders practice jumps. We were too early to see any, but I figured that later on today they will be out there practicing.

Beautiful creatures

Since these riders were wearing hard hats, I surmised that they were some of the participants who will be honing their skills. We stopped and waited for them to pass by before we continued on our own walk.

Lunch

After we had walked most of the Shaggy Mane trail, we stopped where there are picnic tables and bathrooms before finishing the rest of the hike and calling it a day. We didn't have far to go before returning to the parking lot. Some people's devices said we went seven miles, but I only got about six and a half miles on mine. We stopped on the way back, once we crossed the border without incident, at Edaleen Dairy for a bit of their wonderful ice cream. 

Another wonderful time in the outdoors on a sunny, bright spring day with some great friends. Thanks to all who came who helped us enjoy a fabulous day!

:-)