Thursday, July 18, 2024

Solo walk today

Looking up

 Today, one of my usual hiking days, was spent going for a solo walk around Squalicum Harbor, instead of heading up to the High Country with the Senior Trailblazers. It's definitely a sign of my getting older that I had little to no desire to hike in the sunshine today. Both trips were to places with mostly full sun and no shade. This picture was taken on Tuesday, walking back down the logging road. Someone suggested looking up at the trees above us, and I stopped to take a snapshot of the overhead trees.

I feel a little bit sorry that I didn't actually want to go, but I didn't. It makes such a difference for me to have shade and a light breeze. I went for my walk down to the waterfront, and early today it was delightful. But as soon as I moved away from the water (and the breeze), it began to get uncomfortably warm. There was a time when I c\would just push through, but I fear those days are behind me now. That, and I couldn't actually see the point.

On the way back, I stopped at the Senior Center (which isn't air conditioned) and walked into a very full scene, with people sitting and chatting in every corner, and I sat down for a few minutes before leaving. Nobody seemed to mind that it was hot and stuffy; all I wanted was a frosty drink and some place to rest. I wasn't feeling all that exuberant and tried to ignore my lower back, which felt painful for some reason. I would have taken a Tylenol, but I looked inside my pack and found nothing. I'll fix that before my next walk. I went somewhere around five miles, so the day was not a complete loss.

Most people love the summertime and the long hot days. But I am looking forward to the fall, when we will have some cloud cover and shorter days. "Someone" is becoming more sedentary as she ages, it seems. At least for the moment. 


Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Another Fragrance Lake visit

Leann with the tree roots

Today a large group of hiker (once again) set off for a trip into the wonderful wilderness, this time to start at the Lost Lake trailhead and head up to Fragrance Lake. Since there were so many of us, we split into two groups again, with both groups going up to the lake via the trail, and one of the groups making an out-and-back, returning on the trail, while the other group went up the same way but descended on the logging road, a bit longer but quicker, making a loop hike.

Some of my hiking companions

I went with the loop hikers, but although the other group left fifteen minutes before us, we kept running into them. It was an absolutely beautiful day, with temperatures in the low sixties (16°C) with a light breeze, making our uphill climb rather comfortable. I feel so incredibly lucky to have such lovely places to hike, near town, and with great company.

Our trail in light and shadow

We took a side trip up to the viewpoint, having to wait for the first group to leave, and the view was, as usual on days like today, just spectacular.

Looking out at Samish Bay

It's always a treat to see this view, especially a clear day like today. We saw our favorite San Juan islands and took a quick respite before heading back to the uphill climb to the lake.

Boardwalk to the other side of the lake

And just like that, we were at the lake and headed over to the far side, following the path of the previous group. We were almost at our lunch spot, when I saw this picture with Terry in the foreground and the lake reflection in the middle. It's not perfect, but it felt much the same for me as I followed the others.

Terry in profile, lake reflections

We finally found a nice place to have lunch and settled in for a nice break. It's more than a thousand feet of uphill climb to the lake, but once you get there, you know the way back is downhill.

Fragrance Lake, serene and lovely

This was my view as I ate my lunch and enjoyed listening to all the conversations going on around me. We had a perfect day, a perfect spot to enjoy our break, and a wonderful six-mile excursion with some good friends. We ambled back down the logging road and got back a few minutes before the others. It turned out to be a pretty much perfect day in the wilderness. I came home to a frosty cold beer and then some real food. Now I'm looking over at the shower...


Thursday, July 11, 2024

Sauk reminiscences

Trailhead for Sauk Mountain

Today an unknown number of Senior Trailblazers drove the long distance to the Sauk Mountain trailhead. I didn't go, and probably am done hiking this lovely place, since the switchbacks are quite extensive, in full sun, and with my limited vision, I decided I didn't need to go there. So I went back into my old posts and found that I've gone up this trail six times already, the first time in 2009.

Those endless switchbacks

If you look carefully, you can see some hikers on the trail. What I remember most about this hike are the wonderful wildflowers and spectacular views, and these narrow and dusty switchbacks.

The wildflowers are abundant

Most people just hike straight to the high point and skip going down to Sauk Lake, but a couple of times we did go down to the lake. These hikers are on their way down.

Sauk Lake

I don't think today's hikers will go down to the lake. What I remember most about it is that there were lots of biting flies and mosquitos, and it wasn't worth going all the way down there, so I only went that one time. Three daring hikers stripped down and jumped in. Now that would have been pretty nice, I suspect.

The Skagit Valley below

There are so many beautiful things to see that I am sure the hikers today will come back with lots of adventures to share. I look forward to hearing them but am glad that I went instead on a short five-mile flat walk in relatively cool temperatures.

Peekaboo Mt. Baker

This was one of my favorite pictures, and it seems I took it many times, as I perused my old posts and saw it anew each time. And somehow I feel happy to have gone there, been one of the hikers, and happy to simply look back at it from my easy chair today. There are advantages to getting old!


Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Nice walk around town

Looking toward Holly Street

Today the Happy Wanderers broke up into two groups, to keep the size smaller, and to give us Senior Trailblazers an option. Joe took eight people on the road from the Senior Center to Anacortes, to hike around Heart Lake. The other group, led by Barb, set out on foot from the Senior Center to Squalicum Harbor on the last projected day of our latest heat wave.

I split off from the group once we got back onto the bus routes, and I took a bus from Dupont Street to Birchwood Center, cutting off a couple of miles from the hike. By the time I did that, it was quite hot and I just needed to get out of the heat. The bus was delightfully air conditioned, and then I walked the half mile home in relative comfort. It was another great way to spend the morning, and now that it's early afternoon, my thoughts are trending toward that cold beer with my name on it. I still got around five miles on relatively flat ground.


When it started out, it was gloriously comfortable and a light breeze made it perfect, as we headed to the harbor, having lots of time to stop and look around at the scenery, We didn't hurry. When we passed through a bridge, we saw a family of raccoons looking for breakfast.

Checking us out as we peeked at him

I have had some unpleasant moments with these creatures, and I know they are omnivorous and very cunning as well. One ate a pet duck of mine years ago, and although I know this is nature's way, I was upset enough that I give these guys a wide berth. I have to admit this one is cute, though.

Seniors practicing tai chi

On the lawn at the Harbor, we saw a group practicing their tai chi moves. You can also see how dry it's been, since this expanse is usually quite green and lush. I did consider that it would be fun to take this practice up again.  Long ago I was quite proficient at it, but I only remember a few of the opening moves.

From here, we walked to a coffee shop and enjoyed a nice break, with some people ordering iced drinks and others, like me, simply quaffing down a bit of water. The heat has made it hard for me to eat and drink very much. It's important to drink lots of water when it's hot, so I try. But it continues to be a struggle.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Strenuous Fourth of July hike

Mary on today's hike

Today, one of our usual leaders, Barb, suggested an impromptu hike from the Lost Lake trailhead up to Burnout Point and back. Since the Senior Center was closed today, it wasn't official, but fourteen hikers showed up to take advantage of the possibility to get some exercise. I was one, even though I wasn't sure how I would handle around nine miles and lots of uphill on a warm sunny day.

Lookout view of Samish Bay and the islands

I'm not sure exactly how long it took us to get to this point, but I was constantly fighting to stay on the cool side and protecting myself from the sun. Although there were no clouds, it was challenging to find good footing when moving from partial shadow into full sun. I was glad for my new trekking poles, which worked great, and the help of my fellow hikers.

View of Mt Baker and the Sisters

From there, we walked another quarter mile to get to this other viewpoint, which offers a great view of Mt Baker and the Sisters. We stopped here for lunch. There was some shade, not much, but enough for those of us who needed to find a shady spot before pulling out our lunch.

Our "shade" as we ate and chatted

And then it was time to head down the road to return to our starting point. This is a wide loop hike, and the only thing I didn't really enjoy was walking on the gravel road as we made our way back to the trees. We also had some great views as we went.

Daisies, islands, and Samish Bay

I think this is my favorite picture from the day. Although I got lots of pictures of the abundant foxgloves in bloom, they didn't turn out nearly as lovely as what I saw with my own eyes. However, you can see from this picture what a beautiful place we walked through.

Today's hikers

We did find a passerby who was willing to take a picture of the group. Although the sun was shining brightly, I don't think the temperature reached much beyond 70°F (21°C). However, I was very happy with any shade we had on the logging road, since it allowed me to enjoy a slight breeze as well. 

Can you see the foxgloves?

Like I said, none of the pictures showed the beautiful proliferation of foxgloves, but they were there in pink, white, and lavender profusion. Once we got back down to the trees, we descended enough along the logging road, and then we were on our way back to our starting point, making a loop hike of around nine miles and more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. Quite a bit of loveliness indeed.

Once I got home, I immediately took a shower and changed into non-sweaty clothes, and pulled out my well-earned cold beer and quaffed it before getting some food. Now I am sitting here, not looking forward to all the loud noises to come from the fireworks displays my neighbors can't help but deliver. In any event, I should sleep well tonight! It was a really fine day, and I am happy to be able still to do stuff like this.


Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Going rogue again

Helen, one of the Rogue-Ettes

 Today's ferry trip and hikes on Lummi Island ended up with an amazing number of people wanting to go. We were still seeing people show up at the Senior Center when others were heading off to the ferry. One of the old timers, Joe, suggested that anybody who might want to join a smaller group on a short hike around town could join him. I did, and Helen (pictured above) also went, along with three people I hadn't met before: Jerry, Mary, and Jennifer.  We left the others to their own devices while we drove to the Two Dollar trailhead to make a trip to Fragrance Lake and around.

View of Samish Bay from the Two Dollar Trail

It was a gorgeous, glorious day, with the six of us making small talk and leaving the stress of politics behind. I myself was glad to be with a smaller group, and having had the fun of charting a different course, I couldn't be happier with the way the day turned out. 

We saw these little leaves everywhere

At first, we thought this might be an anomaly, but all the way up to the lake, we saw plenty of salal leaves smiling at us, like this one. We speculated that there might have been a class of students who decided to have some fun and give their fellow hikers something to puzzle over. We saw literally hundreds of them.

Fragrance Lake

We finally made it to the lake, which was serene and delightful. After we walked around the lake, we then headed partway down the circumference of the lake to find a nice place to stop for lunch. It turned out to be close to this spot, where we speculated about whether anybody might actually try to walk out on this log. Nobody did.

Our lunch spot

Jerry, standing, and Mary, sitting next to me, joined the rest of us for a quick early lunch. You might notice that one of those salal leaves is on my left leg, thanks to Helen. And I have yet another new hat, out for its maiden voyage. It's cool and has a definite "Handmaid's Tale" vibe. I'll be getting plenty of use out of it this summer, I hope.

Mushrooms on the trail

It was interesting to see that there were mushrooms growing, even though we've had little rain lately. I love to see our beautiful countryside, especially when much of the country is baking while we are enjoying delightful cool breezes and temperate weather. There is warmer weather on the horizon, but compared to everyone else, I'm happy to have this.

Lots of green, lovely hikers, some Ocean Spray

I asked for one final picture before we returned to the cars and ended our hike. We went around five easy miles, climbed around 900 feet, and therefore got a fun hike with an early finish. I suspect that the other group is still out there, and I do hope they have a great day, but I'm thrilled that I went rogue with these guys.


Thursday, June 27, 2024

Fort Ebey State Park

Some of the Trailblazers on today's hike

 Our leader today, Joe, took twelve Senior Trailblazers on a wonderful journey down to Whidbey Island and all the way to Fort Ebey State Park. I had never been there before, although I had gone to Ebey's Landing in the same general vicinity. We almost didn't go because the weather looked iffy, but often when it's raining in Bellingham, it's dry or almost dry on Whidbey Island. It's a long trip, but it was worth it.

Trails were signed and similar to this one

There were many different routes we could have taken, but Joe mapped out one he felt would give us a good idea of the park, covering somewhere around seven miles of terrain. It was a wide loop hike, starting on this type of trail, and then taking us on a cliff walk above the ocean, before we headed back to our starting point.

Indian Pipe or Ghost Pipe

One sharp-eyed hiker saw this Indian Pipe plant, which I've seen before, but it's so eerie looking and unusual that I had to share it with you. Indian Pipe is a parasitic plant that lacks chlorophyll, so it is unable to obtain energy from sunlight as most plants do. It is one of an estimated 3,000 species of non-photosynthetic flowering plants (from Adirondacks Nature.)

Our lunch spot (also known as Nirvana)

After lunch, we began the second part of our hike, where we headed toward the beach. Joe showed us on a map where we were and how far we had come.

Joe showing where we started

I could see that we were headed for the bay, south of his pointer, before we would head back to our cars. By this time, we had covered a good bit of mileage, but we still had more to come.

There it was, the beach

Finally, we got several good views of the beach below us, and a stiff breeze off the water made me don my jacket once again. We walked along the cliff side, protected from falling by lots of barriers. And then into history!

Fort Ebey 

Fort Ebey was built on Partridge Point in 1942 as a World War II coastal defense near the mouth of Puget Sound. The fort was named for Isaac Neff Ebey, a pioneering homesteader on Whidbey Island. The fort included a battery of two 6-inch guns. We all went inside, where if we hadn't had a few overhead lights, nothing would have been visible at all in a pitch-black scary, dank environment. But we all managed just fine, including me (thanks to Don's sturdy arm). When we emerged from the Fort, we all watched a paraglider try to get his canopy off the ground.

A paraglider playing with the wind

He did get airborne a few times, but I was glad when I watched him collapse the wing before he got too high off the ground. And then we hiked back to our cars, happy to have covered at least seven-ish miles, and stayed not only dry, but enjoyed a great outing, thanks to Joe's leadership. 


Thursday, June 20, 2024

Summer is here

Mt Baker from the Chain Lakes loop

I didn't go on the hike today to Noisy Creek today. It's a very long drive, one of the longest that we make (75 miles one way) and then the hike itself is more than ten miles long. You start early and don't get back until very late.  I suspect I'm done with that sort of hike. It's not like I haven't done it many times, but I was younger back then.

I'm hoping I will be able to navigate hikes like the Chain Lakes loop, since it's only six miles (but a long-ish drive) and much more doable. I've enjoyed almost every one of the Chain Lakes hikes I've ever done. It's always wonderful to experience the beautiful wilderness that surrounds us, but as I've gotten older, I notice that I do much better when it's cloudy and cool. When I took this picture, I had really suffered going up Herman Saddle in the full sun, but by the time I got to where I took this shot, I had recovered somewhat. I'm just glad I can still do them at all, at my advanced age.

Steve pointing out our destination

This picture was taken most exactly ten years ago, and I cherish it, as I look at those who are gone. Steve died a couple of years ago, and the man at the very back (Richard) also died since we took this hike to Yellow Aster Butte in 2014. That is one drawback to hiking with the Seniors: sometimes we don't have unlimited decades ahead, but in a way it makes it so much more precious and poignant. I know that those seniors who traveled all the way to Noisy Creek today and spent the entire day together will cherish the memories they will create.

I was at the acupuncturist's office when I realized that we had just moved from spring to summer. Today is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year, and now we will start slowly moving towards fall, when the days and nights will be equal again. Some places in the country are already sweltering, but we will make it to the high seventies (25°C) and enjoy just about perfect weather. No clouds out there, but they will return soon, I hope!


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Red River walk/potluck

Our road walk condition today

Today 21 Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center and headed to the Silver Reef Casino parking lot in Ferndale. We were met by Kim, one of our hikers, who led us on a lovely walk through farmlands, along the South River Road going out, and then returning via the North River Road. It's all open, and we had a light breeze and quite cool weather to make the six-mile walk very comfortable. 

See the big eagle in the tree?

We chatted as we walked, saw lots of wildflowers growing along the sides of the road, and the occasional raptor overhead. One alert hiker saw this mature eagle in a tree, and we all stopped long enough to get a good picture. There were also many little ducklings following along their mother in the river, but try as I might, none of my pictures showed the event properly. I suspect that the eagle might have been eyeing lunch as we watched them paddle by. So many little ones just don't make it very long which is why, I guess, there are such large broods. 

Large estuary that separates the two river roads

Finally we turned back north and began our walk back to the casino, where we had left our cars. There was intermittent sky between the clouds, but we never did have totally clear skies.

Heading back to the casino

Most of us are not so accustomed to an entire walk along flat roads, and by the time we finished, many of us were complaining about hips, knees, and sore feet. However, we climbed into our cars and drove to the lovely home of Terry, one of our regular hikers, who hosted a potluck for us after the hike. She lives right on Gooseberry Point, and we enjoyed a potluck filled with good food, desserts, and Terry provided delicious coffee for those who wanted it.

Setting up for a feast

We had so much good food, and I truly enjoyed everything I sampled. We seem to be getting in the habit of eating after these Tuesday outings, but this was just the best food anywhere: lots of salads, bread, and of course desserts. I had two helpings of Kim's trifle, with layers of sponge cake, fruit, custard, and whipped cream. You can see it in the middle of the table, off center to the left. Yum!

And now I am home, happy to have had such a great walk with friends. I think I will be skipping the Thursday hike, as it's quite long and a good distance away to boot. And I've done it many times before. I'll find a good substitute, I hope.


Thursday, June 13, 2024

Visit by a pesky bug

Wild garden

Across the street from my apartment complex is a lovely wild garden, which always looks beautiful during the month of June. I was walking home from the bus today when I saw these pretty flowers showing off. Since I am not hiking today, I took this to grace the top of my post.

I had such a good time on Tuesday, but I thought I was feeling a bit more tired than I should have been, and then wondered if I was imagining it, or was my throat feeling a little scratchy? In the middle of the night, I woke with a very sore throat, no imagining it at all. I sent a text to my acupuncturist to reschedule my appointment for yesterday, no point in spreading something to others.

Today my throat is somewhat better, but nowhere near normal. I did a couple of Covid tests and both came up negative. I also have an upset stomach, no appetite and loose bowels, so whatever it is that I caught might not be Covid but is probably contagious. When I went to bed last night, I had decided that I wouldn't be going on the hike with the Senior Trailblazers today. In any event, I did feel much better when I woke this morning, so I did my exercises, walked the half-mile to the bus stop, and went off to the coffee shop. I just needed to do something other than lie around all day. 

But when I got there, having expended a minimal amount of energy, I knew I was still suffering from whatever this bug is. I stayed masked except when I took a sip or two, and then I visited the bathroom before taking a bus back home. My plan when I set out was to do my usual three-mile walk home, but I truly didn't feel up to it. I now have just over 5,000 steps for the day, and that will have to do. Still not much appetite, but I did enjoy a salad for lunch. I couldn't tell whether I was feeling hungry or not, but it stayed down and hasn't triggered any bathroom shenanigans. 

So, I am betwixt and between, it seems: not really sick but not really well, either. I don't have a fever, no runny nose, just tired and a very sore throat. I'm up to date with all my shots, so it's possible I'm having something that isn't too bad because of a vaccine. Who knows? I will keep a low profile for the rest of the day, and will look forward to hearing about what I missed out on. 

The second eye jab (this time in the left eye) on Monday was not as bad as the first, but there's no way I can pretend that it's not a wee bit traumatic to have a long needle stuck in one's eye. If it does the trick and slows the atrophy so that I can continue to read and write, I will be very, very happy indeed. Time will tell.


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Sculpture Garden at WWU


Jeanette and Don in front of sculpture

Today twelve Senior Trailblazers set out from the Senior Center to
 take our time walking through many of the wonderful outdoor (and some indoor) sculptures on the Western Washington University campus. We drove to the Sehome parking lot and then made our way up a steep slope to the main campus, where our leader, Barb, took us to see many of the fine pieces for us to enjoy. I'm sorry I didn't get any more information about this opening sculpture, and I've already had some difficulty in locating others, which I present here.

by James FitzGerald

This sculpture was created to "honor those who served their country in World War II." The softly flowing water creates a gentle background to the stark feeling of the bronze sculpture's essence. "Rain Forest was Western’s first public sculpture and FitzGerald’s first bronze fountain. Evoking the rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula, the vertical structure, with its bark-like pattern, suggests a stand of trees above the horizontal element of a fallen trunk" (2020 Sculpture Brochure).

Wade King

Entering one of the numerous buildings on WWU's campus, I saw this statue of a young boy in baseball uniform. I learned that it is a likeness of Wade King, one of the two 10-year-old boys who was killed by a pipeline explosion in Whatcom Falls Park 25 years ago yesterday. That link will tell you about how it happened and all the ramifications of that awful event. Three young people were killed and dozens more injured, in an accident that didn't need to happen.

Me and Persis standing in the stone rings

 Next I discovered this round stone ring, with twelve different round windows, created by Nancy Holt, who saw this creation from start to finish in the late 1970s. You can read all about it here. It's an amazing place to ponder and enjoy at any time of the year.

Do Ho Suh's creation, Cause and Effect

We walked inside another building and up some stairs to see this incredible "volcano" made up of tiny people! The story of this is rather interesting:

Individuals coming together as a group is a topic of great importance in Suh’s work. Here we see thousands of figures stacked atop one another in an ominous formation of a tornado. But the work also has a positive implication. In Suh’s words, “It is more about interdependency, a hope for human understanding, where things coexist.” (2020 Sculpture Brochure)

There were so many wonderful pieces and places, I couldn't even begin to get it all into this post. I'm running out of steam, too, so I'll close with this incredible piece by Alice Aycock, that she created in 1987 and that currently graces a lawn on WWU:

The Islands of the Rose Apple Tree Surrounded
by the Oceans of the World

When I first saw it, I ghout it looked like a spaceship, but then I saw many symbols that feel quite Native American. Here's what the brochure says about it: 

In her sculpture, Aycock translates a cosmological  diagram of the Indian Jain religion into a three-dimensional concrete form with flowing water. Here we see the middle world (the domain of humans, animals and plants) in a bird’s eye view, with its mountains, lakes, rivers and islands surrounding the sacred Mount Meru.

Whew! There was so much more, but I think I've done more than I intended. And now it's time for me to finish all this and continue on with what's left of my day. After having enjoyed Taco Tuesday with some of my fellow travelers, I headed home to write this post and catch up on the news. Hope you are having a great day, too!