Thursday, February 29, 2024

Unexpectedly nice

Today's group of six (I took the picture)

The Relaxed Group of Senior Trailblazers were scheduled to drive to Anacortes to have a nice walk along the water, but since the forecast was for more rain, we decided instead to keep it close to home. Our leader, Owen (second from left), suggested that we go to Lake Padden and tackle the back trails, so that's what we did. I have to say that, although it was rather cold, the rain never materialized. We had more than an inch overnight, however, and it was muddy and even a little slippery. Fortunately for me, I didn't fall face first into the mud so for me it was a good day.

Indian plum beginning to bloom!

Today is Leap Day, that day which only comes around once every four years. That means tomorrow is the first day of March (rather than today), and I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see that the buds are coming out on bushes, and that even some early trees are in bloom. A week from Sunday we will change back to Dayight Saving Time, until such time in the future when we will dispense with this silly tradition. Not this year, unfortunately, but time will instead be bringing us plenty of smiles as we watch the arrival of spring.

Can you find the heron?

We walked up the gorge, and the first thing we saw was a heron in a tree. If you follow that diagonal branch from the lower left upwards, you'll see our friend. The gorge leads to a particular spot, which is the place where people over the years have left little offerings of shells, mementos for those who have left us, and various trinkets for others to enjoy. I saw this old typewriter and various additions, which reminded me of when I first learned to type. It was on a similar contraption.

Wonder if it still works

The typewriter is well protected by a tiger and a magic rock, so I wouldn't worry about it. But it sure did bring back memories. When you learned on one of these things, your fingers had to get strong enough to strike the keys with symmetry, or you'd leave the little fingers unable to add their letters to words properly. Once I gradulated to an electric typewriter, my fingers no longer needed strength and it took no time at all for me to "forget" how to type on one of these things.

Lake Padden

We then walked back to the trail around the lake, and the heron was still there in the tree, I suppose still waiting for breakfast to show up. We walked the long way around, and although we only went four miles in total, it was a very good day. By the time we got to the lake, we even  had little peeks of sunshine brightening our day. We decided to call it a day, and Owen invited us to his home for some coffee before we returned to the Senior Center. 

The sun didn't stick around for long, and we are supposed to get more rain, but it sure was nice for it to give us such a wonderful outing, so we are all happy and content.


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Neighborhood walk

Little Squalicum Beach 

I joined the Senior Trailblazers on a walk that covers part of my own usual daily walk. Thirteen of us gathered at the parking lot in Cornwall Park, just down the street from the Rose Garden (that I pass every day that when I walk home from the coffee shop). We then mandered around the park for awhile, before crossing a busy street and heading off for Little Squalicum Park. 

We were originally scheduled to travel across the border into Canada, but because the temperature was quite chilly with snow possible overnight, Barb, our leader, decided instead to keep it local. Everyone was looking pretty puffy in their down jackets, including me. I was happy because I know the area well, and even if we got caught in snow, it would be easy for me to get back home. Although it snowed in areas nearby, we only had a covering of graupel on the lawns and streets. What is graupel, you ask? Well, according to NOAA,
Graupel are soft, small pellets formed when supercooled water droplets (at a temperature below 32°F) freeze onto a snow crystal, a process called riming. If the riming is particularly intense, the rimed snow crystal can grow to an appreciable size, but remain less than 0.2 inches.

It looks like little pellets of ice and vaguely like hail, but smaller. When I set out of the house this morning, I was unsure whether it was safe to drive, because it was pretty thick. So, I took the bus to the coffee shop and walked to the Senior Center to join the others and carpooled. 

The sun came out in full force, however, and the skies (as you can see in the picture) were mostly clear, nothing like I thought we'd have today. Nobody was unhappy about having chosen to stay local, though. We covered somewhere around five miles, I think, but I left a little early and made my way back home before they re-entered the park. I saw plenty of fat buds on bushes and the occasional tree coming into early blossom, but my pictures weren't all that good; it seems many of them had my shadow right in the middle, ruining the scene. I should pay more attention to things like that.

At least I remembered to post something today. Now that I've gotten my exercise and a good lunch, I think I'll rummage around in some of the books I've downloaded and find something to enjoy. It's also my guy's birthday today, but he doesn't want anything special, he tells me. We all have those inconvenient reminders of the continuing passage of time, whether we do anything to commemorate the event or not. I am wishing him a very happy birthday and fabulous year ahead!


Thursday, February 22, 2024

Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve

The Six (and me who took the picture)

Seven Senior Trailblazers with Group 2 went to the Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve this morning to hike the Rufus Creek trail, mostly. Our leader, Beth, is at the map in this picture, pointing out our options. 

"We'll go this way up and another way down"

But first, we took a short side trail to the Waterfall, which is quite full at the moment, and very pretty indeed. This is not far from the parking lot where we started, and it was worth a look before starting our uphill climb.

A mile-long loop from the main trail

It had plenty of water in it, and after we gazed at it for awhile, we returned to the Rufus trail to head up to the Overlook. The weather was better than forecast, with just a few sprinkles and then a little sunshine.

Plenty of good signage

I have to say that it felt a lot longer going up the trail for around a thousand feet of elevation gain. I'm not sure whether knowing it's "only" another mile and a half is a good thing, because it seemed twice as far to me. But it was probably right; knowing the distance always makes me pay closer attention to how I'm feeling. 

Sunshine peeking through the trees

Although it wasn't all that hard of a hike, I did struggle a bit until we got to the viewpoint, which was 3.5 miles from the start of our hike. It seemed like more, but maybe that is because I didn't go out much last week and at my age, it takes hardly any time at all to lose momentum. 

Not much of a view any more

We got to the bench and made ourselves comfy for a nice lunch. We had an interesting conversation about the best way to make a PB&J sandwich. I learned several new techniques and learned that every method has an upside. And then we went back down to the parking lot, taking the Laila June trail instead of the Rufus to return. I think it might be a bit shorter, but we ended up showing around eight miles on our trackers. And we did have fun, too. Another great day with the Trailblazers!

Oh, and I apologize to anyone who was anxiously awaiting my Tuesday post. I forgot, pure and simple. There'll be more of these oopsies in my future, I think. Once to get to a certain age, it's expected!


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Took the day off

Snow from years past

Today I didn't feel like going on either hike scheduled with the Senior Trailblazers. They were both harder than what I felt like doing, so I decided instead to just walk from the coffee shop to Fairhaven, by myself. In my old pictures, I found this one that actually has some snow in it, coming down from the sky. It was almost exactly ten years ago that I took this picture and have no recollection of how I got that snow effect, if you can even see it.

"In Loving Memory of Henry Howard King"

Along Boulevard Park, I saw that there is now a permanent memorial bench for a homeless man who used to sit in this spot. He was murdered a year ago, and I only knew about it because of all the flowers that people had put in this area, with a picture of him and a short bio. Apparently he traded baseball cards for spare change, and he was gentle and peaceful. Whoever killed him sure did earn some bad karma for themselves. Many caring people decided to put up this memorial bench, and now here it is for all of us to enjoy. Godspeed, Henry.

I finally received that picture of our Tuesday hike, all the Senior Trailblazers who joined us on our trip to Samish Overlook on a lovely day. I am second from the left, taken by a kindly stranger. I sure think we have a lot of good people around here, people who are happy to help out when someone asks. And even put up memorial benches for homeless strangers. A nice place to live, indeed.

Happy Wanderers Feb 13 2024


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Samish Overlook from Upper Trailhead

Waterfall from bridge

I've taken this picture many times before, and always the amount of water varies considerably. Since we just received an inch of rain two days ago, it's pretty full at the moment. You could hear it long before we could see it. Lovely!

Our forest on the trail

It was not an especially challenging hike, which is expected on Tuesdays with the Happy Wanderers, so there were 22 hikers starting from Blanchard Mountain's Upper Trailhead parking lot. We hiked upwards to the junction that would take us to Samish Overlook, rather than hiking up the much harder and longer one to Lily Lake along the same trail. The junction took us to the Larry Reed Trail, and then to Samish Overlook.

Samish Overlook

We couldn't have asked for a nicer day for this hike. The early morning clouds cleared off, and we had plentiful sunshine as we enjoyed this wonderful place. We stopped here for lunch and conversation before returning back the way we had come.

Cindy and Donna on the Larry Reed trail

Sometimes when I look at my fellow hikers, I realize we do personify healthy and vibrant seniors. Neither of these ladies look old enough to be classified as elderly, in my opinion. Of course, neither of them is an octogenarian, although there were plenty in attendance today, not just me.

Mossy log, ferns, and hikers

This picture shows what a beautiful place we live in. And you can see the sunshine on the trail, the happy hikers (or should I say happy wanderers) as we approached the end of our 6.5-mile hike.

I was hoping to get a picture of the entire group from our leader, Barb, so I waited a good while before starting this post, hoping she would post her own pictures first. Then I decided that, what the heck, if there is a picture of us, good, but I needed to make sure I got my post up before I lose the day's momentum.

Another good day in the Pacific Northwest's beautiful forests. Hopefully your day has brought you as much joy as I received from mine. We are certainly lucky to be as incredibly blessed as we are. Sending you love from my heart to yours on Valentine's Eve.


Thursday, February 8, 2024

Stuart Island

Taken from inside the teacherage

Yesterday, eleven of us Senior Trailblazers took a trip with Island Opportunities water taxi again, this time to Stuart Island, the farthest from Bellingham Bay. It was a fine day, high overcast but no rain, a little on the cold side, but the taxi has a nice heater that kept us quite comfy on the way. I was enjoying watching the waves when everyone jumped up to see the whales!

What a beautiful creature! (Terry's picture)

We saw this large Orca to our right, and on the left was a pod of female Orcas. The skipper said these are not local whales, but a migratory pod, which are much larger than the local ones. The skipper did not want to move between them, so he went out to the open waters and we continued on our way to Stuart Island. Nevertheless, it was really exciting to see these magnificent wild creatures up close.

Arriving at Reid Harbor at Stuart Island

Our crew members left us here at Reid Harbor, where we made our way up to the trail that leads to the road that we would follow to the old schoolhouse and teacherage, and then to Turn Point Lighthouse. We walked a good distance while we were out, somewhere around seven+ to eight miles altogether. And not much of it was flat, either.

Huge madrone tree

We walked on until we came upon the old schoolhouse and teacherage (sort of like a parsonage for teachers).

Teacherage on the left, schoolhouse on the right

Both of these buildings are open to the public, and you could purchase books or pamphlets by leaving some money in a little box. I took some pictures while inside, but didn't buy anything myself. The school is closed because eventually all the children grew up and because it's mostly all privately owned land, there are no longer any students. We walked farther, finally reaching the Turn Point Lighthouse.

Turn Point Lighthouse

From here, you have a magnificent view of the entire surrounding islands, with amazing vistas out across the water. We stretched out on the green grass and had lunch here. We saw two big container ships pass through this area, as well as some seals that either wanted to play or have something to eat.

Got anything to eat?

We were serenaded with lots of grunts and roars from these fellas, before they finally gave up and went elsewhere, looking for food. You don't realize how big these guys are from just seeing their snouts peeking up from the water. We did, however, early on seeing lots of them lounging around on cliffs. We also moulton sheep, yaks, deer, and eagles everywhere. It was wonderful to be so far from civilization where you don't hear anything but the sound of nature.

Lighthouse behind us

When we returned  back to Reid Harbor, there was our trusty water chariot waiting to take us back to Bellingham Bay. Before then, however, we were treated to a scene of the lighthouse from the water, with all of us together again, tired and happy to have had such a wonderful day on Stuart Island. I am tired enough today that I didn't even go for my usual walk and am having a well-earned day of rest.


Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Padden Gorge

A long line of hikers

 As usually happens on Tuesdays when the Happy Wanderers head out for a hike, many seniors showed up. Today there were 26 of us, starting out at 23rd Street in Fairhaven, walking along the road a bit before crossing under the freeway and starting up the trail to Padden Gorge. I had not approached Lake Padden from this direction  before, and after a short distance up the trail, we encountered the little makeshift memorial spot, where people leave rocks and other mementos. I had seen it before, when walking around the lake and taking a side trail, but it surprised me to approach it from this direction. It was raining lightly, not too bad, but you can see from the way we are dressed that we were ready for it.

Familiar Lake Padden

And then there we were, at familiar old Lake Padden. We circumnavigated the lake, giving us 2.6 miles to add to the rest of our walk. By the time we reached it, the rain had pretty much stopped and gave us a few stray rays of sunshine. Altogether we walked a good six miles or so. We did have to wait a couple of times for the stragglers, but we mostly stayed together and had a very nice outing. Thanks, Barb, once again for giving us an interesting twist on an old favorite.


Thursday, February 1, 2024

Two Dollar Trail to Burnout Point

John and Cindy, half of our group today

Many of our usual Thursday hikers were either otherwise occupied, or joined the other group, so there were only four of us today, hiking from the Two Dollar Trail to Burnout Point and back. I'm sitting here all scrubbed clean from the day's efforts, and enjoying a well-earned glass of wine. 

Waterfall on the $2

Most of the time when I see this waterfall, it's scarcely flowing, but not today, with help from our atmospheric rivers which has given is plenty of precipitation lately. I was also taken with that tree, hanging out on that rock, looking precarious. I'll keep an eye on it next time I'm in the area.

Fragrance Lake

Then we reached Fragrance Lake, on our way past it to travel on a trail that took us up to Burnout Point. We followed this to our destination.

South Lost Lake trail

We didn't actually go to Lost Lake, instead taking a side trail that would take us to Burnout. I really don't know the origin of the name, but I suspect it had something to do with a fire. We sure do get a great view of the Salish Sea and the San Juan islands from here.

View from top of Burnout

We were tired and getting ready for a bit of lunch, but we went a little farther to another lookout, where the clouds kept us from much view at all. So, instead, I asked for a selfie!

John, me, Cindy, Barb (our leader)

As you can see, the weather was pretty good, even if clouds obscured some of the view. The wind came in not long after this was taken, so some of us donned more clothes while we enjoyed our lunch.

Olga looking around at the view

I pulled Olga out from my backpack so she could take a look around. Her friend and mentor Helen (who gifted Olga to me) is in Hawaii, so here's a quick hello for her from our beautiful Pacific Northwest mountains.

Cindy on the trail

We were on our way back to the Two Dollar trail when I captured this picture of Cindy. The entire trip took us more than four hours, and we covered almost nine miles and close to 2,000 feet elevation and loss before we got back to the cars. It was another beautiful day with moderate temperatures and surprisingly little rain. And I am feeling happy and glad to be alive, living here during this winter season.