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.


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!


Thursday, March 14, 2024

Heart Lake to Sugarloaf

Today's Relaxed Trailblazers

There were only six of us today, on a beautiful sunny day, making the drive to Anacortes (a 45-minute trip) for a visit to Sugarloaf Mountain from Heart Lake. I've done this many times, usually all the way to the top of Mt Erie as well, but since this is the "relaxed" group, we only navigated around six miles and around a thousand+ feet up and down.

Heart Lake through the trees

We circumnavigated Heart Lake before heading up to Sugarloaf. I have never before done this route through the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL). I was happy to be out and enjoying the delightful weather and basically well-maintained trails. Without Owen and his map to guide us, we would have been lost in no time.

Signs well camouflaged

Owen stopped ofen to check his map with the numbers on the signs, to make sure we didn't make any wrong turns. (We did have to backtrack a short distance once.) It was mostly gentle ups and downs until we started our climb to Sugarloaf, which was very steep and seemed like it went on forever. It only seemed that way.

Magnificent old cedar tree

On the way, we encountered many beautiful old trees like this one. Don stood in front to give you an idea of its size. As we hiked, the sun made its way through the forest and onto the trail. Hiking uphill and having sun made us finally able to shed some of our clothing.

The view from Sugarloaf

You can see some of the San Juan islands from Sugarloaf. It is a really beautiful place to visit. We stopped here for almost an hour to enjoy a leisurely lunch before heading back. Owen took us back on a different route than the one we took as we ascended. We were able to look out at the view as we ate our lunch, and this was pretty spectacular. I asked Don for a picture of me to cap off the day's enjoyment, and he obliged.

Me on Sugarloaf

Now that I am home, after having had such a good day, I can kick back in my easy chair and take it nice and slow for the rest of the day. Thanks to everyone who helped make today such a success!


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Soggy but satisfying

Today's walk started out wet

Twelve Senior Trailblazers set out from the Senior Center this morning to walk to Irongate and back, giving us almost seven miles to cover. It was relatively flat, and rainy to begin with, but it got much drier after awhile. That's our leader Barb in the center, in the pink poncho getup. We decided to forgo our scheduled trip to Canada, because we could turn around at any time if the weather deteriorated. It did get much better, though, as we walked through Cornwall Park and city streets.

Yes, it was soggy but we still had fun

The most colorful things we saw on today's hike were our outfits. I liked seeing Persis in her day-glo yellow and Barb in pink, making for an early Easter scene. Lots of red, too. It did stop raining finally, and we even saw a ray of sun now and then as we made our way back to the Senior Center.

Pretty daffodils

There are signs everywhere of spring on the way, such as these daffodils in a yard we passed by. And flowering trees look to be beautiful and profuse in another week, or two at the latest.

Taco Tuesday

After it was all over, some of us decided to head to a local taco restaurant, which features $1- and $1.50 dollar tacos. Don took this picture of us chowing down. I didn't go last month on a similar outing, but trust me, I won't make that mistake again. They were delicious and cheap, and a good way for us to enjoy each other's company for a bit longer. Another fine way to spend a less-than-perfect weather day. 


Thursday, March 7, 2024

Madrone Crest from Chuckanut

Huckleberry viewpoint

 I never know how to pronounce the name of this hike. Some people always go with "Madrona" rather than the way it's spelled, "Madrone." In any event, eight of us Senior Trailblazers started out at the North Chuckanut trailhead and went up the Hemlock trail until we got to the turnoff for Huckleberry Point. Although we had a bit of snow two days ago, the higher we climbed, the more snow we ran into, even today. It was still quite cool, but the skies were almost completely clear, meaning overnight it turned cold.

Persis and Kim on the trail

As usual, Persis was hiking in her skirt, with long woolies underneath to help keep her warm. We hiked the entire length of the Huckleberry trail, and then joined the Salal trail that would take us to Madrone Crest.

On our way, enjoying the white stuff

As we climbed, it got snowier and more slow going, but the main trail was pretty clear, as you can see here. We meandered upwards until we got to the Crest.

Our lunch spot

We were happy to sit for awhile and have a nice lunch, considering that there was no wind and plenty of places to sit and enjoy a break from hiking. We had a little sun now and then, but with all the snow it was never exactly warm.  In that container in John's hand, he had chocolate-covered blueberries and tasty cookies, which I availed myself of. Most of us tried the blueberries, which are incredibly addictive!

Sterling and rider

We ran into a horse and rider on our way back. I didn't notice if it's a girl or a boy, but the rider is definitely female. She showed us that Sterling was wearing what looked like leather boots, which she said gives the horse more grip and comfort than regular shoes. She even had spikes if needed to add to the leather "sandals." A beautiful horse and very friendly, too. Beth had made the comment earlier that she had never seen any horses on these trails, and just like magic, Sterling appeared.

Snow decorations

We do live in a beautiful part of the country, and we are so lucky to have places within a short distance to hike in during the winter months. We go up to the High Country during the summer, but there's something awfully nice about just getting in our cars and being a short drive away from home, rather than more than an hour's drive each way.

Beth at trail junctions

Our leader today, Beth, took us up the Huckleberry trail and back down via the Salal and Lower Salal to our parking lot. We covered somewhere around seven and eight miles in total, and around 1,700 feet up and down. Not an easy hike, but certainly doable for all of us today. Since I was hurting last Tuesday from an easier hike, I took some ibuprofen before starting today, and it turned out just fine. I feel like I could go even farther if necessary. But I'm certainly glad to be sitting in a comfy chair right now, with my feet up, with nowhere I need to go. Satisfied and happy for the moment, with a smile and a glass of wine to enjoy.


Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Fairhaven to Teddy Bear Cove

Pat on the Interurban trail

 Although it's kind of hard to see in this picture, all those branches are covered with frost as we began our hike today. (It's just regular hoarfrost.) When I woke to cold temperatures this morning, I knew I'd need to bundle up for the day's Happy Wanderers hike. Only twelve of us ventured out; yesterday we had about an inch of snow and today it was clear and, for us, quite cold (26°F). But the crisp air and sun made it feel warmer. We started from the Fairhaven tennis courts and went through the Hundred Acre Woods that brought us to the Interurban. Our final destination would be to Teddy Bear Cove.

Hair ice

Someone spied a bit of hair ice on a piece of wood. I've seen this before and know it's pretty rare and only appears after it's been really wet, saturating the forest and then turning cold. It's apparently caused by a fungus, which allows the moisture to extrude from the wood and stay in hair-like form for an extended period. It's also called ice wool or frost beard. The link will tell you all you might want to know about this pretty ice form.

Bridge opened once again

This bridge was felled by a tree falling across it three years ago, and it took them that long to rebuild it and open it once again to hikers. We went up the trail on the other side until we reached the Interurban trail again. From there, we made our way to Teddy Bear Cove. We crossed the Chuckanut Highway to reach it. The Cove was once known as a nude beach, but never formally acknowledged. I found this information online:

Historically, Teddy Bear Cove was once known as the area’s nude beach. Although never officially designated as such, you are now more likely to see families and college students appreciating the calm waters and spectacular views. 

Michael, one of the hikers

This sign is at the beginning of the short trip to the beach. Although it's not far, under a quarter of a mile, it's steep and I found it intimidating. Michael was very helpful to me and allowed me to hold onto his arm as I went down steps that had no railing. I only whined a little.

At the beach

Nobody was willing to take off their clothes and brave the cold water, but we would not have been the first to do so, according to the folklore that surrounds the Cove.

Teddy Bear Cove

It was quite a wonderful way to spend a sunny day in the winter. We ended up going somewhere around six miles in total, with an elevation gain around 1,000 feet in all. (I'm just guessing at the total, but from the way my hips felt, I'd guess that was about right.) I am quite happy to be home, looking out at the sunshine, and glad to have been part of the day's Senior Trailblazers excursion.