Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Waterfront hike

Roaring Whatcom Creek

Today thirteen Happy Wanderers Senior Trailblazers followed our neophyte leader, Ina, through Maritime Heritage Park to Squalicum Harbor to visit some of the wonders we have right here in our beautiful town of Bellingham. 
Located on the traditional lands of the Lummi and Nooksack People, Whatcom Creek gets its name from the word for “noisy, rumbling water” in both peoples’ languages. From 1852 to 1885, the Roeder-Peabody Mill operated at the present-day park site — and the ruins of its concrete foundations still stand on the creek bed. Maritime Heritage Park started in 1978 when its fish hatchery restored the area from a sewage treatment plant and industrial waste site.

Although I've lived here for many years, and have enjoyed walking through the park and visiting the harbor, today I learned quite a bit about the area that I didn't know. We visited the Marine Life Center, which I have passed by many times, but today we went inside for a quick tour and to see the many aquariums they have with several different fish. Signs everywhere warn not to put one's hands in the water, as there are many critters who might take a quick bite. I saw several new (to me) fish, like the potato head (wrymouth) that sat in the water, seeming to study the people, with an occasional "grin" showing its teeth. And lots of other ones that were fun to see and be glad I wasn't stick MY fingers anywhere near them.

Afterwards, we meandered, living up to our Happy Wanderers title, and then made our way back towards the Senior Center. We ended up walking around five to six miles. I left early, skipping the fish hatchery, when I got close to Holly Street where I could catch a bus that would take me close to home. I did have a great time and got to talk with several different hikers as we wandered. I confess that I found it difficult to stroll, rather than hike, and my feet got very tired. But it was worth it, and Ina had a very successful first excursion. I look forward to many more!


Thursday, April 25, 2024

They went out but I stayed home

Driveway lilacs

When I headed out to the coffee shop this morning, I was all ready to hike with the other Senior Trailblazers, but it was raining. Hard. And by the time I went out to join the others at the Senior Center, it was still raining. So, I just decided to call it at day and head off first to do some shopping I'd been putting off, and then staying home and playing some games on my computer, all New York Times stuff.

I was not sure that anybody else went out, but I just got an email from the hike leader that reports three people went a-hiking in the rain. Truly, I wanted to join them but my better self spoke up and said that home seemed like a much better idea.

So, I've been camping out in my living room with my laptop and have managed to give myself permission to become a lackadaisy slug, for today at least. I can't fathom why it took me so long to just allow myself to stay home. I'll work on that little flaw, but hopefully the weather will clear up soon and I'll be back pounding the pavement.

Hope you've had a better day of it. I am happily drinking a beer, even though I didn't exactly earn it! What's the world coming to?


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.


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.