Thursday, May 30, 2024

Ebey's Landing

The Ebey's Landing Nine

 A passerby took this picture of the nine of us beginning to take this trip on the Ebey's Landing hike. It's not a long hike, but it's a long drive to get there, on Whidbey Island, but on an almost on a pretty perfect day, we set out to enjoy the beautiful place and enjoy the sunshine.

From this spot, we walked along a gentle path to get us to the Prairie Overlook trail, which took us along a beautiful wide open area filled with wildflowers before we got to the junction that took us along the ridge, before we descended to the beach.

Looking at the beach from the high trail

The weather could not have been more beautiful. Although a cool breeze blew most of the day, it was sunny and delightful, needing now and then to don a jacket.

A gorgeous day

We walked along this area from this point down to the beach, after oohing and ahhing at all the wonderful sites along the way. This ridge is one I remember from previous visits to the park. By this time we were beginning to pay attention to the rumbling from our stomachs, so we headed down to the beach to find a place to have lunch.

From here we started down to the beach

Once we descended to the beautiful beach, we walked through the sand and rocks to make our way to a place where we might be a bit sheltered from the wind in order to have lunch. We saw lots and lots of eagles and other birds, and we found one on the beach who was already enjoying his lunch.

We felt like paparazzi disturbing this eagle

One person got a good closeup of this eagle, whose beak was rather bloody from digging into his meal, but we moved along and he went back to finish. It was so wonderful to see all the beauty around us, and to be reminded that nature's way is not always gentle and bloodless.

Climbing back to the ridge

After having enjoyed the beach, we walked back to the ridge and made our way back to our cars. It was a simply wonderful day, and I am not sure how much distance we covered, but it was enough to get me to 15,000 steps, so I was happy with our day's exertions. I don't always have to feel it's necessary to push myself to my limits in order to have a great day!


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Soggy hike

Joe took the picture

We were six quite damp Happy Wanderers before we finished our five-mile walk around Lake Whatcom. Joe, our leader, decided we would not make the drive to Anacortes for the scheduled hike but instead would stay close to home. It was more than a little wet; although I am wearing waterproof shoes (not working all that well) and a poncho over my raincoat, I was completely soaked before it was all over. It rained the entire time, although there were a few moments when the rain did lighten up a bit, but it made no difference. We were reconciled to being wet and had a good time anyway. At least it wasn't cold and windy, too.

Huddled under trees

We had a pretty good time while out and about, but I was thinking often how nice it would be to get home and climb into warm and dry clothes, which is just what I did as soon as I got there. We received almost an inch of rain, but now, around 5:00pm, it seems to have stopped. I'm glad I went, though.

The bridge over the falls

We weren't alone in the park, but we kept seeing the same people and dogs as we wandered around the area. We finally made it back to the Senior Center and most of us headed home right away. 

Yellow iris in the foreground

It was certainly green and lush, and in this picture you can see the rain falling in the pond. Even the ducks weren't around but probably hunkered down somewhere under the trees. However, it was so much better than not doing anything at all and staying home looking out at the rain. Thursday might have some rain, but after today it will seem like nothing.


Thursday, May 23, 2024

Memorial Day hike and party

Lovely trail today

 Well, I am not having the best day so far: although we had a great hike in the Lake Padden area, and then a wonderful potluck, my pictures have still not downloaded from the cloud, so I found three, imported them to my desktop, and those will have to do for now.

At the Gorge

There were four different groups of hikers, and I joined this one, which started around the lake and took a side trip to the Gorge, so we could make a new pattern with rocks to commemorate the day. You can see it right in front of us, a six-pointed star. Then we continued our journey around the lake, with a stop at the bathrooms for you-know-who (me).

Some of our large group

When  we returned to our designated shelter, we began  to pile the food onto tables, and we all enjoyed a massive amount of salads, fruits and veggies, and of course desserts. It was truly a magnificent spread, and I saw some hikers I haven't seen in years. It was a great time, and we actually ended up hiking somewhere between four and seven miles, depending on which group you were with.

I just checked again, and my photos are still not there, so I'll leave this post a bit on the short side. Not as short as Tuesdays, because I didn't ever get around to posting one. It poured all day long, our hike was canceled, and I didn't ever get outdoors. That is my excuse for not posting one. 

If you don't read my other blog, you might know that I have been mourning the loss of my central vision on my right eye. My left eye is pretty good, but this awful progression of geographic atrophy is continuing to destroy what vision I have left. You can read about it here, if you're wondering. In any event, I had a great time today, and now it's time for me to drive to Fairhaven for my monthly needle visit (acupuncture). I have an appointment at the retina specialist in a week, and maybe I'll be getting even more needles!


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Fragrance Lake

Group from the viewpoint

Our leader, Cindy (just recently back from her European adventures) took this picture while we, the Senior Trailblazers hiking group, gathered at the overlook, on our way to Fragrance Lake.  We thought we might extend the hike a little and have lunch at Clayton Beach, but the weather was threatening rain, which we had a little of as the day progressed. So, we skipped that part and instead went to this overlook and then when we got to the lake, we took a trip around it.

One of my favorite trees on the way to the lake

We took the trail up to the lake, and I never fail to notice this pretty tree and the narrow path between it and its neighbor. The trail was, as always, lush and green with a few lonely trillium still in bloom.

Time for a little snack

Once we got to the lake, we took some time to rest and replenish our energy. It is about two miles of climb to the lake, covering around a thousand feet of elevation, so it isn't ever a bad time for a snack, or even an early lunch.

Fragrance Lake today

You can see the lake was still, dark and a little brooding, as we made our way around it before heading back down the logging road. It gave us a nice loop of somewhere around six or seven miles in total.


On the road, we pass by a waterfall, which looks different every time I see it. There have been times when it was flowing so hard that the roaring water covered the entire road where I was standing, but today it was gentle and rather sedate. It didn't make it any less beautiful, though. We returned to our cars and headed back to the Senior Center. Another wonderful day in the wilderness, tuning up our muscles and strengthening our spirits. It's always great to be outdoor with good friends. And it didn't really rain on us, just a sprinkle now and then. We were pleased with the day's efforts.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Big Rock Garden

Some of today's (23!) Happy Wanderers

Today, our leader Joe took the Happy Wanderers to the Big Rock Garden Sculpture Park to enjoy the blooming rhodies and azaleas, along with all the lovely sculptures in the park. It was a perfect day, with almost two dozen of us Seniors starting out from the parking lot across from the Barkley Village grocery store. We took the Klipsun trail up some steep stairs and some other trails before we ended up at Big Rock Park.

Beautiful flowers and lots of maple trees

It was a sunny day by the time we got to the park, and the sunlight coming through the trees, lighting up the leaves and making the rhodies and azaleas sparkle, transformed the day into an unforgettable outing. Plus many of the traveling Seniors have returned from their European adventures, so it was great to catch up and hear some of their stories.

Tree of Life sculpture

Although I did take pictures of some of the sculptures, my eye kept returning to the light coming through the trees, and I ended up walking through the wonderland of green without remembering to appreciate most ogf the art.


We were given almost an hour's time to wander by ourselves or together with others to enjoy the garden. I learned that there are many different kinds of maple trees in the garden, and I was told that, for a real treat, I should come back in the fall when the leaves change color. I will try to remember to do that.

Trail through magnificence

By the time we got back to our starting point, we had walked around five miles or so, and in the company of so many of our companions, no one seemed in the least tired by the time we returned to the cars. I could have kept going myself for a while longer, but it was time to separate and dream of upcoming hikes yet to be experienced this season. Ahhh!


Thursday, May 9, 2024

Lookout Mountain

On the trail

 Today, ten Senior Trailblazers with the Happy Wanderers group met at the Senior Center to arrange carpools to the Sudden Valley trailhead. It turns out that the other Group 1, the Half Fast Senior Trailblazers, were also scheduled to do the same hike today. Well, it is a big mountain, and our two leaders, Beth and Al, decided to hike somewhat the same trails in opposite directions, and it was just fine. 

Mt Baker from the viewpoint

We also negotiated that we would take the viewpoint for our lunch spot, while the other group would have their break in another spot, just as beautiful, but giving us a chance to enjoy a nice repast after climbing around four miles to here. I was ready to rest a little, but the clear day and warm temperatures were such a treat for us that it was hard to get going again.

Trailblazers in stereo

But we did get going again and decided to hike to the terminus of the trail, another short mile, and when we did we ran into the other group going in the opposite direction. Here you see Beth and Al discussing the rest of the day's journey. It was fun to run into them.

End of the trail and beginning of another one

We turned around here. I've never been on this trail, and it doesn't look like I will be doing it any time soon. I found this on the Washington Trails Association website:
Cougar Ridge Trail had been closed for maintenance but is now open only to downhill mountain biking. It departs from Rufus Creek Trail at its terminus after 4.3 miles or after taking the Baneberry Trail shortcut before the Overlook.
Vanilla leaf plant

We saw lots and lots of these plants, as well as trillium and bleeding hearts everywhere. It's that time of the year when you cannot help but stop and look at the beauty everywhere.

Best trillium bunch

We ended up covering around eight miles and somewhere around a couple thousand feet of elevation. It was steep in places, but mostly we had perfect conditions. It was almost a little too warm for some Pacific Northwesterners like me, who don't do well when it gets too warm. Today was just on the edge, but I sure did have fun, and I look forward to many more delightful days like this!


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Fairhaven Park to Chuckanut Falls

Arroyo Park bridge

Today thirteen Senior Trailblazers hiked from Fairhaven Park to Chuckanut Falls and back, a trip of just under six miles, with around 850 feet of elevation gain and loss. Obviously not a huge and challenging hike, but one with some of the most beautiful scenery one can imagine. We hiked from Fairhaven park near the tennis courts into the Hundred Acre Woods, and from there to the Interurban trail, which takes us to this lovely bridge, which was under construction for years after having been struck by a falling tree.

Some of today's hikers

I didn't see any trillium today, although I'm sure there are still plenty in bloom, but I did see lots and lots of bleeding heart plants by the side of the trail. It was, as I said, a simply gorgeous day, with full sun after an hour or so, but it was never very warm. By the end of the week, it will be warmer and probably out of my comfort zone. I do wilt when it's really hot, but today's mild temperatures and full sunshine were just right.

Chuckanut Falls

When we got to the falls, we saw a respectable amount of water cascading festively down the cliff. There have been times when I've seen it with no water, and others when it was twice as full as today. From this point, we turned around and retraced our steps back to the trailhead. It was a lovely day, and our leader, Joe, reminded us that he didn't get lost in the Hundred Acre Woods, for once. It helped that he had a GPS tracker on his phone.  I have to admit that I do like these shorter, easier hikes. But I'm not yet willing to miss out on the longer, harder ones. Yet.


Thursday, May 2, 2024

Lizard Lake and North Butte

Today's Group 2 (plus me behind the camera)

It was a gorgeous day for a hike, which might be one reason there were ten of us Senior Trailblazers at the Senior Center, ready to head out to one of our favorite places, Blanchard Mountain. We had three newbies with us, all of whom did great as we made our way from the Upper trailhead parking lot to North Butte. Today's leader was Helen, and she took us up to the junction seen in the above picture.

Lizard Lake

From there we took a short side trip to gaze at the lake before heading up (and I do mean up) the trail to North Butte. Although it's not all that long, it's a continuous uphill slog. On such a beautiful day, everybody seemed to be having a good time and nobody was struggling (outwardly anyway; I kept from sharing) until we made it to the top.

North Butte trail

This is one of the more level places on the North Butte trail, but before long we were at the summit, along with the steel bench, bolted onto the rock, that I've shown you on other excursions.

Bench in foreground, Helen having lunch

It was a great view

Although it was mostly sunny, there was a cold breeze as we sat gazing out at the view, and being in the shade, we didn't stay for a really long time. We did, however, take the time to enjoy John's wonderful chocolate chip cookies as a delightful repast to finish lunch before heading back down.

Lots of green, sunshine and shadows

It was fun to talk with some of our new members, and since they had not been on Blanchard Mountain before, I wondered if they liked it as much as I do. Apparently the answer is yes, and they will be back. I've seen this place in snow, rain, heavy winds, but not often on such a perfect day as we had today. We returned to the cars via the Alternate Incline trail, making a loop hike out of it.

Beautiful trillium

And of course, there were trilliums in bloom everywhere. I think we must have seen several dozens, along with woodland violets and bleeding heart plants in abundance. We covered well over eight miles and around 2,200 feet up and down, which might explain why my feet are tired now. But it was truly an exceptional day in the mountains with good friends.