Thursday, July 24, 2014

Anacortes area Trailblazer hike

After the long stretch of nice sunny days in our area, yesterday we were hit with an epic rain day. Seattle actually had a record breaking amount. As I packed up my things last night for today's hike I was asking myself if I really wanted to go in the mountains and trudge along for this week's scheduled hike to Canyon Ridge
I was feeling even more uneasy when I woke and saw that it was still pouring. When I got to the senior center I was surprised to see that only 3 brave souls showed up from our group, and 1 of the 3 was our fearless leader "Pat"! I'm glad I showed up because true to form, he had other plans for us. He had checked out the weather radar before he came and announced that it looked less threatening towards the Anacortes area. So off we went hoping for better conditions,

and hurray - by the time we reached Anacortes the rain had stopped.
Pat's plan for us would be to walk the trails in Washington park & then drive to the Tommy Thompson trail and walk to the Trestle.
I've driven the road up and over Washington park, but I've never hiked the trails in the park. It was a beautiful forest, filled with Salal, Rocky Mountain Juniper, Cedar and Douglas Fir. There were quite a few Madrona's as well. I love this tree with it's peeling bark. I learned from Pat that people on the east coast pronounce this tree with a long "e" ending as Madrone, and people from the west coast pronounce it as Madrona with an "a" sound at the end. There you go, more pearls of wisdom from our fearless leader "Pat"!

Pat and Mike carried on quite the interesting conversations as we marched along. Topics included were about: the history of the area, botany, geology, archeology, and even a bit of anthropology. I soaked it all in like a sponge. These conversations as we go along are one of the best parts of the hike for me.

When we finished hiking the trails we drove up and over the road so Mike could experience it. Then we drove to the day use area for lunch with a glorious view.

panorama, click to enlarge
Before we went to our next hiking destination, Pat took us to Causland Memorial Park. All of the fencing and the gazebo were built with different colors of stone placed in a lovely decorative pattern.

Then off to the Tommy Thompson trail. 

Always a day of great tales and information from our fearless leader "Pat". This day was no different since he was raised in Anacortes, and his memories were rich with his boyhood joys.
I learned today to trust his judgement about where we would be going when the weather looks "iffy". 
Two hikes for the price of one ;-)

Endomondo stats:

Washington park 
Total miles hiked - 2.66
Min. altitude - -25
Max. altitude - 213
Total ascent - 357
Total descent - 340

Tommy Thompson trail 
Total miles hiked - 4.95
Min. altitude - -63
Max. altitude - 81
Total ascent - 244
Total descent - 219

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sauk Mtn. Trailblazer hike

19 of us headed for Rockport and the Sauk Mtn. road to begin our hike today. Last year we began our hike with a chilly foggy start. You can read about last years hike HERE

Sauk Mtn. - the hills are alive with the sound of music! 
This is what I was thinking as we hiked up the switchbacks through the wonderful wildflowers in full bloom.

We stopped at the same knoll as last year for lunch, some staying together to visit and some including myself sought out a place of solitude to enjoy the spectacular views and savor them as we ate.

3 of us (myself, Penny and Owen) wanted to go on and hike to the summit. The snow was slushy and easy to walk in, I borrowed Jean's Yaktrax just in case the footing became slippery. Thanks Jean!

Our views of Mt. Baker and the Twin sisters & Sauk lake from the top -

Owen & Penny
Owen and his friend!
Looking back at the knoll across the snowfield we crossed to get to the top.

the knoll is in the farthest left grouping of taller trees
This was the first hike for us in the high country this summer & I did not want to leave this beautiful place. My heart is definitely still there as I sit at home writing this post.

Endomondo stats:
Total miles hiked (to the top) - 4.04
Min. altitude - 3736
Max. altitude - 5506
Total ascent -1770
Total descent -1096

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Exotic Hikes Mountain Goat encounter tips

I've mentioned before that my nephew Douglas Scott operates "Exotic Hikes", he's an author, guide & outdoor photographer based primarily in the Olympic Peninsula area. He recently did a blog post about hiking around Mountain Goats, and what you should do should you encounter one on the trail. I thought his 6 tips were worth sharing. I'm pasting the post in it's entirety here, but you can go to the source and read it on his blog HERE
Thanks, Douglas for the permission to copy and share your excellent work!

Six Rules to Stay Safe Around Mountain Goats

A mountain goat above Lake Cushman on the Mount Ellinor Trail. Taken in the Olympic National Forest on the Olympic Peninsula
A mountain goat above Lake Cushman on the Mount Ellinor Trail. Taken in the Olympic National Forest on the Olympic Peninsula
The Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park have a history of mountain goat incidents. From goats following hikers for miles down a trail to goats goring and attacking hikers, these beautiful creatures are not as calm and tame as people seem to think. In the past four years, there has been an increase in goat attacks and throughout the region. In 2010, a man was gored while trying to chase a goat away. The goat gored him in the femoral artery and he bled out on Klahhane Ridge. By the time search and rescue arrived, he was dead.  In 2012, the Mount Ellinor trail was closed due to aggressive mountain goat behavior for an entire summer. The US Forest Service spent every day on the mountain developing ways to scare goats, as well as changing their behavior toward humans. While the methods proved effective for a short while, within a year aggressive goat behavior was observed firsthand by the author of this post.

On a late summer day in 2013, I was standing at the top of Mount Ellinor trying to take pictures that can properly show the awesomeness and ruggedness of the mountain. While hiking to the top, I had encountered a young male mountain goat way off trail, scrambling around on a ridge. A few hundred feet more in elevation and I noticed a nanny and two kids (mountain goats) lying in the saddle that leads to the winter route, well off trail and out of the way. They appeared lethargic, napping away in the sun, not so much as glancing at me as I continued to the summit. I made a note to keep an eye on them when I could, but soon became engrossed in the view and the framing of pictures. As I was wrapping up and leaning over a cliff face to take a picture, I heard a noise behind me and saw three mountain goats 15 feet behind me. Knowing to keep my distance, I stayed perched on my rock, which seemed to be precariously hanging over a thousand foot drop.

For 35 minutes, the nanny goat and kids hung out at the summit, blocking any possible exit for me. They were mostly calm, so I figured they would eventually leave or someone would come up and scare them away. Neither scenario happened. The mom would occasionally grunt while looking directly at me, but I would stand up and yell and she would back up a few feet. It appeared everything was calming down and the goats were starting to leave when the young male from earlier charged full speed around a corner and tried to ram one of the kids. The nanny goat, understanding the threat from the young male, charged back and soon both goats were grunting at each other just a few feet from my ledge. Unsure of what to do, I tried to remain silent;  but once the adolescent male ran away, the protectant mother placed her front two legs on the rock and snorted at me. I stood up yelling, waving my arms wildly, and hoping to scare her away. For a second, she remained locked in, maintaining eye contact with me before she nonchalantly turned around and led her kids to safety. As soon as she was out of sight, I jumped down to the main trail and high-tailed it down to my car.

I kept this story to myself, except for a few close friends and family for fear that the goat would be killed, as is the fate with other problem goats. In my scenario, the goats did nothing wrong so calling and complaining about them would only cause harm to a creature looking to protect her children. The only unnatural thing about the story I just described was me, sitting on a rock over a cliff. While no phone calls to forest service were made, I did make this list of rules (with help from wildlife experts) to make sure that everyone stays as safe as possible when around mountain goats and other wildlife.
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Six Simple Rules to Stay Safe around Mountain Goats

Be Alert! Mountain Goats could be lurking around every corner
Be Alert! Mountain Goats could be lurking around every corner

Be Alert

You should always be looking and listening for animals, people and anything else that you may see or hear while on a trail. An alert hiker is a safe hiker. With goats, they can round a corner and you can be eye to eye with them, so be aware of them. Make noise and proceed around blind corners with caution.

A sign about peeing on the Mount Ellinor Trail, Olympic Peninsula
A sign about peeing on the Mount Ellinor Trail, Olympic Peninsula

Pee at Least 50 Feet Off the Trail (But 50 Yards is best)

Goats are kind of nasty, but extremely smart. They crave salt and will lick anything that has a high salt content, including human urine. Knowing where humans are and that typically they will urinate on or near a trail, they will frequent that area because it is a dependable lace to get salt. If you have to urinate while hiking, it is smart to do so at least 50 feet off of the trail, but you should try to get 50 yards off trail. While that may seem like a pain to some, having to hike between 50 and 150 feet off a trail is better than peeing on a trail and dying from a goat attack because of your laziness.

This is not safe. Stay 50 yards away from Mountain Goats at all times!
This is not safe. Stay 50 yards away from Mountain Goats at all times!

Stay 50 Yards away from goats at all times

This rule is most often broken. Goats, while cute and cuddly looking, are dangerous aggressive creatures and need to be treated with respect and caution. You are not a goat whisperer. You can’t know what a goat is thinking, so don’t be an idiot and stay away from them. If you remain 50 yards (150 feet!) away, you will be safe from an attack. If they start approaching you, leave, do not think they are coming toward you because they want to be friends. I know this reads like I am writing to complete morons, but you would be surprised what you see on trails…

Who's trail. Her trail! A Nanny Goat on the trail at Mount Ellinor. Olympic Peninsula
Who’s trail. Her trail! A Nanny Goat on the trail at Mount Ellinor. Olympic Peninsula

The Goats Own the Trails

Animals own the trails, not you. If a goat is on a trail, stop 50 yards away and wait for them to leave the trail. If they don’t leave the trail, you might have to turn around and head back to where you came from. Sure, this might not be ideal, but again, being cautious will keep you and the goat alive for a long time. Do not sit close to the animals and think that just because they are lying down that they are safe. Far too often people will approach animals lying down to get a picture and end up getting chased. If you can’t get a good picture with your camera, go home and buy a better lens. Do not get closer to the animal!

Do not feed the wildlife! A nanny and two kids on Mount Ellinor, Olympic Peninsula
Do not feed the wildlife! A nanny and two kids on Mount Ellinor, Olympic Peninsula

Do Not Feed or Let a Goat Lick You

No wild animal should be fed by humans, unless they are a wildlife expert. This includes deer in your yard, chipmunks on a trail or goats along the rocky summit. Not only can your food cause serious digestive and health problems, but it also gets the animals dependent on people for nourishment, causing them to get closer and closer to hikers. If you do eat on a trail, pick up every single crumb. Do not leave orange and banana peels, apple cores or anything else that is not 100% natural to the area.

A mountain goat baring it’s teeth at me on Mount Ellinor, Olympic Peninsula

If a Goat Approaches You

Despite the majority of us following these extremely simple rules, mountain goats will more than likely push these limits. If a mountain goat is moving toward you, yell and scream at it while waving your arms. If you need to, throw rocks at it, but make it count.Whether the goat looks aggressive or not, they need to develop fear for humans or they will attack someone else. Why ruin a good thing. Be safe, follow these rules and enjoy nature!

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Horseshoe Bend Trailblazer hike

27 of us today for our Horseshoe Bend hike from the Bellingham Senior Center, several new people and a return of a "summer only" hiker.
What a nice day for a hike. 
We stopped first at the Ranger station at Glacier for our last use of facilities ;-) and for those that needed to purchase passes for parking.

We then drove the short distance up the road to the trail head parking.

Thankfully it was all in the forest. The shade was welcome as the temps were near 80 degrees.

The trail is rated as easy, but I think that is just for the section that hugs the river, as soon as the trail left the riverside it got a bit more moderate, with some short steep ups and downs.
Some of the interesting sights today were the beautiful red berries on the trees,

of course the view of the river.

& Leslie, showing us just how large the trees were -

I really enjoyed our lunch spot, so peaceful at the water's edge.

I also took some pictures of people enjoying their own space for their meal -

A big thanks to Joe for taking this picture of me today.

How can a person go home grumpy after being out in such a beautiful place sharing good times with good people.

*not to gloat but a stop for ice cream was made at Glacier afterwards!!

Endomondo stats:
Total miles hiked - 4.77

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lavender and Mint

The stretch of warm weather we've been having is working out perfectly for me and my drying plans :-)
I'm harvesting our Lavender and Mint and drying it outside in our shed. The 80 degree temps (well above 80 where I'm hanging them) we've been having are drying everything out quite nicely. The photo below shows the fresh cut Lavender in the basket and the dried Lavender and Mint hanging behind.

The dried result!

Hmmm.....I'm dreaming of Lavender syrup for our Sourdough pancakes, Lavender & Mint jelly, Mint tea with a few Lavender flowers thrown in for flavor and Lavender Shortbread cookies. 
Winter is going to be so yummy!