Saturday, August 29, 2015

Picture of the week ~ Humpback Whale Fluke

44th Wedding Anniversay whale watching cruise 
through the San Juan Islands.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Heliotrope Ridge Trailblazer hike

A change of plans.
Our chief correspondent officer "Ginny", sent out an email yesterday for our fearless leader "Pat". Our wonderfully sunny weather is supposed to end starting tomorrow. Our hike for next week was to be Heliotrope Ridge and todays was supposed to be Skyline Divide. Heliotrope Ridge has several creek crossings and Pat was concerned about the water levels if we did the hike next week as planned. We are seeing a forecast of rain in the area for a few days. 
Warm rain melts snow.
So he proposed that we switch the schedule around and do Heliotrope today and Skyline next Thursday. Our group usually is stopped at the last creek because of it's level and fast water, so we were excited to see how far we could get. I hadn't hiked to Heliotrope Ridge for about 30 years, so I was thrilled at the chance to go when we had a good chance of getting across the creeks.
14 of us gathered for the carpool to the trailhead. Since it is a Wilderness area we are allowed only 12 per group. We split up into a fast group and a slow group. My husband was able to hike with us today, we stayed with the slower group this week led by Pat. 

Dick, Jean and me
The trail was beautiful, lush and green.

We had 4 creek crossings today. 
Before we got to the creek we saw Frank and Marjan walking down the trail towards us. Frank was apprehensive about the crossing and they decided to return to the cars and wait for us to return.
My husband is always a good sport about helping us get across. 

Our view for lunch was to be Mt. Baker and the Coleman Glacier!

Click to view the Panorama at full size
Time to head back down to repeat our 4 creek crossings and then back to the trailhead.

The sign on the tree below points to the Climbers route and Heliotrope Ridge. The climbers route goes up the Hogback, a very steep section of trail that leads to the climbers camp for those climbing Mt. Baker.

It was nice to see Frank and Marjan at the parking lot at our return, we shared our tales and then we all drove to Grahams for ice cream!
We were pleased with ourselves for being able to cross all of the creeks and see the rewarding view. What a great day!

Endomondo stats:
Total miles hiked - 6.3 miles
 Total ascent - 1840 feet
Total descent - 1861 feet
Minimum altitude - 3618 feet
Maximum altitude - 5188 feet

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Yellow Aster Butte Trailblazer hike

16 Trailblazers left the Senior Center in Bellingham ready for a fun day together. Since the hike today was to be in a Wilderness area, we split up into two groups. Only 12 are allowed to hike together in the Wilderness area, presumably to lessen the impact on the environment.
So we split up according to those that wanted to get to the top and those that wanted to take their time on the way up.
I joined the group that wanted to reach the top. I had hiked this trail with the Trailblazers last year, you can read about it HERE. I went with the more casual hiking group, but this year I really wanted to go all the way to the top.
There were low clouds for the start of our hike. As you can see the trail head was a busy place today.

I soon discovered that the Wildflower season wasn't quite over!
Monkey flower
Indian Paintbrush
Even though we had a low cloud start, we were able to see the nearby hills & scenery.

I'm always surprised to see ferns in the higher altitudes.

In the photo below you can see that the trail is free from snow,
today's hike August 2015
As you can see from last years hike in September, we walked across snow in this same area. This was as far as I had hiked last year.
Our group walking across the same area in September of 2014
Onward we went....

The clouds kept moving in all around us and before we went much farther, it was agreed that we weren't going to get a view and that we were probably going to be right in the middle of the clouds. The photo below shows just where we turned around. I estimated that we were about a 1/2 mile away from the top.

Oh well, I'll try another time. It wasn't to be today. We sat and enjoyed a chilly lunch and enjoyed the peek a boo views we got while the clouds moved about.

We caught up with our other Trailblazers with about 2 miles to go & we all returned the rest of the way together. 
A great hike that left me hungry for trying it again, not such a bad thing is it??!!

Endomondo stats:
Total miles - 7.05 miles hiked
Total ascent - 2290 feet
Total descent - 1931
Maximum altitude - 5572
Minimum altitude - 3330

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Scott Paul Trailblazer hike

Our scheduled hike for today was the Scott Paul trail. 11 of us began a counterclockwise route up the hill. We quickly split into two groups. One group that would hike around the loop and the other group that would hike slower and would either do an in and out hike or loop.
We stopped at about the 3 mile mark and enjoyed the view of Mt. Baker.

We then went on instead of eating lunch because Marjan and Frank had done this hike a few days earlier and said that the usual tricky creek crossing was much larger and swifter and hitting it later in the day would make it a lot more challenging, so off we went. 
The first glimpse of the crossing.

Marjan picked a route to cross and I followed. The water was knee high in places and moving very swiftly, but thankfully the rocks were not slimey and the footing was good. The others behind us choose to not make the crossing. I didn't feel confident about crossing the creek again to join the rest. I felt that one successful crossing would be good enough for me on that creek, I didn't want to tempt fate ;-) Since the rushing water was so loud we signaled to the rest that we would continue around & meet them at the parking lot. After a short walk, Marjan and I found some shade and enjoyed our lunches together. The trail after that had some wonderful views.

We had another creek crossing but it wasn't nearly as high or fast moving, so we just walked through it.

Another crossing but this time with a swinging bridge.

One last look back to see just how bare of snow our Mt. Baker and the Black Buttes are this summer.

The shade of the forest for the hike down felt very good after being in the sun so long.

Marjan and I after we'd hiked our loop together. Note, her blue teeth. So many yummy blueberries along the trail! 

We did met up with the others in our group at the parking lot. They said they had seen Pat & his group (still heading up the trail) on their return trip. The word was that they were continuing on to at least the creek.
*We did hear from Pat's group later that day, they did make it out safe and sound!
Endomondo stats:
Total miles hiked - 9.56 miles
Minimum Altitude - 3221 feet
 Maximum altitude - 5186 feet
Total ascent - 2049 feet
Total descent - 1937 feet

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bp, Point Whitehorn walkabout

My husband and I enjoyed a nice walk at one of our favorite areas, the local Bp public access area.
Here are some pictures of the access area I had taken on another day -

We decided to walk around most of the perimeter and then cut off into the Point Whitehorn trail access area.
Since we've been having such dry weather, I was surprised to see so many trees and ferns along the trail already going brown. They seem to be distressed without the water they are used to getting.

When I go to the BP area to run or walk I usually stick to the paved road that runs through the gated property, so going cross country was very fun for me. Adding the Point Whitehorn trail to the day may it different as well. It's always nice to drop down to the beach from the trail, a very different terrain from the start of our walk. The picture below was taken from another days walk, but I wanted to include it so you could see the beach access from the trail. The trail from the parking lot is wheelchair accessible until the top of these stairs.

There were quite a few of these jelly fish (which I'm assuming were dead) on the beach.

The crab below was really about an inch wide, but I took a macro photo of it so you could see how colorful it is.

We went back up to the BP land by way of a steep trail up a cliff. It was about 100 feet up and thankfully it had a rope tied along it the whole way to help us work our way up the trail.
*Very fun!

Endomondo stats:
Total miles walked - 5.25 miles
Total ascent - 100 feet
Total descent - 127 feet

*Did I happen to mention that I'm signed up to do the Montana Spartan Sprint again next May :-)