Skyline and High Skyline at Mt. Rainier

On August 22, the group headed back down to Mt. Rainier to hike Burroughs. I thought it would be a great opportunity to stretch out the legs and see some different terrain at Mt. Rainier. We were so busy chatting on the way down that I actually missed the turn into Sunrise at Mt. Rainier. Not exactly sure how that happened and I passed at least 3 signs telling me to turn! So……anyways we ended up at Paradise at Mt. Rainier. I haven’t hiked there in a really long time so it was a nice change. The Paradise side has a lot more meadows and waterfalls. You get a much closer look at the glaciers on Rainier and can see the trek to Camp Muir! Camp Muir is still on my bucket list!

Luckily Cathi has hiked Skyline before and knew it was a really nice trail. Portions of the trail are actually paved which is interesting. This trail starts at the well known stairs, etched with a John Muir quote. Right from the get go we saw the most marmots I’ve ever seen! They were everywhere!!! We even saw a couple bucks eating some vegetation. The marmots are clearly use to seeing people regularly. They stand right next to the trail or cross the trail right in front of you. At times they look like they are engaging you in a stare down!

What’s nice about this trail, beyond the view, is the ongoing view of Mt. Rainier. It feels like you are virtually standing on Mt. Rainier at times. It’s so close you can almost reach out and touch it! The glaciers on this side are amazing. You can see the blue ice, cut deeply with crevases and fissures. You just don’t understand the magnitude of these. To be able to see them with such detail at that distance, you know just how massive they truly are.

Although we had pretty clear skies, we also encountered some cloud layers as we gained elevation. One of my favorite parts of being on a mountain is the ability to get above the cloud layer. When you are above the clouds, the tops look like cotton balls. It looks like you could walk right out on them! Maybe that’s what the heavens look like. It just give an entirely different perspective to the environment. We were so lucky and were able to see Mt. St Helen’s, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood from the trail. That is pretty amazing! I’ve summited Mt. St Helens. I’m going back to Mt. Adams in 2021 to finish that hike! If all goes well maybe even add Mt. Baker to the 2021 list!

This hike for the crew was a bit more difficult. It didn’t have more elevation gain or mileage, but the starting elevation point and increase created some issues with the thinner air. Right from the start a couple were having a hard time breathing but I think the views were a nice distraction.

Sometimes getting lost leads you to the best hikes! This hike lived up to that!

2nd try at Fremont Lookout for sunset

On August 10 I headed back down to Mt. Rainier for a second try for sunset. Cathi and I were fogged in the first time. The weather forecast was amazing! Clear skies with no chance of rain! That sounds like perfect conditions for sunset! I arrived at the park and Mt. Rainier was out in all her glory!! I’ve lived here pretty much my entire life and I just can’t express how lucky we are to view that mountain every day! She is spectacular!! Even better is the fact that we have this huge national park that has miles of trails in it. Some venture through meadows and other are more desert like. You can walk so close to Mt. Rainier and see all the glaciers.

I pulled in the parking lot and there she was! No cloud cover. Robin egg blue skies. I was carrying a few extra pounds in my pack with my DSLR camera, tripod and my fun lens ball! I didn’t care as the pictures were going to be so good!

Having just been there a week earlier, I was surprised as how much frozen lake had changed. Nearly all the snow and ice was gone. The snow bridge had collapsed. Even though there are roughly 500 signs and barbed wire surrounding the lake telling everyone to stay out as it is a public water supply, there is always that one person who can’t follow directions! Not only did she have to pass several signs telling her to stay out, she ducked between the barbed wire to get down to the lake to refill her water bottle. I mean seriously!

I got up to the lookout early and found a good spot. I set up my camera and tried some photos with my lens ball. Note to self on a really sunny day be super careful with the lens ball as glass and sun don’t really go together:). In a mater of a millisecond I burned a hole in my shirt and burned my hand! The point where your hand starts burning and your brain knows it hurts but it takes a couple more seconds to put the pain and the lens ball together to realize your hand is burning!

After about 20 minutes I started to notice a familiar fog/cloud layer coming up the valley. I hoped it would be temporary and blow through, but boy was I wrong! Not only did it continue to blow through, it continued to get thicker and thicker to the point of Mt. Rainier not even being visible. I ended up leaving before sunset as it was obvious that it would not clear up for hours.

Another failed sunset attempt for Fremont Lookout! It’s all good though! It was still a really nice hike.

Did you know Melakwa means “mosquito” in Chinook??

Living in Washington State we have a deep relationship with several Native American Tribes. Many of our cities carry Native American names that out of towners badly attempt to pronounce. Lake Melakwa is located outside Snoqualmie (Snoqualmie Tribe) and is located within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It is a relatively popular trail located off Denny Creek. The trail is roughly 8.5 miles roundtrip and has an elevation gain of about 2,700 feet. The trail offers a wide variety of landscape as you gain elevation.

I chose this hike as part of our training hikes in preparation for Mailbox as it gains 2,700 feet, which would be our most elevation gain in a hike. It’s a fairly consistent grade so it would help acclimatize the group to ongoing elevation but nothing dramatic. We had a couple new hikers join us on this trip so that added some entertainment as this was a bit, actually a lot, out of their comfort zone.

The trail starts out in the forest and about a mile in, you come across the Denny Creek crossing. In the summer the creek is easily passable as a log is across it that you walk across. This area has a lot of slippery big rocks that families come to so their kids can play safely. They also make for super fun slip and slides! It’s a nice area to go do something different. If you walk up the creek there is a nice waterfall that has a small pool at the bottom.

We kept heading up the trail and came to the talus field. As we climbed Donna kept asking me if we were heading up that and I kept reassuring her no. We weren’t going up that as we were crossing over to the other side but what I didn’t tell her was that we would be going to about the same elevation point! Pretty sure she called me a liar several times as we gained elevation!! I always laughed! At this point I was beginning to question if her friends were going to make it to the lake as we still had quite a ways to go.

After a couple hours we made it to the lake. Every alpine lake here looks different. Each has their own unique valley they sit in and their own unique color. I’ll never get tired of looking at alpine lakes, but apparently some in my group do! Ha! Although we didn’t have the best weather, it was still a beautiful day. The lake was a bit chilly so it was nice to take my boots off and soak my feet in the chilly water. Too cold to swim for sure! We did celebrate with some whiskey shots at the lake though!

Hiking during a pandemic has been an interesting process. It has been great to get outside and breathe in some fresh air for sure! With a goal in mind of Mailbox Peak on September 10 we have to make sure we get out every week to build endurance to make sure they all make it to the peak. The downside has been the massive increase in the number of people on the trails. A lot of people who don’t normally hike and don’t know hiking etiquette. With trails being so busy it is really important that we practice safe passing, not stepping onto delicate terrain off the trail and practice leave no trace principles! I really can not tell you how much toilet paper or Kleenex I’ve seen off the side of the trail. Not to mention dog poop bags. This has become a huge issue that will require massive cleanups. It’s really disappointing to see people just have a complete lack of respect for our forests. You can’t have nice things if we don’t bother to take care of them!

Next week I think we will do some exploring at Mt. Rainer!

Fremont Lookout in Mt. Rainier National Park

Not sure what it is with me and sunset hikes. Somehow even when the forecast is calling for clear blue skies, which equates to gorgeous sunsets, when I arrive the weather has another idea in mind! Last night was no different!

We arrived at the park and there was a noticeable chill in the air. The mountain breeze was blowing through the valley creating a light misty fog. Good thing we brought a few layers for the lookout! Needed to put on an extra layer in the parking lot! And a hat!

From the parking lot the trail immediately starts on an incline to get up to the first saddle. There is a maze of trails in MRNP so you come across several markers at trail intersections giving directions and distances to multiple trails. Even it was becoming pretty clear there would be no views at the top, the trail was reasonably busy.

At the first saddle we had a cool weather phenomena with the wind pushing the cooler air through the valley up to and over the saddle. It creates a wispy blow over, similar to a misting fan over a beer garden on a hot day. Well of course we were without the beer and the hot weather!

After the saddle the trail takes you through a talus field. There are nice sweeping views of the valleys in this area. It would be a perfect spot to see a bear grazing in the fields. You know, way down in the valley at a safe and acceptable distance! After the talus field in a small public water source. I believe it is called frozen lake. It was mostly thawed, but with a few small icebergs. On a sunny day I bet that makes a beautiful photo!

After the lake, is the steady climb to the lookout. I’m just going to imagine you can see Mt. Rainier along this part. We saw a lot of whiteout and not much more!

Made it to the lookout in about 90 minutes with another 30 or so people to see a sunset……..or not. The wind was picking up a bit at the top so we needed to put on our puffy jackets to cut the wind. Then decide what to snack on. Several funny conversations about that! We both decided we should have brought whiskey. I even thought about bringing my Jetboil for some hot chocolate at the top. We sat at the lookout to block some of the wind. Twice we saw a 5 second peak at the top of Mt. Rainier. Unfortunately by the time I could get my phone out to take a picture it was gone!

We headed back down and needed our headlamps to see most of the way. With so many intersections along the trail on the way back we had a couple spots to make sure we were taking the right trail to make it back to the parking lot.

Definitely will be going back on a clear day because Mt. Rainier is so close to that lookout. A clear sunset would be spectacular. Another day!

Nice hike. Good company and conversation. Always makes for a great day!

Happy Washington Trails Day!

August 1st was Washington Trails Day, where we encourage everyone to get outdoors and experience the magnificent trails in our State. An important message from WTA is creating a statement or short video on “I need trails because…..”. This is used to communicate with our Legislators on the importance of public lands and how trails support a healthy physical and emotional community. Please take the time to complete the “I need trails because…..” statement and post on social media and hashtag WTA. As part of the #recreateresponsibly initiative it is our responsibility to follow the tips to protect health and keep public lands open and safe during this pandemic. Those tips are:

  1. Know before you go: Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s too crowded, have a plan B.
  2. Plan ahead: Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack a lunch and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.
  3. Stay close to home: This is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Most places are only open for day use.
  4. Practice physical distancing: Adventure only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give other space. If you are sick, stay home.
  5. Play it safe: Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations are health care resources are both strained.
  6. Leave no trace: Respect public lands and communities and take all your garbage with you.

To celebrate Washington Trails Day I headed out to Talapus and Olallie Lakes, which are part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The trail is located west of Snoqualmie Pass and is a fairly easy trail. The vast majority of the trail is within the forest so it helps keep the temperature down on sunny days. Although the forecast called for a sunny and warm day, we were met with a pretty low cloud covering and some somewhat grey skies. The trail is in great condition, but there was a decent amount of trash along the trail, which is always disappointing. Pack it in, Pack it out is such an easy principle!

The first lake you come across is Talapus, which has a couple campsites nearby but most of the camp sites are at Olallie lake. We stopped for a few minutes to see the lake. It’s a nice deeper shade of blue. It is about 2 miles to Talapus Lake, which makes it an easy hike for families. We trekked on to Olallie Lake and it was much busier! We say a steady stream of hikers and backpackers on the trail, both coming up and going down. The vast majority were wearing masks and this trail has ample opportunities to step off the trail to allow for distance while passing.

Olallie Lake has several swimming areas and we saw a number of people taking a short swim in the lake. Even though it wasn’t a super warm day but the water was surprisingly warm. We found a nice spot along the lake for some lunch and to dip our feet in the water.

I can say I laughed more on this hike than I ever have before. There was always some funny conversation or something going on that started the laughter. Actually at the end of the hike a couple passed us and said we clearly were a fun group having a great time. We will take it!

Happy Trails Everyone!

Melmont Ghost Town

I’m helping a couple people get ready to hike Mailbox Peak in early September so we went down to Carbonado Washington to take a stroll through Melmont Ghost Town.

This is a 5-6 mile out and back path along an old abandoned coal town from the early 1900’s. There are some remnants of some of the buildings. They look like they are made with local stones. The town of Carbonado was a stop for the railway as they transported coal. The town was busy for awhile, boasting a school and post office, however it was short lived and has been abandoned for nearly a century.

At times you will see individuals with metal detectors working in the fields looking for old artifacts. Last time I was there a couple guys had located old plates and cooking items. On the West Coast we have not been good about preserving our history. Many town like this exist with little information known about the history. That’s really unfortunate as there are great stories about perseverance and settlers that will be lost.

This is a nice flat trail that boasts an old steel bridge that reminds me a lot of deception pass bridge. It’s so impressive to think about workers building that by hand. The nuts and bolts on it alone are impressive.

It was a nice day weather wise, so we were able to walk down to the Carbonado river and relax while we ate some lunch.

Next week I’ll be taking them on a longer hike with some elevation!

And I do my little turn on the Katwalk…..

Kendall Katwalk that is! I decided to take a little spin up on the Katwalk. It’s a 12 mile RT hike from Snoqualmie Pass, mostly on a portion of the PCT. The trail is easy to follow and has a steady slow grade gaining 2,600 feet elevation over the 6 miles to reach the Katwalk. Although the trail starts out in the forest, you quickly break out of the trees into the open and cross a few talus fields. I chose to do this hike on Sunday and it was in the 80’s in Seattle, which for us PNWers is HOT! I started the trail at 7 am and did not encounter many hikers, but saw several trail runners. Not my idea of a good time but they seemed to be having fun!

This trail has several really long straight sections where you can see the trail for a long ways. At times this is nice as you can see the gradual incline, but the downside is at times it feels like you are standing still. The end before the next switchback seems to far away! So many spots to stop for breathtaking views and photos. I’ve just taken my iPhone with me but I think I need to invest in a mirrorless camera. I need more than my iPhone but my DSLR is too heavy!

As I was coming out of the forest I ran into another hiker, who broke out into a narrative about all the peaks surrounding us, giving a thorough description of each. Impressive. A minute later he says, “I’m not that smart, I just used the peak finder app right before I saw you so all the information was fresh”. HAHA! We both had a good laugh about that. Honestly I generally love other hikers I run across on the trails. Everyone is so friendly and easily strike up a quick conversation before the parting “have a great hike/day” comment.

For the most part social distancing was super easy to follow. If passing was necessary most of the trail allows for someone to step off the trail for others to pass. There are a few sections where this isn’t permissible. The vast majority of hikers/runnings were carrying face coverings and used them when necessary. Many took the opportunity to take photos of the surrounding peaks and of course Mt. Rainier! There is something special about Mt. Rainier. She is just so majestic set against a blue sky. We are so lucky to live near her. Lots of exploring can be down at Mt. Rainier National Park.

This hike has a couple talus fields to cross. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of talus fields. Since the rock moves constantly there are always rocks on the trail and the fields seem to put off a good amount of heat and reflection. Sunscreen, lip sunblock and a hat were necessary items! Along with lots of water!

Towards the top there is a 15 foot section of trail that still has a block of snow covering it. Some chose to be brave and try to create steps in the snow above the trail. Most of us chose to drop down and try to skirt the snow. It was a bit slippery but made it with no issues.

I had a big surprise at the saddle, with the sighting of a transplant mountain goat! Washington State Wildlife officials have been moving the goats from the Olympic Peninsula (where they are not native) to the Cascades (where they are native). They are easily identified by the tracking collars they wear. They are much happier in the Cascades with better food options throughout the year and the ability to roam freely. They are just the cutest and always a happy surprise when you see one!

The actual Katwalk is a narrow path carved alongside a slab of rock. If you continue past the Katwalk, there are two lakes where people backpack. My feet were a bit tired and it was getting pretty hot so I decided to stop at the Katwalk. There was a nice breeze at the top so that felt pretty good. I saw several trail runners at the Katwalk so they are at least doing the 12 miles!s. Crazy!!

On the way down I saw Mr. Goat again. He had moved down the trail a bit and was lounging on the mountainside in a patch of flowers having some lunch. I saw a lot more people on the way down who were headed up in the heat! They were all pretty excited to know they would get an appearance of a goat. The information gave them a bit of energy boost to keep going. I was glad to be heading down around 11 AM. It was hot but we still had not reached the heat of the day. I felt back for those who were heading up in the hottest time of the day.

The hike down was pretty uneventful. Great views on the way down. Pretty much staring at Mt. Rainier most of the way. Sometimes the trip back always feels quicker, but on this one I wouldn’t say that was the case. Probably because the sun was up much higher so there really wasn’t much shade until almost the very bottom. Might also have been the developing blister I could feel on the back of my right heel. Now sure what that was all about. My normal boots and socks, but wowza not a fan of the quarter size blister I now have!

I’m feeling good about the 12 miles. Coming off a significant shoulder surgery in January, I am working on getting my stamina back and wearing a backpack. I generally don’t wear my summer Osprey 22 pack as the shoulder strap sits right on one of my repair areas. I normally wear my Osprey 36 which sits better. I decided to gut it out and wear my 22 and it was pretty good. I was a bit sore at the end but nothing major. That’s progress!!

Another great hike to check off my list! I’m trying to set my ambitious sights on Mt. Adams and Mt. Baker next summer. We shall see!

Mount Ellinor minus goats

Mount Ellinor is part of the Olympic Peninsula and has been home to non-native mountain goats for years. Over the years the mountain goats became too friendly with hikers and developed a reputation for being quite aggressive. The state began relocating them last year but a few still remain. Sometimes when you climb Mt Ellinor you get lucky and see a few goats and other times they are nowhere to be found.

Mount Ellinor has been on my list for awhile. From the lower trail the hike is 3.6 miles each way. The first 1.9 miles takes you through a typical Olympic Peninsula forest. Dry forest ground and massive for trees. This portion is really nice but lacks a view outside of the trees. The elevation gain is only 1,600 feet so it is a nice warmup for the rest of the mountain!

Some people choose to start at the upper trailhead and skip the first 1.9 miles. The trails meet at 3,500 feet and you start a rapid, constant ascent to the summit. Over the next 1.6 miles you climb nearly 2,500 feet in elevation. The trail is mostly well marked and consists of a lot of stairs, both made of rock and laid timber by trail crews. There is no shade on this section so it can get quite hot. There are several opportunities for great views over Hood Canal on a clear day. Unfortunately even though the forecast was for clear skies, I had a pretty thick marine layer that hung around all morning and significantly limited the view.

This climb is a grind. There is no other way of saying it. Your calves and thighs are burning! Because of the twists and turns of this hike you really can’t see the summit until the very last stretch so you really don’t know how much further you have to go.

I did finally make it to the top in 2.5 hours. I was pretty happy with this due to the elevation gain and the slick footing. At the top the marine layer of fog made visibility very low. We really couldn’t see much of anything around us. I was able to sign the logbook so that was pretty awesome! I ate some lunch and talked to a few other hikers at the top as we all hoped stalling a bit would allow the marine layer to burn off, but no such luck!

The trip down was not so enjoyable. Due to the loose dirt and rock it made for seeing the stairs difficult and slipping was a regular occurrence. It was slow going until I made it out of the rock area and back to the forest. There was a pretty steady stream of hikers headed up while I was on my way down. This is a very popular trail! I was a bit surprised at just how busy it was on a weekday.

I’m glad I was able to check this one off my list but don’t think I would do it again.

Oyster Dome again (with view!)

Well since my last experience with oyster dome didn’t come with the famous sweeping views of the San Juan Islands, I had to go back.

This time I brought my 16 year old daughter and she needed some fresh air and time out of the house! We decided to make a weekend of it so we stayed in a hotel for some new scenery! Oh course with a little extra time she managed to get some thrift store shopping in!

We woke up Monday to a slight breeze but it was clear we were going to have blue skies! Woohoo!! My kiddo has been on a couple hikes with me but not many. Now that she is older I think she may enjoy it better. We arrived at the trailhead around 10:30 and headed out. She was quickly taken by how quiet it is and commented how much she likes to hike and would like to do it more. Yay! It was a good hike for her. Difficult but manageable.

We arrived at the top and quickly saw the spectacular view that was missing last time. Surprisingly there were only a few people at the top so we were able to find a good spot, with appropriate social distancing. A couple guys showed up and were taking some crazy photos hanging off the ledge! I was pretty sure we were going to watch one of them fall to their death. Air Jordan’s aren’t the best hiking shoes! Thankfully nothing bad happened!

We had a little snack and took the usual set of photos and headed back. There was a steady stream of people we passed who were on their way up. We had the perfect time there with just a couple other people. Pretty sure I can get her out on another hike now!

Back at the trailhead we saw about six people getting all setup to paraglide. This is one of the cool spots about this trail. I imagine it must feel pretty amazing to glide like that but I’ll settle for just watching!

Continue reading “Oyster Dome again (with view!)”

Oyster Dome, the Colchuck Lake of Bellingham?? Maybe on a clear day!

After 3 months of quarantine, I was in serious need of some outdoor time. We, like many others, have had some really strict restrictions due to Covid. I’ve tried to stay active and am pretty proud of myself that I have not gained any weight! Running around the neighborhood and paddle boarding is not the same.

Bellingham is part of what we call the “banana belt” in Washington. Although it can at times have more snow or higher winds, it is generally known for having nicer weather up north. We’ve had some unusual weather lately with lots of rain. I mean LOTS of rain! Although the forecast wasn’t great it was better up in Bellingham so as they say any day in the outdoors in a good day!

I headed out early and hit a pretty consistent rain storm through Mt. Vernon. From there the rain stopped, but it was obvious the cloud cover was going to be pretty low. I made it to the parking lot and there were only three other cars there. That never happens on a weekend! The wind was a bit breezy but nothing too dramatic. At the trailhead you can head in different directions. One trail is Oyster Dome and the other way goes to Lily and Lizard Lakes, then around to Oyster Dome. Lily and Lizard Lakes adds two miles to the trip.

Fresh air and only the sounds of nature and the perfect redeem for quarantine blues. The birds were singing. Small creeks and waterfalls were everywhere. A few flowers were exposed, but generally it was just big trees and moss covered rocks. Perfect!

Oyster Dome trail winds through the forest for the whole trail. It really is a beautiful trail. The forest is really green and lush right now. The trail is in great condition, with no rocks or roots exposed. Everything is still super wet so you have to watch your step so you don’t slip and fall. I only saw three people on the trail on the way up. At the top, on a clear day, the view is spectacular. Well, on my trip it was pretty much like looking directly into a cotton ball! No visibility whatsoever! I have to admit it made me laugh. I’ve always heard about the view but clearly I’ll have to come back another day for it.

It was really windy at the top, so I didn’t stay long. On the way down I passed at least 30 people on the way up! You could tell the clouds were starting to clear so probably an hour or so after I left there probably was the usual sweeping views of the San Juan Islands. I settled for the view from the lower level where the paraglider normally take off.

As I said, any day in the outdoors in a great day!

Artist Point was unbelievably gorgeous!!

This past winter in Seattle has been……what’s the word I’m looking for…….oh yeah…..RAINY!  No it’s not unusual for it to rain in Seattle, but our rain is really light and more of a drizzle. Nothing that keeps you from going outside.  This winter we had obscene amounts of rain.  Downpours that lasted for days!  Flooding that we haven’t seen in well over a decade.  For awhile it seemed like it would never end!  On the plus side, we won’t have a water shortage this summer and our mountains are covered with deep snow!!  Deep snow makes for great skiing and snowshoeing, but it also causes significant avalanche conditions which make it too dangerous to go out into the backcountry.

Recently we are clearly seeing the signs of Spring in Washington.  The daffodils are starting to bloom and the tulips will be early this year.  We are starting to see bluebird skies which make for great snowshoeing conditions.  I’ve been to Artist Point at Mt Baker during the summer and it is pretty spectacular but I had not been there in the winter.  It was unbelievable and that is a clear understatement!  Mt Baker has a ski resort and miles of backcountry trails for split boarding and snowshoeing.  You could spend days there.

I’m not sure why but there really was not a lot of people there.  I would periodically see others on the trails but it wasn’t uncommon to look around and not see another person.  I knew it was going to be a great day!  The snow sparkled under the sun.  There were huge sections of completely untouched mounds of snow.  The kid in me just wanted to run over and jump into the snow, but the adult in me was questioning just how deep that snow would actually be!  Ultimately the adult in me won the decision point.

I trekked up the first big hill and saw the next large area of tracks.  Some went across the valley.  Others went up another hill.  More went off to the right or left.  So many options!  I stood at this point for several minutes just soaking in the beauty.  In the distance I would see skiers or snowboarders gliding down these huge hills.  There are no chairlifts to these areas so they trekked up to the top on split boards.  It was quite the climb, but boy that must have been an amazing ride down in untouched snow!  I just might have to try that with my snowboard sometime!

I finally made it up to the top Ridgeline.  Incredible 360 views.  The mountains were bright white and the sky was deep blue.  Can’t tell you how many times I said “wow”.  It was so pretty.  I sat at the top for quite awhile.  It was completely silent and I mean silent!  It’s honestly one of the things I enjoy most about nature.  Just the silence.  Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert.  Nature has always been the place I recharge my batteries and ponder life.  As a Virgo, I’m an analyzer.  I like to think….and think…..and think. Hiking provides the perfect setting for me.

I’ve had a lot rolling through my mind lately.  My mom and her health issues.  She is living in an assisted living facility now and getting the care she needs.  With the coronavirus outbreak I recognize she is part of a vulnerable population.  For the elderly this virus can be deadly.  The facility has put in place some very strict rules but nothing is  perfect.  There is always risk.

A person I worked with lost his wife to breast cancer.  I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen person take on the reality of a terminal diagnosis with such grace.  She fought as hard and long as she could, then made the decision how she would spend her last days.  She was so grateful for her life and the people in it.  She set an incredible learning lesson for everyone about being grateful and having grace.  These journeys are always personal for me as I am a survivor but I also lost my only sister to breast cancer.  I saw that battle on good days and bad days until the end.

Spending time reflecting on your life and those in it is always a good idea.  I am incredibly grateful for the life I live.  My kids are doing well and are healthy.  I’m learning the adjustment to retirement.  Spending time with my mom.  Spending time on the Ridgeline sitting in silence allowed me time to reflect on a couple people who entered my life at a time I wasn’t ready for them.  My personal life was a disaster and I wasn’t in a space to truly be present.  A matter of bad timing.  It happens and at times leaves me with the “what if” wonder.  I don’t regret meeting, but I do regret the timing.  Sometimes you just meet people you know are just meant to be in your life forever.  You’d hate bad timing to be the reason the person you are meant to be with isn’t here.  What if???  Deep thinking up on that mountain!!

I always stop at North Fork Brewery and Pizzeria in Deming on my way home.  It’s a little hole in the wall place that has the BEST PIZZA you will EVER eat!!!  I’m not kidding!!  So good!  I’m a fan of beer aged in whiskey barrels so I picked up their whiskey barrel aged Baltic Porter.  Sounds good!  When you check out they give you your bill in a shot glass with a fortune cookie.  My fortune ” Decide what you want and go for it”.  Good timing!

Hmmmm…….What if????

It’s been awhile, but I’m back!

It’s been months since my last post.  Not intentionally, but more important needs in life took a priority.  My elderly mother’s health and wellness became the center point when it became obvious she was no longer able to live on her own.  She moved in with my family and I became her full-time caregiver.  I have a lot of appreciation for healthcare workers as it is not an easy profession.  Just trying to find an in home caregiver for limited hours was incredibly difficult.  I was happy to be in a position where I could have my mom live with us while we figured out her medical issues and needs she may have, both temporary and ongoing.    This was incredibly helpful for assessing her long term needs but it was also a lot of fun.  We laughed about silly stuff every day.  A bit of role reversal thrown in there but that’s okay.  Our parents have always been there for us so we should not hesitate to do the same in return.   Life is short and we should never pass up opportunities to help others.  Take care of your parents!

Just after the first of the year I found out I need a pretty complex shoulder surgery so that set me back a bit.  I had surgery in mid January to repair a torn labrum, rotator cuff and bicep tendon.  Although I knew it was the right thing to do in the long run, being restricted to a full-time brace for six weeks is no fun.  I’m right handed, so having to do everything with my left hand was frustrating to say the least!  Just basic tasks like brushing your hair or trying to get dressed suddenly became anything but basic!  I finally got my brace off and am slowly returning to regular life.  I still have many restrictions on using my arm, but it moves now!  Huge progress!!

I was finally released to hike, but nothing strenuous so I headed up to Rattlesnake Ledge. It’s a quick four mile roundtrip excursion.  The weather was decent and we had the usual moody skies on the ledge.  It felt so good to be back out on the trail.  Not too many people out on the trail so you could just hear the sounds of nature!  Even though your heart feels like it might pound out of your chest, nature always seems to possess a calming energy.  Maybe it’s the deep breaths of fresh air or the sound of silence.  Maybe it’s both. I don’t know.  Not sure it matters.  I’ll still soak it in!

I’ll admit I was a a bit nervous how my shoulder would feel wearing a backpack.  The weather was decent and the trail was close to town with cell service so I was able to pack lighter, but still carry the ten essentials!  It felt pretty good for the first mile then it became apparent that my pack strap rests right on one of my incisions.  It wasn’t painful, just an annoyingly constant irritation.  Once I took my pack off at the top, it quit hurting. Sitting on the ledge you can see all across the Snoqualmie Valley to the Cascade mountain range.  It isn’t uncommon to see a cloud layer dancing around the mountains.  This day was no different.  There are grey jays constantly flying around you and landing nearby.  Looking for a little snack.  They are so friendly that they will land right next to you or on your leg or pack and just stare at you.  I don’t feed them though.  It was starting to get a bit windy so I decided to head back.

It felt so good to be back out on the trail.  Oh how I have missed it.  Glad to be back at it!

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