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Category Archives: hike

Face it. Many people in the west have had to battle smoke and wildfire for weeks. Even months. Those things stole our summer from us. Now, it’s cool in the mornings and you might need a sweater in the evening. Colors are changing. Not so much with freezing temperatures but endless weeks without any moisture. I don’t expect a big fall colors show like last year. So even though the calendar doesn’t agree, I think summer is over.

Luna and I got out of the car at the trailhead this morning and I was reminded that my brain is still in summer mode. Fortunately, in my car, I had a light jacket and some gloves to get me started up the trail. It did warm up after we got to the lake and the changing colors are beautiful.

Yesterday the girls and I joined with Molly (remember Molly from last year?) and Mary for a nice hike, mostly above tree line in the North Cascades. We drove through a layer of wildfire smoke to get to the trailhead and found perfect blue skies with fluffy clouds. Ground squirrels and hoary marmots and pikas gave their warning calls as we walked by.  At the end of the hike we could see the smoke column from the Diamond Creek wildfire east of us. In the meantime we were treated to vast vistas of mountains in all directions. We all felt grateful to have this in our ‘backyard’. The dogs were most grateful for the last of the snow and a creek of snow melt leading to a clear refreshing pond for cooling off.

The girls and I have been out and about on some trails this summer. After a wet and cool spring, we have not had any rain in weeks. The paths are all dusty and dry. I carry water for my dogs and they appreciate it. The streams and lakes and snow patches are welcome sights!

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year here. So far. It reached 100 on the valley floor. Sheesh. Did I mention that we are completely without air conditioning for at least another couple of weeks? It’s enough to make a girl and her dogs crazy.

We drove up Boulder Creek to the Freezeout Pass trailhead and headed up the trail to 8242 foot Tiffany Mountain. It was 73 when we started. I was soon sweating on the steep trail through the burned forest. Many trees have blown over since last summer (sort of like the situation at my house) so there was quite a bit of clambering over and around the deadfall. Once we got out of the trees, it was the same steep, rocky ascent to the summit. Horned Larks were all around us. This is a place where they nest each summer. The snow has only recently melted up there but already it’s very dry and dusty most of the way along the trail. Wildflowers are just getting started. They could use a little bit of rain but none is in the long range forecast. At the top, the view was the best I’ve ever seen up there. Not a cloud in the sky and little haze either. I could see Mount Baker and Glacier Peak to the west and Moses Mountain to the east. And there wasn’t much wind either. On the way down, the wind picked up and I didn’t linger in the burned forest. The trees groaned and creaked and swayed in the wind.

We stopped at Boulder Creek to cool our feet on the way home. The dogs probably enjoyed that part more than the hike. I experimented with using my knee as tripod to get some pretty water images.

Back at home, it was 87, in the house.

Most of the snow has melted so ski season is mostly over and hiking season is officially underway. Mountain Bluebirds and Spotted Towhees added a few sprinkles of color in an otherwise pretty monochrome setting. The songs of Western Meadowlarks accompanied me for much of the hike. This area burned in the giant fires of 2014.

The morning’s bird list: Gray Partridge, Dusky Grouse, Golden Eagle, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Say’s Phoebe, Black-billed Magpie, Clark’s Nutcracker, Common Raven, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Bluebird, American Robin, Brewer’s Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, Western Meadowlark, Cassin’s Finch.

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