Sunday, February 22, 2015

Railroad Grade-Park Butte Trail in February (or The Year It Forgot to Snow)

Dean, Dude and I hiked up to Railroad Grade on Saturday. This would usually be a long snowshoe hike this time of year, but this is the year it forgot to snow. The trail was bare or lightly snow-covered on the way up, until we reached the snow bowl area between Park Butte and Railroad Grade. We did fine in trail running shoes.

We hiked up on to the Railroad Grade, which is a long ridge that climbers take to begin the southern ascent of Mount Baker. The views were world class, with the volcano lightly steaming, and 360 degree views of Glacier Peak, Park Butte lookout, and numerous other lesser known peaks (though Dean knows their names). Truly a great day for hiking.

We were able to leave at 10:30 AM from Mount Vernon, and were home before dark. Love that. The Sno-Park is closed, and it doesn't appear that a sno-park pass ($20+) is needed. The area is closed to snowmobiles. Some folks were camping in the bowl, and we saw about 10 people coming off the summit, some 5000 feet above.

Down low, the daffodils are blooming in the Skagit, and I hear rumors that some tulips are already up too. I know ours in the yard are pushing up. Spring is coming early, it seems. Meanwhile, the east coast is snowed in. Weird weather this year.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fragrance Lake On A Rainy Day

A rainy day is all right sometimes. We're getting flood stage river alerts this weekend, with the Skagit high on the banks. There's no snow in the mountains, as events are being rescheduled and skiers are warned about rocks and brush.

I just had to get out this morning. I've had far too hard a time finding time in the past month or so. Hiking and running trails refreshes the spirit, and gives me that balance I need. I just plod along, checking out things--lichen, a woodpecker, puddles.  Lots of puddle stomping today.  I saw a few runners out there, presumably training for Chuckanut.

The trails are familiar. I can hike them in the dark, probably w/o a light, though I'm sure I'd trip on a rock here or there. My fitness changes, but the trails, not so much. They will dry up later, but the rain makes everything that much more real.