Join Thor, Bear dog, and me as we enjoy the abundant snow still cloaking Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan!
Welcome back to the Pacific Northwest after our rambles through Greece. Thor and I are looking forward to a return trip to the Greek islands — some new ones to explore! — this fall, but meanwhile we’ll share some of our other rambles. This winter was a tough one on various fronts, including more-than-Biblical straight days of gray, cold rain, some extended-family challenges, and Thor’s recovery from spinal surgery. His stenosis was treated, but it’s a long haul to regrow the nerves that control his right calf muscles. (He has a REALLY long leg, and the nerves grow only about 2-3 mm. per day). Our usual hiking has been restricted, but when the sun finally broke through in May, and Mt. Baker was glowing so beautifully on the horizon, we just had to dig out the snowshoes to give it a go. Wearing a special orthotic device, Thor discovered that snowshoeing used different muscles than walking, so we happily headed up past the now-closed ski area, toward Artist Point on the shoulders of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker.
Snowboarders and some Nordic skiers continue to hike to the top for some runs, and a couple of them made these lovely tracks:
Bear loves the snow, and he led the way to our picnic spot with a view of Mt. Shuksan. The dip beneath the exposed dark ridges at the far right shelters the bowl of Lake Anne, one of our favorite late-summer hikes when the snow will finally be gone from all but the higher mountain slopes.
Bear dog gets his own lunchtime tarp and collapsible water bowl. (Though a bit spoiled, he does not drink Perrier — we’re just reusing the plastic water bottle.)
Near the center right of the photo below, you can see the swooping curve of the buried roadway that carries tourists to Artist Point for fantastic views in late summer. When we’re up here, we always feel grateful for this getaway only about an hour and a half drive from our home in Bellingham, WA. The quiet, the open spaces, and the clean air seem to scour away the busy static of the world. We also marvel at the privileges of our modern age, that allow even physically-challenged people access to the mountains that would have required grueling efforts to visit not that long ago.
Bear dog shows off his toe tufts and his purple tongue (he’s part chow-chow, though unusually mellow):
Department of I Really Do Know Better:
Below is what we dubbed the Carnivorous Tree Well.
The hole next to the tree trunk doesn’t look like much, but I stepped too close to the edge, and the snow gave way, plunging me down into what seemed to be a bottomless pit. (Almost every year, a boarder or skier falls into one of these and dies when the snow buries them in the hole.) Luckily, my left snowshoe caught on something and stopped my descent. My head was at the level of the snow surface, and I couldn’t get a purchase on the crumbling edge of snow to pull myself out. Luckily, Thor was there to reach me his pole and pull me out! Oddly, I wasn’t that worried. It was only later, when Thor confided his “freak out” that he might not have gotten me out before I got hypothermia, that the close call really sank in.
I guess I was just too high on the mountain, and getting out again onto the slopes! The best fun was on the way down, where our route drops over a steep part of one of the ski runs. The best way to descend is to take off our snowshoes, sit on our emergency tarps, and toboggan down as Bear runs barking excitedly along. We laughed in delight the whole way down.
Thor, the paleontologist/geologist, insists we admire this bank of columnar andesite at the parking area:
And I’ll share the glow of happiness and sunlight through the big, mossy maples lining the Mt. Baker Highway on the way home. Thanks for joining us!
You will now find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Cafe is available in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize and the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction. Sara has recently returned from a research trip in Greece and is back at work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect. Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at www.sarastamey.com