Monthly Archives: December 2012

95 – Oyster Dome and Lily Lake

Making the hike to our popular Oyster Dome seemed most appropriate for us to complete on the last day of the year. It’s a rather steep hike up to a glacier polished cliff high above the trees, and on this day, the clouds. To save ourselves from some of the steep climb, we began our hike at the Samish Overlook where we had a great view right from the start.

Samish Overlook

Samish Overlook

The first portion of our hike follows a portion of the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT).

05 Along the trail

Our trail was steep in places, and wound around the side of the foggy mountain.

We climb through the fog

We climb through the fog

Above the clouds, we sat on the rocky dome for a picnic lunch.

Lunch break on the dome

Lunch break on the dome

After lunch, we took the Max’s Shortcut Trail on to Lily Lake. There was about six inches of fresh snow along the trail at some of the highest areas along the trail. By then the sun had come out and it was like hiking in a winter wonderland.

Along Max's Shortcut trail

Along Max’s Shortcut trail

We reached a frozen Lily Lake. Beautiful!

A frozen Lily Lake

A frozen Lily Lake

From there, it was all downhill – and back to our trailhead. For information on the trail and recent trip reports to the Oyster Dome, go to the Washington Trails Association (WTA) website here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/oyster-dome – and for information on hiking to Lily Lake, visit the WTA website, here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lily-lake-trail.  We made this a loop hike so we could visit Lily Lake (and on to Lizard Lake) too, but each destination makes a great hike on its own. Happy trails!

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

94 – Miranda Ridge (Galbraith Mountain)

Returning to the Pacific Northwest after a couple of weeks in Colorado, snow keeps us off our favorite trails in the high country, so we set off to explore Galbraith Mountain, one of our local, low elevation mountains. Here we are at the Miranda Ridge trailhead.

Miranda Ridge trailhead . . .

Miranda Ridge trailhead . . .

Several miles later, we reached Miranda Ridge where we had a wonderful view looking out over Bellingham with Sehome Hill, Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands to the west, and the mountains in Canada to the north.

Viewing Bellingham and the Bay from the ridge . . .

Viewing Bellingham and the Bay from the ridge . . .

A local mountain bike group maintains the trails on Galbraith Mountain. This ramp must be very fun for those bikers.

Passing mountain bike ramps . . .

Passing mountain bike ramps . . .

It was cold when we left home so we added a thermos of hot chocolate to our picnic lunch along the trail. Portions of the trail cross logging roads, so we found a comfortable log to sit on as we dined. That hot chocolate sure makes a wonderful treat on winter hikes!

Time for picnic . . . and hot chocolate

Time for picnic . . . and hot chocolate

Mountain bikers have the right away on these trails. We weren’t sure what it would be like sharing the trail with speeding mountain bikers, but it turned out just fine. Each and every rider we encountered was extremely friendly, courteous and seemed happy to share their trails with hikers. As they approached, they would ring their bell or speak to let us know they were coming. As they passed, they would let us know how many more were in the group behind them and we would step off the trail to watch as they sped by.

Sharing the trail . . .

Sharing the trail . . .

I guess when mountain bikers speed along on rough trail, the occasional accident can happen. As we hiked the other trails on the mountain, we came up to several first aide stations. It was good to know that they had a system in place for emergencies.

One of the many EMS stations along the trail . . .

One of the many EMS stations along the trail . . .

There is quite a maze of trails on Galbraith Mountain and we explored quite a few of them. Some were marked for hikers only, others for bikers only. I do not recall if this trail was only for hikers, but if it was also for the bikers, they had better duck as they pass under this log.

Along the trail . . .

Along the trail . . .

Information about the trails on Galbraith Mountain are available on the Ride Galbraith website, here – http://www.ridegalbraith.com/Index.cfm. Happy trails!

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

93 – Castlewood Canyon

I recall hiking the trails through Castlewood Canyon once years ago when the snow was close to knee high, but this time not only was there fresh snow, but the temperature was nine degrees when we began our hike – and by the time we finished, had fallen to zero. These were extreme temperatures to be hiking in, but we were prepared. We layered up and headed out.

Castlewood Canyon trailhead . . .

Castlewood Canyon trailhead . . .

Go here – http://www.parks.state.co.us/PARKS/CASTLEWOODCANYON/TRAILS/Pages/castlewood%20trails.aspx –  to see all the trail options through Castlewood Canyon. We covered them all except the last mile of the Lake Gulch Trail. Kent took this photo of me up along the Rimrock Trail. With a couple of inches of new snow on top of a layer of ice, I dared not venture too close to the edge of that rimrock as the drop down to the canyon floor looked a bit frightening, but how refreshing to be standing there under that big blue sky.

(pic by Kent) . . . along the Rim Trail

(pic by Kent) . . . along the Rim Trail

Here I look up at what remains of the historic dam along the Dam Trail. That dam broke many years before, flooding Cherry Creek and the surrounding valley all the way into the city of Denver.

(pic by Kent) at the historical dam . . .

(pic by Kent) at the historical dam . . .

This is the old homestead along the Homestead Trail. By this time, we could tell that the temperature was dropping fast, and portions of the trail were nothing but a sheet of ice so decided it was a good time to turn around and call it a day.

The old homestead . . .

The old homestead . . .

Cutting through the valley floor, we passed several deer. They watched us as we walked by, probably surprised to see people along the trails on such a chilly day.

Wildlife . . . along the trail

Wildlife . . . along the trail

Crossing the last of the bridges over Cherry Creek on our way back to the trailhead.

Another bridge over Cherry Creek . . .

Another bridge over Cherry Creek . . .

Castlewood Canyon is a great place to visit and I highly recommend a hike there if you find yourself in the Denver area looking for a place to spend a few hours. More information on the park can be found here – http://www.parks.state.co.us/parks/castlewoodcanyon/Pages/CastlewoodCanyonHome.aspx.

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Categories: Colorado, Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

92 – Red Rock Canyon

In Colorado Springs to hike the trails at Garden of the Gods (See Hike #91 – Garden of the Gods) while visiting relatives in Denver, we learned of the new Red Rock Canyon Open Space so stop by their information office and got trail information so we could hike and explore the area.

Getting info on the trail . . .

Getting info on the trail . . .

An old quarry remained and after reading about its history, we climbed the steeped steps to have a good look around.

Climbing steps to the old quarry

Climbing steps to the old quarry

Huge cuts remained where giant slabs of red rock had been manually cut out and loaded on horse-drawn carts. Hauled to Denver, many buildings today have carved blocks and trim from that quarry. It seemed incredible to think about the weight of just one of those giant blocks of rock and the effort it must have taken to load one of those blocks up on cart. We climbed up on some of those cut out areas and looked out at the giant quarry. Absolutely amazing!

Exploring the quarry . . .

Exploring the quarry . . .

Back on the trail, we worked our way around the canyon, sometimes gaining in elevation  for a great view of the valley below, then would head back down to the canyon floor.

Along the trail . . .

Along the trail . . .

It being December, someone had hung a holiday ornament near the bench on this trail, aptly named the Contenplation Trail.

Along the trail . . .

Along the trail . . .

The red rock of this canyon is part of the same vein of red rock at Garden of the Gods, and like the unusual rock formations at Garden of the Gods, there were some here as well.

The Red Rock Canyon walls . . .

The Red Rock Canyon walls . . .

Here’s Kathleen at the end of the trail. Yeah, she made it!

The end of the trail . . .

The end of the trail . . .

For more information on the Red Rock Canyon, the old quarry and hiking trails, visit their website here – http://www.springsgov.com/page.aspx?navid=2090 .

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Categories: Colorado, Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

91 – Garden of the Gods

A trip to the Denver area does not seem complete without a visit to Garden of the Gods.

Along the trail . . .

Along the trail . . .

From easy to moderate in difficulty, miles of  trails take you past the incredible rock formations in the park.

Along the trail . . .

Along the trail . . .

Kent looks on in awe at the huge red rock formations.

Along the trail . . .

Along the trail . . .

As you can see, we had a great time!

(pic by Kathy) . . . along the trail

(pic by Kathy) . . . along the trail

For directions to the park and trail information, follow this link – http://www.gardenofgods.com/parkinfo/index_114.cfm.

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Categories: Colorado, Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

90 – Spruce Mountain Loop

Visiting family for the holidays, we took to the trails under the beautiful blue Colorado sky. Here we are at the trailhead for the Spruce Mountain Loop at the Spruce Mountain Open Space with Kent’s sister, Kathleen.

Spruce Mountain Open Space . . . trailhead

Spruce Mountain Open Space . . . trailhead

Spruce Mountain is a 5.5 mile loop trail around a tree-covered mesa, wet meadows and rocky cliffs. Switchbacks led us to the top of the mesa where we had stunning views of the cliffs and distant mountains.

Switchbacks . . .Along the trail

Switchbacks . . .Along the trail

Here, Kathleen and I pose on the edge of a cliff. What a beautiful view of the valley below!

Along the trail . . .

Along the trail . . .

We reached Windy Pointand sat on the rocks looking out to Garden of the Gods in the distance as we ate lunch.

Picnic spot at Windy Point . . . along the trail

Picnic spot at Windy Point . . . along the trail

Such beautiful country, was great to be hiking there again!

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Categories: Colorado, Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

89 – Coast Millennium Trail and Semiahmoo Spit Trail

We joined friends from our local Audobon group on the monthly fieldtrip, Birding the Beaches of Semiahmoo.

Birding the beaches of Semiahmoo

Birding the beaches of Semiahmoo

We are a friendly bunch of birders!

Birding friends . . .

Birding friends . . .

Semiahmoo Spit is a great place for birding with plenty of opportunities to spot water fowl wintering in our waters.

Members of our local Audobon Society . . .

Members of our local Audobon Society . . .

These two birders used the bushes as a natural blind in hopes of getting better sightings.

Birding friends . . .

Birding friends . . .

After the fieldtrip, we extended our outing by hiking a few more miles along the the Semiahmoo Spit and Coast Millennium Trails.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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