Saturday, August 9, 2008

Marie joins the Mountain Rabbits

As our group of nine set out up the Goat Mtn trail in the Mt Baker Wilderness, we were keeping pace behind the self-described slowest hiker of the group. Our pace and lack of conversation made me wonder if we were participating in the Hike of Silence, honoring those hikers who had twisted their ankles, fallen prey to hypothermia or had just plain expired on the trail. I felt my hips begin to cramp as my stride was limited in both length and speed and as I turned back to glance at Marie, I could see she was thinking along the same lines. I requested permission from the leader, Bob, to go ahead of the group, and I was granted 20 minutes of lead-time, a decent length of leash. Shortly thereafter, we were joined by another hiker, Mark, and we accelerated away, up the trail. Soon, the conversation between me and my hike-mates turned to the usual hiking subjects: politics, religion and sex. Before any conclusions could be reached, however, we reached the end of our 20-minute leash and waited for the rest of the group to catch up which took about 15 minutes. And so began the Rabbity hike-fast-and-wait pace for the day.

Bob requested that we find a dry place for lunch and so we proceeded up to the open area where we were greeted with happy, sunny flowers (arnica, lupine, rosy spirea, tiger lillies, bistort...) but also wind and rain. A stand of silver firs made itself available to us and we were all able to fit the whole group beneath them. We enjoyed our lunches under shelter of the trees while we watched the hardest of the rain pelt down on the pretty flowers just beyond.

After lunch, we proceeded up the trail, giving the rationale that it would warm us up, but were pleasantly surprised when the rain stopped and we came to a viewpoint where the valley opened up in front of us. The fog was parting just in time for us to view Mt Shuksan, still dramatically draped in storm clouds. I noticed a trail that went out further toward flowers and, needing some flowers for the foreground of my photos, I set off at nearly a run, so excited was I to have my two favorite features in one place: mountains and flowers.

The rest of the group joined me out there once they realized I wasn't off on a party separation and we all gawked and gazed at Shuksan and its glaciers, the Nooksack River and other forested peaks nearby.

For more photos from today's hike, go here.

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