Monday, June 11, 2018

Flower Geeking in the Teanaway

It's that time of year, late spring, when flowers are busting out everywhere around the city, but also in the Central Cascades where the snow melts sooner. There's no better way to see these beauties than to hike in the Teanaway, north of Cle Elum, with a group of Mountaineer flower geeks. The trail was 6 miles round trip with 1,200' of gain, but we were taking it easy and making lots of gawking stops and photo opps.

Balsamroot and Lichen
The Demon Butterfly - no, but that's what it looks like up close

Mt Stuart and me
There were species like Trillium and Arrowleaf Balsamroot that were on their way out, but  also making an appearance was Scarlet Gilia blooming early. Further up on the ridge was a great view of Mt Stuart and I couldn't help but position myself in front of the range. And Bitterroot (Native Americans must have eaten a lot of these roots and named them aptly, though I didn't do any nibbling), the close-to-the-ground showstopper that is often so hard to find. We were in a veritable field of them, relatively speaking, and had to be careful not to trod on one. They were glowing in the midday sun.

We all made the summit and had views out to the Enchantments, the Stuart Range, Mt Rainier and a lot of local peaks that, between us, we had all collectively summitted. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Lopez Island, May

I had been meaning to return to Lopez Island for quite some time but never had the time or enough motivation to overcome some obstacles to travel. The first obstacle, like a hoop to jump through, was the ferry. The WA State Ferries are pretty amazing in that they provide consistent service to islands and to peninsulas all over the Puget Sound. But they can get very busy during times of good weather. Luckily, when I booked my place on Lopez, the proprietor suggested I make a ferry reservation even though it was only May, a month when the weather is very changeable. 
along the beach walk by the Anacortes ferry
view from the ferry

I got through the ferry tollbooth an hour early, as instructed, and had time to walk the beach trail for a while before boarding the boat. The boat was full of bikes, most of them bound for Lopez, as it's relatively flat as far as islands go, though it's not flat. But there's another reason why cyclists flock to Lopez, the "Friendly Island". The drivers all wave to cyclists; in fact, they don't stop at waving to cyclists, they wave at other drivers and at pedestrians, too. For all I know, the drivers may as well wave to the bunnies and deer that hop and lope, respectively, about the island as well. Because they are really good at waving.

I had to remind myself of that as I disembarked and headed for Lopez Village. Whoops, I forgot to wave. Well, I guess the islanders figure out pretty quickly who lives there and who doesn't. Once at the village, I had lunch, then headed for the beach. I was at the top of the stairs that lead down to the beach when I saw a golden retriever waiting to retrieve. He looked at me and took a couple of steps backwards, anticipating running after whatever I was going to throw. I had nothing to throw so I pretended to throw something. The dog was too smart for that and didn't move from his spot. I went down to the beach and the dog became more excited, backing up so that he was in the water. His eyes were saying, "THROW IT!". So I picked up a rock and threw it into the water and, predictably, the dog went after it, however, unlike all other dogs I've played this trick with, this retriever was programmed to bring something to me. He poked his snout around under the water and eventually appeared with a rock in his mouth. It wasn't the same rock that I had thrown in, but it was a rock. This went on for some time, until I was tired and it was time to check in to my lodging.

made friends quickly

sunset on Fisherman Bay

I was staying right on Fisherman Bay, with boats going by outside and incredible sunsets happening each evening. Pretty. Special.

The next day was my birthday and the plan was to not act my age, so I started the day by renting a kayak and paddling to Canoe Island, off the north end of Lopez Island. The guy who set me up with the rental cautioned me about the waves from the ferry and I made it my goal to beach on the island before the wake reached me.
beached on Canoe Island

Olympics off the bow

I wasn't able to go ashore beyond the beach due to all the "No Trespassing" signs, but later learned that there is a French language immersion camp on the island, "ah, oui". I appreciated the solitude on the beach, had a snack and was back on my way to return to Lopez, cruising in on the flood tide.

Part of defying my age meant being able to do many activities in one day, so after a refreshing nap, I set out on my bicycle for a little of my own Tour de Lopez. 
St Joseph Catholic Church

Shark Reef

the view from View Rd

Yeah, that was nice, then it was time for a quick dinner and back into the kayak for the sunset. I forgot my camera but then decided it would be better if I just paddled and stayed in the moment, sans documentation. The water was very still in Fisherman Bay and the sky was preparing for some drama, wispy clouds lining up in feathery patterns. My paddles dipped rhythmically, left and right, and I felt one with the water. I gazed down into the water and saw the sky, a flock of birds flying by, in the water, the sky. They became one and I was part of the scenery, floating in the sky, on water.

I came across a napping seal, his body swelling and breaching the surface as he inhaled, then dropping down below the water as he exhaled. Inhale, exhale, up, down until I nearly fell asleep myself.