This Monday morning the stairs are not my friend. J and I took Cobalt out for his first hike on Saturday, our first hike of the year! I was so excited to get back on the trails and see how our little guy would fare. My corner of Washington has been so bereft of snow thus far that we decided the trails ought to be clear enough to explore, even up in the Chuckanut Mountains.
So we packed up my Jeep, loaded up wee Cobalt (who’s not so wee anymore and is weighing in at 45 lbs now), and headed out to the mountains. We arrived at the trailhead and the puppy was raring to go. He strained against his leash and harness, promptly forgetting all the leash training of the past few months, and dragged J the whole way. I followed behind, WAY behind with the Camelback and some snacks tucked away, huffing and puffing up the mountain.
The weatherman got it all wrong and this day that was predicted to be rainy rebelled in full force. Sunshine streamed through the trees and dotted our trail as we went ever higher up the mountainside. Soon we were shedding our outer layers of clothing and reveling in warmth, and in mid-February at that! We shared our trail with horseback riders and mountain bikers and evidence of their presence could be seen in the form of tread tracks, hoofprints, and a decided lack of pooper scoopers. Dodging horse turds, roots, and rocks certainly made the hike more interesting!
Our goal was to reach Lily Lake. I had been there years before but J wanted to see it and had heard that it was a good place for fly fishing. As we gained elevation, parts of the trail were covered with branches, the aftermath of logging, and we had to navigate over a few fallen trees. Four miles in we started to see signs of snow along the trail, and the temperature cooled considerably. We rounded a few turns and snow-covered Lily Lake greeted us, bathed in sunlight.
This mountaintop lake is the home of several beaver families and we saw their handiwork along the way. But despite the signs of life all around the lake was still and quiet. We went out to sit beside it and have a snack, enjoying our hard-won view. Cobalt, in his foolish puppy courage rushed out on the ice covered lake to play in his first snow of the season. I couldn’t be more grateful for J’s quick reflexes, pulling Cobalt up by his harness just as the thin ice started to crack. We would have journeyed back with a very soggy and miserable puppy. As it was, fast-moving clouds rolled in and we started to shiver. Time to head out.
We had a few hours of daylight left, but not wanting to chance hiking in diminishing light through the thick forest, we opted to take the scenic route back instead of going on to explore Lost Lake and Lizard Lake. As the days lengthen, we will be heading back out to see those spots. Our scenic trail took us down a series of steep switchbacks, and back into the relative warmth of lower elevation. We made great time and were pleased to discover that we had logged nine miles of trail in just three hours! And that, my wonderful readers, is why stairs are not my friend today.
We loaded up in the Jeep again but this time took the road out to Samish Lookout, a spot that we had hoped to hike to if time had allowed. At the end of the road there was a clearing designed for hang gliders to launch from. Some gliders soared overhead and others were slowly making their way south to the Skagit Valley below where they landed in a verdant grassy field. The San Juan Islands enmeshed in Puget Sound waters dominated the view to the west. Wind whipped and tugged at our clothes from up there and chilled to the bone but it couldn’t keep us from enjoying the breathtaking scenery. Clouds had rolled in once again and this time rain was soon to follow so we took some parting glances at the surrounding vista and made our way homeward bound.
It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day to go for a hike. I’d almost forgotten how much I missed being out in beautiful nature with nothing but the sounds of my hiking companions and the wild things. J and I are already planning more hiking trips for the coming weekends and camping trips as spring and summer approach. In the meantime, I’m working on reconciling myself with the stairs at work…
What wild adventures were you guys up to this weekend?