January 25, 2012

A Blustery Day

Filed under: Hiking — Tags: — geezerwriter @ 3:25 pm
Snow on trail

Snow at the Lost Lake junction

I began to question my decision to celebrate my 72nd birthday with a solo hike in the Chuckanuts as the wind began to whistle through the trees on my way up the South Lost Lake Trail. The trail was littered with debris from previous windstorms but I comforted myself by observing all the places on the trail that were NOT covered by big branches and sticks. Even if something were to fall from one of the very tall trees around me, the probability that it would happen to land on me was still very small –  on the same order as getting hit by lightning in a thunderstorm, I should think. If we worry about every bad thing that could possibly happen we would never get up the nerve to go outdoors.

That said, unlikely things do happen. In fact, unlikely things happen all the time – it is extremely unlikely that I would be typing the word “unlikely” at exactly 2:15 PM PST but that did in fact just happen! If you were dealt the poker hand {2 spades, 3 diamonds, 4 hearts, 5 clubs and 7 spades} you would think nothing of it, but that is a very rare hand: there is only one chance in 2,598,960 of being dealt that hand. It is just about the worst possible poker hand you can get, but it is just as rare and unlikely as a royal flush in spades.

Debris on trail

Debris on trail

I’ve heard characters on cop shows, when someone relates an unlikely story, say things like, “There are no coincidences.” I hope (without any conviction) that real people involved in the justice system have more sense.

But I digress. I came up on this trail to check out the state of things for Thursday’s hike by the Senior Trailblazers of Bellingham. Last year a plot of private land located along the Skagit County line and just outside of Larrabee State Park was clearcut and in the process a couple of old, unofficial trails were damaged (I.e., obliterated). Last year Fred and I went exploring up there and found what seemed to be a new connector trail skirting the destroyed area. But we didn’t follow it all the way at that time, so I thought I should check it out before taking the whole crowd down a primrose path. Again. Just before Christmas I made a wrong turn on another unofficial trail and led the group down a ridiculously steep trail that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone with any sense. (It is for mountain bikers only :-))

Dangerous missile

Dangerous missile

The outcome was mixed. The new trail does in fact connect up with the old trail to the east side of Lost Lake but it is not in terrific shape. It is quite steep in a few spots and has 2-3 inches of wet snow (which may have been washed away by today’s downpour) but is generally manageable – and it is only about a quarter mile altogether.

There was one spot, near the edge of the clearcut, where I had a lot of trouble finding my way through some fallen trees. It might be wise to reroute this trail and stay further from the clearcut – I couldn’t be sure if the deadfall was debris from the logging operation or if they had fallen because they’d lost the protection of the logged trees upslope, but I don’t think the fact that all this stuff was right outside the clearcut is a coincidence. (Of course, it could be – unlikely things do happen, after all.)

Anyways, it wasn’t at all obvious but I did find a pretty decent way through that obstacle, so I give it a “thumbs up” for Thursday.

About noon the wind was really picking up and the trees were beginning to make some alarming motions, as you can see and hear on this video clip. When a wind gust came along, most of the sound was the familiar whisshhh-ing of wind through evergreens, but quite a bit louder. But now and then it was accompanied by an ominous low-pitched roar that reminded me of a passing ‘L’ train from my days back in Chicago.

So I kept an eye on the tall trees as I hustled back down the trail – my brain was still droning on about probabilities but feet were skedaddlin’.


  1. Terrific way to spend a birthday, out in the wind and snow! A true Trailblazer. Happy Birthday, Al.

    Comment by Karen Kaufmann — January 25, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

  2. Yes, Al, happy birthday. I will be there to see what you found out. All I can say is I think clearcut sucks! See you tomorrow. Dibs on a seat in your car?

    Comment by DJan — January 25, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  3. The ferns are so gorgeous in that area. Happy Birthday!! Such courage–I tend to be an armchair hiker so I will enjoy reading about your hikes with the Trailblazers.

    Comment by R.J. — January 27, 2012 @ 5:05 am

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