Autumn Hike Destresses the Day

There’s nothing like a hike to escape the stresses of a workday.  Especially in autumn. Especially here in the Pacific Northwest.  So when I found myself overloaded one day last week, I picked up the phone and asked one of my buddies if she would like to join me for a short hike.  She had the day off and was happy to spend part of it on the trail.

We had originally hoped to hike that day, to leave early in the morning, drive up to the Mount Baker National Forest and take one of the many wonderful hikes up there. But an eye appointment for her and work issues for me preempted our plans. Besides, the weather forecast was a bit ‘iffy’, as it so often can be here this time of year. Rain was in the forecast and neither of us were excited about hiking in inclement weather.  So we cancelled our plans.  Yet as the day wore on, no rain appeared although the wind had steadily picked up causing white caps to appear on the water in the bay.

There's nothing like an autumn hike to help destress the day.
There’s nothing like an autumn hike to help destress the day.

I spent the morning tackling the things I needed to do in my studio. And when I felt I had most of it under control, I shot off an e-mail to my buddy, whose vision was blurred by the dilation from the eye exam and consequently stuck at home, to see if she’d be up for taking a shorter hike closer to home.  Fortunately for us, we live in a place that has an abundance of greenways, trails and wilderness areas within the city and county limits.

The Lake Whatcom Trail quickly leads you into a woods of towering trees.
The Lake Whatcom Trail quickly leads you into a woods of towering trees.

It’s easy to quickly get to a trailhead within minutes of your home, no matter where you live in the city.  It’s one of the reasons I love living here. The problem is deciding which one to take because there are so many choices.

We settled on one of the easier but still scenic and beautiful trails–the Lake Whatcom Park trail.  It’s a mostly flat, well-maintained trail that starts at the north end of the lake and follows the shoreline for three miles south.  I had not walked that trail for more than year and quickly agreed when my friend suggested it. I picked her up and together we drove out to the park entrance and the parking lot.  This trail, because of its proximity and relative ease, is a popular one for people with families and dogs. The parking lot is usually full, particularly on our warmer summer days. As this was a weekday, and in the middle of the afternoon, there were only a few cars.

Gorgeous sculptural tree roots cling to the boulders and old growth stumps.
Gorgeous sculptural tree roots cling to the boulders and old growth stumps.

The great thing about this trail is that you are quickly into the forest.  And a few minutes later, the trail descended out of woods to follow the shoreline. From there on, we had the lake on side and a densely green woods on the other.  Occasionally, there would be outcroppings of huge boulders from which trees somehow found a way to cling.  Surprisingly, much of the deciduous foliage was still very green. I had expected to find much more color on the leaves and had brought along my capture to hopefully record it.  I guess the nights have not yet been cold enough to bring out all the fall brilliance although in the section of the city where I live, which is at a little higher elevation, autumn is in full swing.

Trees along the trail hadn't yet changed to autumn color although this little leaf seems to be doing its best to encourage the rest.
Trees along the trail hadn’t yet changed to autumn color although this little leaf seems to be doing its best to encourage the rest.

There was still plenty to photograph and kindly, my friend waited patiently as I stopped along the way to set up and capture a shot.  The clouds above the lake were dark and threatening, but no rain.

The Lake Whatcom Trail follows the beautiful northern edge of the lake where stormy clouds added to the drama on this day.
The Lake Whatcom Trail follows the beautiful northern edge of the lake where stormy clouds added to the drama on this day.

The white-capped waves crashed against the logs that had fallen and lay on the shore as we set out, but later calmed some. The waterfalls that ordinarily tumble full down the cliff side were there but only a thin stream of what they would have been during a wetter year. It was possible to see them  from the trail through the branches of golden leaves but could have been easily missed. Still there was plenty for my friend and I to stop and admire and investigate.

Neither I nor my friend were sure what this growth was at the end of the fallen and moss-covered log.
Neither I nor my friend were sure what this growth was at the end of the fallen and moss-covered log.

We only encountered a handful of people on the trail this day.  It was nearly like we had the place to ourselves.  We didn’t walk all the way to the end, turning around to retrace our steps at the two mile marker.  By the time we arrived back at the parking lot, we had been out just about an hour and a half.  Not so long that I couldn’t get back to my desk and finish up what I needed to do but long enough to give us both a much-needed refresher from the stresses of that day.

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