Post Fire

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A view of the Wanapum Recreation Area in the Gingko Petrified Forest State Park and the Columbia River. The green area in the right center of the photo is the campground. The entire surrounding area was burned. The campground is watered regularly.

August 2, 2018

We found out that there were 3 fires in the area within the last two months that have burned an extensive part of this area.  (Here is a link that shows pictures of one of the fires.  Click here.) One fire started at the rest stop that is about 10 miles up the road.  There is almost no vegetation at this time.  It looks very desolate and it is hard to believe that any animals can survive in this environment.  But, some do.

Yesterday, we found several Bighorn ship by the river at the north part of the State Park.  There is some vegetation along the river, so it is not surprising the sheep would be there.  There are a few babies.  Once you get a few feet away from the river, there is no vegetation except for the grassy area around the State Park visitor center and parking lot.  This area is regularly watered and the sheep hang out here because of it.

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Bighorn Sheep in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park by the Columbia River. Mom spotted us and is heading to safety with her baby.
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Bighorn Sheep mom and her baby in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.
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Bighorn Sheep in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.
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Bighorn sheep baby in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.

Regis went hiking for about six miles in this desolate landscape.  He found a couple seeps/springs where there is a bit of greenery among the barren landscape.  He found a few places where the plant life is beginning to come back.

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The little bit of greenery is this burned landscape shows where there is some water in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park. 
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Life trying to return after the fire in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.

He noticed several animal skeletons.  At least some of them are charred, so the bones were there before the fire.  With the vegetation gone, it is easy to see all the “hard” stuff left behind.

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Animal skeleton in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.
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Burned fence post in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.

We learned that in 2016, only one person died in the U.S. from a rattlesnake bite and that person had an underlying health condition.  Twelve thousand people died from stairs that same year.  Even the vet told me that rattlesnakes are not that big of a concern here.  He thinks there is more concern about alligators in Florida.  The snakes aren’t interested in being around you.  But, like anything, be aware of your surroundings.  We also learned that a relocated rattlesnake is a dead rattlesnake.  Rattlesnakes spend the winter communally in a specific place.  They learn where that place is in their first year and if they are relocated will search endlessly for that place.  As a result, they die of starvation and/or exposure because they will not eat while searching for that place.

It is about 10 degrees cooler today, so it is much more bearable.

 

Bee Sting and Wicked Wind

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View across the Columbia River from our campsite.

August 1, 2018

Yesterday, we had to take Dart to the vet.  The nearest vet is 34 miles away.  Dart’s been having digestive issues and yesterday was going on day 3.  We’ve been down this path many times, so I knew he needed some professional help.  Dart was diagnosed with colitis and the vet prescribed Metronidazole which always helps.  Dart has been having bouts of colitis for the last 2 1/2 years.

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View across the Columbia River from our campground.

It went up to 104 degrees yesterday, so we didn’t spend much time outside.  We decided in the early evening to set up the screened canopy which we purchased on last year’s trip to Canada.  We purchased it for the Canadian trip to give us relief from the mosquitoes.  By the time we bought it, we didn’t have to use it.  We wanted to set it up here to give relief from the bees.  While I was focused on helping Regis put up the canopy, a dag gone bee stung me.  Ouch! It hurt, but at least not as bad as a yellow jacket sting.

The canopy was VERY HARD to set up.  I had a canopy that I used for dog agility trials that I had no problem putting up and down by myself.  This screened canopy was extremely difficult for two people to put up.

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Dart, Coco, and Regis in the screened canopy we set up to give us relief from the bees.

Once we sat inside, we realized that what little breeze was outside was blocked by the screen.  As hot as it was outside, it was intolerable to sit under the canopy.  We gave up and went inside the motor home and fed the dogs and ourselves.  Around the time we finished dinner, the wind picked up so much we had to take down the canopy or it would have blown down the hill into the Columbia River.  So, all that effort and it was only up for two hours and we couldn’t use it.

The wind picked up considerably as the evening wore on and by the time we went to bed, it was howling out there.  That is the most wind we have experienced in the motor home.  In fact, it is probably the windiest situation I have been in outside of Hurricane Irma and perhaps a few tropical storms.  While I was laying there trying to get to sleep, the feeling I had was like when you are in an airplane taking off on the runway and the wheels haven’t lifted off the ground yet.  The plane is shaking and rumbling until the plane gets into the air.  The motor home was shaking and rumbling and I was hoping that it wasn’t going to take off.  Without wings, it wouldn’t have worked well.

A significant portion of the land around us for many miles has been burned not long ago.  I wonder if you tinted the land red, if this is what it would look like to be on Mars.

 

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This is what the land looks like around us for miles and miles and miles.

Leavenworth

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Leavenworth, Washington

July 31, 2018

Recently, we went to Leavenworth, Washington.  This town is draped in a German decor.  There are lots and lots of flowers.  On Sunday, it was packed.  It was too hot to walk the dogs through town, so we drove up to Wenatchee Lake.  It was a beautiful drive along the Wenatchee River.  There were lots of people enjoying the Lake in this heat.

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Leavenworth, Washington
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Wenatchee River outside Leavenworth, Washington

On the way back to our campground, we drove around Monitor taking pictures of orchards.  While taking a picture of one orchard, the farm animals across the street had something to say about it.

 

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Fruit crates in Monitor, Washington.
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Bridge in Monitor, Washington

We headed Southeast along the Columbia River yesterday.  The temperature hit 103 degrees.  Our campsite is very nice with a great view of the Columbia River.  When the temperature dropped into the high nineties, we went outside in the shade to sit with the dogs.  It didn’t take three minutes for them to start panting.  The bees arrived and harassed us, so we were forced to come back inside.  We managed to get a short walk in before the sunset.  The weather is expected to remain hot, so we’ll be exploring by car over the next few days.  With the dogs, we look for restaurants with outdoor seating that will allow us to bring them.  But, it is even too hot for that.

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My maiden name.

Ohme Gardens

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Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Washington

July 29, 2018

Yesterday, I went to Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Washington.  This area is very arid.  The hills are dry and covered with scrub.  In 1929, Herman Ohme purchased 40 acres of land for an orchard.  It included a rocky bluff.  He and his wife started planting gardens on the bluff which required getting water to the arid land.  They used local rock to make paths and benches.  As word got out, people started to come and see the gardens and they were eventually opened to the public.  The gardens were expanded upon and they are now owned by Chelan County.

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Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Washington

It was hot when I went and I was covered in sweat by the time I worked my way through most of the paths.  I can’t imagine how much work went into creating the gardens.  The early work done on the gardens was all manual labor requiring obtaining many of the rocks by the Columbia River and hauling them up the bluff.  It’s definitely worth checking out if you are in the area.  It is only $8 to get in.

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Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Washington
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Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Washington

There are many orchards around the area.  The surrounding hillsides are very dry which makes the orchards particularly inviting with their lush greenery.  Our thermometer registered 99 degrees yesterday.  It must be very difficult to work in the orchards in this heat.  The skies are still moderately smoky from local fires.

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Orchards in Monitor, Washington with smoky skies.
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Orchards and bridge on the Wenatchee River in Monitor, Washington.
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Fruit crates waiting to be filled in Monitor, Washington.
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Fire equipment in Monitor, Washington.

 

Cashmere

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Cashmere, Washington the day before the wildfires created smoky skies. 

July 28, 2018

Yesterday, we went to Lake Chelan to explore which is about 30 miles from where we are staying.  The sky was smoky the whole way and by the time we got back, it was also smoky back at the campground.  A local told me there were 7 wildfires currently in the area.

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Smoke over Lake Chelan.
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Smoke over Lake Chelan. The paddle board on the right side has a dog on the front of the paddle board.

We went to the Lake Chelan State Park and Coco found two mice soon after starting our short walk.  Count on a Bedlington Terrier to find the rodents.  Dart found a squirrel taunting him from a tree.  Once Coco smelled the squirrel, she got excited and tried to climb the tree.  It was amusing to watch.  She was very determined.

The drive getting here was so miserable on the first day and it was very hot when we got here, so Regis and I went to a local Mexican restaurant the Agave Azul to get food and drink.  We loved it.  After our return from the smoky trip to Lake Chelan, Regis suggested going to the Agave Azul for happy hour.  It didn’t take me a nanosecond to agree!  We love their chips and dip.  So, we got magaritas and enough bar food to serve as dinner.

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Happy hour margaritas in Azul Agave.

After we got back and later that evening, I realized that I left my shirt at the bar.  I just realized how strange that sounds.  I was wearing a short sleeve shirt and took a long sleeve shirt to wear over it in case the air conditioning was too cold.  It wasn’t, so I left my shirt on the chair and forgot about it.  When I went back to retrieve it, it gave me an opportunity to purchase more chips and dip.  The dip they serve with the chips is amazing.

We found a local bakery that makes the absolutely best baked goods.  The Bavarian creme donuts have just enough donut covering the creme to allow you to pick it up and eat it.  We also tried the glazed donuts.  Both types of donuts are the best donuts we have ever had.  They also make cookies and the shortbread cookies are the best.  I will be buying a bag of them before we leave the area.

The bakery and Mexican restaurant are in the local town of Cashmere.  It was named after the Kashmir area in India because apparently the landscape looks similar.  It’s a nice little town.  It has important stuff like good restaurants, grocery stores, old fashioned soda fountain, etc. without being too touristy and crowded.

Octopus

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Agnus, the Giant Pacific Octopus at the Seattle Aquarium.

July 26, 2018

On our final day on Bainbridge Island, I went to Seattle to have my stitches removed.  The wound looks better than I expected, so I don’t look like Frankenstein.  It will take six months to completely heal, but it’s off to a good start.

I went to the Seattle Aquarium before heading back on the ferry.  It was very crowded, so it was sometimes hard to look in some of the tanks.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing the life that lives under the water hidden from sight.  It is amazing how many different kinds of fish there are.  My favorite animal was Agnus the Giant Pacific Octopus.  She showed off how she could change colors and move all her lovely arms.

I ate dinner in a nearby restaurant on the water.  Although it was good, it was way too expensive.  This is the tourist area.  At this point, I had already walked across town to the doctor’s appointment and back down to the waterfront and it was warm.  I wasn’t interested in walking to restaurant outside the area because I would have to walk back up the hill.  Some of the hills in Seattle are very steep.  If you go to Seattle, don’t just hang out on the waterfront.  Go see the other wonderful restaurants in town.

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Seattle

As we sat in the campsite on our final evening, a squirrel showed up to strip bark off the nearest tree.  Perhaps he/she was building a nest.  Dart was fascinated (so was Regis).  Coco was more interested in the Robin that hung around.

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Squirrel
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Dart watching squirrel
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Regis watching squirrel
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Coco watching a bird

We left Bainbridge Island yesterday to head out to a campground by the Wenatchee River.  The drive was miserable.  There was a lot of traffic and it was very bumpy for some reason.  Many things in the RV got rearranged along the way.  I kept doing cleanup and trying to make sure more things didn’t fall.  I reset the cappuccino maker on the counter but it wound up crashing on the floor anyway.  This is the first time this happened.  When we heard the crash, I looked back and saw all these things on the floor that looked like kibble but I could see the dog food container was still on the counter, so that wasn’t it.  Then, the smell of coffee beans filled the motor home and we knew.  Fortunately, although a few pieces of plastic broke, the cappuccino maker still works.  Thank goodness!

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Dart and Coco riding in the motor home.

It was 104 degrees when we arrived.  The camper next to us was assessing a problem they had.  The jack apparently got wedged into the asphalt as it melted in the heat.  The camper moved forward and the bottom of the jack was stuck in the asphalt and broke off.  That will be expensive to fix.  Having seen that, Regis was sure to put blocks under all of our jacks.

Regis and I went to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner and it was so good.  I’m definitely going back again before we leave.

After dinner we took the dogs down to the river to take a look.  Regis waded into the water and a snake swam by and hit him in the leg.  Regis grabbed the snake when it got to the shore to show me.  It was a little guy.

Regis picked up some tubes (for floating) while we were in Omak.  I plan to take him up the river and drop him off with a tube and go sit at the campground with Dart and Coco and wait for him to float back.  He’s not sure he wants to do it.  If he doesn’t, I will.  The water is very inviting in this heat.  (Jason:  I should have borrowed your paddle board).  Someone on a paddle board floated by with a dog on the front.

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Too bad we won’t be here to watch this.

Bloedel Reserve

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Bloedel Reserve

July 23, 2018

Yesterday, I went to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island while Regis kept the dogs company.  The reserve is a path through woodlands and gardens.  It was a very sunny day, so it wasn’t a good day for pictures.  The walk was beautiful and peaceful.  There wasn’t much in bloom at this time of year, but it was still a lovely walk.

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Path through the woods at Bloedel Reserve
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Flora at Bloedel Reserve
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Flora at Bloedel Reserve
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Flora at Bloedel Reserve
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Flora at Bloedel Reserve
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Flora at Bloedel Reserve
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Bloedel Reserve

We met some folks yesterday staying at our campground that came together for a reunion and to have a memorial service.  Many moons ago, six families came from Montana to Bainbridge Island to make their home.  One lady used to haul water 5 miles when she lived in Montana and was ecstatic that her new home on the Island came with a hand pump in the yard.

The families lived on the Island and eventually separated and moved on.  At least one family left around the time of the war out of concern that the Island was too close to Seattle and naval facilities and therefore, not safe.  Now, the families get together every year on the Island for a reunion.  There were at least 75 people gathered this year.  This park is a great place for a reunion.

 

 

Back to Bainbridge Island

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Seattle

July 22, 2018

When we left Omak, Washington, the temperature was expected to exceed 100 degrees.  While we were there, we got great views of Mars and the moon.

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Mars and the moon in Omak, Washington.

Because I was scheduled to have surgery in Seattle to remove some skin cancer, we headed back to camp on Bainbridge Island.  When we got to our campsite, the temperature was in the 70’s.  It has been lovely here.  A few times, we have had to turn the heat on at night since it drops into the 50’s.

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Mount Ranier as the sun sets. The sun is behind me and the rays are making the top of the mountain pink.

We’re going to be in Washington for another 3 weeks and I wish we could spend all that time near the Puget Sound because the weather is so nice.  I have not been able to find a way to stay.  All the campgrounds are booked.  I spent hours trying to work something out and we can’t do it.  After my follow-up doctor appointment on Tuesday, we will head back to the east side of the Cascades.  Although lovely, it will likely be hot.

Coco will be staying with us over the next couple weeks.  We went into Seattle yesterday to pick her up and spend time with Jason and Dan.  Jason, Dan, and I went to Nordstrom for the half yearly sale.  The Nordstrom in Seattle is incredible.  I think there is a shoe department on every floor.  While we were gone, Regis kept the dogs company and took pictures of flies.  He was supposed to take pictures of birds, but I only found a couple bird pictures of a gull flying high up in the sky.

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Fly

Jason made an incredible dinner for us.  We had a lovely time and headed back to Bainbridge on the ferry late in the evening.  The city view is beautiful at night from the ferry, but it is impossible to take a good picture at night on a moving ferry.  

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Blurry picture of Seattle at night from the ferry.

Amazing Sunset at Sunset Lakes

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Sunset over Sunset Lakes in Washington.

July 13, 2018

We saw the most amazing sunset the other night over the lake at our campground.  We have been thoroughly enjoying this lake.  I kayak a few times a day to check out the wildlife along the shore.  Regis went snorkeling for awhile again today.  I like to go out for an evening kayak and sit in the middle of the lake and watch the swallows feed and drink.

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Young swallow. Did mom or dad just fly by with something to eat?

The night sky here is brilliant.  You can see the Milky Way and you can see stars almost to the horizon.  The limited lighting in this area makes for a beautiful view at night.  We just need to avoid the rattlesnakes when we are out and about in the middle of the night enjoying the stars.

We drove around the area yesterday checking it out and saw great views of the Cascades from around Oroville.  Regis wanted to check out some property in the area and this picture is a view from that vicinity.

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View of the Cascades from just east of Oroville, Washington.

I saw an adult quail with a bunch of small quail this afternoon.  The young ones are so small, they must have hatched recently.  Momma quail is very skiddish, so it is tough to get a good look.  We’ve seen A LOT of quail around and some of them are young ones, but the ones I saw today where very tiny.

It’s been warm yesterday and today (in the 90’s).  It’s nice when you sit outside in the shade because there is a breeze.  Because they continue to shoot cannons to scare the birds, we can’t let Dart sit outside with us.  He doesn’t like it.  I keep trying to get him outside because he generally loves it out there, but as soon as he hears a boom, he’s done.

I went to the laundromat today and then the grocery store.  When I got back, Regis put the groceries away while I put the clothes away.  We ate lunch and then I tried taking Dart out to sit in the shade.  That’s when I saw the little quail.  After the third boom, I took Dart back in the motor home and decided to get some of the ice cream I just bought.  I bought two kinds, but could only find one kind in the freezer.  It hit me, I left a bag in the car.  I rushed out to the car that was sitting in the hot sun since I returned and sure enough, the ice cream was in there and totally melted.  It didn’t leak outside the container, so I put it in the freezer to see if it could be saved.  I mean, it’s Tillamook limited edition Waffle Cone Swirl.  It must be saved.

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Dragonfly
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Turtle keeping an eye on my while I drifted by in my kayak.
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Goldfinch taking a bath.

 

Grand Coulee Dam

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Grand Coulee Dam

July 11, 2018

Yesterday we drove to see the Grand Coulee Dam.  It is such a contrast to see the Columbia River against the dry countryside.  It makes the water look particularly refreshing.

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Reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam.

Sadly, there is no way for fish to pass the dam.  Instead, the dam funds three fish hatcheries in Leavenworth, Winthrop, and Entiat where they produce over 2 million fish.  In 2016, Reclamation took the first steps to developing the science to look into the feasibility of fish passage and reintroduction.  When the study is complete, Reclamation will decide what to do.

We continue to enjoy the wildlife around the little lake at our campground.  I have been kayaking everyday and often we sit in the shade by the lake and watch the bird activity.  There are lots of juveniles being fed by their parents.  I’m including some favorite pictures from yesterday and today.

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Eastern Kingbird
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Northern Flickers
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Juvenile Canadian Goose
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Killdeer
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Downy Woodpecker
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Bullock’s Oriole nest
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Robin with berries.
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Bullock’s Oriole
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Hawk (not sure what kind)
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Hawk (not sure what kind, same as above)

Through the Cascades

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Loon

July 10

We left Burlington yesterday morning and drove through the North Cascades.  It was the toughest drive the motor home has had to do.  The mountains are huge and there was endless climbing, following by endless going down.  The temperature rose significantly as we reached the east side of the mountains and it is dry.  When the heat hit us, I was skeptical that I was going to enjoy this week.  We drove through a lot of area that was devastated by wildfires in the not too distant past.

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Chickadee

We arrived at a very small campground on a small lake.  It turned out to be a very lovely spot.  We sat in the shade in the afternoon and it was not so hot.  In fact, it was very pleasant.  We enjoyed visiting with our neighbors, especially the 87 year old woman who lives next door.  She’s delightful.  Since she has lived in the area since she was 12, she has lots of information to share.

Dart is not as happy with the place as me.  There are many orchards in the area and some of them have cannons that go off to scare the birds.  Dart has had enough of the noise with all the 4th of July fireworks, now he has to put up with this!

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Northern Flicker

I rode the kayak slowly around the edge of the lake yesterday evening and saw lots of birds.  The water is very clear.  Regis went snorkeling while I was kayaking.

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Northern Flicker

There are lots and lots of swallows.  As the sun was going down,  they began to roost in the trees.  A lot of them were closing their eyes.

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Sleepy swallows.
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Swallows

 

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This Red-Winged Blackbird is having a bad hair day.

I got up before the sun this morning and got some pictures.  It was beautiful and quiet except for all the bird sounds.  Although it was a little chilly, it was a warm chilly if that makes sense.  I think it might be because the air is so dry that it is very pleasant.

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First light in Omak, Washington.
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First light in Omak, Washington. That is my kayak at the base of the tree.

 

Church Mountain Trail

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Banana slug (maybe?) on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

By Regis. July 7

So we tried a third mountain hike today. On the drive to the trail head, Linda was thinking out loud “Why is it always cloudy and rainy when we go for hikes?”. Then without skipping a beat “oh yeah it’s Washington”. The weather had a better chance today than our Sauk Mountain hike . Today it was just highish clouds hung from the mountain tops, no rain and a bit warmer than 40.

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Columbine on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Linda had heard about this hike, Church mountain trail, on her recent whale watch trip. There was snow in the meadow and we thought it would be great for Dart to have some fun. Seemed like a great plan until I located a trail description from The Washington Trail Association (www.wta.org).  I’ll let their description speak , emphasis mine;

“From the trailhead, the route up Church Mountain starts deceptively easy with a 0.5-mile stroll up an old forest road. Then it gets right down to business with lots of switchbacks winding up and around the west side of the mountain. The trees are fairly dense, which you’ll actually appreciate on warmer days, though they obstruct any big views until later—look for the occasional peek of Mount Baker above or the North Fork Nooksack River below as you continue to climb.

At 3 miles, the trail finally eases its grade and opens up into sprawling meadows. This is your first chance to glance back at the spectacular view of Mount Baker. As you meander through the meadow, you will not see any of those notable golden larch trees, but the vibrant fall colors brought out by the abundance of huckleberry bushes that blanket the meadow and the ridge above in hues of green, red, purple and gold.

From the meadow, the last 1.2 miles of the climb get steeper, but the trail takes you directly through a large huckleberry patch for some possible late-season treats. The last 200 feet are a scramble up loose rock. Take advantage of the cable to hold on to going up this last section. From the peak, you will get a fantastic 360-degree view of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, Damfino Lakes, Border Line Peaks, Goat Mountain, Excelsior Pass and Skyline Ridge in the background.”

If you were counting thats 4.2 miles UP. I knew we would not be doing a 8.4 mile round trip, but 3 miles up to the meadow seemed doable. Oh how could I have been so wrong! To be fair the description listed lots of switchbacks. OK we did lots on Sauk Mountain. What it didn’t say was how STEEP the west side of the mountain was! Once we started hiking we were going up and a very steep up it was!

We started the hike at 2300 ft. and got to the meadow just short of 5000 ft. For the mathematically challenged thats 2700 ft. This hike was steep! The switchbacks were much longer and steeper than Sauk Mountain. In fact, each switchback was probably higher than the total height of Florida! The trail NEVER gave us a break. It was a long steep slog up probably the steepest side of the mountain.

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A rare glimpse down the mountain on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. There were lots of clouds.

We paced ourselves and took many breathers at the switchbacks. We were dog tired and about to give up but we had glimpses of a meadow through the trees and and decided we would go 500 more feet and turn around.

We did get to the meadow and within the 500 ft. Dart had been off leash the whole trip and was great. We were a bit disappointed with the snow. It was just smaller patches much higher up in the meadow. If Dart was going to romp, he was going alone. I think we snapped a couple of pictures, snacked, watered, started getting eaten by bugs, and started back down. Going down was almost as hard as going up but without all the heavy breathing and sweating!

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Meadow at the 3 mile mark on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

On the way down, we met a couple going up.  She was carrying a baby in a sack on her chest.  He was carrying a young child on his back.  It definitely made us feel unfit.

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Fungus on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

We also determined that Dart has no age issues to prevent him from hiking.  He has temperature issues.  If it is warmer than 70 degrees, he’s a quitter.  Otherwise, he can outdo us any day.