Ptarmigan Ridge featuring Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan, 2018

( as close to heaven as I'll ever get, and you should be so lucky! )

The Pacific Northwest, September 2018

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OK. This year I got lucky again.
The weather in Seattle and the surrounding mountains in late September was "benign", as a hiker I had met on the trail on an earlier occasion had put it.
That's Ecotopia slang for beautiful.

I had asked my hotel for a room with a view of the Space Needle and my wish was granted. But they should know me by now.
The ownership has changed several times since I first stayed there, but the location remains perfect. It's within walking distance to the Needle and the piers along the Sound and the famous Pike Place Market and so on.
It's costly by my modest midwest standards, but reasonable by Seattle's exorbitant ones. When you're home to two of the world's richest billionaires, what do you expect ?

The market sells fruits and flowers and lots of fresh seafood. Also T-shirts of course. And it's great for people watching, too.
Asians make up half of the visible population, so you know you're not in Kansas anymore.

This is the very first Starbucks outlet in the known universe!
That's right, they started with this one and then began to divide. Just like Microsoft and Amazon and god-only-knows-what-next...

Maybe it will be that company that makes all those lime-green "e-bikes" that seem to be everywhere.
Hey! I thought I saw just one parked there and now all-of-a-sudden there are two! Be afraid!

Not everybody strikes it rich in Seattle, of course. You've probably heard they have a lot of homeless people, too.
One individual in particular entertained himself (and audience) by slaughtering imaginary bugs while emptying a whole can of bug spray in one go.
All his worldly possessions are apparently strung out behind him for all the world to see. How bourgeois!

Here is the parking lot at the end of the Mt Baker Highway. This is where I intend to hoist my backpack and depart for another mountain adventure.
But not today.

This is better. What a difference a day makes! I'm already close to where I'm going to camp. Mt Baker is dressed in drifting clouds, but the late afternoon sun sure feels good.

Especially after a refreshing washcloth bath by a snowmelt brook!

A view to the south. You can camp anywhere up here, but apparently nobody's calling this home tonight but me.

Sunset on Mt Shuksan.

Followed by the miraculous alpenglow.

And finally... a full moonrise. Time for bed (maybe after a nip o' whi'key)

Rise and shine! Watching the moon set behind Mt Baker in the early dawn.
Brrrr... It's chilly before the sun appears!

But it must be worth it!

My tent. Home sweet home.

So I crawl back into my sleeping bag to wait for the sun to warm things up. Now it finally has.
Time for breakfast. Coffee and oatmeal!

It's a great day to be alive, and that's really all I have on my to-do list today. What a concept!
How did the Taoist sage Chuang-tzu describe it? "Free and easy wandering". The meaning of life.
And here's a girl who gets it.

I always take my trusty ice-axe along on a snowfield/glacier. It's makes such a good prop!

The end of Ptarmigan Ridge gets pretty knarly. A view to the south toward Baker Lake.
Sometimes you can see Mt Rainier 140 miles away!

Deep in meditation. (What's for dinner? Beef strogonoff or freeze-dried lasagna?)

Speaking of food... I shared a bit of lunch with this gentleman at the end of the trail. He reminded me of a ski-buddy of mine from Wisconsin. Same wide smile and grey curly locks.

He went that way! (for Tom)

I wave goodbye to "Dean" as he sets off for the parking lot. Another 4 hours or so... for him.
Me? I'm already home. My tent is in the clump of trees below. (Lasagna? Or beef strogonoff?)

The next day I paid a visit to Goat Lake, just down the spur trail below my camp.

Well, I guess it's time to pack out and head back to civilization.

Nobody will be left up here, except for a lone mountain goat.

A parting shot. Alpenglow on Mt Shuksan at Mirror Lake on the way back to Bellingham.

My favorite bar/restaurant in Fairhaven/Bellingham. La Chat Noir (The Black Cat).
The light is amazing if you catch the setting sun on a not-too-cloudy day.

No trip post would be complete without a foodie picture, right? Behold! A Pacific oyster popper!
A squishy filter-feeder marinated in a shot glass filled with vodka!
Sounds almost like home.

"90% of life is just showing up."
Woody Allen

I take photos with my phone and also with a dedicated camera (remember those?)
So there are two separate sets of slides, each in chronological order.

I suppose I could splice them into a single "story", but why bother?

BTW: If you're on a PC and know where the "F11" key is, use it to toggle to fullscreen mode!

There are two ways to view the camera slides:

Select a Thumbnail

Automatic Slideshow

(with 10 second delay)

There are also two ways to view the phone slides:

Select a Thumbnail

Automatic Slideshow

(with 10 second delay)

more Cascades adventures !