The great weather continues in western Washington and my buddy and I decided to spend the day hiking rather than looking at the depressing walls of our cubicles. Desiring to stay away from snow, we headed up to Bellingham to hike around Blanchard Mountain. We had hiked up to the Oyster Dome in March of 2012 in wind, rain, clouds, and mud. Today we had the exact opposite conditions.
Our day didn't quite start out as planned. We had originally intended to drive up to the Samish Overlook and take the lazy man's route up to the Oyster Dome. We'd also intended to take a look at the bat caves that we'd skipped the year prior. Neither plan was meant to be. In the first picture below can be seen our view from the first parking area on the way up to the overlook. Road work thwarted our plan so we drove around the mountain to Chuckanut Drive to take the steep route from the road. The second picture below shows a map of the trails on the mountain. After driving around, we made surprisingly quick work of the trail up to the dome given our winter shaped bodies, but we found that access to the bat caves has been restricted (3rd picture below). Understandable but still at bit of a disappointment.
Upon our arrival at the dome we were treated to nice views of the sound. I wouldn't put the views anywhere in the category of other hikes I've completed, but they were definitely nice enough considering the relative ease of the hike and how close it is to civilization. We definitely couldn't complain considering the last time we'd been up there we got whipped by wind, clouds, and rain. We had a couple snacks and monkeyed with our new cameras (which I really still don't know how to use) before moving on.
After leaving the dome we headed east along the Oyster-Lily trail. Upon reaching the 4 way trail intersection near Lily Lake (see map above), we decided to continue east and take the long way home, thereby skipping Max's Shortcut (and adding about a mile to our trip). There is quite a bit of standing water on the mountain along the upper trails and the bugs are out in force. Skunk grass is growing fast as well. Finally, near the same spot by the intersection, I grabbed a picture of an old dead tree in a bog. I've included it below next to a similar picture I took of the same tree in different conditions last year. After another bit of hiking we turned right down the Lily-Lizard trail, eventually turning right again onto the Lily-Max connector and on to the Samish Overlook (where we had originally intended to park the car). We departed the overlook, powered down to the original trail, and got to the car in pretty short order. We'd hiked about 8 miles in about 5 hours. Hot, sweaty, and tired, we set out on another quest - post hike burgers and milkshakes.