Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mount Constitution

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray" is a quote from Robert Burns, and I think it's a good way to begin the rundown of my last hike.  A side-note before I begin; I looked up this quote because I never knew the full version. I would always say, "the best laid plans, right?", knowing it meant no matter how well you plans things, you can never guarantee a good outcome.  I had no idea the quote is from a poem, where Robert is apologizing to a mouse for accidentally plowing up his nest, and is the source for the title of the famous John Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men. So, thank you Google for that little history lesson.

This hike took some extra "best laid plans", because two of my girlfriends were coming, and we had to catch a ferry.  "Herding cats" is how we always describe trying to co-ordinate an outing together, therefore I was so proud that even though I picked up each gal at her house (two opportunities for plans to go awry) we were ahead of schedule.  I didn't read anywhere that we needed to be at the ferry terminal any earlier than an hour prior to loading--so we were golden...NOT. 
The Cats
The ferry to Orcas Island is a popular one--apparently even on a Thursday.  Indeed, it's so popular that people who wanted to catch the 12:30 ferry couldn't get on and had to wait for the 2:00...which meant no room for the people thinking they were good for the 2:00.  This problem compounded to the tune of a four hour wait for poor us.  Since we didn't happen to bring night vision goggles along, (heck, we didn't even have a decent flashlight between the three of us) we knew our 6 mile hike up Mount Constitution was a bust.
Killing time at the ferry terminal...Jewell is getting a snack.
Not really...just a bust for that day.  Luckily, we had reservations at Moran Sate Park, so we still had Friday to do our hike.  The unlucky part was knowing clouds were coming in the next day, and would obscure the amazing view on top--which was kind of the whole point.  Plus, we were hoping to spend Friday exploring the cute little really don't want to mess with a girl's shopping time!
Not exactly sure what 'two drews' are...but you may be looking at them.

Since our itinerary was shot to hell (and trust me, I had one written's my one area of OCD, and I'm ok with that) we couldn't decide what we should do.  Stop in town even though most the shops are closed? Why not! Eat dinner at a restaurant because it's so late and who wants to bother cooking camp food? Hard to argue with that.
Finding our 'center' in the middle of town.
But again...any attempt at 'best laid plans' were immediately going astray as we found each restaurant packed to the gills. (another expression I use with no idea as to where it came from, but I'm sure it would be interesting to Google it)  Should we cheat, and drive to the top of Mount Constitution to get good pictures before actually hiking it? (I like the word 'improvise' better)  As you can see from the pictures, we all decided improvising was the way to go.
Mt Baker barely in view

Something magical happened when we were up top and the light was almost gone...the 'night hawks' came out.  Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

"A night hawk is a nocturnal bird...the flight of the Common Nighthawk is erratic and jerky, as it attempts to prey on various flying insects. The white bands on its underwings are easily seen as it flies in the evening, at an altitude that is often well above the treetops. Also of note is nighthawks' mating ritual. Males will gain considerable altitude, then perform a power dive; as they pull up from the dive, the wings make a sudden, low sound that is called "booming".

A nocturnal bird...who knew? (besides owls, of course) But one thing's for sure, they were amazing to watch. I wish I would have tried to record it on my new camera, but I was too caught up in the moment. We did have some fun teasing our friend, Jewell, who is known for some flatulence issues. (she owns it, and I love her for it) "You have that mating call down!"...and she agreed, it was her chance to commune with nature. 

We were true to our word, and did the hike the next day even with our preview the night before.  I worried that it would seem anti-climactic, but it wasn't.  Every part of the hike up was amazing, and I loved every second.  

Hilary's husband commented "You can't call it a hike if there is a store at the end".  Maybe, but we still bought commemorative tee shirts. 
And so I come to a very substantial hiking lesson, and appropriately it's the big #20...when plans go awry, there is no need to worry.  Sometimes the very best of plans are the ones you make on the fly.

A small clearing of sky on Friday


  1. Looks like a fun time had by all - Barefoot Jake

  2. Enjoyed reading. thank you. Good friends are wonderful and make for the best of times.