Sunday, August 12, 2012

Craft Island

I confessed on my Skagit Bay Estuary post that until recently, Fir Island just wasn't on my map.  It's embarrassing to live your whole life in one area, and still be so clueless--but there you have it.  Sweet Sassy Pants (a new "follower" exciting!) was kind enough to let me know of another treasure off Fir Island--Craft Island.  There are so many little islands around here!  I can name about half of the San Juan Islands, but that's about as far as my memory will serve me.  Don't even ask me a mountain name; Baker and Rainer, that's all I got.  I'm trying really hard not to be such an idiot...Three Fingers, White Horse and Pilchuck...see, I remembered!  These are the mountains we could see from our quaint little spot on Craft Island, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
You can't see them, but the mountains are that way
I bought my husband a skim board for his birthday because I heard this is a place you can actually use one. (Northwest beaches are not known for sandy shores; they are known for rocks and logs) When we had our good friends over for a birthday dinner, a plan was devised to head out to Craft Island and try it out on the next Sunday afternoon.  I had to nine-to-five it that day, so it was decided that Ken would go with them, and I would swing by on my way home from work. 

Skim boards shining in the sun

The coolest part is that our friends live close enough to Craft island that they could just jump on their jet skis and get there that way...the closest thing we'll ever have to being 'jet setters'. It was an amazingly beautiful, hot, and cloudless day; so it didn't matter that I would be getting there late--or that I had to go the muddy trial route.

I hesitate even calling this a 'hike''s more of a path to make it to the water.  But, you still have to use your legs, right?  If you decide to go there, I suggest better footwear than slip on fashion sneakers.

Mystery Island
By the time I got to the river/bay (it's right where the two come together), the tide had come no skim boarding for me.  I enjoyed just watching the kids swim, and looking at the breathtaking views. (this is when I asked what the mountain names were, and the other island to the right...but I've already forgotten that)
See the jet skis?

What a wonderful way to end the day...even if it meant wreaking my work shoes. :)
Heading back...not everyone can be a jet setter!
Subject to surveillance? Sounds like they have hidden cameras or something

Monday, August 6, 2012

Saved by the Birds

When I was thinking about writing this post, I thought I would call it "Blame it on the Rum".  I was going to start by explaining how this is an expression me and my girlfriends sometimes use, and we even made up a very silly song that goes with it. (any country singer out there that wants to steal that song title should go for it...I think it's pretty brilliant) Then I was going to explain why I was drinking rum the night before deciding to do this hike--which consequently lead me to plead for help on my favorite hiking forum because I knew I was not thinking straight. (and they talked me out of doing "Lake Ann", thank God)  But, explaining why we made up that song, or why I happened to be boozing it up on a Thursday night...well, that's probably more than anyone needs or wants to know. 

The hike that was so mercifully recommended was "Skyline Divide", and I knew it was the perfect fit.  It's only 2 miles to the payoff views, which I knew my oldest daughter and her friend Misun could handle. (my oldest enjoys hiking more than my youngest--but after doing Oyster Dome, she prefers avoiding too much uphill) 
After picking up Misun in Bellingham, we were on our way to the Glacier ranger station to buy our Northwest forest pass.  The poor woman at the information counter must have spent 5 minutes trying to explain to me what passes are needed at which parks and why.  I won't complain about the $30 bucks though...I appreciate our parks too much and I know the money is really needed.

As soon as we got to the trail head and got out of the car, we were attacked by horseflies. It got a little crazy--everyone running around swatting and screaming--I was so glad I brought the deet as recommended on the latest trail report.  

It kept them from biting, but unfortunately not from constantly buzzing around us.  It was annoying for sure.  I was trying to tell myself to consider the noise the same as a hummingbird's, but of course that didn't work. (buzzing and humming really aren't that different.. it's weird to think about why one is so irritating while the other is pleasant)

I will blame the fact that I was even slower than usual on the previous night's libations. ("Blame it on the rum" always have to sing it. I wish you knew the tune; it's quite catchy)  Usually I can count on Amber being at least close to me--but both girls were almost always waiting for me to catch up.  Occasionally I would gain on them enough to see Amber wildly whipping the branch she was carrying around in an attempt to ward off the flies.  I think it just made them madder. 
Hurry up, Mom!

When we finally got to the grassy knoll, Amber was pretty much over it.  "Yes, the views are amazing, Mom...I see them. Can we go now?"  She let me know she didn't love all the uphill (I sort of purposely failed to mention that when I asked her if she wanted to go) and she was especially loathing the flies. I could tell she didn't care much about sitting down for a nice lunch--what she really wanted to do is pull the legs off of each and every fly and boil them in a pot. 

But she humored me, and we found a gorgeous spot amidst the wildflowers.  After taking a few pictures, we all started to feel a little better. (nothin' like a photo shoot to make the assaults of nature more tolerable ;)  It wasn't enough to make the girls want to stay though, and it saddened me to know this hike, even with the amazing views, was only going to be remembered as "That hike we took with all those horrible flies".  Sigh...time to head back down in defeat.

Look close, a fly (or bee?) made his way into the picture
This is when we saw them; two hikers, sitting in a nice spot by the trees.  Then one lifted his hand...and a bird swooped out of the trees and landed on it!  To appreciate the effect this had on my daughter, you need to know that she was obsessed with birds as a child. (obsessed it not too strong a word--every year at Halloween I had to come up with some new bird outfit)  This obsession mellowed in time to a very dear love and appreciation for birds, and the wide-eyed look on her face when she turned to me and gasped, "They will do that?" conveyed it all. So anyway, from that second forward the hike changed from something she was enduring, to something she was 100% immersed in.  As she stood there, watching the bird eat out of her hand with bugs buzzing all around, I jeeringly asked, "What about the horseflies?".  With a bit of a smirk, she simply replied, "They have become irrelevant". 

I have a horrible confession to make; we used our leftover potato chips to feed the birds. I know it's awful--honestly, I feel really bad about it, because I can't imagine it's any good for them.  But I'd like to see you tell them to stop, especially when you look into Misun's adorable sparkling eyes when she gleefully announces, "this is so magical!" So, to avoid this horrible moral dilemma, I strongly encourage anyone who plans on doing this hike to take some bird appropriate food along with them.  I want to make sure these wonderful creatures who turned our horsefly hell into bird paradise are well taken care of.