Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fall weather preview on Yellow Aster Butte 8/30/2008

Not everyday is perfect. There are many days when sky is grey and clouds roll across the sky obstructing any possible views. I noticed quite a few of such days occurred on the weekends lately so when I first saw forecast for Labor day weekend promising reasonable weather
I was excited.

Saturday started nicely. We met at designated location and headed north to Hwy 542 with blue sky above us and sun shining brightly. Soon after we left Bellingham, the sun started to disappear. The trailhead welcomed us clouded in familiar overcast.

Fortunately we were on just the perfect type of trail. Yellow Aster Butte offer spectacular views when clear but with so much to see within a close proximity of the trail itself it also makes for
wonderful outing when the clouds are low. With that though we headed up and we were not disappointed.

The trail led us through a variety of terrain – first we started through a forest, then crossed meadows and somewhat rocky parts where several snow patches still could be found. The flowers were out, the berries were sweet, and once we got under the false summit we spotted
a bear roaming on the hillside above us. He wasn't close enough for a good photo but still it was very exciting experience. We watched him for a while before proceeding further.

Once atop of the false summit, the sky partially cleared for a bit making it possible to continue safely to the true summit and back. With nice sense of accomplishement we headed back. The sleet that accompanied us for most of our descend did not bother us too much - that's what rain gear is for, righ?

The weather changed completely on our way back and with clear blue sky all the way from Hwy 542 to Everett I was hopeful that Mt. Pilchuck hike scheduled for Sunday will provide all the cool views that we missed today. That hope disappeared right when I got up in the morning and saw that all the clouds had returned.

Despite the weather the trailhead was busy. Once again we ventured into the fog and once again we enjoyed the mystery feel it gave to the trail as we followed it all the way to the lookout. Few times the sky got brighter but the sun was not strong enough to penetrate the thick clouds today and we got a view of never-ending white mass atop the mountain. Not a single thing to see from the lookout but still very pleasurable outing and it was very nice to see that so many others did not let the weather stop them and made it to the summit like us.

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