|Late snowfall brought spring flowers in September|
The springtime brought us so much snow and cool weather that we were sure that come July our summer would start. It didn't. Then August came, and it started out cool and rainy. It wasn't until September that it began to be really warm. I enjoy Scott Sistek's weather blog on KOMO News, and he wrote here about how we had six consecutive months of below-normal temperatures.
The late snowfall in the mountains and the cool temperatures meant that snow would cover most of the trails in the Mt. Baker wilderness that I enjoy every summer. This year we couldn't even get to the trailheads of most of them, and I just learned that the snow level is lowering to 6,000 feet this week, meaning that the remaining snow will not clear, only to be covered by more. I wonder what the bears have been eating to get ready for their long hibernation.
The upside has been the wildflowers this year. They have been everywhere in amazing profusion at the higher elevations, when usually they are long gone by this time. Tomorrow we'll go on another hike in the mountains, and I suspect I'll see more flowers. They thrill me when they are in such abundance, especially when the sun is shining. Tomorrow's hike will be the seventh extra hike we added that takes us to new places farther south, since so many of our usual treks are impassable. It's supposed to be hard, one of the hardest I'll have done, but the rain should have stopped by then.
I'm in the best shape I've been in for decades. Because of the extra hikes on Mondays on top of the regular Thursday hikes, I noticed this past Thursday that a 1,700-foot elevation gain over three miles felt like nothing. Tomorrow's 4,000-foot elevation gain on Mount Dickerman wil be a challenge, I'm sure, but it comes at the best possible time for me. Although the summer is coming to an end, and my ability to keep this hard-won fitness will probably not last for the entire winter, I'll do my best to help it along. At my age, the adage "use it or lose it" applies to many aspects of life, but especially to fitness.
Interesting to me to consider how hard it is to become fit and how easy it is to lose it. It's not fair, but there you go. Nothing to be done about that fact. At any age, getting in shape is a worthwhile goal, but when your seventies are looming on the horizon, it's very satisfying to walk for long distances and feel my body continue to perform admirably. It's not that I don't get tired, but a good night's sleep or two and good healthy food and I'm raring to go again. I haven't felt this strong and vigorous in a long, long time.
I know I will be writing in here soon enough about my aches and pains, I've done it plenty in the past, but today, it's the other side of the equation I'm feeling. At the end of summer 2011, I can look back at the past season and be grateful for it. The rain is pattering gently on the roof, a light breeze wafts in through the window as I sit in the darkness, my tea finished and the day just beginning.