The Rambling Writer Hikes to Yellow Aster Meadows

YAster2015TarnBy the time this is posted, I’ll be joining other Book View Café authors at Sasquan, the World Science Fiction Con in Spokane, where I hope the heat and wildfire smoke don’t fog the festivities. So before Thor and I set out to the con, we stretched our legs with one of our favorite hikes in the nearby Cascade Mountains. (click on photos to enlarge)

The trail to Yellow Aster Meadows is a 2-3 hour climb through forest and meadows to an overlook where the mountains circle around. You can climb higher to Yellow Aster Butte or drop over a steep cliff to the YAster2015Overlookmeadows and lovely mountain tarns for a cooling dip. This week was the first time on this trail for Bear dog. He was really YAster2015Creekfeeling the call of the wild, perking up at every marmot or pika or bird call, and his nose got a real workout. Bear cooled off and tanked up at little snowmelt streams on the way – wearing his red ribbon so he wouldn’t be mistaken for an actual bear and startle other hikers.

YAster2015HayWe found a pika’s hay pile, where the cute little round-eared rodents were drying grasses on the trail, to store in their burrows for winter munching. Apparently a lot of their “eep eep” calls are related to defending these hay piles. (This pika photo is borrowed—pikaWithHaythey move so quickly, I can never snap a shot.)

At the overlook, the tarns scatter below across rocky meadows, looking pretty brown during this drought year. The trail makes a lot of narrow switchbacks down the steep cliffside, where we had to restrain Bear from trying to dive over the side to chase a fat marmot into one of the dens dug into the slope.YAster2015Thor

Picking one of the rocky tarns, we joined Bear for a cooling dip before relaxing with our YAster2015BearTarnlunch.Then it was time to climb back up the cliff and wend our way down the trail, sampling ripe blueberries for dessert. Farewell to the mountains, for now.

YAster2015BerriesDirections: From Bellingham, WA (90 miles north of Seattle), drive east on WA 542, the Mt. Baker Highway, to the large facility for snow removal equipment (about 40 miles). Turn left there, onto the rutted dirt Twin Lakes Road to the Yellow Aster Trailhead, about 5 miles of jouncing potholes. (4-wheel drive helps.) You’ll need a Forest Trails parking pass, available at the ranger station just past Glacier at around the 30 mile point of the highway. Enjoy your ramble!

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Sara’s newest from Book View Cafe was recently released in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection.  It’s a near-future AriadneThumbnailthriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?”  The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction.

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The Rambling Writer Hikes to Yellow Aster Meadows — 6 Comments

  1. The photos are fantastic, especially those distant mountain vistas!

    I just hope that your hike wasn’t smoke-filled. All those wildfires up there are troubling.

    • Luckily, the smoke was blowing in a different direction that day. But the drought really shows in how brown the terrain is– usually the meadow is pretty green, since we usually have some snow at that elevation until late summer.

  2. Thor reminds me that I forgot to write about the amusing antics of the red water beetles in the mountain tarn. (He loves beetles, and since “the Lord was inordinately fond of beetles,” he’s in good company.) These little guys surface to take breaths through their nether parts, then swim hard for the bottom and scavenge around for minutes at a time, breathing from their hoarded bubble of air, then come up and repeat. Well, simple pleasures….