I think it’s safe to call the group of adventurous ladies who showed up on a brisk, damp morning are all pluviophiles. For the first time, our book club was joined by the author of our book for the month, and the clouds had descended to accompany author Maria Mudd Ruth on our hike. We’d originally planned a longer hike of the Chain Lakes loop, but as our group gathered at the Bagley Lakes trailhead, with icy wind blowing rain at us from every direction, we quickly made the decision to opt for a shorter loop around Bagley Lakes.
Setting out from the trailhead, our group was outfitted in every type of rain gear available, with the notable exception of me. While I had thankfully brought my rain jacket, I’d left my rain pants at home, a decision I quickly regretted as my pants soaked through only minutes into our hike. After reading A Sideways Look At Clouds, we found ourselves hiking into the depths of a blanket of chilly nimbostratus. As water assaulted us in nearly every form imaginable - including swirling mist, fat raindrops, and constantly expanding puddles - we hiked on, stopping often for photos as always. Our squelchy toes and sodden layers were quickly forgotten as we marveled at our surroundings and snacked on the abundant blueberries lining the trail. Even so, as we gathered at the scenic stone bridge that marks the halfway point of the Bagley Lakes loop, we we drawn to the welcome shelter we could see above us in the form of the Mt Baker Visitor’s Center at Heather Meadows.
After posing for several group photos, we followed the short trail up to the visitor’s center to shelter under the building. As we shared hot tea from a thermos I’d packed and some delicious cloud shaped pumpkin cookies provided by Ashley, we caught the smell of woodsmoke and realized that the visitor’s center was actually open, and - better yet - had a fire! We quickly gathered our things and in minutes found ourselves settled around a crackling fire, listening to Maria read an excerpt from her book as rain drummed the roof and windows. After the reading, we lingered in conversation by the fire, but eventually agreed as a group to venture back out into the elements for our short hike back to our cars parked at the trailhead below. Along with my rain pants, I’d forgotten to bring a change of socks, leaving me with damp toes to accompany my happy memories of the day on the long drive home.