Monday, August 31, 2009

The View From the Top

On Saturday afternoon Cameron and I went on an incredible hike at Mt. Baker, WA with my sister, Alison, and her husband, Stan. There were times when the climb and the views literally took our breath away.

The trail wound along the right edge of this valley, through the patch of snow, and climbed higher and higher, eventually passing through the saddle to the right of the flat rock formation (Table Mountain) at the top left of the photo.

From up above the views of Mt. Shuksan and the valley were spectacular.

As we passed through Herman Saddle the imposing peak of Mt. Baker came into view.

We descended to a chain of three lakes and were more than ready to have some lunch and rest for a while before making another ascent.

As we rounded the trail Mt. Shuksan came back into sight.

On a plateau in the valley below was a herd of mountain goats (the teeny weeny white dots running horizontally across the flat area in the foreground).

We watched them as we made our way along the ridge, through a meadow of fireweed, back to where we’d begun our hike almost five hours before.

As we enjoyed the serene alpine scenery I couldn’t help but think of the contrast between it and the fire-ravaged slopes in the area surrounding our family cabins, near Clinton, BC. The Kelly Creek wildfire began on August 1st, when a lightning strike sparked a small blaze in Edgehills Provincial Park (click for photo). Even though several mountain ridges and a considerable distance separated them from the fire, my parents and other relatives were alerted to the possibility of evacuation should the fire threaten their lives and property. As they were returning from a day trip the afternoon of August 20th, my aunt and uncle saw a portion of the mountain flare up under the force of gusty winds and likened the sight to an atomic explosion; our cabins were evacuated later that evening, along with other homes in the vicinity. By the next morning the fire was estimated to cover 10,000 hectares, having more than doubled in size overnight. Since then hot temperatures, high winds, and rugged terrain have continued to challenge efforts to bring the blaze under control and it currently covers approximately 18,500 ha or 185 square km (115 square miles).

Thankfully, this past weekend saw calmer weather conditions and fire crews successfully conducted burn-offs along the shores of Kelly Lake (click for photo) and immediately behind nearby evacuated homes, including our family cabins. From what I understand the entire hillside behind us has burned to within several hundred feet of our cabins but unless something unexpected occurs our buildings will remain intact, even though the surrounding landscape will bear scars of the fire for some time to come.

However, we are not yet able to breathe a full sigh of relief. The fire continues to grow to the north and east and the evacuation alert has been expanded to include the village of Clinton, which is where my parents make their permanent home. Even though the fire is 12 km from the townsite and it is unlikely that they will actually face an evacuation order, they are taking precautions by moving irreplaceable items to a storage locker in another town. And with other residences in the outlying area also under threat it will be difficult to completely relax until the fire is fully contained and extinguished and evacuation alerts and orders are rescinded.

True to plan I have managed to get a fair bit of knitting done these past few weeks and hope to update the blog again soon. In the meantime please send good thoughts to the firefighters and residents of the Clinton area—their ordeal is far from over.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


WARNING: Embrace the Lace Spoiler

July flew by in a flash. Here are some highlights:

My brother-in-law, James, got married to Liz, a longtime family friend.

When they were younger they referred to each other with such affectionate names as “little bother” and “big blister”. Liz has been like part of the family for so long that it’s a joy for us to officially welcome her as one of our own.

Less than a week later our daughter, Jessica, celebrated her 24th birthday.

The very next day she was excited to learn that she had successfully landed the new job she had applied for. If her first shift yesterday is any indication, she is going to love it. We couldn’t be happier for her.

Last week our household was reduced by one, when our youngest son, Colin, moved into his new condo.

It is strange to see his room so empty (and clean!) and know that he will not be coming home to stay, only dropping by now and then for a visit. But he hasn’t gone far—just a few blocks—and any feelings of sadness we have are far outweighed by our sense of pride at his accomplishment.

By far the highlight of this July was the celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary.

In some ways it feels like we’ve been together for only a few years but in others like we’ve been together forever (in a good way!). The best part is that we both love and like each other after all this time and truly enjoy spending time together.

We just got back from a few days away. We spent the first night in a luxury cabin on a golf course. This was the view from our deck.

We didn’t want to leave and checked out at the very last minute.

From there we drove to Kelowna where, despite some record high temperatures, we enjoyed a great round of golf on Saturday. I also checked out the city’s two yarn shops and made some souvenir purchases.

We spent the final night at our family cabin near Clinton, where we celebrated my dad’s birthday a few days early.

There were no big knitting highlights in July. I only managed to knit one complete pair of socks (Journeyman Socks) and finish up a couple of others.

I am looking forward to a much quieter and more productive August (at least as far as knitting is concerned). The day we left for holidays the latest shipment of the Embrace the Lace club arrived with a pattern and yarn for a triangular shawl (in addition to other assorted goodies), which I’m itching to cast on.

Since returning home a few days ago I’ve been almost exclusively occupied with the knitting of the Secret Garden mystery shawl, a KAL offered through The Unique Sheep. I’ve now finished Clue 4 and have another week to go before the final clue is revealed.

I also cast on a couple of last minute projects for SKA’s July sockdown and am working my way through the Pink Ribbon socks and Marie Antoinette.

I’d attempted both patterns before but didn’t have good luck with my choice of yarn; I’m happy to report that they’re working out better the second time around.

If you don’t hear from me for a while don’t worry. I'll be in a corner somewhere getting my knitting fix before crazy starts all over again in September.