Kirk and I decided to have a weekend of easy hiking and relaxtion on our minds. Heading up from Bellingham, where we made our “base camp” (er…..um….I believe base camp even had a deluxe complimentry breakfast and a King Suite), we took Hwy 542 (Mt. Baker Scenic Highway) to the Mt. Baker area. We could see the cloud base was heavy above us. Apparently the weather had shifted and was not looking to be as predicted. Oh well! Sometimes you get lucky and drive above the clouds, but not this day. Rather we drove straight up into the clouds, with only a few feet visibilty at Artist Point, end of the road. Still, we didn’t drive almost to Canada to go home 😛 So out we got and headed off on the first hike. Normally I would skip the tourist trails, yet due to the white out there were few people up at Artist Point. More so, we had the trail to ourselves. On a sunny day you have Mt. Baker on the right, Mt. Shuksan on the left. Today it felt like a tiny version of a glaciated tundra land. And I liked that – quite a bit. It was so quiet in the clouds you could only hear your breathing and the tiny snippet of wind.
It was 40* on August 15th. In gloves and hat 😉
The trail winding in the clouds:
The trail does wander quite a bit – the first parts are paved from one of the two entrances, to an overlook, making the trail fully accesible for everyone. Then it goes to easy gravel, then finally to a real hiking path. Obvisouly many visitors only go to the first and second overlooks. The National Forest claims the hike has no gain or loss, that isn’t true. While neither hard nor long, the trail gently bops up and down.
What it does have in the clouds is the tiny alpine lakes that dot the land:
Cairns marking the way as the trail jogs up:
Another tiny lake, looking bigger than it really is:
I blinked and suddenly the clouds had lifted for a couple moments. Kirk across the lake:
At the end of the trail, at Huntoon Point, is a small loop one can take to visit another small lake.
We went through the loop, then down to Huntoon Point. The clouds shifted in the wind to allow me a look downhill, into a small glade. There were two lakes below, at the end, before the trees, with a small stream feeding into them. Ooh, to go down there – it called I can tell you! Good Sarah stayed on the trail though.
The clouds came in more dense and we headed back, taking another loop option and then back on the trail to the parking lot where we finally saw others.
We decided to do another hike, to head out towards Ptarmigan Ridge and or Chain Lakes. I had not been out here in a number of years in summer time so off we went. I had the hope that maybe, just maybe, the wind would keep blowing the clouds and it would burn off. Eternal optimisim or something…..
Love the trail register here! Wood burning and painting:
We hiked in the clouds the whole way out, till the wind was so cold we called turn around. It was maybe upper 30’s. Still, the colors were intense in the white – so green. There were many Pika’s calling out below us in the rocks. Then as we hiked back the clouds lifted for just a couple minutes.
The best being the people we encountered as we hiked back all asking “Is there anything to see?”. Well….yes, if you look down 😉
After lunch, we headed downhill to Heather Meadows where the clouds had gone even lower so no luck in seeing much. Instead we drove to the backside of Lower Bagley Lakes and hiked down there. The first of the wild Blueberries are rip, with the Huckleberries only 1 to 2 weeks behind in some areas.
Looking up Bagley:
Cold and frozen from the dropping temps we headed down. As we were driving down, Kirk asked if I wanted to stop in at Nooksack Falls. We hadn’t been there in a couple years, it doesn’t fail to make me smile. The falls were quite busy, everyone was pleasant and happy to be there.
The lower waterfall on the left showing:
A long shot:
This morning we woke up to blue skies and warmer weather. We played in Bellingham, going to the Fairhaven district for lattes at Rustic Coffee, mini cupcakes at Katie’s, went shopping for new kitchen tools, a book store and more, just enjoying the quiet of the morning. It was relaxing!
We headed South on Hwy 11, Chucknaut Drive, which skims above Bellingham Bay to Larrabee State Park. We took the trail down to the views above Samish Bay and across to Lummi Island and farther – Mt. Constitution was quite visible across the water on Orcas Island.
Two kayakers crossing Samish Bay:
Following them as the they headed North:
Marked simply due to keeping people off the train tracks that run above. We had a freight train go by and they are hauling in that area.
I got to sample many ripe Blackberries on the way back up from the water. Passed a lot of Snowberry (not an eater!) as well. Finished our scenic drive, winding down the mountains into the fertile farmlands of Skagit County where we finally got on the freeway to head home. Sigh!