Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Goose Point - 03/28/10

Goose Point is located within the Deception Pass State Park and rises about 460 feet above sea level. There are a number of interconnecting trails throughout the park allowing you to customize your route to fit your day hike needs.

The Hike:
My original plan for the day was to join the Mouunt Baker Club for an exploratory day hike to Split Rock in Skagit County, but gated roads meant that the easy day hike would now consist of at least 18 miles.

No thanks.

The MBC decided to change the destination to something a little less ambitious: Goose Rock.

Never having been to that part of the Deception Pass park before, it seemed like a good opportunity for a short hike while also getting to meet some local hikers.

I'm glad I did.

We started the hike near Cranberry Lake, following park paths with beach views until we reached the Deception Pass bridge.

From the bridge, we kept to the left, following the Goose Point Perimeter trail instead of ascending straight to the top.

As the trail went up and down we enjoyed the massive trees as well as the growing ground cover and even some spring flowers, including Indian Paintbrush. Here is a picture of some Oregon Grape:

Eventually we began a steep ascent toward the peak, gaining about 430 feet in about 4/10th's of a mile.

Near the top we encountered this informative sign, providing some insight as to how delicate the meadows are up here.

Arriving at the peak we took some pics and tried to find a nice spot for lunch that would also block some of the chilly wind that was picking up.

This is a pic from Goose Point, looking southwest. Note the Indian Paintbrush blooming at the bottom of the photo.

A wider view, showing more of the above mentioned fragile meadows.

Another once with a nice log.

After a group picture (there were nine of us) we packed up and began the descent. Instead of returning the way we came, we chose to descend the steep section that we originally bypassed near the bridge.

As we approached the beginning of the descent, there is a view (through power lines) across Deception Pass. If you look carefully, you can see the remnants of a mine from long ago. IIRC, this mine made use of prison labor back in the day (a fact I learned during our Deception Pass Boat Tour last summer... read about it here).

Here it is with super-zoom... quite the gate on that thing!

We proceeded down the trail and eventually found ourselves hiking under Hwy 20 before arriving at the beach for a lovely walk back to the vehicles.

We concluded the hike with a cold beverage at the Longhorn Saloon in Edison before I returned home to let the dogs out.

This was a very pleasant close-to-home local hike. You might find me out here again this summer... with the kids and the dogs.

Happy Trails!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Itinerary for 03/28/10

Heading to Goose Point at Deception Pass State Park with the Mount Baker Club!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nooksack Falls 03/06/2010

On the way back home from a sunny snowshoe to Huntoon Point I decided to swing by Nooksack Falls.

Nooksack Falls is located a short ways off Hwy 542, along the Wells Creek road.

The falls are of a pretty good size, but they are located in such a manner than it is nearly impossible to capture a full image of them without putting your own safety at risk.

At the falls there is a little kiosk explaining some of the history around the falls, a nearby dam and a little history about the town of Excelsior which used to be located just down the road, back in the gold rush & logging days. Excelsior is now a campground along the Nooksack river... and also a peak about 4,000 feet above Nooksack falls.

Just off the parking area there is a massive water pipe. This pipe carries water from the dam to a powerhouse downstream where water flows through the turbines to create electricity. Just west of the parking lot, this pipe heads directly under the road and into a tunnel as it continues toward the powerhouse. To the east a short distance the metal pipe turns into an old wooden pipe, as pictured below. Numerous warning signs exist here to prevent people from proceeding, warning of wet, slippery rocks which can easily result in someone falling into the river and being washed over the falls, which are less than 30 yards away.

The water was an unusual crystal-clear-green today. It was somehow eerily beautiful.

If memory serves me correctly, my first visit to Nooksack Falls was probably the winter of 1990/1991 with a few of my very best friends from WWU. We drove up Hwy 542 on a Friday or Saturday night, in search of snow... finally encountering enough to make the road slick just as we reached the Wells Creek Road intersection. Since it was nighttime, there was little traffic so we parked right off Hwy 542 and proceeded on down the road all the way to the falls. I can't recall whether we had flashlights or not.. without a clue as to how far away the falls were. It was just an impromptu road trip that ended up being a ton of fun... like so many things back in the 'good old days'.

If any of you happen to read this... Nooksack Falls looks completely different in the daytime. :) Snow or no snow, it's still beautiful.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Huntoon Point (Mt Baker) 03/06/2010

On the opposite side of the Mountain from Sadie's Driver's Park Butte party, I enjoyed a casual day heading to Huntoon Point from Heather Meadows.

This destination came about because:
a) it was sunny,
b) I was solo,
c) I knew there would be lots of other people on the route,
d) I've never been to Huntoon Point in the winter, despite being in the neighborhood on a number of occasions and
e) I was supposed to meet some friends afterwards for a post-birthday dinner, necessitating a definite 'be home by 5' agenda.

The weather was spot-on spectacular! Short sleeves & sunscreen in March... Perfect!!

I've been up here a few times in winter but had never ventured out to Huntoon Point. Now I can mark that off my to-do list.

The route is beautiful. Pure North Cascades beauty. Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker, Table Mtn, Austin Pass... all in your face and forcing you to realign your perspective on many things.

Every visit to Artist Point reminds me of my first snowshoe up here with Hiker Boy & his international band of merry makers. I mention this because Hiker Boy had previously felt under the weather due to what he thought was an ear infection. Ultimately it turned out to be a much more sinister medical condition requiring Chemo that ultimately put a stop to his hiking activities all together -- partly due to his condition but mostly because he decided to re-prioritize his life objectives. He kept up his own website for a time, but now I'm unable to locate him. Being at Artist Point always makes me wonder about how he is doing.

The Route:

Not too far from the parking lot I came across this perfect snow camp location. A young dad, his young son and his yellow lab Sonny enjoying the end of their camping trip. Hard to ask for a better morning view.

Evidences of recent avalanches, and unrelated ski tracks, could be seen below Table Mountain and across the Bagley/Chain Lakes basin.

This picture was taken at Artist Point, where Hwy 542 ends in the summertime... once the 35 feet of snow gets removed. Typically this road doesn't open until at least mid-July. Mount Baker is on the left and a corner of Table Mtn is on the right.

Mt Baker:

Mt. Shuksan:

Huntoon Point:

There were a lot of visitors today, including a large group all wearing identical jackets with the 2010 Winter Olympics logo on them.

A short panorama video from near Artist Point:

360 view from Artist Point (Mount Baker, WA) from Eric Rolfs on Vimeo.

Once back to the car it was nice to cool off with a snow-packed-cold Root Beer before heading on down to check out Nooksack Falls on the way home.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Heather Meadows - 2/18/2010

After my short exploration along the lower part of the Excelsior Trail, it was time to take advantage of the sunny weather by hustling back to the car and cruising up to Heather Meadows where I made my way toward Artist Point, stopping at the base of "Assburn Hill".

There was a helicopter that buzzed by, but it seemed to just be a pilot and/or tourists instead of a rescue operation.

Also took a few pics of nearby avalanche debris and a fracture line. These are real risks while traveling in the alpine backcountry during winter. The route to Artist Point manages to follow a relatively low risk route despite the fact that there are many high-risk areas all around you.

It was my intention to do some avalanche beacon search practice but it seems the beacon park isn't set up. Bummer.

What a fantastic day... especially for February!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Itinerary for 3/6/10

Tentatively planning a repeat of my Feb 18th outing. This time I'll probably start off at Heather Meadows, poke on up to Artist Point and Huntoon Ridge and then either venture up Excelsior for some more elevation exercise or possibly venture down by Nooksack Falls and Wells Creek.

Solo again, but since it's Saturday... and sunny... surely I'll have plenty of company along my journey.

Expect to be back in cell phone range by 4:30 at the latest, but hoping to be home by 5:00 to go meet some of my favorite friends for dinner. ;)

Happy Trails!