Sunday, April 4, 2010

Racehorse Mountain - 04/03/2010

For the second time in a week, I was able to connect with the Mount Baker Club for a local hike to a destination that was 'new to me'.

Today's trip led us to a winter-like snowshoe trek up Racehorse Mountain.

Racehorse Mountain isn't mentioned in many hiking books (well, no hiking books that I am aware of) although Racehorse Falls is mentioned in at least one version of "Hiking in Whatcom County", by Ken Wilcox. Rachel & I hiked to the falls back in about 1997... long before many people know what an online trip report was.

Racehorse Mountain is accessed along the North Fork of the Nooksack River. Head out the Mt. Baker Hwy (Hwy 542) from Bellingham and turn south onto Mosquito Lake Road (a bit east of the Hwy 9 junction). From Mosquito Lake Road, turn left onto the North Fork road and then try to choose the correct junctions.

Here is our route from this outing. Red route represents the road and our two parking spots while the blue line represents our snowshoe route.

During the summer, when the snow has disappeared, there is a road that leads to the top of Racehorse Mountain. Reportedly it is popular for people who like big campfires and lots of beer. And to litter. We all know how difficult it is to pick up your own beer can when it's empty.

Luckily for us, the weather has been nasty all week. This resulted in a lot of snow in the foothills, rendering this a great outing destination for our group of 8.

Unluckily, I removed the studded tires from the Camry last week... unaware that they would have been extremely useful for this trip.

The soft snow instantly turned to ice under my tires so we decided to park the Camry at about 2,100 feet elevation. A wise decision since every move of the vehicle, even in the 1 inch of snow, resulted in unbelievable slippage. After a little digging and jockeying, the car was finally turned around the right direction and properly parked in a pull out.

The second vehicle in our group today was a Subaru. It proved much more capable and was able to give us a ride up to about 2,700 feet where we started our snowshoe adventure.

The route basically follows DNR roads up the side of Racehorse Mountain.

The new show flocked all the trees. This is probably what trees might look like if they had bones.

The weather constantly switched from heavy snow to light snow to sunny and then snowy again. Here are a few of the group during a break in the weather.

Did I mention that it snowed?

It didn't hamper our good spirits in the least.

Here we approach the final traverse, just as the clouds roll in again.

To maximize your enjoyment of hiking or snowshoeing in Washington, you need to "Embrace the Weather". Some people just can't do it... those people weren't with us today. We were Weather Warriors.

Just like that... the sun decided to show its face. Again.

Upon reaching the pass between the Racehorse Creek Valley and Canyon Lake Valley we decided that this would make a good lunch spot, provided we could find a spot to sit that blocked the arctic wind. It also turned into our turnaround spot.

Racehorse Mountain is in the background. So close, but so far... especially with all that wonderful powder.

A Subalpine Fir that stared at me while I ate lunch.

The sun comes back out as we finish lunch, making an acceptable view of Slide Mountain possible.

More Racehorse Mountain, and a few of the group getting ready for the return trip.

More scenes of Slide Mountain:

Smooth Snowy Curves along the ridge top:

Heading back down, admiring the scenery:

It was a very enjoyable trip with nice scenery.

The road has a lot of potholes in the first couple miles but then it smooths out so most passenger cars should do alright with a little delicate driving. Not sure what the conditions are like beyond 2,100 feet during the summer. Right now all that is obviously snow covered.

Thanks for reading.

Next outing is currently scheduled for April 10th, although that date may have to be rescheduled due to family scheduling conflicts.

Happy Trails!


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