Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Excelsior Pass 08/29/10

My hike on Sunday August 29, 2010 led me to Excelsior Pass via the Damfino Lakes route with Kris, Kevin and Debbie.

Kris was kind enough to let us use her vehicle to test out the road to Damfino Lakes. She was also kind enough to let Kevin drive AND kind enough not to throw up on me when she started feeling a little carsick.

Generally speaking, throw up is attracted to me like a magnet.

This was my second visit to this trail head. The first visit was in conjunction with the World Famous 2009 Summer Solstice Party at JenJen's in Maple Falls during June 2009.

The road to Damfino Lakes during that first visit had a section of the road which had been washed away, leaving a short and steep section which was passable by a Subaru, but probably not a Camry. It seems that section has been totally fixed and the road is now passable to just about any vehicle that can make it over a speed bump without damage.

The trail to Damfino Lake is reached by driving the Canyon Creek road for about 15 miles, staying 'straight' (or slightly left if you aren't sure) at the junctions. Canyon Creek road connects to the Mount Baker Highway (Hwy 542) about 2 miles east of Glacier, WA. Most of the 15 miles is paved.

The weather turned out to be better than the forecast with mostly cloudy skies providing a few sun breaks and blue sky opportunities. We did feel a few raindrops here and there but nothing that would count as rain.

It was a little chilly at the Pass when we stopped for lunch.

Mount Baker and Mt. Shuksan were both hidden in the distant clouds for the duration of the hike.

Blueberries could be found at Excelsior Pass.

Bugs were not an issue. A few small flies here and there, but no need to do anything extra for evasive action. No bug spray or anything.

It was beautiful all around. Definitely a good choice in a few more weeks as the colors start to change.

Quite a few flowers remaining, but the oncoming cold weather could mean they are short lived at this point.

The trail starts with a gradual decline from the parking lot down to Damfino Lakes. Just before the lake there is an intersection with the Boundary Way trail (rumored to be a great trail, fwiw).

After circling the lakes on puncheon walkway, the trail begins to ascend through the forest toward the meadows. The rest of the route is in meadows on on ridge tops.

Entering the first meadow:

We noticed bees on some of the flowers. Instead of their typically 'busy as a bee' activities, they were virtually motionless. Just resting on top of (or sometimes just hanging upside down, underneath) the flowers.

Final approach to Excelsior Peak: (it is a lot steeper than it looks)

Happy Hikers Peak-baggin':

Descending from the summit:

This may be the backside of Church Mountain:

Looking back up at Excelsior Peak:


Arriving back at Damfino Lake:

This hike gets the 'two thumbs up' from our whole group and I look forward to future visits here. Being able to drive to Damfino Lakes knocks of at least 2,000 feet of elevation gain that would be hiked up if you start at the trail head alongside Hwy 542. Plus, the Hwy 542 trail head routes up through forest the entire way until you reach the pass.

Once our group was safely back down to Hwy 542, the three of them went on to have soup at Milano's in Glacier, WA while I ventured up to Heather Meadows to find a combination of alternating heavy rain and light sun. Rather than getting drenched and cold, I decided to head back down toward Glacier, WA and make a first visit to the Horseshoe Bend trail along the Nooksack River. Trip Report for that will be coming soon.

Happy Trails!


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