Last week I was able to meet up with the Mount Baker Club for a nice day of snowshoeing up at Mt. Baker.
Sure... ANOTHER snowshoe at Mt. Baker (yawn!). Well, this is a brand new route that the club has been working on establishing as a new snowshoe route to aid in keeping the snowshoers from stomping on the groomed cross country ski tracks.
Since the Avalanche Danger Rose has been higher than my usual acceptable tolerance level, my Club friends assured me that the Razor Hone Knob route is one that would be safe in the forecasted conditions. I figured I'd give it a fair shake instead of just staying home.
They were right... very low risk of avalanches along this route. Although it's not always obvious along the route, a 3D viewing in Topo! makes it pretty obvious. I've added a video to the end of this post which concludes with a 3D "fly-by" via Topo! software.
Weather was mostly sunny, with an occassional light snowfall. Not quite enough sun for me to unbury the sunscreen, but I did get a little pink up on top (top of my head, not the top of the mountain).
Despite the fact that it's April, fresh snow continues to fall on Mt. Baker. Our entire route was knee deep (or more) powder. Slowed the progress a bit, but we all took turns breaking trail.
MBC members spent the fall doing some brush cutting and flagging to set up this new route (well, a new trail to us but they claim it was originally documented back in about 1923 or so). The original flags are now under snow and the current flags are at locations that they couldn't dream of touching before winter arrived.
The route (see map image at end of post) starts from the far corner of the White Salmon Lodge at the Mount Baker Ski area. There are no flags on this section, but there are certain landmarks that help club members know where to go.
After a short distance, the route breaks out of the trees and onto a maintenance road. This road isn't accessible to vehicles in the summer as it reportedly starts from the lodge parking area, which is generally gated in the summer.
This unnamed maintenance road follows along or near the ridgetop and offers a number of nice view points to the surrounding beauty. Weather permitting.
Did you notice that I finally got around to playing with some of the settings in Photoshop Elements? That's why it took so long to get this trip report online. :)
The clouds came and went. The sun came and went. The wind, however, never made an appearance. These were primo outing conditions... not too hot and not too cold. A few times we noticed a very light snow falling from the light but dark clouds floating by - visible in the video previously mentioned.
At the end of the maintenance road, the route drops down into the woods and follows another off-trail section. There are a couple flags down here, but really it's just knowing where you are supposed to go. Or following a MBC member.
After a short descent along the ridge spine you'll find yourself on the White Salmon road - popular with cross country skiers - but not today. Again, untouched, untracked fresh powder. Truly beautiful!
Razor Hone Knob can be reached by following the White Salmon Road, but it's a lot longer and involves a notable descent followed by an identical ascent to reach the knob. The more efficient route is to again drop down into the woods along the ridge spine. This section is fairly well flagged - but watch out for tree wells. They are everywhere and they are dangerous - potentially even deadly if you are solo and panic.
Please use caution.
Eventually, you pop out of the wood again and simply follow the road upwards to the knob, and more views.
After a very comfortable lunch break on top of Razor Hone Knob, we geared up and retraced our steps. Slower because it was more uphill, but faster because we didn't need to break trail the second time.
Round trip was just less than 2.5 miles and only 500 feet of elevation gain.
On the way back home we stopped at the Beer Shrine for a sampling of beverages.
The route video, as promised. Click below to start the video (yes, the image may look like the above map, but it is actually a video):
If you visit the Mount Baker Club website, you may be able to find their online topo map of snowshoe and skiing routes between the White Salmon Lodge and the Sno-Park location on the Nooksack River.
There is a trail in progress that cuts off from the White Salmon Road and descends all the way to the sno-park, although it's still mostly in the 'routefinding' stage (to the best of my knowledge anyway).
You'll need a sno-park permit to park at the Sno-Park or the White Salmon Road, but it's free to park in the White Salmon Lodge parking lot while the ski area is operating.
PS: What is a Hone: A stone of a fine grit, or a slab, as of metal, covered with an abrading substance or powder, used for sharpening cutting instruments, and especially for setting razors; an oilstone.
PPSS:Learn all about how to hone a razor if you didn't already know.
PPPSSS: This route is named Razor Hone because of nearby Razor Hone Creek. I have no idea why the creek was named Razor Hone creek. Bummer, eh?
P4S4: For more info about the Avalance Danger ratings, click here.
P5S5: I'm hoping to hit the trails a few times in the next week and a half. Hoping for a snowshoe loop around the Heather Meadows area (yes, another new route that I've heard about) and probably a few other local areas of interest, such as the Racehorse Creek landslide (for fossil hunting), Bald Rock, Bowman Mountain or a few other top secret destinations.
Drop me a note via a blog comment, a personal email or give me a call on the cell phone if you are interested in tagging along!