Monday, Oct. 17, 2011
With a morning of blue sky before me I found myself battling road construction in Sedro-Woolley and then non-stop 'Speed Limit Minus 10' drivers all they way up Hwy 9 through Acme and on to the Mount Baker Highway.
Stopped to say hello to Jen at Crossroads Grocery in Maple Falls before cruising up to Heather Meadows at the Mt. Baker Ski area.
The road to Artist Point remained closed all summer so I parked at the gate just beyond the Austin Pass visitor center. Right by this "Reflecting Tarn".
Fresh snow was visible just a couple hundred feet above me. You can see the snow level beneath Chair 1 and part way into the Bagley Lakes Basin as shown in the pictures below.
Instead of walking the road, I followed the trail that departed from the parking lot. It's unsigned, but it's the only trail here that heads 'up'. This trail quickly gains elevation and will eventually pop out at Artist Point (if you ever stop taking pictures).
The road to Artist Point does indeed still have snow on it. Although, really, it's more like one to three inches of ice with a little fresh snow on top and a few lingering snowbanks in some of the corners that partially block one lane or the other.
Looking across the basin, the Chain Lakes trail was clearly visible. the Chain Lakes trail was my original intended route, but the new snow made me a little cautious about doing the entire loop solo, due to the increased risk of injury in a lingering remote snow field and the liklihood of bears hanging out in the huckleberry bushes around the upper lakes.
Here is the actual Artist Point parking lot. A couple of bare spots.
Plan B was to follow the trail up Table Mountain.
There was one snowfield that I crossed with quite a runout.. all the way down to the lakes. My Stabilicers and Ice Axe were put into action... just in case.
Shuksan decided to remain in a Lenticular cloud for the first couple hours but it finally decided to come out in full after lunch.
Views of Mt. Baker were also jaw dropping.
From the top of Table Mountain you can easily look down to see the parking lot, the closed road, the trail in lieu of a road hike and the "Panorama Dome" as labeled on the TOPO.
Once on the summit, I had to use 2 of my 10 essentials: My pencil to write down phone numbers of people who left me voice mails so I could call them back and (2) the back side of my map to use for writing down such phone numbers.
While it wasn't a very long hike, it did have top notch scenery and a heart pounding trail up the side of the mountain - not one for those people afraid of heights.
~3.23 miles (round trip) and 1,000 to 1,250 of elevation gain. Image of the GPS route:
PS: A video showing the 360 degree views from the summit of Table Mountain has been posted. Click here to go to the Table Mtn 360s post.