Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chuckanut's Huckleberry Point 11-21-2011

This was the second of two 'hikes' for the day.
After a foiled attempt to drive to the Samish Overlook, I found myself visiting Clayton Beach for a short while (Trip #161) before driving north on Chuckanut to the North Chuckanut Mtn Trail Head parking lot for Trip #162.

On this occasion, the parking lot was completely empty, except for a Border Patrol SUV; its engine running and an officer in the driver seat. A simple nod of the head between us sufficed for a greeting. It was my assumption that he was just hiding out on a lunch break, but that probably wasn't an accurate conclusion. Regardless, I was glad he was there as this is known to be a popular vehicle-prowl area. Surely he wasn't there for that reason, but it serves that purpose for me.

Started hiking, still unsure of my real destination.

The trail signage at this point wasn't too helpful in pointing me in the right direction since it only shows distances, not directions. It did help me to cross off a few potential destinations due to the length.

At this point it seemed best just to wander around toward the Pine/Cedar Lakes/Raptor Ridge area; just to say I've done the entire segment from the North Chuckanut parking lot to the Raptor Ridge intersection (which I've been via the Pine/Lakes trail head).

My route stayed to the north of California Street, and I stayed 'high' instead of dropping into the Chuckanut Creek/Arroyo Canyon area. It's a neat area, but one I've been through on numerous occasions via hiking, running and biking. That way just leads to the road, then the interurban trail and then to Fairhaven Parkway. No thanks.

Was pleasantly surprised to see signs for Chuckanut Falls... wasn't on my radar screen until now - a nice potential for a surprise gem. Decided to follow the signs and leave Lost Lake to be found on a different day.

The trail to the falls contained some slick muddy spots on a grade steep enough that a few footsteps were of the step-and-slide variety, but the trail is well established and obvious to follow.

At the time of my visit, the falls weren't all that impressive, but it was on par with the rest of the day I guess. Since my visit, I've found a few pictures online that show the falls with a higher volume of water which only adds to the attraction.  One such picture is posted on Aaron's Waterfall World website.

After a few photos it was time to return to the main trail and continue on the original path.

Side note: Strong winds have been blowing around Skagit/Whatcom county for the day before this hike and also the day of this hike. Fortunately, at the time of my visit to this trail the winds were pretty calm - almost non-existent (although they were simultaneously howling at other Chuckanut locations). Hiking in the woods during high winds can be a risky endeavor. Branches can and do fall during wind storms. Many are small - but still capable of causing injury. Others are larger, or even huge, and can cause significant damage - even death. At one of the junctions to Chuckanut Falls, I came across this huge branch that had fallen and impaled itself at least four inches into the hard packed (but wet) dirt. Hard enough that it was standing up straight... more than six feet high.

Here's the picture... imagine what kind of damage that could do to a body... a shoulder... a head... a foot. Be careful and be aware of these risks whenever the winds pick up.

End Side Note.

After plodding along the Hemlock trail some more, there came another unexpected option noted on a trail sign: Huckleberry Point.

Never heard of it before. since it's only 0.4miles, and the trail appears to go 'up', there's no way to ignore it (yet).

I raced a slug. Yes, I did win, but the slug got the photo finish.

Like the Chuckanut Falls spur trail, this one is easy to follow, but pretty uneventful. The route will lead you up to a wooded flat spot. With a bench. Technically, there is a view. Near as I could tell, it's a view of some treed ridges with houses. Probably looking over Lk. Padden and Lk. Whatcom to the big power lines in the distance.

I call this 'the pondering place' because I couldn't help but ponder why this was deemed worthy of a 0.4mile trail and a bench. Pretty sure even the slug turned around when I told him what was up there.

Upon completion of the 'Pondering' phase, it was time to return to the trail head. An uneventful trek (but it seemed longer on the way out, even though there wasn't a side trip to the falls). Wished there was an Alpine Coaster nearby.

Border Patrol officer was still sitting in the parking lot. I told him thanks for watching my car. Not sure why or who decided it would be useful for him to sit there for two hours when there didn't seem to be any activity in the area. Whatever... no one broke into my car so, Thumbs Up!

Didn't get rained on while hiking at all. Started to sprinkle as I put the pack in the car.

Loaded up, went home & washed the dirt off "Puddles" at the car wash on the way.

Route Map:

Happy Trails!


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