Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chuckanut's Samish Overlook in Snow 01-17-2012

My original plan to go snowshoeing with a Mount Baker Club group was cancelled due to snow.

Ended up spending the morning with the family at home, watching the snow piling up.

Finally noticed the snow letting up a bit and some obvious clearing on the horizon. Decided to verify that there weren't any existing plans for the afternoon and then left the house to enjoy a snowy hike up to Chuckanut's Oyster Dome or Samish Overlook.

Parked in about an inche of snow at the Chuckanut trail head, grabbed some gear (but not snowshoes) and headed up the mountain.

The snow depth increased as I gained elevation and there was about 8 inches or so at the first trailside bench (1.2miles, 950 feet of gain). Decided it was time to put on the Stabilicers and the Gaiters.

Followed two sets of footprints in the snow.
Skipped the turnoff to Samish Overlook - had hopes of reaching Oyster Dome.

The footsteps I followed eventually left the trail and I found myself crotch-deep in snow on a steep incline. After continuing a short ways it was clear that this wasn't the trail. Rather than risk an injury, it seemed to be a good time to call it quits on Oyster Dome and divert to the Samish Overlook.

It was a good choice.

Samish Overlook had one set of footprints and the rest of the area was pristine and beautiful (well, if you ignore the black fences and outhouses). Fantastic and seldom seen winter views of the Skagit Valley and the Islands were abundant.

Yes, it is possible to drive to this Overlook. With more than a foot of snow and an eight+ mile drive on a periodically steep logging road, not many vehicles CAN drive here in these conditions - put one set of deep tracks from big tires proved to me that it's not out of the question.

This section of trail is part of the Pacific Northwest Trai which runs from the Pacific Ocean to the Continental Divide. Here is a snow covered PNT sign:

Looking to the north, a wall of 'dark' was coming our way. Oyster Dome might have been in the clouds.

Enjoyed some snacks and a beverage. Took some pics. Headed back down but stopped at the aforementioned bench.

Set up the tripod to take some sequential pics of the clouds moving over the islands. These are included in the below video - they turned out kind of neat but as the video came together it was evident that the tripod was slowly sinking into the snow. Whoops.

Anyway, this was a fantastic winter hike. Completely different than any non-snow Chuckanut hike.

My round trip (including the partial trip toward Oyster Dome) was about 5.4 miles and 1,330 of elevation gain.


PS: Contemplating a hike along the North Lake Whatcom Trail on Sunday 1/22/2012 with Ron Peterson of the Mount Baker Club.

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