Saturday, April 28, 2012

Itinerary for 04-29-2012

Planning another trek to visit the North Mountain Lookout. North Mountain Lookout is located on North Mountain, just North of Darrington. Am expecting some snow and will have suitable gear for the conditions.  You may remember my trip report for North Mountain from last December (read it here).  Also you can visit my SAVE North Mountain Lookout page if you are so inclined to do so.
May cut the trip short if my ankle causes me trouble, or may divert to some other alternative destination if the road isn't passable as far as I'm hoping it is.

Tentaively hoping to depart from home at about 8:30am.  Feel free to contact me if you'd like to come along for the day.  Relaxing and stress free is the name of the game.

Alternatives might include anything from a visit to Diablo dam along Hwy 20, Mount Higgins or Boulder Creek between Darrington and Arlington or some other local Darrington hike if Quark is around to be act as a tour guide.

Expect to be in cell phone range before dark.

Happy Hiking!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Calling All Hikers

April 29th (this coming Sunday) might be an unplanned hike day.

You know what that means: the family is probably bringing home ANOTHER dog. Whenever that happens they like to make sure I'm well out of the area so they can all work hard to get the dog to like THEM the best before it meets me. That's my theory anyway; and I'm ok with that.

If your calendar is wide open on Sunday and you'd like to get out & about please feel free to let me know.

As usual, the plan is still TBD, but there's a long list of places I'd like to visit for a first time and too many places that need a 'follow up visit' to finish them up. Then again, when the weather is just right, a visit to Artist Point, Huntoon Point or Panorama Dome on Mt. Baker always makes for a memorable day.

Places to 'finish': North Mountain, Wells Creek Road, Cultus Mountain, Sumas Mtn Mine shafts #2, #3 and the slow landslide

New Places to 'Start': Mt. Higgins, Bald Mountain

Or... open to any and all reasonable suggestions.

Comment here, or drop me an email!

The Trip Report from more than a week ago should be up in the next day or two. Be sure to check back soon!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Itinerary for 04-14-2012

Once in a great while the planets align and things seem to naturally work out like they should.

Saturday's hike seems to have a lucky combination of weather, desitination and comrades.

Not just ANY comrades. These particular comrades are G-E-O-L-O-G-I-S-T-S. Three of them. And one Accountant. Hiking.

Please, don't try to organize any flash mobs or anything. I'm sure we'll all be plenty busy enjoying the day exploring Sumas Mountain.

For those of you who haven't heard of Sumas Moutain, it is located right in the middle of the Whatcom Quadrangle (yep, I made that up). Smack dab in the middle of Demming, Kendal, Sumas & Everson.

Looking forward to a day of adventures! It's gonna ROCK!

Happy Hiking!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wells Creek Road Snowshoe 03-17-2012

Saint Patrick's Day, 2012

A forecast of snowy weather, after weeks of snowy weather and high risk avalanche warnings forced me to spend a very quiet day along the Wells Creek Road.

Wells Creek Road is probably better recognized simply as the road which leads to Nooksack Falls. It is an unpaved forest road that branches off the Mount Baker Highway (Hwy 542) about 8 miles after the town of Glacier.

The road itself is substantially blocked/bermed in the winter, with room for about five vehicles at the intersection with Hwy 542.

At the time of my visit, there was a cut in the berm, with a standard road construction roadblock set up. The width of the cut was just wide enough to allow a vehicle to pass through it. Beyond the berm, the road appeared to have been recently plowed and was only covered with a thin layer of snow. And one set of truck tracks.

The obvious reason for the cut and the limited vehicle access is because there is a river diversion set up to funnel part of the Nooksack river directly down to the Nooksack Powerhouse via a pipeline and underground tunnel. I imagine it's important to keep the area accessible for service, maintenance and repairs.

Everone else gets to walk from Hwy 542.

At the time of my visit, it was easy enough to walk down the plowed road to the parking lot at the Nooksack Falls trail, just before the road crosses the Nooksack River on a bridge.

Just beyond the bridge is a real gate. Here is where the snow really begins to deepen and was a great spot to put on my snowshoes.

From here it was just a steady snowshoe along a tree lined forest service road. Once in a while the local view would change a little bit, but with weather like this there was zero expectation of any distant views.

I trudged onward.

At the first main intersection at a wide open area (there is probably a view here in better weather), keep 'straight ahead'. Do not head to the right... that is the way toward avalanche territory.

Heading straight ahead is the route toward the top of the Basalt Columns (so I'm told). Also, the avalanche risk remains almost non-existant (except for Acts Of God of course).

It also gets steeper.

And the snow gets deeper.

And the trip becomes a bit boringer.

A play list and ipod would have been a good idea for this trek today.

Breaking trail in the deep powder wiped me out and even though I knew the end was near it just wasn't worth it -- this time.

I am looking forward to coming back in better weather to crank this one out because who doesn't want to see basalt columns up close and personal?

The return trek was much faster since it was almost all downhill.

As I reached the car, two other winter recreationists had just arrived and were about to embark on their first-ever snowshoe. I gave them the 45 second lesson and suggestions and wished them a fantastic time.

On the way home there was quite a squall in Acme which provided an unexpected opportunity to snap some rainbow photos from the driver's seat before heading down to Sedro-Woolley for some Teriyaki and return to home.

Happy Hiking!


PS: Next hike is this coming Saturday!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Chuckanut Birthday 03-04-2012

More than a month ago I made a no-notice visit to the Chuckanuts. It just so happened to also be my birthday and it also happened that there wasn't anything else going on at home so the family encouraged me to go for a hike.

How often does that happen? Once, twice, MAYBE three times a year (birthday, Father's Day and whenever they get tired of looking at my mug or listening to my lame jokes).

With the intention of being home before dinner I grabbed a handful of essentials and drove straight to the Samish Overlook. Having a vehicle with more than three inches of clearance really does come in quite handy much more frequently than I imagined it would!

Seeing as how the Chuckanuts are basically 'in my neighborhood', this trip seemed like a great opportunity to make the hike from Oyster Dome to Lily Lake. I knew there was at least one trail to make that connection and I hadn't ventured that route before... so it's what I would call "New To Me".

The trek started out with the typical cloudy late winter non-views from Samish Overlook and a moody Chuckanut forest.

First stop: Check out the now missing bridge over the creek on the way to the Bat Caves. Confirmed that the bridge is indeed missing. Since the creek is small, crossing isn't too tough but it does require more skill than a simple rock-hop.

After taking a few photos, a couple rock climbers showed up. Their target was Oyster Dome... via a vertical route instead of the trail.

One of them immediately crossed the creek without trouble. The other dude, however, headed a short distance up stream to survey his options. After a little contemplation, he removed his pack and attempted to toss it across the creek to the opposite side.

His attempt resulted in a splash as his throw was about four feet short of success. Whoops. Here he is (upper right) before that fiasco.

His pack landed in that little cove between the mid-creek log and the large root midway up the hill side on the opposite side of the creek.

More about these dudes later.

My route continued onward up the trail to Oyster Dome where I took a typical photo of the rainy day view of the scene.

There were small patches of snow in some places here and there.

From here I backtracked to the turnoff toward Lily Lake. This is were it becomes 'New to me'.

There isn't a lot to say about this section of the trail other than it was more pleasant and interesting than I had anticipated. A pleasant surprise.

Interestingly enought, it's pretty flat, it follows a nice creek, there are mining and railroad remnants in the area, the route is relatively wide open and it's only about a five or ten minute was to the last turn off for Lily Lake. This is right where the beavers have been busy too (as mentioned in my previous Lily Lake reports).

Since my last visit here, the Beavers have toppled another tree.

The shallow part of the lake near the beaver activity was still frozen over.

Just as I was ready to turn around, another hiker came toward me, hiking from the other direction. We chatted (now I've forgotten her name) and she'd been here before, but not down the path I had just come from.

We headed back the way I had come from together, chatting about Bellingham and our favorite hikes.

She hadn't been to the bat caves before so I showed her they way.

In the wet weather, the granite that makes up the entire Bat Caves are is REALLY slippery. Unbelievable slippery. We both fell at different times, Vibram soles immediatley useless.

It was also sad to see that someone has decided to force their interpretation of 'art' on all of us who come out here to escape the monstrosity of urbanscapes. Unbelievable.

Here we were also able to see the rock climbers slowly makeing progress up the cliff face. Very slow progress. I didn't have all day to watch them so it was time for me to head back to the car. It's unlikely that they made it to the top.

Back at the Samish Overlook, I followed the trail around the loop a short ways without finding too much of anything to capture my interest - except I did learn that mountain bikes are allowed out here.

Returned to the car and back home in time for a birthday dinner with a loving family.

About 6.25 miles round trip and 1,500 feet of elevation gain.

Happy Trails!