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!

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