Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mt. Baker's Skyline Divide 08-04-2012

Skyline Divide on the perimeter of Mount Baker is one of the most spectacular day hikes available off the Mount Baker Hwy (Hwy 542).

There are a few factors that make this such an excellent hike:
  • 360 degree views (provided you chose a sunny day) offer an unbelievable horizon to capture your interest all day long.
  • Millions of flowers (in season)
  • Miles and miles of ridges to explore at your hearts content
  • It's just 1.75 miles to probably the finest 'picnic heaven' (the 1,500 feet of elevation gain will quickly be forgotten).  From there you can soak in the scenery or continue hiking to other high points and vistas.

Unfortunately, with all those rewards there are a few minor downsides:  this trail is very popular so the last thing to expect is solitude.  The only other downside is the 12 mile gravel road drive to the trail head (but it beats a 12 mile hike instead).

It was hard to choose 'just a few' of my favorite pictures for this report.

Many of these pictures include portions of the trail along the top of a ridge.  If you click on the image to view the larger size then you can probably spot other hikers on the trail... they really help add perspective to the grand scope of the panoramas. 

Conditions during my visit were nearly perfect - and greatly appreciated since my only previous visit (five years ago) included a lot of low hanging clouds which only allowed periodic hints at what surrounded us. 

If I was a little faster at photo editing I would have added a few peak labels, but for now you'll get to do that research on your own.

Here is my route map for the day.  Approx. 9 miles and 2,500 feet of gain.  The ridge does have a number of ups and downs, but it is so worth it!

The trail head is located by traveling east on Hwy 542 from Bellingham to just a short distance from the little town of Glacier.  Just beyond Glacier is the Forest Service office (bathrooms plus a chance to buy a Forest Pass for parking if you don't have one) and then you'll take a right turn onto Glacier Creek Road.  Take the first left and follow the road to its end at the trail head.  The gravel road is about 12 miles long and narrow in spots, but it is in relatively good condition and should be passable by virtually any car that isn't a low-rider.

Happy Hiking!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Itinerary for 08/26/2012

My apologies for not sending out the traditional invitations for this hike.  We've been a bit busy with the family vacation and 'all that'.

Had to cancel the hike scheduled for today (the 25th) and reschedule it for tomorrow (Sunday the 26th).

Planning on heading out toward Yellow Aster Butte in the morning.  Depending on how events play out, the plan could change to Hannegan Pass instead and depending on how either of those two hikes play out, there is a chance that I'll head up to Artist Point later in the day for a quick hike up Table Mountain.  Maybe there will be some nice alpenglow on Shuksan or something.

Expect to be in phone contact before dark (should be cell service at Artist Point) but may be home after dark.  Details will be communicated before decisions are made.

It's not too late to join me for a day of sunny hiking... summer is rapidly approaching.

Planning to depart Mt. Vernon by 8a.m.

Happy Hiking!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Clayton Beach Redemption! 08-01-2012

A kind blog visitor pointed out that it sounded like my original visit to Clayton Beach back in November might have been a bit hasty in offering a less than impressive opinion about the area.

You might want to take a moment to read the original Clayton Beach trip report.

Earlier this month I finished a nice 4 mile run along the interurban trail from the Clayton Beach parking lot.  Gasping for air at the end of the run, I wandered out the vehicle enterance/exit for the parking lot and noticed an obvious trail on the west side of Chuckanut Drive.

Upon further inspection, this trail immedietly descends some nice and sturdy stairs onto what appears to be a former railroad grade.  It then immediately crosses a small creek on a very sturdy bridge. 

Neither the stairs nor the bridge were encountered during my first reported visit to Clayton Beach.

Near as I can tell, my original visit must have taken a user-created shortcut trail instead of the real, intended, official trail.

With a little lactic acid to work out, this was a perfect chance to hike down and see the REAL Clayton Beach.

As Annonymous Commenter stated, there is indeed a beach down there.  The tide was pretty high as of this visit, but there was a good 20 feet x 20 feet square of Puget Sound Sand (small gravel, not legitimate ocean type Baywatch sand).  Small for a beach, but probably larger when the tide retreats.

The trail then wanders along the cliffy shoreline with plenty of spots to stop for a picnic and to enjoy the views.

I admit that this is a nice little area and a visit during low tide will be well worth my time in the future.

Of particular interest are the world famous erosion circles along the shoreline.  Like crop circles, except that they aren't a mystery, they aren't alien and we do know how they get there.

In the picture below, you can see a small portion of the beach area below the cliff pictured just left of center.

The trail from the parking lot is easy to follow, except for the last 100 yards or so.  The final descent down to the railroad tracks is a bit steep compared to the gentle slope of the main trail.  Plus, this descent is on large buried boulders which can be very slippery - even when dry.

After crossing the train tracks, the trail continues down to the beach.  This portion of the trail is less well developed than the RR grade portion, but the way is obvious.

Share & Enjoy.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Oyster Dome Update 07-25-2012

Instead of pretending that "Dogs are my BFF" during three hours of 4-H meetings a couple weeks ago, I decided that the world might be a better place if I were on a nearby hiking trail.

So, after checking, double checking, triple checking to make sure my services weren't needed, I wagged my happy tail up to Chuckanuts Oyster Dome.

While that trail has been written up numerous times on this blog, it seems important to note a couple of changes that have taken place on this trail in the recent past (and I need to have a spot to post my photos).

Important Item #1: The Bat Caves Are Closed.

According to a posted sign at the junction with the Samish Overlook Trail, DNR explains that the bat caves area is now off limits. It seems they are PO'd about the missing bridge and the white noses on the bats. Here is the sign:

(Un)important Item #2: Trail work has been performed on parts of the trail recently. Some of the work involves completely re-routing the trail to bypass one of the steep, slippery, muddy inclines. The reroute may add 1/10th of a mile to your trek, but it wanders you by a huge boulder that is of a bit of interest.

The old route has been well covered by logs and branches. It's been covered so well that I didn't notice right away that the route was different. When I did conclude that it was a new trail section it still took a while for me to visually locate the old route. The crew did a nice job on the new section... it's interesting and do not worry... there is still plenty of mud to deal with (but it's much better than the old part).

While I do not know who is responsible for this particular work, I suspect that Ken Wilcox played a hands on role in the work performed. Ken is the author of Hiking Whatcom County books (and probably others as well).

There wasn't a lot of time for dilly-dallying... it was important to stay out of the doghouse by making sure my trek was completed before the meetings were finished (and before the sun set).

Chuckanut to Oyster Dome took about 1 hour and 10 minutes at a pretty steady pace with a couple short stops for photos. The descent was much faster as a trail run and photo ops were fewer and further between.

Here are the photos:

Please accept my apologies for the poor picture quality. All photos were taken by my "Not Smart" phone.

Despite the brisk pace, this was the perfect hike for the time, location and weather that were thrown my way.

Happy Hiking!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Itinerary 08-04-2012

Mount Baker's Skyline Divide trail is the intended destination. 

Diablo Lake Gorge paddle will have to be done some other day.

If time allows, might venture along to Wells Creek Road (to get to the top of the basalt columns now that the snow is gone and the road should be open for a good distance) or maybe Artist Point (unlikely).

Maybe the evening will offer up a kayaking opportunity in Anacortes.

Happy Hiking!


What to do...

With the exception of pondering what trouble two dogs might get into if I leave them for a long day, I'm undecided how to spend my Saturday.

Last I heard the weather is supposed to be **Perfect**.  Nice and warm (possibly hot) with blue sky... without rain forecasted immediately before or immediately after.

Maybe it will actually happen.

That forecast makes it sound like the best conditions for my kayak on Diablo Lake up the gorge to Ross Dam (early in the morning before the wind and temperatures pick up).  I'm excited about that idea.

Then I heard someone asking about Lake Ann.  I am not going to Lake Ann, and am not considering going to Lake Ann.  The reason this is important is because someone else recommended that person go to Skyline Divide instead.  Reportedly, it's melted out to the ridge.

Why would I care about that?

Well, it was on my to-do list for a while... then I did it.  It was nice, but it was also cloudy so I couldn't enjoy the views that makes it such a wonderful place.  That was almost exactly six years and 162 trails ago.

Clearly, this opportunity doesn't come along very often.  SIX years.  162 decisions to NOT go to this trail.  I've only owned a kayak for less than three months... surely there will be other perfect weather+nonhiking days just around the corner, yes?

Anyone out there with suggestions/opinions?

Anyone interested in tagging along (hiking or kayaking)?  BYOB (bring your own boots/boat).

Guess I'll check the weather conditions tomorrow and decide then.

Happy Hiking!