Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Artist Point 07-13-2013

Artist Point is one of the most popular destinations in Whatcom County during the summer, unfortunately it's rather difficult to get there most of the year.

Artist Point is located at the very end of the Mount Baker Highway (Hwy 542), but generally speaking, the last two or three miles of road are buried by more than 10 feet of snow.  Each spring, the WA Dept. of Transportation folks set out to assess the snow depth and decide when (or IF) they will start to plow off the snow so vistors can safely drive to this panoramic vista and the popular hiking trails.

2013 provided a nice combination of lots of snow followed by lots of sunny weather which allowed a relatively early plowing of the road and thus, early access by car.

While the road allows easier access, it is always possible to hike or snowshoe to Artist Point from Heather Meadows (which is where the road plowing ends during winter, also known as the Mt. Baker Ski Area).

With an earlier than expected opening, and a lagging hiking mojo due to a rigorous running schedule, but a schedule-free and sunny day in front of me, I extended an invitation to Alexia to see if she was interested in going for a hike.  She was up for the challenge!  Even better... she wanted to bring her dog.

We made a stop in Maple Falls for some hiking/lunch snacks and then drove right up to Artist Point where I discovered my Northwest Forest Pass expired in June.  It was also upon our arrival that we realized the road may be clear, but the hiking trails were all buried.

Despite having a gps which had been previously programed with all the local trails (for just such an occassion as this), our hiking efforts would be minimal since the bigger issue was simply one of 'traction' and 'keeping snow out of your shoes' and 'do not lose the dog'.

Accordingly, we were content with exploring the ridges with mostly safe run-outs in case of an accidental slip.

Our wanderings led us about halfway to Huntoon Point where we enjoyed a lunch break.

Next stop was an exploration of the massive amounts of snow that continue to cover the entire bathroom building.

Finally, we converted a plastic-wrapped piece of cardboard which used to serve as a home for a case of bottled water into a sled.  We put this to good use beneath Table Mountain where there were already two sledding chutes just waiting for us to risk our tailbones on.

The weather was warm and the bugs were minimal.  There were quite a few people up there, but still plenty of parking.

We had a great time up there and made it back home completely refreshed instead of exhausted!

Here is a video with some additional photos but also some sledding footage.

Hiking and impromptu sledding at Artist Point 07-13-13 from Eric Rolfs on Vimeo.

Happy Hiking!

No comments:

Post a Comment