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Category Archives: Mount Baker

I had heard of Artist Point over the years but had never made the trip to see it. Believe me, it’s worth the trek. It’s only open a few months of the year due to the huge amount of snow it receives every winter. DOT crews work hard to get it open for mid-summer to fall visitors.

On the way to Artist Point you pass by the Mount Baker downhill ski area and at the entry to the main area is a wonderful and enormous sculpture of two ravens by artist Tony Angell. It’s worth a stop too.

The girls and I had driven up on Monday when it was still quite smoky and were amazed at how many people were there even with no views of the mountains. There were trails through the rocks and remaining snow patches and wildflowers too. On Thursday we went back up for the evening and found very few people and we also found that the snow was quickly melting. Luna enjoyed what snow she did find. The air was more clear and we had great views of Mt Shuksan and a tolerable view of Baker considering how bad it had been.

The air quality has gotten even worse and I’m glad we were there last week. Air quality here at home is terrible and we barely go outside and I wear a N95 mask when I do venture out. This can’t be good for the dogs or the wildlife.

Luna got pretty tired after two days of hiking so on Thursday we took it a little bit easier. We started with breakfast in Glacier with my uncle and cousin and it was nice to catch up. The dogs got to hang out on the porch with us along with their buddy Chomper, my uncle’s dog. Somehow I missed getting photos of him.

Afterwards we saw some of the sights we had been driving by earlier in the week. The steel flume was originally made of wood and used to generate hydro power for mining over 100 years ago. It appears to still be in use. I could hear water running through it and bits of gravel hitting the inside. It was cold and had condensation on the outside. Sky enjoyed swimming in another stretch of the river and Luna enjoyed watching.

Our other nice hike last week, was along the Chain of Lakes trail starting at Artist Point. There are many superlatives written about Artist Point and I’m sure they are all true. I was there a little past the peak of wildflowers and smoke continued to dim my views. I did finally get to see Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan on this day. And there were lots of wildflowers to enjoy. Luna found snow patches for rolling and cooling her feet.

We started the hike in a clockwise direction going to Mazama and Iceberg Lakes before backtracking. I think on another day I would start at Heather Meadows and do the whole loop in a counter clockwise direction. Near the start of the trail I chatted with a young man carrying a snowboard and boots on his back. He was headed for the snow fields on the flanks of Mt Baker. He said he worked at a Montana ski resort in the winter and he liked to ski every month of the year! A true ski bum if there ever was one! He seemed to be living his dream.

The Skyline Divide trailhead is at the end of the road where we were camped so that was our first hike. It goes about two miles steeply through the forest with occasional meadows before popping out on top of a meadow-covered ridge. I’m sure there are wondrous vistas to be seen at that point however it was pretty smoky and we could not see the mountains at all. The smoke was thick enough that I could smell it and I’m sure a vigorous hike in those conditions was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I was not alone. We saw several other hikers that day. We could have gone farther on the trail to find that we could not see other vistas so decided to just stay on the ridgetop and enjoy the flowers and bugs and also Black Swifts that seemed to be migrating in big flocks. This is a hike I hope to do again on a non-smoky day.

The girls and I looked at our calendars and realized that we had five days with nothing scheduled and the air quality around here was going downhill due to forest fires both nearby and farther away in Canada. So we packed the camper with food and bedding and headed to NW Washington, specifically to the Mount Baker area.

There are only two campgrounds in between the town of Glacier and Artist Point, with about fifty campsites and most of those are reserveable six months in advance. Well, of course, we didn’t plan our lives six months in advance so I asked at the ranger station in Glacier and got some advice on dispersed camping. I had hoped to be higher in the mountains, closer to Mt Baker and Artist Point but we ended up just 4 1/2 miles out of Glacier on a bumpety bump road. The good thing (ask Sky) is that we were right on the north fork of the Nooksack River. There was clean glacial water and a couple of areas deep enough for Sky to swim. I also saw American Dippers along the edges. How they can see through all that glacial flour, I don’t know but they were diving for food.

We did not escape the smoke and Monday and Tuesday were particularly bad but not as bad as here.

Here are a few scenes from near our campsite.

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