No School! Nooksack River snowshoe instead.

An instructor who was scheduled to give four hours of lecture today came down with the flu, so classes were canceled. This coinciding with 55˚ and sunny means…you guessed it…a quick trip into the mountains! Continue reading

Advertisements

Chikamin Lake: one of my top five hikes of all time.

This time of year with its 33˚ and steady drizzle, snow piling up on top of the high trails, I absolutely ache for summer. It becomes palpable and I find myself pouring through photos of past trips or flipping through guide books and maps planning this year’s escapades.chik5One trip, now two and a half years past, still gives me a glow upon remembering. The trip began with a drive through the town where one of my favorite TV shows was filmed. Roslyn, WA, adorable home of the set for Northern Exposure. I can totally see Gwen and I fixing up an old farmhouse there and letting the dogs go wild. chik1The trailhead to Chikamin Lake is at a mere 700 ft of elevation. That means there’s a LOOONG way to go before treeline. Much of this approach, though extremely brushy, at times, was quite pleasant thanks to the unspoiled nature of the forest. Still, the camera didn’t come out much until a glimpse of a view showed itself, hours later.chik2There is something sublimely rewarding about walking through a dense Cascade forest and feeling the woods open into a clearing here and a meadow there until all that’s left are the occasional sentinel beside the trail. chik3The trail crested here, as we soaked in the expanse, then made its way down to a lake where we were met a slope of house size boulders and no clear way through.chik4If you look close, you can see me beginning to navigate and get a sense of the scale.chik14And here are Gwen and Dusky in two shots next to the impossibly upright monolith.chik13We passed a crystal-clear triangle-shaped tarn at the top of the boulder field and were heartened to find a semblance of trail soon after. chik12And it wasn’t long until we were very happy campers! chik7The following day we set out on a loop that was, as Gwen would say, “Josh-style.” It is a hunt and peck method of wilderness travel, admittedly. Exploratory, as in, let’s just go a little further to see how doable it is. It certainly got exciting at times!chik8And we were blessed with views from Mt. Baker (back home) to Mt. Rainier and beyond.chik6Then, rewarded with fall color and a chain of lakes to rival the Enchantments.chik11chik10We simply couldn’t have planned it any better!

I think I’m going to go waterproof my boots now…

Pan-o-RAMA! Using the groomers to climb high.

Days like this in January are rare like a wolverine sighting. I’ve talked before about input & output in the context of wilderness experience…yesterday was 95% output.

  • Elevation gain: 3400 ft
  • Mileage: 12 mi
  • Time: 6 hours

aw2On a hike to Baker Lake a few weeks ago, I was struck by the relative lack of snowpack and wondered how far a low-clearance all wheel drive could make it up the Forest Service road above the lake. Turns out, all the way to the berm created to keep monster trucks off the groomed snowmobile paths. aw5A couple of years ago, Gwen and I snowshoed a similar approach to some high snowy meadows and were passed by about 3 dozen sleds all leaving behind a two-cycle induced petrol-plasma that our working lungs had no choice but to inhale. Yuck! Yesterday, Dusky the-ever-loyal-dog and I saw only two!aw26I foolishly assumed there was only one road that lead to the destination of a summer trailhead. Nay, there were forks and branches of FS roads that I somehow managed to navigate, even with zero signage.aw27It was my first time trying out micro-traction devices. WOW! They proved incredibly efficient at traveling the hard pack snow and sections of ice and not nearly as cumbersome as crampons.aw7I had been eyeing this butte from a distance and was heartened to find it getting nearer and nearer as we climbed. After a late start (got out of the car at noon) the winter sun was already starting to dip quickly. But, I knew that there would be jaw-dropping views up there and so, changed out foot tools to snowshoes and headed up. Straight up.aw16Once we gained the ridge the way was as clear as the sky. And thus began the creation of many, many panoramas.aw21aw12And some close-ups:aw24

The Pickets!

The Pickets!

aw8

Mt. Shuksan

aw17And one last pano’ on the way back down:aw25Still five miles from the car sans headlamp (“bad, bad hiker”) it was a starry walk back!

Baker Lake, or “Faker Lake”

While many of our friends in other parts of the country are enduring a deep freeze, we’ve been having one of the calmest winters in memory here in the Pacific Northwest. A friend of mine who is a kite boarder has been totally bummed by the lack of wind. So bummed, he spent the las three weeks in Florida rippin’ up the warm surf.BL16 Continue reading

Heavy snow, feeling light

whitesalmon1

Bellingham, WA is frequently rated among the “most livable” cities in the nation. Recently, however, it topped a list of cities for something that it may not want to put on the brochures.  My town absorbs the least amount of sunshine of any city in the lower 48. The sun shines only 35 percent of the time and is seems like that all comes in the month of July. Continue reading

Seasonal marbling: flurries, berries, and theophanies.

With the forecast iffy at best, we threw caution to the wind and ended up having a splendid, if windy, time on trail. A friend in town from mountain-less Boston, MA who had lugged well-lugged shoes cross country was not to be daunted from a little unpredictable weather!

kristi5 Continue reading

A slaked thirst

A commonly held belief about the Pacific Northwest is that it rains all the time. While, admittedly, it does feel like that at times; those times lie primarily between the months of November and May, sometimes June. Currently we are in the middle of a full on drought. Continue reading

Gear: shelter

There is nothing quite as dreamy as sleeping out under the stars. It is magical to just be out there. There’s also nothing quite as dreary as waking up to a steady pitter-patter on your face or mosquitos buzzing your ear ready to raise welts. Continue reading