Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bellingham and Mount Baker, Washington

During our 17 days in Bellingham, we made a day trip to the snow covered volcano of Mount Baker. At 10,781 feet, Mt Baker is perpetually covered in snow and ice. It is second most active volcano in the North Cascade Mountain Range. Only Mount St. Helens is more active.

A view of the "less snow" side. 
As the crow flies, Mount Baker is just 30 miles east of Bellingham, but the drive to Artist Point, the most easily accessible observation point to the mountain, requires over 60 miles of driving.  We stopped for information and lunch at the National Forest public service center at Glacier, Washington. It is is less than halfway from Bellingham to Artist Point at Mount Baker.

It was a beautiful weather day -- mid 70s. Warm in sunshine, cool in the shade. 

Our view for lunch in the parking lot.
Cross section of a 780 year old Douglas Fir.
Following our stop at the visitors center, we continued, yet unable to see Mount Baker. It's funny we saw the gargantuan white peak from many miles away traveling into the area, but can't get a glimpse this morning traveling toward it through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  Reminds me of the saying, "Can't see the forest for the trees".

The road before us -- Highway 542 into the Cascades

Spectacular views of the Cascade Range as we begin to ascend. 
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State extends more than 140 miles along the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains from the Canadian border to the northern boundary of Mt. Rainier National Park. Deep green, brilliant blue, bright white and varying soft gray colors make a beautiful scene.

The narrow road below is where we've just traveled.
Here, we've just finished one of the several "hairpin" switchbacks. 
Mount Baker was named for Lt. Joseph Baker, a young officer in Captain George Vancouver's exploration group in 1792.  Baker spotted the white peak from the ship as it sailed near Dungeness Bay.

Artist Point is the very end of Highway 542.  Here there's a small parking area and a point where ordinarily one would find a fabulous view of Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan. But dark clouds rolled in today and both peaks are almost completely out of sight. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the scenery among the clouds.

Lexie doesn't care for standing on the snow.
I think Ozzie liked it as he ran a little on his leash, a bit like he does on the beach. 
After spending a few minutes exploring in the snow, we started back down the mountain. We stopped at Heather Meadows, a scenic valley between Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. Heather Meadows is a very nice tourist stop in itself with beautiful glistening lakes, mountain views and many walking/hiking trails.

The snow in the center of this photo will soon give way to summer flowers. 

The crest of Mount Shuksan to the left of the tall tree.
Shuksan is 9, 131 feet

This is a great walking area for people and dogs. 
The Mount Baker ski area was closed of course, but we couldn't resist a photo-opp at this "Experts Only" ski lift (below).  The old ski lodge was part of the set location in filming of "Call Of The Wild" in 1934. The movie starred Clark Gable, Loretta Young and Reginald Owen and it launched the popularity of the ski resort. The original lodge burned long ago. 

I'm holding Lexie in my right arm, Ozzie on my left side.

Mount Baker (background) supports 20 miles of active glaciers.
The public can join an expedition of the glaciers May through October.
We are not interested in taking such an expedition. 
Next stop going back along the same route, we pulled onto a side road to Nooksack Falls. Highway 542 follows the Nooksack River for miles and we've seen some pretty rough water along the way. The half-mile ride to the falls along the narrow gravel road ended at a tiny parking area in the shade of the tall Redwood trees. We left Lexie and Ozzie in the car and began exploring the area around the 100 foot falls.

Nooksack River upstream from the falls. 

A pretty confusing message here.
To the trail or not to trespass?  Humm..

A pretty clear message -- this place is dangerous. 

Notice one of the victims was pregnant.
Her unborn child is listed as another fatality. 

And so we did not venture down the trail to see Nooksack Falls as we certainly didn't want to add our names to this list.  Instead, we'll enjoy the photo as suggested on the poster.

1 comment:

  1. Mount Baker looks like a must experience! Thanks for the photos.