40 – Slide Mountain Fossil Hunt

Reading about an exposed fossil field as a result of the 2009 landslide along the Racehorse Creek drainage area as I searched for information about Racehorse Falls (see: Hike #38 – Racehorse Falls), how exciting it was to find myself on Slide Mountain once again.

Along a logging road . . . hiking up Slide Mountain

It felt more like a field trip, or scavenger hunt, than just a hike, although we did hike plenty. While it is possible to drive a logging road to quite near a short trail that leads directly to the fossil field, once part way up, it felt to us that the logging road was getting rather steep, so we parked. Once on foot, we continued to follow the road as it switch backed and forth on up the mountain. Well before we had reached the trailhead into the fossil fields, we left that logging road to blaze our own trail through an area that had once been logged off. Now strewn with giant heaps leftover from its logging and pretty much overgrown, when not pushing small alders out of my face, I looked down and saw vague signs of what might have been an old gravel roadbed in between the weeds and brush that had sprung up.

Blazing our own trail through the brush . . . on Slide Mountain

Our route delivered us to the bottom of the fossil field, and full of rocks and other debri from the landslide, in no time we had found our first fossil.

The first fossil found . . . on Slide Mountain

Then more and more! Ancient leaves, ferns, reeds and stems, almost every rock we took the time to examine contained at least one fossil. Sometimes even several layers of fossils were found on one rock.

Finding fossils . . . on Slide Mountain

Climbing higher, to near the (now dead) Douglas fir that marks the way to the short trail leading to the logging road, we stopped for a picnic. We had practically the entire mountain to ourselves. It was a beautiful day, yet we only spotted two others in the distance, further on up the hill, turning over rocks themselves. Sitting in the middle of the fossil field on a huge, dirt-covered rock with the light tap, tap, tap sound from their hammers in the background as we ate our porkchop and looked out over the Nooksack River valley below and snow-covered peaks in the distance certainly was a wonderful spot for a picnic.

Picnic spot . . . in the fossil field on Slide Mountain

Then we explored even more.

Exploring the fossil field on Slide Mountain

When we were finished exploring the fossil field, we followed the short trail that led more directly to the logging road.

Trail . . . leading out of the fossil field

Once to the logging road, it was an easy, downhill trek back down the mountain for us.

Back to the logging road . . . for the trek down Slide Mountain

If you are interested in finding fossils yourself, go here – http://nwgeology.wordpress.com/the-fieldtrips/the-chuckanut-formation/the-racehorse-landslide-fossil%C2%A0fields/ – to read lots more information about what you will actually be seeing and finding up there on Slide Mountain, and for directions. Bring your kids – surely a fun time will be had by all.

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