Whatcom County

Whatcom County, Washington

161 – Dock Butte and Blue Lake

Dock Butte has been on our list of hikes to get around to doing for quite some time so when we learned that the snow was lingering there, we grabbed our snowshoes hoping for a chance to use them. We also brought our ice trekkers, because the temperatures had dropped since that first snowfall and since snowshoes do better in fresh powder than on ice, there was a good possibility that the snow on Dock Butte would be crusted over and the ice trekkers would give us safer footing on some of the snow-covered side slopes. Either way, we were prepared. Here we are, at the trailhead for Blue Lake.

Blue Lake Trailhead

Blue Lake Trailhead

After less than a mile along the Blue Lake trail, we took a side trail that would take us to Dock Butte. Sometimes almost completely covered with stray roots, the trail to Dock Butte is a less traveled trail and not as well maintained as the more popular trails. It is a well enough worn track though and we managed to find our way without too much difficulty.

A trail of roots

A trail of roots

If you are looking for more hikes in the Baker Lake area, I highly recommend putting this trail on your gotta-get-to list. Just look at the wonderful view of Mount Baker from along the way.

Mount Baker

Mount Baker

It wasn’t too long before we hit snow. It was frozen solid and at times even a bit difficult to push in the trekking pole into, so it didn’t look like we would get the opportunity to use our snowshoes on this hike after all.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on the trail

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on the trail

I was very glad that we had brought our ice trekkers though. The snow along this long sideslope was frozen solid and in places, the footpath through the snow might not have been wide enough for snowshoes. I stepped carefully and with the help of my poles, and the occasional hand from Kent, felt safe and secure during this crossing.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on sideslope

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on sideslope

Many of the tarns we passed were partially frozen. I like how Kent Doughty caught my reflection in this one.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose by reflective tarn

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose by reflective tarn

One of our favorite lunches when out hiking just happens to be leftover pizza. Having made a pizza covered in black bean, chicken breast, mushrooms, olives and cheese the evening before, these leftovers seemed even tastier than usual as we sat below Dock Butte to eat. Once the site of a fire lookout, we savored every tasty bite as we replenished the calories we had exhausted during our climb to get such a magnificant view. With so many of our favorite local peaks visible, it was such a lovely spot for lunch!

Pizza picnic time . . .

Pizza picnic time . . .

After our picnic, we hiked back down to re-join the trail to Blue Lake so we could check out the lake too.

The trail to Blue Lake

The trail to Blue Lake

A very deep lake and said to have some good trout fishing, guess we’d better bring our backpacker fishing poles next time. 🙂

Blue Lake . . . reflections

Blue Lake . . . reflections

Driving directions with road and trail conditions and more information about the trail to Dock Butte and Blue Lake can be found on the Mount. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website. Go here – http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mbs/recarea/?recid=17610 – for that, and for recent trip reports on the Washington Trails Association website, go here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/dock-butte. The Dock Butte trail is rated as “more difficult”, most likely due to its lack of regular maintenance than length (only about 4 miles round trip) and elevation gain/loss (only 1,400′).

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

150 – Ptarmigan Ridge

This was truly a bonus hike! We wanted to hike to Ptarmigan Ridge last year, but snows came early, then melted away, and our schedules allowed us but one more day of high country hiking. We chose to hike to Lake Ann that day (go here – Hike #83 – Lake Ann – to read about that hike). That was a lovely hike, and I certainly have no regrets about having spent the day along the trail to Lake Ann. But, as we were getting back into our car at the trailhead at the very end of our hike that day, one of Kent’s old friends drove by and stopped to chat once he recognized us. He shared that he had just finished the Ptarmigan Ridge hike and how beautiful that hike had been. Snow returned the following week and continued on for the season, making the Ptarmigan Ridge hike impossible – until late this season. Our day started off with gorgeous weather, and even though we were in the middle of prepping for a six-day, five-night backpacking trip deep into the Goat Rocks Wilderness and would be leaving in two days, we decided at almost the last minute that this would be the day we hiked to Ptarmigan Ridge. Laughing, we called this our “warm up hike”. Ten and a half miles later, we were still laughing!

Ptarmigan Ridge trailhead

Ptarmigan Ridge trailhead

This must be one of the most scenic hikes up in the Mount Baker area. Starting at the Artist Point parking lot, the trail is shared with two other very popular hikes – the hike to Table Mountain and the Chain Lakes loop hike. We enjoyed a beautiful hike along the Chain Lakes Loop Trail last year. Go here – Hike #74 – Chain lakes Loop – to check that out. Because the hike to Ptarmigan Ridge is more difficult than the other hikes due to its being longer, having more elevation gain and sometimes lingering snow causes white-out conditions on the ridge, by the time we had passed where those trails turn off, most of the other hikers were gone. The views were incredible. That’s Mount Shuksan as the backdrop in this photo that Kent snapped of me along the trail.

(pic by Kent Doughty) Along the Ptarmigan Trail

(pic by Kent Doughty) Along the Ptarmigan Trail

Millions of years of volcanic action and receeding glaciers have made the geology of this area quite interesting. It’s easy to understand how this pile of rock ended up here.

Explaning how this land was formed

Kent Doughty explans how this land was formed

We love snow fields along our trails as this near heart-shaped snow field confirms.

We love snow fields

We love snow fields

Cairns piled high along the trail bring the attention of passers by to special areas offering stunning views.

(pic by Kent Doughty) Along the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail

(pic by Kent Doughty) Along the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail

Often along the trail, the wildflowers were at their beautiful prime.

(pic by Kent Doughty) Wildflowers along the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail

(pic by Kent Doughty) Wildflowers along the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail

From this point along the trail, there were only a few more snow fields to pass, a little more elevation to gain, and a mile or so more before we reached Ptarmigan Ridge. I put on my ice trekkers and pulled out my trekking pole to make my going easier.

(pic by Kent Doughty) Rose crossing snow field on the way to Ptarmigan Ridge

(pic by Kent Doughty) Rose crossing snow field on the way to Ptarmigan Ridge

We brought along ice axes hoping for a chance to practice using them and had a great time playing in the snow.

Ice ax lessons . . .

Kent Doughty demonstrates using the Ice ax . . .

Here’s a shot of Mount Baker as viewed from Ptarmigan Ridge!

Mount Baker from Ptarmigan Ridge

Mount Baker from Ptarmigan Ridge

Carefully placed among the rocks on Ptarmigan Ridge now sits this tribute memorial. Dear Nina, though your days here were short, your memory lives on – and your view from this vantage point goes on for almost ever.

We love you, Nina . . . memorial placed on Ptarmigan Ridge

We love you, Nina . . . memorial placed on Ptarmigan Ridge

We took a break once we reached Ptarmigan Ridge and enjoyed the picnic we had packed in – and the beautiful views before turning around to make the hike back to Artist Point.

Back to the parking lot

Kent Doughty heads back to Artist Point

Visit the Washington Trails Association website, here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/ptarmigan-ridge – for more information, recent trip reports and directions for the hike to Ptarmigan Ridge.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

147 – Backpacking – Cutthroat Lake

On our way back from an afternoon business meeting in Twisp, we came prepared to backpack in to Cutthroat Lake for the night rather than make the long drive all the way back to Bellingham. Here we are at the trailhead ready to begin the hike.

Cutthroat Lake Trailhead

Cutthroat Lake Trailhead

This was an easy trail with very little elevation gain. At less than two miles from the trailhead to the lake, this made the perfect hike for us since we had not even reached the trailhead until around 5:00 p.m.

Through the Forest

Through the Forest

There always seems to be a stream crossing (or two!) along our wilderness hikes, and this trip was no exception. Here I am, ready to cross a log bridge over Cutthroat Creek.

(pic by Kent Doughty) My turn to cross the stream

(pic by Kent Doughty) My turn to cross the stream

Camping is not allowed along the shore of the lake, so we found this wonderful campsite right above Cutthroat Creek. The roar of the creek below was music to my ears as I drifted off to sleep that night. The bugs were bad, but we came prepared with our bug nets, and were extra carefull not to allow any of those big black biting critters into our tent. I highly recommend bug nets!

Finding the Perfect Campsite

Finding the Perfect Campsite

After setting up camp, we followed the trail to Cutthroat Lake. So beautiful!

Reflections in Cutthroat Lake

Reflections in Cutthroat Lake

Here’s a great shot of Kent, the camp cook, in action. He’s preparing a high-protein, quick-cooking pasta with carrots and broccoli (that we dehydrated ourselves) and tuna. We recently took a backcountry cooking class at our local REI (see: REI – Bellingham – Events) and, while none of the recipes they shared or any of the pre-packaged, dehydrated foods they used as samples in the class sounded remotely like anything that we would want to eat, we were greatly inspired to branch out more and become more creative with our backpacking meals. We now dehydrate our own coleslaw and mix it with rehydrated lentils and/or beans to roll in a high-protein tortilla for lunch, we add packets of cream cheese to our pasta dishes, and we dehydrate lots more vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) to mix in with pasta or potato dishes. We even make a extremely delicious and hearty vegetable soup for dinner. We are eating very well out on the trail now while still managing to keep the weight of the food in our packs down to a minimum.

Camp cook . . . Kent Doughty

Camp cook . . . Kent Doughty

The next day we had a marvelous time hiking to Cutthroat Pass (more on that hike here – https://60before60.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/53-cutthroat-pass/), then upon our return to camp, we packed up and hiked back to the trailhead and headed back home.

Backpacking out . . . back to the trailhead

Backpacking out . . . back to the trailhead

For more information on the hike to Cutthroat Lake, go here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/cutthroat-lake.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Okanogan County, Photography, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

142 – Backpacking Ross Lake – Green Point

Who gets a surprise birthday party on a weekend backpacking trip anyway? Me, that’s who!

Birthday celebrations at camp

Birthday celebrations at camp

This was an absolutely awesome backpacking trip to! We hiked in from Highway 20 and crossed Ross Dam. The view of the spillways are quite impressive from the top of the dam!

Crossing Ross Dam

Crossing Ross Dam

From the dam, we followed the Big Beaver Trail on past the turn off for the floating Ross Lake Resort. Wouldn’t that be a great place to stay sometime?

Floating Ross Lake Resort

Floating Ross Lake Resort

We turned off the Big Beaver Trail, then headed on down to the shore and set up camp in the Green Point area. Lovely and quiet, how nice it was to be the only ones there.

Green Point on Ross Lake

Green Point on Ross Lake

More information about the Ross Dam Trail, Big Beaver Trail and the Green Point Trail is available on the website for the North Cascades National Parks, here – http://www.nps.gov/rola/index.htm; and information about campsites available in the North Cascades National Recreation area can be found here – http://www.north.cascades.national-park.com/camping.htm.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

141 – Lummi Island – Baker Preserve

Another ferry ride, another hike! This time on the Whatcom Chief to Lummi Island to hike through the Baker Preserve to the top of Lummi Island.

Baker Preserve . . . trailhead to Lummi Mountain

Baker Preserve . . . trailhead to Lummi Mountain

With ferns so tall, we called this a fern forest!

In the fern forest

Kent Doughty in the fern forest

The trail works its way up to the one of the highest points on Lummi Island, and once on top, there is a great view of the San Juan Islands.

Happy hiker . . . on Lummi Mountain

Happy hiker, Kenton Doughty, on Lummi Mountain

Looking out at the San Juan Islands from the view point at the Baker Preserve.

The view from top of Lummi Mountain

The view from top of Lummi Mountain

This photo, aptly named Old Ones Times Three, seemed the perfect example to me of the many sights along the trail as it worked its way through the forest preserve.

Old ones . . . times three

Old ones . . . times three

Having lived on Lummi Island some years ago, before heading to the trailhead to enjoy this hike, we met with a local realtor to list a piece of property. Because ferry rates continue to climb and island life is for but a small community, property sales are slow. We occasionaly (not often) toy with an idea that if the lot has not sold by the time we both are retired, maybe we will consider moving back to the island, building a little home and living there until the kids fear we are too old to drive on and off the ferry on our own. Who knows? What ever! Located above the Willows Inn (go here – http://www.willows-inn.com/ – for information about the Willows Inn), it is a beautiful piece of property in a beautiful location on a very special little island. Just look at these photos!  For more information on Lummi Island, go here – http://www.lummi-island.com/, and for information about the ferry to Lummi Island, go here – http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/publicworks/ferry/. If you, or someone you know, is interested in picking up your very own little piece of paradise (with beach access!), let me know.

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Many thanks to the Lummi Island Heritage Trust for their efforts in land conservation on Lummi Island! For more information on the Lummi Island Heritage Trust, go here – http://www.liht.org/index.html, and for information on the Baker Preserve, go here – http://www.liht.org/baker-preserve.html

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

136 – Thunder Creek Trail

We accessed to the trailhead for Thunder Creek Trail from the parking lot of the Colonial Creek Campground along Highway 20 about 24 miles east of the town of Marblemount. Unable to drive all the way into the campground and to the trailhead until the Memorial Day weekend, we parked in a lot just outside of the main camping area and walked maybe a half mile or so through the campgrounds until we reached the trail.

At the Thunder Creek Trailhead

At the Thunder Creek Trailhead

Once on the trail, the sound of Thunder Creek lived up to its name as we passed through the wild and scenic forest.

In an old-growth tree

In an old-growth tree

There were lots of different wildflowers to enjoy along the way.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

More Wildflowers

It’s an easy, well maintained trail with sturdy bridges over all stream crossings with barely more than 650 foot elevation gain over the entire twelve miles roundtrip hike. For more information on this trail and current trip reports, visit the Washington Trails Association website at http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/thunder-creek-1?b_start:int=0.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

134 – Squires Lake

Squires Lake has turned out to be one of our favorite County Parks. We hike their often, sometimes continuing on to Alger Alp, other times on to the beaver pond, and other times along the Ridge Trail (see Hike #27 – Squires Lake to Alger Alp, Hike #32 – Squires Lake Park and Hike #14 – Alger Alp). We like Squires Lake Park because it has a different feel than most of our county parks. Rather than big fields of carefully manicured lawns, picnic tables and shelters, this park is but a steep trail through a forest to a sweet little lake. Today we hiked up to the lake with our fishing gear.

The trail to Squires Lake

The trail to Squires Lake

And we spent the afternoon fishing.

Casting . . .

Casting . . .

I’m reeling in a very tiny fish. Although the locals say there are some nice trout in Squires Lake, this one was definitely not a keeper.

The little one that got away

The little one that got away

Whether hiking out of the park with a stringer full of fish or not, Squires Lake is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon!

Boot shot

Boot shot

More information about Squires Lake Park is available on the Whatcom County Parks website, here  http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/parks/squires/index.jsp; and fishing regulations for the lakes in Washington State can be found here – http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/ .

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, San Juan County, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

127 – Raptor Ridge and Huckleberry Ridge

From delicate flowers, cascading waterfalls, a trail through a magical forest, two ridges both with great views, it was obvious that Spring has sprung on Chuckanut Mountain. By the time we had finished this hike, my Fitbit had logged 10.20 miles in trail time. We began our hike at the North Chuckanut Mountain trailhead and shortly thereafter, turned off to follow the Hemlock Trail for several miles.

That way to Raptor Ridge

That way to Raptor Ridge

Once on the Raptor Ridge Trail, we climbed sets of stone steps that hugged the edges of many moss-covered sandstone cliffs that led us deep into a dense and dark forest. Magical, mystical, Hobbit-like is the best way to describe this stretch of the trail.

The Raptor Ridge Trail

The Raptor Ridge Trail

Once we reached the sign indicating which direction to the viewpoint, in no time we stepped out onto the polished ledge of rock known as Raptor Ridge. The view of the forest covered hills from the ridge was stunning.

On Raptor Ridge

On Raptor Ridge

On our way to Raptor Ridge, we passed a side trail marked for Huckleberry Ridge, so as we were hiking back down Chuckanut Mountain, we decided to head over to Huckleberry Ridge to see what that was all about. The view from Huckleberry Ridge was a bit of a let down after soaking in the sun and enjoying the view from Raptor Ridge, but at least there was a bench to sit on for a minute, before heading back to our main trail. Now we can at least say that we’ve been there and done that one too.

The view from Huckleberry Point

The view from Huckleberry Point

For more information on the hike to Raptor Ridge, visit the Whatcom County Parks website, here   http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/parks/chuckanut/raptor-ridge.jsp; and for trip reports, go to the Washington Trails Association website, here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/trip_report.2012-04-29.1544498673. And for those of us who enjoy learning about the rocks along our trails, excellent information about the geology along the Raptor Ridge hike is provided here – http://nwgeology.wordpress.com/the-fieldtrips/the-chuckanut-formation/raptor-ridge-geology-hike-chuckanut-mountains/.

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126 – Oyster Dome

A great cardio workout on a beautifully sunny Spring day, this hike could more appropriately be called “Girls Hike Up”! A very popular local hike, it is a steep climb to the top of the Oyster Dome. Beginning our hike from the Samish Overlook, we managed to shave off 1,000′  of the total elevation gain, yet still had a steep 1,400′ remaining climb before we reached the top.

It is a steep trail

It is a steep trail

For more information on hiking the Oyster Dome, visit the Washington Trails Association website, here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/oyster-dome.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

125 – East Bank Baker Lake – South

We’ve hiked the Baker Lake and Baker River area before, but not from the south. To reach the trailhead, we drove over a one-lane road along the top of the Upper Baker Dam. The forest was filled with giant trees and huge stumps from the long-ago days of logging. Our first destination was Anderson Point Camp, then on to Maple Grove Camp where we turned around and hiked back to the trailhead for a total of just under ten miles. Another great hike!

Baker Lake South trailhead

Baker Lake South trailhead

For directions and trip reports for this hike, visit the Washington Trails Association website, here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/baker-lake-maple-grove. It’s a great wild and scenic hike!

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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