The Trip Report
With the weather being unusually very hot for this section of the country my friend Don (Zephyr on nwhikers.net) and I decided to see how many peaks we could bag and explore in the North Cascades. The North Cascades is among the most beautiful areas in the country and there are a number of low level hikes that I want to explore for when I can take my wife BearQueen there. I have always wanted to do Table Mountain up by Mount Baker Ski Area and I wanted to see what the area was all about. I read about the rave reviews from this place but now it is time to see this area in person.
From the Artist Point Trailhead we first did Table Mountain. We were going to Winchester Mountain but Don's car would have not made the road and both of us were not in the mood for a long roadwalk on a hot day. So it was time to head to Table Mountain. From the parking lot the trail up is pretty much snowfree going up to the false summit and then becomes mixed with section of snow and being snowfree. It was kind of neat seeing the how the trail got blasted into the cliff going up the mountain. While going up there was definitely some exposure on the cliffy/catwalk section. The trail was though fairly wide but I still would not take a youngster on this trail or go up with someone who struggle a little with heights.
Once we were on the false summit we got our first view of the true summit. Many people seemed to stop here for some reason. It seemed they thought it was the summit! What we saw was a nice bit of firm snow on gradual to gently sloping that lead very close to the summit area. We made it up the gentle slope going slow to enjoy the amazing views. This is one mountain that has a lot of bang for the buck!! We had to get off the snow once we neared the true summit. We checked a couple of highpoint at the summit but there was one spot right near a tarn that was the true summit. There we had killer views of Mount Baker. We walked around summit area to take in the beauty of the area. Unfortunately the heat was starting to have a little impacted so we decided to head back down.
On the way down both Don reviewed our ice axe skills. We personally believe it is important if you have an opportunity to review your skills you should always take advantage. Besides with the unusually hot weather and the sunshine we could get snow on us and dry off rather quickly. It is good for me to do it because going down backward I wasn't as quick on stopping myself as I would have liked. We had a nice gentle slope with an easy runout though so by the third time I was on my A game again.
Once down to the false summit we took a minor break and hydrated then continued down the trail. Going down we took it slower. Some of the rocks on the trail were slippery but luckily the trail was wide or you would be looking at a long way down. Soon we were back at the parking area and preparing for our next conquest, Huntoon Point.
We then headed for Huntoon Point. By this time the parking area was jammed with people. The temperature was also 88 degrees and the sun was strong so we decided that this was going to be our last bit hiking for today. The trail here in parts is actually paved. When we were there though the trail was snowcovered in a number of places. We saw a number of people who brought their sleds and snowboards with them on the trail. Once past one of the larger tarn we went up the main trail to the summit of Huntoon Point. There a great view of Mount Baker and Table Mountain lied there waiting for us. We didn't spend long because the sun was really beginning to get to sun so we headed on back and decided to end our day here. Two summits even if they are small is still a good day.
Nooksack Falls and Larrabee Beach
On our way back we stopped at two location. Nooksack Falls by the town of Glacier is quiet impressive from our view spot. Unfortuantely viewing areas are limited and a couple of people in the past have died looking for better viewing spots of the falls. I did manage a couple of shots of the beautiful falls.
We finished the day hanging area the cooler Larrabee State Park. The beach area was cooler than Artist Point and the water made for a quick cooldown. Don and I decided to scramble across a couple of cool rocks before calling it a day and heading back to Seattle. Overall this was a great trip considering the record breaking heat this weekend.
I want to thank Zephyr for coming out to hike, being the driver, and making the great suggestions of Nooksack Falls and Larrabee State Park. It made for an awesome day.