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John Guilford's Hikes

Skyline Divide (Mt. Baker) on 1991-09-02

Date: 1991-09-02

Location: Skyline Divide (Mt. Baker)

People: (including myself): no one

Leave Home:	10:15
Start:		1:10	4000
Skyline Divide:	2:00
Minor Knoll:	2:15	6200?
End of Lunch:	2:45
End of Trail:	3:20
Minor Knoll:	4:15
Leave Divide:	4:30
Down:		5:15
Home:		8:20
This is a lot of driving for the hiking.  On the way up, I got tired and stopped at a rest area for a 20 minute nap.  I went up via the highway and came back via Chuckanut drive. 

The weather was somewhat disappointing.  Mt. Baker was clear when I was driving there, clear on my return trip, and completely covered while I was there.  Oh well.  It was relatively warm, although I did put on my windbreaker when the sun was behind clouds while I ate lunch.  The bugs didn't bother me at all unless I was stopped.  Even then, it was only a couple places where they were annoying.  They seems to be somewhat spotty. 

The trail was somewhat muddy (due to all the rain we had last week - no doubt as well as the number of feet churning it up in front of me).  I don't know whether it is a very popular hike or whether it was because of the holiday, but there were quite a few people there.  Fortunately, the divide is big enough to hold all of them while still feeling somewhat empty. 

To get there, take highway 542 east from Bellingham.  A short distance after you pass the town of Glacier you come across the Forest Service Info Center on the right.  A very short distance after this, you come across the road (which is labeled) on the right.  IMMEDIATELY after the right, you take a left on to another dirt road.  This continues for 12 miles to the trail head.  The first part of the road is in pretty good shape and you can make good time (3rd gear) but watch for potholes.  The last part is a narrow twisty road the claws its way up the hillside on switchbacks.  I had to use 2nd gear here.  The road condition deteriorates as you go further.  There was no mistaking the parking area with all the cars there. 

The trail up to the divide a relatively steep continuous grind.  I had expected a flatter stroll.  I set a real good pace going up (and my legs reminded me about it all the rest of the trip).  On the way I noticed indications that people took stock up here (hoof prints, and manure droppings).  Looking at the signs I thought the stock must be fairly recent.  This was confirmed when I passed two horses and a mule 3/4 the way up. 

When you crest the ridge, you are suddenly in the open with large meadows before you.  In front of you there is a good size mountain (which I only saw the base of as the clouds covered the peak).  I initially thought this was Mt. Baker, but later found out that it was Mt. Shuksan.  Mt. Baker is to the south along the ridge line.  It was completely obscured by clouds (I didn't even know there was a mountain there).  To the south is a minor knoll that is a good place to spend lunch.  The easiest ascent is on the south (far) side where is it an easy stroll from the trail.  A bit further south is a higher knoll that gives the best views.  It is climbed by a steep trail on its north side. 

I ate lunch on the minor knoll, watching people (and stock) coming and going.  I was on the north side of the top of the knoll, and had that area to myself.  Even with all the people, I had my zone of seclusion.  After lunch I set off down the trail to see how far it would go.  I followed it a mile or so before it ended.  There were significantly less people here.  Even though the trail ended, this is all a big meadow and you could wander further, or climb some of the hillsides and spend quite a bit of time. 

There were a number of flowers blooming, including Heather and Lupen, and I heard Marmots and saw their holes, but I didn't see any of the animals.  Near the end of the trail, there were still a couple snow patches and the only "water supply" I had seen (it was an okay-sized stream of melt water).  On the way back along the trail I climbed the higher knoll for the viewpoint (unfortunately Mt. Baker was still occluded).  Just before disappearing off the divide on my way out, the very peak of Mt. Baker found a hole in the clouds and poked through, but quickly disappeared again.  It looked like the clouds were breaking a bit, but I didn't have the time to wait around for them to clear. 

Going back down the trail was pretty uneventful. 


[ PIX1 ] Mt. Baker peeking through the clouds from Skyline Divide. 

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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015