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John Guilford's Hikes

Heliotrope Ridge (Mt. Baker) on 2006-09-23

Date: 2006-09-23

Location: Heliotrope Ridge (Mt. Baker)

People: (including myself): Pam

				Alt.	Miles
Leave Home:		10:50	
Start:			1:30	3700	0
Kulshan Cabin:		2:30	4700	2
Climber's Trail:	2:45
Second Creek:		3:00
Morraine Overlook:	3:15	5200?	2-1/2
Leave:			4:00
Climber's Trail:	4:30
Out:			5:45		5

Take SR542 through the town of Glacier.  About a mile beyond the Ranger Station/Visitor Center, turn right on Glacier Creek Rd, FS #39.  Continue on FS #39 for 8 miles to trailhead parking area. 

To our surprise, the road in (FS #39) is mostly paved.  It is a one lane road with pull outs, however, which made me a bit nervous driving around blind corners. 

The weather was absolutely gorgeous with a crystal clear blue sky with an almost ideal temperature.  The parking lot was just about full when we got there.  There is a restroom at the trailhead. 

[ PIX1 ] [ PIX2 ] The trail starts off in old growth forest and almost immediately crosses Grouse Creek on a log bridge with a cable handhold.  The trail starts climbing at a reasonable grade.  After a mile or so, the trail starts climbing next to Kulshan Creek via switchbacks. 

A bit below treeline, there is a latrine off the side of the trail.  Just above this, [ PIX3 ] the trail passes a little clearing where the Kulshan cabin used to stand.  Above this, there is a divide in the trail.  The right path is the climber's route up onto the glacier.  The left path leads to the glacier overlook.  The trail climbs out of the trees.  The trail then crosses a number of little creeks.  Depending on the weather, snow melt, etc., the water flow in these creeks can vary greatly, even over the course of morning to afternoon.  We crossed three creeks via rock hopping.  The first was relatively easy.  The second was a bit more challenging.  The third was easy. 

[ PIX4 ] The trail then climbs onto the lateral morraine of the Coleman Glacier giving a stupendous view of the toe of the glacier, cracked and filled with seracs.  We climbed up the morraine a bit and stopped for lunch.  Down on the glacier, we saw a number of groups of climbers practicing. [ PIX5 ].  Once out of the trees, the trail splits into multiple tracks that meander over the morraine and ridge.  [ PIX6 ] We never climbed up onto Heliotrope Ridge itself.  To get there, instead of crossing the third creek, we should have turned right and finsished climbing up onto the ridge. 

On our way up the morraine, we met a ptarmigan who led the way up the trail for a distance.  On our way back down the morraine, we met up with a marmot who didn't seem terribly scared of us. 


[ PIX1 ] Bridge over Grouse Creek. 

[ PIX2 ] Kulshan Creek.  Trails climbs left side of creek. 

[ PIX3 ] View above treeline showing second creek. 

[ PIX4 ] Panoramic view of toe of Coleman Glacier. 

[ PIX5 ] Climbers amid the seracs. 

[ PIX6 ] Heliotrope Ridge from morraine overlook. 

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