Anna K. at Yellow Aster Butte:
“Fred, Lisa, Mariana and myself ventured out to Yellow Aster Butte on October 1. Our timing was perfect: no border waiting, and we did the hike in 4.5 hours vs 7 suggested by the book, with rain starting to pour when we left the trail. We didn’t get to see the view at the top, as it was cloudy. We enjoyed the last blueberries and the mix of red-yellow-orange colours. Perfect hike to do in the Fall!”
Phil A. on Skyline Divide:
“Mount Baker beckoned, and four Wanderungers answered the call with a perfect day hike along the Skyline Divide. After navigating the pockmarked road (low clearance cars beware), we set out through the woods. 450 m later we popped out into flower-peppered, emerald green, and a snow covered ridge line. From there, it was one spectacular view after the another, and an afternoon of hiking, laughing, and bum sliding. The ridge that runs towards Mount Baker seemed to go on forever, and a wise Wanderunger would do well to bring a tent to spend at least one night atop one of its numerous knolls. Sad that we couldn’t overnight, we turned back and headed to Sumas for some Mexican food.
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1200 m/-1200 m
Distance: 13.5 km (most of the trail is easy to follow, but some parts are still snow-covered).
Time: At a slow/moderate pace you can reach the ridge line in 1.5 hours. After that, you can go as far as you want. We went as far as N48° 50.527′ W121° 51.464′ before turning around.”
Bob H. on Ptarmigan Ridge:
“Ptarmigan Ridge is another great hike in the North Cascades in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington. The trail starts at Artist Point, 12 km northeast of Mount Baker summit. Artist Point is the starting point for a number of great hikes, such as Table Mountain and Chain Lakes. And a bonus… the road to Artist point is paved the entire way!! The trail is almost entirely in the open, with shaded areas in the premium. The route follows a well built trail traversing scree slopes of the ridge. There are non-stop views on this hike, including Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, numerous glaciers, ice fields, lakes and former glaciers, which appear to have a short time left; we even saw five mountain goat. Today was an amazing mid-September day, with highs in the upper 20s, no clouds, no wind and no bugs, making for an enjoyable hike. The Ptarmigan Ridge trail seems to go on for a long time. We finally had to make a decision when to turn around. This hike would make a great area for camping, as there are many locations to pitch a tent and so much to explore.
Trip stats, route and more photos on my blog, http://www.buntzenlake.ca/ptarmigan-ridge“
Stephen H. on the Skyline Divide:
“Seven of us crossed the border for a wet 7-hour hike on the doorstep of Mount Baker. Bob, Karen, Marlis, Natalie, Svetlana, and Teri joined me for this ramble through meadows and over knolls. While the smoke had cleared, we were surrounded by a dense fog and, therefore, had no views of Baker. We also made a wrong turn and ended up east of our intended destination. Then wasps stung two of us. Still it was a fabulous day. We shall return.”
Eugene Y. on Excelsior Peak:
“The trail was fairly gentle and well-maintained (somewhat similar to the Garibaldi Lake trail). Its lower portion (till about 1500 m) was practically snow-free. However, once we reached the alpine fields, snowshoes and gaiters became really handy as the snow was getting soft and deep.
Following the snowshoe trail, we ascended the partially covered peak from the east side. The panoramic views from the top were truly magnificent: Mt. Baker, Shuksan, Border peaks, Mt. Redoubt.
Some stats: overall, it took us about 3 hours to reach the top. There was practically no wait at the border in either direction.
And even though this was a last minute callout on a busy weekend, the hike was actually full. Thank you Dean, Susanne, and Poroshat for all your positive energy on this trip!”
Melanie on Yellow Aster Butte:
“Surprisingly, not many signed up for this trip… maybe it was the turkey hangover or the early start or the border crossing or the last minute callout. Noman and I headed towards Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in hopes of hiking the Chain Lakes Loop. Unfortunately, the Visitor Centre is only open on weekends and we could not ask about the trail conditions. As we drove towards the parking lot, lots of snow began to fall, and visibility declined. It was an easy decision to change to another hike, so we chose the Yellow Aster Butte trail and it turned out to be a good choice! There were gorgeous fall colours, tons of blueberries, meadows, lakes and stunning views of the surrounding mountains including Baker. This hike is now easily one of my top five Baker hikes. An added bonus was minimal border wait times in both directions.”
Susan C. on the Chain Lakes Loop near Mt Baker:
“Border traffic at the Sumas crossing was minimal; and once across, it is straightforward driving to the Baker National Park. We couldn’t have chosen a better day to head down to the Mount Baker area. The temperature stayed in the low 20s, so the hike was cool and comfortable and almost totally bug-free. The trail lived up to its name – it really is a “chain” of lakes. We started at the lower end of the loop near Bagley Lake and by the end of the hike had lost count of the number of lakes. Suffice to say, it was well worth the drive down. We caught various aspects of Mount Baker, many of which were positively stunning. By the time, we neared the upper end at Artist Point, the trail was starting to feel like the Grouse Grind. Getting on from the less popular starting point, we had avoided the crowds for most of the way.
At less than 500 m in elevation, the hike was not especially challenging but was perfect for a bunch of keen photographers not too worried about breaking any records. The loop (11 km) plus a 3.5 km descent on the Wild Goose Trail back to the parking lot at Bagley Lake took just over five hours. This distance does not include our detour down to one of the lakes for very pleasant lunch break.
On the way home, we stopped at the Mount Baker Vineyards for a sampling which cost us each US $5. The wines were mediocre but it was, nevertheless, a pleasant little side trip. And you get to keep your sampling glass as a souvenir! After that, back across the border for burgers at the White Spot. Again, border traffic was light at around 6 pm. All in all, a most enjoyable day with great company.”
Pablo at Lake Ann:
“When I posted the call-out, I received a couple of messages that the road was blocked and the trails were covered with snow. We decided to go to Mount Baker anyway and we asked the park ranger station about the conditions. We decided to go for the Lake Ann Trail. The road was opened last Friday and we only found a couple of small snow patches. The trail starts at 1500m elevation so it was not too hot. We found lots of bugs including black flies.”