Sunday, July 26, 2009

Excelsior and Canyon Ridges

On Saturday I volunteered with the Washington Trails Association to work on the Canyon Ridge Trail up by Mount Baker. I’ve never been here before. Our mission was to be safe, have fun, and repair a trail damaged by an avalanche. We got a lot done, but we also had to go to war with biting flies. Keep moving. It’s interesting who shows up for these work parties—there was a high school student fulfilling his culminating project responsibility, an unemployed Glacier 19 year old trying to get on with the Forest Service, a few 9 to 5ers, a foster parent with some kids, and an ultrarunner. I’ve written this before, but I think the world of WTA, and am a member—check them out at Trail reports are free.
After the work party, I wanted to check out the area some more, while getting some high trail miles in. So, I ran/hiked to the tiny Damfino Lakes, up to Excelsior Ridge, and then over High Divide towards Welcome Pass. The guide books rate this one as easy, particularly from the Damfino Lakes side, where I started. There are loop trail possibilities. Excelsior Ridge caps out at about 6000 feet, but most of the gains for me were on the drive in—a 14.6 miles and 40 minute drive on a dicey road. The trail itself is very runnable and quite worthy. Ups and downs on a ridge above tree line. Wildflowers everywhere. A sea of mountains and ridges in view, with Baker and Shuksan in the foreground. This would be great place to catch a sunset. I stayed in the hills all day, but finally got chased off the high ridge by an approaching lightning storm, pretty rare around these parts. I had to hurry off—the storm moved in quick.
Wildflowers---these were the real story of the day for me. Maybe the best I’ve ever seen, with just about all types representing. Lupines, tiger lilies, columbine, paintbrush, heather, thistles….I’ll pretend like I know what I was seeing. Not really--I’m botanically challenged. Every year I seem to forget and then have to go up high to re-learn. Some challenges are worth a lifetime of trying. Click on a field photo--they jump out more in the photos when blown up.
Driving home, I happened upon a grand opening festival for a new artist’s co-op in Glacier Washington. Good music, coffee, and an old train car full of “Glacier Creations.” I’m partial to good coffee, art, and banjos. I did miss not doing White River, which was Saturday. I’m sure it was great. Just not the right weekend for me.

1 comment:

bengator said...


Looks like you got your camera back up and running. Some amazing wildflowers.

Banjos are nice, unless they are being played by hippies hopped up on too much caffeine.