Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ptarmigan Ridge

I had a wonderful Saturday hiking the Ptarmigan Ridge in the Mount Baker Wilderness Area, out of Artist Point.

I got up early, as I like to do, and beat the crowd.  The weather was spectacular for an early September weekend. 80+ degrees, and I ended up with significant sunburn due to lack of reasonable care. I took my time, meandering the day away, looking at rocks, flowers, animals, and the mountains. I enjoy just taking pictures and taking it in.  This was my fourth or fifth time on this trail, I think, and by far my favorite day.

I saw a bear and at least six mountain goats!  The bear was way off, and moving, and I only got two Sasquatch type pictures. I posted one below. The goats were across a valley on a ridge all day.  I've seen as many as 50 goats on this particular trail in different years.  The pictures are more clear if you click on them.

The snow was completely clear, so I made it to the very end, to a place called The Portals.  The Portals are special because you climb up to about 6500 feet and get to look down and across at the Rainbow Glacier on Mount Baker. Basically, you're sitting across the table from the glaciers. There is a bit of a climb to get to the overlook.

The day was incredible, with the sky painted blue and nary a cloud.  The trail covers about half the distance between Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker, the volcano.  The views of the glaciers on Mount Baker are about as good as it gets, without stepping on them. Actually, I did stand on a few snowfields. Cooked my calves in the sun.

The views didn't stop there.  I could see Glacier Peak, prominent in the south, and Mount Rainer's cap was clear in the distance. All sorts of other peaks that I didn't know.

I ran into a group of Canadian runners, training for Baker Lake.  Yay!  My favorite race.  Towards the end of the trail, there were excellent views of the North end of Baker Lake.

Lots of mountain blueberries. I ate a few handfuls.  Lots of people, later in the day--far too many for any solitude on the trail, but nice to see folks getting out.  Getting away from folks was just a matter of taking a few steps off the trail, and staring at Mount Baker, and everything else.

Afterwards, I hung out with my good friends Dean, Ruth, and Al.  Good times.

Listened to a '70s punk collection on the way up--the Clash, Blondie, Iggy Pop, etc. A lot of lost gems. This was a good Saturday.


Michael Chastain said...

Wow, looks like a fantastic day in the mountains! Jealous.

Scotty said...

The jealousy is mutual--as I said, I was thinking of you and Matthew making your way through the Wasatch! Look forward to hearing more about it!

Seth Wolpin said...

Great pictures! I gotta get up there. Cooked calves. Yum.