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Being outside – running in the woods, hiking in the mountains.

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View from trail

The weather was iffy before I started this hike, but I had planned it as my last backpack of the year, and I had scheduled someone to care for my cats while I was gone, not to mention getting my 86-year-old mom to accept my not being there on Saturday.

friendly marmot

brave marmot

It is impossible to take off only when the sun is shining; so many things have to be planned ahead! I was lucky to get in 2 backpacks with sunny weather this year. This has not been a summer with much sun.

views and tarns

tarn below Yellow Aster Butte

So I drove up on Friday, holding my breath as my ancient Ford Escort bumped over the big rocks and potholes on the 4.5 mile Forest Service road off the Mount Baker Highway. I made it to the trailhead and there was only 1 car there – this is a heavily used trail, but this was a Friday, so little or no people were expected until Saturday.

Another tarn

icy snow melt pond below Yellow Aster Butte

I never saw the car owner Friday. The weather was decent that day, allowing me to hike up the steep trail in cooler weather than I had last weekend on my scouting trip. The clouds were there, but up high enough that I could see the base of Shuksan and Baker as well as most of the snow-covered ridge that connects them.

My tent and tarp

Tent and tarp anticipating rain

There was a brave Marmot who popped out of his (or her?) hole just a foot or two from the trail. He popped back in when he spotted me, but as I passed his hole he popped out again, and decided to stay! I was standing about 5 feet from him and he allowed me to pull out my camera and take 3 or 4 photos, only popping back inside his den when 3 young people and their dog came by. I suspect the dog was a bit too much for him.

I expected rain during the night and on Saturday; it did start to rain sometime in the night, but when I got up around 7 am, it was snowing!  In addition, the clouds had moved in, and if I had not studied the trail when I came in, I would not know where it was. The distance one could see was about 20 feet.

I was concerned that the snow might continue, and not knowing whether it would or not, I immediately packed up and started out. My main concern was the extremely steep switchback section of trail that goes up a bluff to the ridge above the tarns. If the snow began to stick, that would be a hazardous trail.

I found the trail and got to the base of the bluff, and started up. The wind was strong, blowing ice crystals in my face. I wanted to take photos to show how the weather had transformed the area, but my hands were numb; I have a problem with my fingers turning numb very quickly when the temperature is even in the low 60’s (fahrenheit). So, unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures until I was up on the ridge and halfway down the trail!

It was exciting and a challenge to my common sense. Before packing up and heading out, I briefly considered fixing my breakfast and waiting to see if the weather turned more favorable. I suspect that it did, but decided I wouldn’t take the chance, since I was hiking by myself!

Hamster report