Monday, May 7, 2012
Artist's Point on Snowshoes
Saturday, May 5th, my youngest brother was in town after working the previous week in Portland, and we, brother Tim, son Edward and myself, decided to go snowshoeing, something none of us had done before. We had been told that if you can walk you can snowshoe, and we found that to be true, and had a wonderful day, though the weather could have been better.
Artist's Point is at the end of the Mount Baker Highway and at over 5000 feet elevation provides wonderful views of the surrounding peaks, Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker, Coleman Pinnacle and Ptarmigan Ridge. The three mile road from the ski lodge below is closed during the winter, however, and Artist's Point is accessible only by skis or snowshoes.
Mount Baker receives some of the greatest snowfall in the world and holds the world record for snowfall in a season, set in 1999 of 1140 inches (95 feet) / 2896 cm. This year there was well over 800 inches and last summer the road to Artist's Point was never opened because of heavy snow the previous winter. There was still over 20 feet of snow when we were there.
We left the parking lot at the ski lodge at 7:30 am and headed up the trail following the tracks of a few others who had been on the trail before us (we found them setting up camp at the top). It took us an hour and a half to reach the top with plenty of time for pictures and we spent an hour at the top before heading back down arriving at the vehicle around 11:00.
The total trip was about five and half miles with a little over 1000 feet gain in elevation. The only disappointment of the day was the weather which was mostly cloudy, allowing only occasional glimpses of the surrounding peaks. The only views we had were of Mount Shuksan from the lower ski lodge where we stopped on our way out, but even then the clouds were still rolling in.
We also stopped at Hannegan Pass on our way back and walked up the road a ways, hoping to see Mount Baker, but it was completely obscured. We did get some pictures there of the Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) blooming and of the moss on the cliff face, but that was all. In spite of the unsatisfactory weather, though, the trip was well worth the time and effort.