Thursday, June 17, 2010

Slip slidin' on Welcome Pass

Who would have guessed that 17 Senior Trailblazers would choose to hike up Welcome Pass on a day when it was (1) cloudy, maybe rainy; and (2) the most reviled hike of 2009? Last year, I wrote here about our unexpected trip up Welcome Pass. Afterwards, we had all decided that one time up Welcome Pass was enough. Of course, the local guidebook helped with this assessment. Here's an excerpt from Ken Wilcox's book, Hiking Whatcom County:
Of the several access routes to the meadowlands of the High Divide, the Welcome Pass Trail is the most grueling. Endless short switchbacks -- 67of them -- go almost from the trailhead to summit.
You hike up almost 3,000 feet in less than three miles, which means it's tough going up, and tough coming back down. Last year my knees felt like hamburger at the end. The last quarter mile or so up to the summit was also in snow. Today, I expected no more than a few of us going up the scheduled hike to Welcome Pass, but was I surprised when 17 hikers, most from last year and even some who have never been up it before, showed up on a less than perfect day. It must be something like childbirth: you forget the pain because of the reward, in this case a summit rather than a baby.
Although the forecast was that early morning clouds would clear to a partly sunny day, it did not happen in our part of Washington state. Rain and rain gear to start the hike, until we were not sure whether it was actually raining on us, or just a heavy mist falling from the trees. We persevered, not sure whether it was a good idea or not, but making it to the summit.
After all that effort, our view was limited, however, to seeing the clouds lift enough to see the misty mountain behind Fred. By the time we finished lunch, even this view was lost in the clouds. We never got much more than this, and although it was not raining while we had lunch, some of us were nervous about going back down the steep snow banks.
This is our lunch spot, taken when I went into the trees to visit the ladies' room. On the way back, I saw that this picture showed our group looking, to my eyes, much more like mountaineers than a bunch of old folks! The average age of today's group had to be well over 70, and here we were, on a summit in the mist, nothing but our desire for adventure bringing us here. Well, that and the great company!
While the trip back down was tough, especially the parts in the snow, as soon as we reached the exposed trail we found our real challenge: staying upright on the slippery tree roots, rocks, and trail detritus that kept some of us on our backsides more often that we might have wished. By the time we got past the 67 switchbacks, Fred suggested that our hike might be named after Simon & Garfunkel's "Slip Slidin' Away," as that is how we spent most of our day: slippin' and slidin' and hopin' we could get every one of us down without any injuries.

We did, and here's the proof!


  1. Wow, I'm beyond impressed. I never can decide which is worse, up or down. 17 of you?! I swear, I need to be just like ya'll when I grow up! Your pictures are great-I particularly like the last one. Glad ya'll all made it safely:)

  2. hmmm. sorry, that is one hike I'll pass up.

  3. Now that's adventurous! A more than a bit crazy too! :p

  4. What a great adventure to have under your belt or 'hiking boots'!!!

    I would love to have been with you, DJann...on any of your hikes actually.

    I once posted about 'slip sliding away' on my little hills in the woods on a rainy day too!


  5. Those hiking poles look like an essential accoutrement to the day. Most interesting.

  6. You survived and have good memories and good stories. Enjoying the experience is most important. I wouldn't mind the hiking as much as the outdoors ladies room. The scenery must be fantastic. I tend to err on the side of caution and the descent would have stopped me before the assent. I'm a fan of alpine skiing rather than hiking.

  7. What a successful hike for all of you. My hat is off to you. You did get some nice photos and it is clear enough in the pictures that it is a wet, slippery hike. Are the hiking sticks metal and they look like they fold down to a small size.

  8. You'll need a few days to get over that trip.
    Fabulous photos again.
    Blessings, Star

  9. I love most of your hikes when I see the gorgeous photos...but this one I wouldn't want to hike, due to no views and terrible conditions...! But I am sure it was physically challenging which when you finished felt like a victory and that is what made it fun for you.

  10. Considering what this same hike was like last year it is surprising so many folks showed up, definitely a group of adventurous hikers. I love the photo of the group on the hill.

  11. No big photo rewards..I am glad you all made it down it sounds like a grueling hike:)


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