The Senior Trailblazers have decided to add a twice-monthly Monday or Tuesday hike to the High Country for the 2011 season, and today four of us set out to see how the conditions actually are up there. The Bellingham Herald featured an article this weekend stating "Plenty of Snow in Cascades Means Shorter Hiking Season." This definitely was NOT what we have been hoping to hear. If you read the article, you'll find that the cool and wet spring, along with lots of late-season snow, means that Artist Point, a very popular place to begin our hikes, will possibly not open for the season -- at all.
This is the road to Artist Point, which stops at the ski area parking lot. We made jokes along the lines of "just gun it, Al, let's see how far we can plow through." Um-hmm. Not very far. We slapped on our snowshoes at the ski area parking lot and set out for Huntoon Point, two miles away from here and a little higher in elevation than Artist Point. The snow was slushy, a little like sno-cone consistency, but it was in the fifties, even without any sign of the sun.
As you can see from our clothing and the sunglasses, it was actually quite toasty and the reflected light off the snow caused me to come home with a sunburned face, and summer's sunlight at 5,000 feet warmed us through the heavy clouds. There is usually an astounding vista here, but we didn't see it at all. This was the best I saw, and I had to capture quickly before it disappeared again.
It almost looks like a black-and-white picture, the colors were so washed out with the sky being almost the same color as the snow. The day was calm and relatively warm, so once we reached Huntoon Point we had lunch and then headed back down to the car. The feeling of the day was a little surreal, with such a monochrome landscape. It was only broken by the colors we added ourselves.
Although it's hard to believe, you are looking at both sky and snow as Mike and Fred make their way across the snowy terrain. Snowshoes make a four-mile hike feel like we went twice as far, but it was still a lovely day, with the four of us deciding to check out Hannegan Road on our way back down to Bellingham. Once we left the High Country and got down below 3,000 feet, the greenery exploded and I just had to take this picture of a trillium almost past its peak. The three petals and three leaves show why this flower and its beautiful leaves celebrate THREE in its name.
So all in all, it was a good day, and I'm looking for something to put on my pink cheeks to help them recover from all that indirect sunshine!