Thursday, June 5, 2014

Excelsior Pass attempt, again

Heading up the Excelsior Pass trail
I was intending to lead into this post with a picture of the group of Senior Trailblazers who decided to attempt to reach Excelsior Pass from the Mount Baker Highway today (fifteen of us), but when I looked back to see what I wrote about last year, that's exactly what I did, as you can see here. And it turns out it is just a week earlier than we attempted it in 2013. Today was a perfect day, as you can see in the above picture.
Mike took this, so he's here but behind the camera
We had two new hikers today, Chris and Rich, third and second from the right-hand side, standing. They had intended to join us many times before (they are experienced hikers), but Chris is a teacher and this was the first Thursday she could find where the weather was nice and the hike sounded interesting. Since school will be getting out soon, I hope the two of them will join us on some more summer hikes.
Chris and Jacqueline
We stopped partway up to adjust our equipment and have a quick snack. I caught the two ladies having an animated conversation. The dappled sunlight through the trees made for a perfect backdrop. But it wasn't long after this picture was taken that we began to find a little snow on the trail. By the time we reached 4,000 feet of elevation, the snow was pretty much solid. The trail wasn't easy to follow, and then it was noon and we decided to stop for lunch.
Our lunch spot, sitting on our blow-up seats
These kinds of lunch spots, sitting in the sunshine on snow, is where our blow-up seats come in so incredibly handy. You can enjoy whatever you brought along to eat and be perfectly dry and comfy on the snow. Not to mention the great company and scintillating conversation. We had a conversation about whether or not to try to get a little higher after lunch, but the consensus was to head back down.
Looking up towards the pass, which would be to the right
As you can see, there was a lot of snow that we would be plowing through if we decided to try to make it any higher at all. After we stopped for lunch, the clouds began to thicken and make it seem a lot colder, so instead of trying to gain any more altitude, we headed down.
Some of the group, making our way across the snow
Here we are beginning our descent. As you can see, the sun had pretty much disappeared and the nice dappled sunlight that warmed us was gone. Nobody was cold enough to begin to don cold weather gear. We knew we had about a short mile of this to navigate before we would be back down in the greenery and on a nice trail.
No more snow, and the sun came back out
It's truly amazing, the difference that a few hundred (or thousand) feet of elevation can make in the conditions of the High Country, but that's one of the reasons we love it so much. Although we probably didn't make seven miles total, some of it was on that snow, making it much harder to walk on, and we went up and down 2,600 feet, a significant elevation. Next week we'll visit the Church Mountain meadows near here, for a bit longer and a bit higher trip. I can only hope the weather is half as wonderful as we enjoyed today.

So here I am, finishing up my wine AND my post, and it's not even 6:00pm yet. There are at least three more hours of daylight, time for me to check my garden (especially those strawberries), before settling down for the evening. It was a truly delightful day, one I won't forget any time soon.


  1. seeing snow in JUNE seems so odd to me! (as we swelter in 90s and humidity.) :)

  2. Deep winter snow and bright sunlight make for a very pleasant hike. It's always a hard call whether you should go further or turn around.

  3. We had clouds here this morning until about 11:00 and then it slowly got sunny, but still pretty cool. It was a good day for walking and working in the yard. And I found a ripe strawberry in my garden!

  4. It's so interesting how the terrain changes so dramatically with just a few hundred or thousand feet of elevation. Here in Florida, I can go from sea level to the hills in northern Florida and never see snow!

  5. ha. its hard to imagine lunching on was smoking hot here today...and i probably need a shower so i dont stick to the to have new companions along as well...

  6. Looks like you had some of our sunny weather for part of your hike DJan. Don't you just love our warm,longer days? We can still see a touch of snow up on the higher parts of the Blues.

  7. You must have to carry quite a bit of gear with you as well as food just in case you get caught out by the weather. Beautiful scenery, I would love to join you on one of your Thursday walks but I guess I'll just have to make do reading about them in your wonderful posts.

  8. I remember picnicking in the mountains on the 4th of July and it began to snow!!! So, having snowpack on the side of a mountain in the high country, in June, doesn't surprise me in the least.

    But...what beautiful country and hikers!!!

    Enjoy those strawberries and wine.

  9. What a beautiful day! I have even gotten used to your, what I think of as, snow in the summer. Such a nice group--large, but not too large. Must be fun to have new members once in a while, too. :)

  10. What a great work out for your heart, which must be very strong by now. I wish I had your stamina.

  11. Nice pics of the beautiful mountain scenery and very nice elevation gain! You deserve the glass of wine to savor it all.

  12. Well you've been very busy as usual and I'm doing catching up blogging. The shadow and light (dappled as you put it) in that first picture is wonderful...:)

  13. Lemme get this straight: You walk up 2,600 feet, just to find snow in June?!? I dunno ... I got enuf. snow this winter to last me at least until next December.

    Oh, wait a second. You come back down, tend your garden, and sip some wine. Now I understand!

  14. I'm standing here with my tank tops and shorts thinking a little snow would sure be refreshing right now. What a fabulous hike you had!


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