Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cougar Divide

Yesterday, I set out from Bellingham with two other Senior Trailblazers. We met at 11:00 am in the morning to head up to the High Country. We hoped to get over to the Canyon Creek road, which has a crew working on it every weekday, except during their lunch hour when you can gain access to the road. But after stopping at the Ranger Station and asking about the conditions, we decided not to try it.
Instead, we went up the Wells Creek road up to Cougar Divide, a long, one-lane road winding up over 12 miles, which descends first to Wells Creek and then starts a long climb up to Cougar Divide. We were stopped on the road by snow before we gained the trailhead, but we left the car and set out with our trusty packs and trekking poles. We slogged up over two miles on snow, with full sun and no wind.
When we finally started up the snow, we could see that eventually we would have an incredible view. Little by little the view got more and more amazing, and we could see all the mountains around plus Mt. Baker. That's Mt. Shuksan behind us to the left. I took this picture with my self-timer and tripod, which are now indispensable parts of my backpacking gear. Although there were only a few little clouds now and then, we were so happy when we got any break from the sun at all. Occasionally a light breeze kept us a little cooler as we trekked up 1,000 feet to the ridge. It was snow the whole way until we got to this rock outcropping. (Click any picture to enlarge.)
Here's a picture of Karen sketching Mt. Baker. We didn't even start our hike until after 1:00 pm, so as we were heading back down the snow, the shadows of summer began to lengthen. But with such a clear sky, lots of daylight, and with little to no wind, we didn't hurry back to the car.
Al took this picture of me while we were looking around at the 360-degree view. I thought it would be fun to put some words on the cloud that look like a thought balloon, but I didn't get around to it before deciding to write this post. Tomorrow we will be heading up for another hike to the High Country with the full group, so this would have been lost if I didn't get it up today.
On the way back down the highway to Bellingham, we decided to stop for dinner at the Beer Shrine. As you can see from the sign, it's a beer joint and Wedding Chapel, all in one. We got there a little after 6:00pm and it was quite busy already, on a regular Tuesday night. They make their own local beer and we had a smashingly good pizza (which I didn't get a picture of, darn it). As Al said, we were all hungry enough to eat anything that wasn't fighting back. But I would be happy to eat here again, since it was outstandingly good beer AND food. Tomorrow, another day in the woods with the whole group! With the weather expected to be hot, it should be a good turnout.


  1. Incredible. I so look forward to your hikes...but I have to tell you, I am soooooo jealous of the fabulous scenery. lol

  2. Beautiful scenery, yes, but that was a lot of work and effort. Capricorn = the sign of the goat. Sure you are not a Capricorn? Nah, just kidding, because I'm one and I hate to climb.

    But the wedding chapel-pizzeria? Now, THAT I can handle!

  3. It's obvious you had a good time. It is so good you chose to move to Bellinham. I can think of no other place that suits you better.

  4. The North-Fork Beer Shrine looks fantastic! Oh yeah, and I loved the mountains, too. :) I can't believe how much snow you guys have up there still. We're losing our pretty quickly with the heat wave down here. On to your last post......

  5. I love the view and the Beer shrine, but I'm not up to hiking in snow in hot weather. Good for you, you sturdy thing.

  6. Gorgeous look great, too!
    And I had to smile about the pizza joint and wedding chapel in one...a real classy wedding,no? hahaaa

  7. Now, that's my kinda wedding chapel -- a beer joint and wedding chapel combined.

    That's a gorgeous picture of Mt. Baker. My little Marigold has an absolutely perfect view of Mt. Baker from her bedroom window. It's almost luminescent in the distance.

    It's almost 100 degrees here today, so I can't imagine climbing up to the snow...!

    I live vicariously through your hikes and sky-diving, by the way. :-)

    Guess what the word verification is on this post? betican. That's your motto. "Bet I can...!" *heh*

  8. Gorgeous weather, beautiful scenery, great companions, beer and pizza......does life get any better than that?

  9. Beautiful area!! We loved it when we hiked (many years to get in shape) in areas that had snow on the mountains!!

  10. I really like the relaxed and happy you in the picture. It seems so weird that there is snow there and it is hot and flat here. This is a really good post, DJan, your enthusiasm for hiking shines through and your pictures are great.

  11. That was a good day and wonderful scenery to look at too. I think Pizza and beer at the end of your hikes is a very good idea indeed.
    Blessings, Star

  12. You do look happy and relaxed. Is that what hiking does for you? No wonder you love to go! It's also nice to see you since you are always the one behind the camera. Thank Al for us:)

  13. You have such beautiful landscape all around you. What surprises me is that you do so much walking and still have time to post on your blog. I barely can read all the blogs I follow and post once a week – I am always behind and I don’t walk like you do. You must be in wonderful shape and well organized, and that is good.


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