Thursday, October 2, 2014

Excelsior Pass via Damfino

Damfino Lake, the biggest anyway
Thirteen Senior Trailblazers showed up today on a very fine, sunny day, as compared to our last two rather wet hikes. It looked for awhile like I wouldn't be able to join them, since I managed to lock my car keys into my trunk, with all my hiking gear safely inside. Fortunately, Rita volunteered to drive me home quickly to get my spare key, with the understanding we would join the rest of the group at the Glacier Ranger Station. Thanks to Rita, we were only around ten minutes behind the others! And she never went over the speed limit too. This is a day I wouldn't have wanted to miss.
Cold at the start, but more sun than clouds
We were bundled up at the start of the hike, even though the sun was warming things up pretty quickly. Here we stopped to make clothing adjustments before we would come out of the forest into full sun. The road to begin this hike has been closed for years, and when it opened up late last fall, we decided to try it. We didn't get far, as you can see from this trip report last November. Today, we made it to Excelsior Pass.
Lots of blueberry bushes along the way
After a fairly short trip through the forest, you follow this beautiful valley up to Excelsior Pass. Once we got out into the open, it turned out to be a simply beautiful day, with a few clouds but mostly sun as we ascended to the pass.
New snow on the peaks
Once we reached the pass, we had incredible views all around. It was almost noon, but since this part of the hike enters the wilderness area, we decided that some hikers would climb to the top of Excelsior Peak, while the rest of us would hike along the High Divide for awhile before stopping for lunch. The views of the surrounding peaks were incredible. Here's my best picture of Mt. Baker taken today.
Mt. Baker with new snow and a few clouds
I am always awestruck by the beauty of this mountain that I can often see from my front porch, which shows many of her faces to me on our hikes. After we had separated, and the eight of us stopped for a nice lunch in the sunshine, I looked over at Excelsior Peak and could see the others in our group had also stopped for lunch. They are the little dots at the top of the peak.
The Excelsior Peak Five
Yes, that's the peak. I can only see four dots, but I think the other person is just not quite in line with the others. We decided that we would regroup at the junction at 1:30pm. In the meantime, the rest of us had a nice lunch and then went for a short half-hour walk along the High Divide.
Carol, mountains, sun, clouds
As you can clearly see from this picture, it was a wonderful sunny day. We decided after lunch to take off and go as far as we could in a half hour. Looking ahead, I saw this really interesting looking spot, filled with red, with our trail crossing right in the middle of it (look close and you can see the trail).
That red is a big blueberry patch
The blueberry bushes have mostly turned red, as you can see here, and I was hoping that I might be able to get a picture, once we traveled to that red spot, of the backlit blueberry bushes with the mountains behind. Instead, this is what I got:
Blueberry bushes and mountains behind
Those bushes were so incredibly RED that I couldn't believe what I was seeing on the camera. I didn't manage to capture the mountains behind very well, but doesn't that look like a field of chili peppers rather than a field of blueberry bushes? I think we all ate so many blueberries and huckleberries today that we really didn't need to have lunch.
Colorful mountain ash in the foreground
On the way back, the sun was fairly low in the sky, and I kept trying to get some pictures that would show you how well the fall colors are coming along. I think this picture did a good job of it. By the time we reached our cars, we had traveled around seven miles (round trip) and 2,000 feet up and down. Not one of our hardest hikes, but one of our favorites. I had a GREAT day, thanks to my dear hiking friends, who did not let me down, and the magnificent wilderness area in our back yard.


  1. Excelsior peak reminds me when I had a class on a peak just like Excelsior. We watched a shower cloud going through the valley below. All of a sudden we could feel the air crackling. We got off the peak as fast as we could as there was lots of electricity in the air

  2. great save by rita! :) gosh, such beautiful views and COLOR!

  3. Wonderful photos, DJan! That is a hike I would have enjoyed very much. Yes, I'm a fair weather hiker.:-)

  4. D'Jan, your hikes take you to the most incredible spots where you find the most incredible photos. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm.

  5. Those blueberry bushes are beautiful! Thanks Rita for saving the day!!
    I woodcarve with a hiker he is part of this areas North Country Trail System, I have suggested that they form some senior groups and suggested starting with short hikes would be great! :)

  6. WOW! Red blueberry bushes. Is that an oxymoron or what?

  7. Oooh. And ahhh.
    Red blueberry bushes? How amazing. And delicious.

  8. I've never heard of red blueberry patches. And you got to eat your fill? I am so jealous! I LOVE blueberries and you should see what they cost over here.

  9. AND your other photos are breathtaking too!!!

  10. What beautiful sights!
    I think eating those wild, wild berries must have been extra good for all your immune systems. :-)

  11. Gorgeous! Wow!
    I didn't know that blueberries turn red. Thanks for educating me.
    And thanks to your friend for driving you home to get a spare key.

  12. Sensational scenery...and lovely day for a good long hike! Rita was a godsend. Now I'll tell you what we do....when we lock things in the trunk and exit our vehicle. We make sure we don't 'beep' the interior of the car UNTIL we shut the trunk!! That way, if the keys get locked IN the trunk, we still have the trunk release button in the interior! Make a habit of that and it'll never happen again for you. NOW that I said it, watch....Bud or I will lock the interior AND the keys in the trunk. I think I jinxed it.

  13. Delightful scenic photography and looks like a wonderful time in nature!

    artmusedog and carol ~ A Creative Harbor
    Happy Weekend to you!

  14. A Rita came to the rescue! I loved that, of course. ;)

    That red was amazing. I don't think I've ever seen blueberry bushes in the fall...or didn't realize they were blueberry bushes--LOL! The scenery is just breathtaking around there. I never tire of seeing Mount Baker. Have a super weekend, lady! :)

  15. Stunning views and color. I love it....;)

  16. Imagine finding the colors as well as the fruit to eat on this amazing hike. You are always such a source of admiration for me. Glad you had a great hike.

  17. def a beautiful view...thought of you the other day...we watch running wild...where bear grilz takes celebrities out into the wild and teaches them survival for 48 hours...ha...

  18. I LOVE that photo of the red blueberry bushes & mountains behind! I can see why this is a favorite, the views are stunning.
    The PNW wins my heart time & time again.


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