Thursday, August 25, 2016

Heliotrope Ridge 2016

Chris, Linda, Ward, Victoria, Carol crossing one of the streams
Today sixteen Senior Trailblazers went on our annual hike up to Heliotrope Ridge. Although we are limited to 12 in the wilderness, one group of six decided to go up faster and higher than the rest of us to help keep us legal. If all went as planned, we, the slower and larger group, would be able to cross the final stream and get a closeup view of the glaciers on Mt. Baker, while the other group would go up the steep climber's route to the base camp. It's where those making an ascent of the mountain camp stay before their climb.
Al, with a magnificent waterfall behind him
The trail isn't very long, but it climbs steadily until we get to a junction, one which goes up the climber's route and the other that goes to the glacier overlook. But the one problem today was the final stream we had to cross: it was roaring like I've never seen it.
Al checking out the stream for a place to cross
Al spent some time looking up and down for a safe place to cross, but even those of us with water shoes decided it wasn't for us today. If we were somehow able to get across, the return trip would be even scarier, with the warm day causing the glacier melt to increase. Carol took a video, which I'll try to share with you. It's only 24 seconds long, but the roar of the water will give you some idea of why we didn't even try it.

Anyway, we decided to turn back to the junction and go up the climber's route until we had a good view of the glaciers and Mt. Baker. We had a new hiker with us today, Victoria, who was certainly strong enough to go up, but she was unwilling to go very far along the steep trail.
Victoria and Carol a short distance up the climbers' route
The rest of us slowly made our way up the steep and rocky trail, with a few of us not wanting to keep going but being seduced by the view. We saw the glaciers on Mt. Baker come into view, with lovely wildflowers abundant everywhere.
Roosevelt (upper) and Coleman (lower) glaciers on Mt. Baker
We didn't expect clouds, but I was very happy for their presence, because it made us much less uncomfortable as we hiked ever upwards. And it was steep, let me tell you. Maybe you can get an idea from this picture, as you look at the hikers above us.
Relentlessly up
Some of the group went on farther, but when I saw Peggy sitting alongside the path, Linda and I pulled ourselves up to join her. I knew the others were somewhere ahead of us, but by that point I just didn't care to go farther. Two were below us, having lunch together, and the three of us were happy where we were. I kept watching Mt. Baker to see if I might get a view of it without clouds.
Mt. Baker with clouds
This was the best I could capture, and you can see the glaciers off to the left and the numerous streams heading down the steep hillsides. It was even a little cool once the breeze blew and the clouds blocked the direction sunlight. And we had all been expecting another really hot day. The breeze helped to keep the flies at bay, but they did make it necessary to keep applying repellent. But compared to how it could have been, we were all very happy with the way our day unfolded.
Flowers and glorious views
Looking directly opposite of Mt. Baker, we had this incredible view of the valley below and wildflowers everywhere. The clouds made for some interesting shadows as well. We headed back down to the junction, and soon the rest of our group had joined us, so we made our return trip to the cars.
A day well spent in the wilderness
Once we had reached the trailhead, we wondered where the other group of our fast hikers might be. They showed up just as we were piling into our cars. And by the time we had our ice cream at Graham's, it was time to make the hour-long drive back to Bellingham.

Although we only covered somewhere under six miles, we had climbed a good bit and had plenty of adventures to boot. I am feeling pretty good, realizing we are all now home safe and sound, and ready for a good rest!


  1. Another great hike. The purple flowers are called Fireweed. That stream is really running fast, the warm weather you had must have caused a good melt! I am glad you are home safe and sound:)

  2. Wow, what a hike! You guys are really adventurous!

  3. Wow. You are intrepid to the max. Love the views, and the noise of that water would have had me chickening out too.

  4. The photos are just beautiful! The video was kinda scary!!! What a delight to be able to enjoy nature, spend time with friends, and be physically active. The perfect trifecta!

  5. And the next adventure...

    Great view of the glacier today. It amazes me how the group adapts to conditions and finds a way! It mirrors life!

  6. glad you didn't attempt that water cross! the hike up seemed plenty strenuous!

  7. Dazzling vistas. Another great hike. I'm so skiddish at stream crossings. I'm much better on bridges!

  8. Best for you not to cross that raging torrent. I would have turned around and headed back. I cannot cross water.

  9. Beautiful, but I'm glad you guys didn't try to cross that stream or go any further. Looks like a tough hike. Nice to be home! :)

  10. Ugh.....breathing hard in the high altitude as we climbed higher and higher!! I'm glad you stopped when you did....I needed some rest time.

    I bet that water from the glacier was icy cold and would've felt wonderful on my sweat laden body 'bout the time we made our decent!!!

  11. Magnificent views.
    The waterfall looked too swift to navigate (to me.)
    Splendid video of it. Thank you for sharing it!

  12. Well that was a challenge but that view of the glacier and wild flowers was so worth it. You might have lost me at the log crossing however. Even as a kid I was a weenie about them.

  13. The trail up top looks very rocky and rough. that's really hard to hike on. You did have super views.

  14. Just another spectacular day in the mountains!

  15. Stunning scenery! And that video convince me after 4 seconds.

  16. Those views of Mt Baker and it's glaciers are spectacular! Totally worth the climb. And I'm with you on avoiding those raging stream crossings.

  17. I agree! That is a spectacular hike!


I really appreciate your comments! If you see a word verification box here, just ignore it. I don't use the darn thing and Blogger is trying to get us to use it, I guess. Ignore it and your comment will still appear.