Thursday, September 2, 2021

Ptarmigan Ridge 2021

Mt. Shuksan

 Today fourteen Senior Trailblazers all drove our cars up to Artist Point in the Mt. Baker Wilderness Area to begin a hike on Ptarmigan Ridge. Three of our members basically stayed away from the rest of the group to keep us legal, under the limit of 12. There were so many people on the trail that it makes little sense to try to keep groups limited, but it's the law, so we followed it.

About a mile into the day's hike

I took this picture when we stopped for our first "equipment adjustment," taking off some of our gear since it was no longer feeling so cold. Ken (in the white headgear) is allergic to the sun and always suits up like this. The temperature was cool with a brisk wind to start out, and by this time we were shedding some, but not all, of our layers. I think I had taken off my jacket and gloves by this time.

Mt. Baker from the trail

This is the other magnificent mountain that we see during this hike. Usually we get much closer to it than we did today, since we didn't go the entire distance. With so many people to keep track of, our pace was not all that fast, which suited me just fine. Richard led the group and set the pace since Al was not with us today.

Mt. Shuksan and the skyline

Both this picture and the previous one are taken from the first major stop, a viewpoint about 2.5 miles in. If you were only wanting to hike to this place, you'd have a nice five-mile round trip, but we always head off farther before stopping.

Heading off to our lunch spot

Here we are leaving the viewpoint and starting off on the trail to find a place to get out of the wind and settle in for lunch, a short distance down the trail. We found a nice spot and enjoyed our lunch, before continuing on to round the bend and start off towards our usual ending point.

The rest of the group continuing on

I had forgotten how rocky this hike is, and my feet were beginning to complain. Since I knew we would have to return the same way, and I didn't wear to myself completely out, I decided to stop and take in the view while the rest of the group went off to see the lakes. I was happy just to rest, but I did get this great shot of them on their way. I rejoined them when they returned.

A rest stop before heading down into the valley

We stopped at this place for another rest before continuing into the part of the hike that I think is the least fun part, all rocks and going back down into the valley before having to climb back up to the final part of the day's efforts. By this time I was tired and my feet hurt from walking on the rocks for so long.

Richard on the home stretch

I took this picture mostly to show how rocky the trail is, but we had done all the ups and downs for the day, and this is the final mile back to the parking lot. We had covered around 7.5 miles and maybe 2,000 feet up and down. Enough to make me glad to finally get to the end.

Almost back

I turned around and saw this picture just as we were finishing the day. You can see some late-summer flowers and pink fireweed in the foreground, and Mt. Baker hiding behind a ridge. All in all, it was a very good day, and I think everyone had a good time. I know I did!

This was probably my last time on this hike, since it gets harder for me every year. It has been many years and lots of fun, but right now I am too tired to even consider anything this difficult in my future. But who knows what I might feel like this time next year? Anything is possible.



  1. Looks like a nice hike... and I love that last pic... looks like a postcard. But I prefer seeing all the huge trees, ferns, and waterfalls on other hikes (but that's just me). Still I'm glad you enjoyed it and didn't have any problems keeping up.

  2. It looks like hard work to me - though the scenic rewards are incredible.
    Well done you. Again.

  3. I can't imagine being allergic to the sun and still go out hiking!!
    Beautiful...absolutely beautiful trail D J

  4. Gorgeous views, but those rocks would be hard on the feet. You are wise to realize new limits when they come. :)

  5. Great photo of your companions walking in the distance.

  6. Awesome photos. Mountain meadows are the best...lots of flowers and full of birds. Rocks like you show are not only hard to walk on but dangerous. It's hard on ankles.

  7. I think it had been a while since you had hiked with the Trailblazers. So glad you were in the small group that had no problem with a rest stop. Those rocks look brutal. Keep enjoying those hikes and do what you can. You know your abilities.

  8. It really was a magnificent hike with a clear view of Mt. Baker. Lovely photos. But, I hear you about how difficult it is to hike like that at your age. So take it easy.

  9. It looks beautiful but quite challenging. I don’t think I could have done that hike without lots of training. You did well!

  10. Enjoyed an "armchair hike" via your prose and photos. My hikes now are with a rollator on mostly level, paved areas since a 1911 hemorrhagic stroke.
    Thanks for the northwest visit.

  11. Glad you got to do this difficult trail for perhaps the last time. Your last picture is gorgeous and can be your forever memory of it.

  12. What spectacular scenery you get to see! Walking on rocks for long can be a painful experience, literally!

  13. That last photo is absolutely gorgeous!
    I'm glad that you are learning your limits. I know that you can have the pleasure of hiking for many years to come, just maybe not "up there".

  14. Walking on rocks is really hard. However I am so glad you got to go as the views are stunning!

  15. Dear DJan, yes, we never know what lies behind the next bend or over the ridge. You've been able to let go of skydiving and the memories you treasure must enrich your life still. It will be that way with the hiking on rocks also, I imagine. Your commitment not only to exercising but to enjoying the glory of nature is inspiring. Peace.

  16. Wow! These photos are just gorgeous! What a spectacular day. I'm amazed that Ken is willing to hike so far in the sun when he's allergic to the sun. That is true determination.


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