Articles tagged with: washington

Is it Sea Kayaking if You’re on a Lake?

Destinations: Washington’s Ross Lake and Clark Island in the Salish Sea

Can you sea kayak on a lake? In order to answer that challenging question, I signed up for two trips with the Whatcom Association of Kayak Enthusiasts (WAKE), one on Ross Lake and the other to Clark Island, in the Salish Sea. To those of you that think the answer is obvious, don’t be so quick to judge. I’ve paddled my whitewater kayak in sea, as you can see in the video below. This wasn’t considered whitewater kayaking, and it wasn’t even considered sea kayaking. It was considered paddling a slow, stubby kayak in the sea, and getting tossed around a bit. What makes sea kayaking sea kayaking? Is it the kayak? Or is it the sea?

Curt in Whitewater Kayak on the Sea

Curt in Whitewater Kayak on the Sea

 

You might wonder why I would even care. Well, my wife Mary and I had recently joined WAKE. This is a group of serious outdoor enthusiasts, and we certainly didn’t want to look like numbskulls. The Ross Lake trip leader, Reg Lake, along with a group of famous climbers had once carried their kayaks over California’s Mt Whitney to be the first ones to kayak the Upper Kern River. One of the couples on the trip had both belonged to Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, one of the oldest and most experienced teams in the country. Another trip participant would qualify for mountain man status, living and working deep in the North Cascades. Others in our group had kayaked and adventured in remote locations all over the world. So, imagine if on the Ross Lake trip, I slipped up and said, “isn’t this sea kayaking stuff fun?”

One of them might have responded, “Sea kayaking? This is lake kayaking! Don’t you know anything about sea kayaking?” For the same reason, I couldn’t ask anyone the sea kayak question. I’d have to figure it out for myself. Thus, I signed up for a lake trip and a sea trip. Before I answer the big question, let me tell you a little about these trips.

Ross Lake

Ross Lake is a spectacular 23 mile long lake that winds through the North Cascades Mountains. Although most of the lake is in Washington, my wife Mary and I decided it’d be easier to reach the lake by driving up to Hope BC, Canada and down a 40 mile gravel road to the boat launch, which is just across the US border. Three out of the nine of the trip participants opted for the alternate route, paddling across Diablo Lake, up a canyon to the dam, then calling Ross Lake Resort for a portage and paddling another 10 or so miles up the lake.Kayaks on Ross Lake

As it turned out, we struggled hard for each of the 12 miles against a 15 knot head wind. We continued for hours because waves crashing into the rocky shoreline made it unsafe to stop. It sure seemed like sea kayaking conditions. During this struggle, Mary barely responded, when I’d ask how she was doing, so I worried. Is she miserable? Will she ever do a kayak trip with me again?

When we finally reached Lightning Creek Camp, sometime after six, the group that had taken the southern route greeted us cheerfully. They had effortlessly been carried up the lake by wind and waves, mainly using their paddles to steer. We forced a smile and said, “That’s great!”

Although our Lightning Creek campsite was remote, the National Park Service does a fine job of furnishing and maintaining the campsites. We had an outhouse, picnic tables and a bear box. There are lots of black bears in the area, and a few grizzlies too. If you’re not familiar with bear boxes, your food goes in the box, not the bear.

In camp, we really enjoyed visiting with our fellow paddlers. I already mentioned Reg Lake and the search and rescue couple. Our camp neighbor, Pam Beason, whom we shared a picnic table with, is a novelist, part-time private investigator, scuba diver and adventuress with plenty of fascinating stories.

Mary on Desolation Peak

Mary on Desolation Peak

After a surprisingly good sleep, we had breakfast and discussed our day’s adventure, a hike up Desolation Peak. Three members of our party kayaked to the base, while the rest of us opted for the longer route, hiking from camp to avoid more kayaking in the wind. Our longer route covered 14+ miles and 4,400 feet of elevation gain. We definitely got a well-rounded workout, working our upper-bodies the first day and our legs the second day. Views along the way and from the lookout were outstanding, as you can see in the photos. We returned to camp with a strong sense of accomplishment.

Kayaker in front of waterfall

Reg Lake and a Waterfall

The third day was glorious! We started out early and paddled up Lightning Creek and other fjord-like inlets, finding crystal clear water in cascading creeks and beautiful waterfalls. Reg Lake and I even did a little whitewater style surfing with our sea kayaks. Unfortunately, he never referred to it as “sea kayaking,” so my question still hung in the air. If you’re on a lake is it sea kayaking? On our paddle up the lake, we didn’t have much wind, giving us a chance to visit all the places we’d paddled right by on the way down. We visited more waterfalls, campsites and took a close look at miles of beautiful shoreline.

Clark Island in the Salish Sea

On the following weekend’s trip, my wife opted not to join me. She apparently had enough kayaking to last a few weeks. I set out with six other sea kayakers for Clark Island, in the Salish Sea. You probably noticed that I confidently referred to them as sea kayakers, since we were in sea kayaks and on the Salish Sea, leaving no room for doubt.Kayaks at Clark Island

We paddled in protected waters until Pt Migley, at the north end of Lummi Island, where we were suddenly exposed to wind and waves from far up Georgia Strait. To make matters more exciting, Pt Migley has shallow rocks, currents and a dozen or so harbor seals that slid into the water as we paddled by, reminding me of the crocodiles in a safari movie.

Between Lummi and Clark Islands, we contended with wind, waves, and crossing a major shipping channel, definitely sea kayaking. At Clark Island, we pulled our kayaks up onto a gravel beach with stunning views of Mt Baker and the Twin Sisters. Like everyone else, I set out to find an appropriate campsite, choosing one set just back from the beach with surrounding brush for privacy.DSC_0404

Once I’d organized my camp, I set out on a trail to explore the island. We got a better look at it that evening, when four of us paddled around the island. After dinner, we watched Mt Baker turn from snowy white to alpenglow red; then we hiked across the island just in time for sunset.Sunset from Clark Island

Around 1:00 AM, a fierce wind hit, pulling up one of my tent stakes and shaking the heck out of my tent. I stared at my tent ceiling and listened to it flap while contemplating what the wind would mean for us, if it didn’t die down. How big would the waves be? If we had to sit it out, how much food did I have? How much water? Eventually, I went back to sleep and awoke to relative calm. Later, I learned that most of my fellow kayakers had been awake thinking similar thoughts. Our paddle back actually turned out to be quite pleasant.

Conclusion

As to the sea kayaking question, it was clear that paddling a sea kayak on the Salish Sea qualified as sea kayaking. I still wasn’t sure regarding paddling a sea kayak on a lake, so I tried Wikipedia. Searching for “sea kayaking,” their entry for “sea kayak” comes up. It describes “a kayak developed for the sport of paddling on open waters of lakes, bays, and the ocean.” Clearly, it mentions lakes. We’ll have to go with the answer “yes” that it is sea kayaking if it’s on a lake, as long as you’re in a sea kayak. If Wikipedia says it, it must be true. The truth is it really doesn’t matter, as long as you’re enjoying yourself. I sure did on both of those trips.

Serenity in Stehekin

Stehekin: Destination for Vacation and Relaxation

by Curt Remington

How would you like to visit a place that is truly beautiful, secluded and unique, a place where you can find serenity and really relaxStehekin, Washington is such a place, and it’s affordable too. You can even camp there, if you like. It takes a little work to reach, but getting there is well worth the effort and half the fun. There are no roads to Stehekin, so you have to hike, boat or fly. Fortunately, the boating option includes a couple of passenger ferries that regularly make the trip up Lake Chelan, a 55 mile long fjord-like lake that’s the third deepest in the United States. Its gorge is the deepest in North America, if you measure to the bottom of the lake, 1486 feet below the surface.

Chelan Sunset

Lake Chelan Sunset

So, what is Stehekin? The Native American word means “the way through,” since the Cascade Pass and Stehekin valley served as a trade route for many, many years. Now,Stehekin Landing and the valley are a small, rustic community, with 75+ year-round residents, surrounded by the rugged beauty of Washington’s North Cascades mountains. Stehekin Landing contains a resort with lodge buildings, docks, some picnic areas, a restaurant, some gift shops, a National Park Service visitor center and a small campground.

What to Do

It’s a wonderful place for hikers, climbers and boaters to do their thing, but anyone can come and relish the seclusion of sitting on one of the lodge’s decks, overlooking the lake. From there, you can feel the gentle breezes, smell the Ponderosa pine and watch the activity on the docks. There’s just enough activity to be interesting, but not so much that it actually distracts from your relaxing. To me, meditating is one of the best things to do in the valley.

Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

If you decide to leave the deck to explore the area, there are 15 or so miles of roads in the Stehekin Valley, along with countless miles of trails. Nearby trails range from a short nature path behind the visitor center to the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile trail that extends from Mexico to Canada. We met a group of “thru-hikers” that were fascinating but a bit ripe smelling. Upon reaching civilization, a shower would rank high on my priority list, and they are available in Stehekin. Regular phone service is not available, however there is a satellite phone for emergencies.

The National Park Service operates busses that run up and down the valley, or you can rent bikes, providing access to places like the Stehekin Pastry Company, the Stehekin Valley Ranch and many of the trails.

On our recent trip, two of my daughters took the bus to the ranch for a horseback ride, where they spotted a cinnamon-colored black bear.

I rode the same bus with my daughters as far as the Rainbow Loop Trailhead. From there, I set out on a five-mile hike which turned into nine miles, after a side-trip and an extension on the end, to take-in more of the beautiful scenery. One of my stops put me at the top of a cliff with panoramic views up the valley into North Cascades National Park, extending down the valley and all the way to Lake Chelan’s turquoise waters. The extension at the end of my hike brought me to Rainbow Falls, a spectacular 312 foot cascade, and to Harlequin Bridge over the Stehekin River, where I waited for the bus.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

That evening, we had a delicious dinner in the restaurant. Our bus driver stopped in, immediately recognizing my daughters and I. She introduced herself to my wife, saying “Oh, you must be the mom.”

People are very friendly. The last time we visited, the woman running the craft store was also our waitress that night and the teacher during the school year. Even with all those jobs, I’ll bet she still finds time to enjoy the serenity of the area. For those of you that aren’t in Stehekin, you can try this visualization meditation for connecting with the wonderful serenity and energy of the place.

Meditation for Connecting with Stehekin

Find a comfortable chair in a quiet place, and take a seat. It doesn’t have to be in Stehekin. Take a long look at the picture of the Adirondack chair with the view up to the end of Lake Chelan. This chair is for your use and sits alongside a public gazebo near the lodge. As you can see, it overlooks the tranquil waters of the lake, with distant views into North Cascades National Park. Now close your eyes and imagine yourself in that chair. You can feel a slight breeze on your cheek and smell the fresh mountain air with a hint of lake smell. Feel the soothing energy of the lake and the mountains that surround you. Let the earth energy soak in through your feet, while blue energy from the sky runs down through the top of your head. Occasionally, a bird chirps and the pine needles rustle. Imagine these details as clearly as you can, and feel the energy of the place renewing you. When you feel ready, open your eyes and let the Adirondack chair turn back into whatever you’re sitting on.

Holden Village

Holden Village is another secluded, unique and beautiful place. To reach Holden, it’s eight miles “down lake” from Stehekin, then 12 miles up a remote road. Holden is on the border of the Glacier Peaks Wilderness and is deep in the mountains. Since 1960, Holden has been owned and operated by the Lutheran Church and is used as a “center for renewal.” You don’t have to be Lutheran to go there, however I believe they expect you to take part in their programs. Nightly rates are very reasonable and include lodging, food and the programs.

The village is an old mining community (closed in 1957), where $66,500,000 worth of copper, gold and zinc were removed. At one time the remote village had a movie theater, bowling alley and ice cream parlor, in order to keep morale up among the miners.

Reaching Stehekin or Holden Village

Although there are no roads to either location, there are rugged trails through the wilderness from places like Cascade Pass or Rainy Pass. The shorter routes to Stehekin are approximately 18 miles of hiking (one way) plus catching the park service bus. For most of us, this is a multi-day backpacking trip. Of course you can take the Pacific Crest Trail in, starting as far away as the Mexican border.

View of Lake Chelan

View of Lake Chelan

From Chelan, Washington, at the other end of the lake, you can get on a floatplane or one of the ferries, Lady of the Lake II and Lady Express. Round-trip ferry tickets start at $39, much cheaper than a round trip flight to the Seychelles. Of course you need to reach Chelan first, possibly via a flight into Seattle and a scenic drive over the North Cascades. You might even consider the full Cascade Loop. According to National Geographic traveler, it’s “one of America’s grandest, most spectacular drives.” The route includes stops like Leavenworth, Washington’s version of a Bavarian village and Winthrop, fashioned after the American old west.

Whatever route you take, Stehekin is a beautiful, secluded and unique place where you can find some real serenity.

This article was written by Curt Remington

A Weekend Trip on the Pacific Crest Trail

Backpacking in Washington’s North Cascades

by Curt Remington

The short section we backpacked, on the Pacific Crest Trail, climbs up to Cutthroat Pass and follows alpine ridges through some spectacular mountain scenery. My wife Mary, Riva our dog, and I started at Washington’s Rainy Pass trailhead and headed north, on the last section of trail before the Canadian border.

Pacific Crest Trail with North Cascades Mountains

Pacific Crest Trail & North Cascades, Washington

We climbed gradually through fir and cedar forest and reached our camp at Porcupine Creek, at the head of a valley, by late afternoon. Mosquito Creek might be a better name for that insect infested campsite. Mosquitoes swarmed around our heads and gave us a strong incentive to set up camp quickly, so we could escape from the bugs.

Before we’d cooked our dinner, the sky clouded over and thunder rumbled nearby. Next hail pelted our heads and buried itself in Riva’s coat. Our experience has been that western Washington hail usually passes quickly, so we stood under a tree, waiting for it to pass. Not this time! The hail kept up and was soon accompanied by lightning along with an absolute deluge of rain. We hadn’t bothered to put rain pants on or crawl into the tent. All three of us were almost instantly soaked.

Mary and Riva in the tent.

Mary & Riva in the Tent

Later I learned from the National Park Service website that “a large and powerful storm cell triggered a massive mud and rock slide” that night. The slide was 10 miles to the south, but we sure felt the effects of the storm. After a cold, quick dinner, we three very wet campers huddled in our very wet tent and listened to rain and hail drum on the tent while lightning flashed and thunder echoed in the valley. Riva, our Australian shepherd, looked especially pitiful with her fur soaked, wearing Mary’s fleece vest, and squeezed between us for warmth.

During the night, both Riva and I slid downhill, off my Thermarest and onto my wet pile of clothes along the edge of the tent. As you might’ve guessed, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep that night. But, sometime during the night, the storm moved on, and the rain stopped. The next morning I discovered that Riva had dried and looked reasonably comfortable. Mary slept soundly, so I quietly crawled out and started hanging wet gear in the surrounding trees.

We decided to leave our tent and sleeping gear at Porcupine Creek and hike light for the day. By the time we were organized, the sun actually came out. In half a mile or so, we found beautiful campsites with views down the valley. Enough of a breeze blew up the valley to minimize insects. These campsites are very close to the ridge though and would have been much more dangerous in the prior night’s thunderstorm.

Not far beyond the camps, we reached Cutthroat Pass, with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and Cutthroat Lake, far below. Warm sunshine provided quite a contrast with our camping experience the night before. Heading north, we continued on the Pacific Crest Trail, hiking above the tree line, with a new view of the North Cascades mountains around each corner. The trail traverses steep mountains, so parts of the trail had sustained significant damage in the prior night’s storm.

Curt, Mary & Riva at Cutthroat Pass

Curt, Mary & Riva at Cutthroat Pass

We covered less than ten miles round-trip, returning to camp with plenty of time to gather firewood and have a leisurely dinner. The fire did a wonderful job of keeping mosquitoes at bay, and the weather stayed clear. Riva climbed into the tent early, apparently exhausted. Mary and I sat outdoors and talked until dark, reminiscing about some of our many camping experiences over the years.

Breaking camp early the next day, got us to the car with enough time left over to add in a short hike to Rainy Lake, on the way home. The North Cascades hold countless beautiful hikes. Each year we visit some of our favorites and try to add one or two new ones. This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is a hike we’ll undoubtedly come back to, and maybe someday, we’ll take on a much longer section of that 2650 mile trail.
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Copper Ridge Trip, North Cascades National Park

Hiking Copper Ridge:  North Cascades, Washington

by Curt Remington

According to Hiking the North Cascades, Copper Ridge is “one of the few trails in the North Cascades that stays above timberline for a significant distance, and along its length are superb mountain views.” Those words were enough to convince me that I needed to make this 27-mile roundtrip trek deep into Washington’s North Cascades National Park. Snow stays late and comes early to the high sections of the Cascades, so there is a short hiking season. Lucky for me, a clear trail, free time, and wonderful weather all fell on the same weekend. The only thing missing was a high demand camping permit. There are only eight campsites spread out over the 10-mile long ridge. My wife, who’d opted not to go due to dog-sitting issues, did drive two hours to the Glacier, Washington ranger station to grab one of the last two permits. She’s very sweet, or else she really wanted to get rid of me for three days. Just kidding! She really is very considerate.

North Cascades from Copper Ridge

North Cascades from Copper Ridge

Anyway, I set out alone on September 14th, starting with a steady climb through sparse silver fir woods towards Hannegan Pass. The trail parallels Nooksack Ridge, with occasional glimpses of a variety of peaks, including ones I’ve hiked on or near for years. For some reason, I’d never hiked to Hannegan Pass, so this trail was new to me, as was the whole area in the direction (east) I was headed.

Marmot Along the Trail

Marmot Along the Trail

Once I dropped over the pass and descended to the headwaters of the Chilliwack River, it felt like I’d really left civilization behind. The terrain there is dry, a real contrast to some of the rainforest on the west side of the pass. Along with the scenery change, fellow hikers became scarce. More than anything, what I noticed was the absence of civilization. Hours would go by with nothing but step after step on a dirt trail that skirted Hell’s Gorge then climbed steadily through mountain hemlock towards Copper Ridge. By afternoon, the thinner air and my heavy pack led to a noticeable pulse pounding in my temples. I reminded myself repeatedly to slow down and drink more water.

Egg Lake, North Cascades National Park

Egg Lake, North Cascades National Park

By late afternoon, the trail leveled, and I broke through the trees to the alpine meadows of Copper Ridge. The views were so beautiful it almost moved me to tears. In every direction mountain after mountain extended as far as I could see. What surrounded me seemed so much a part of the spiritual realm and so far removed from the civilization that I’d left behind.

The trail continued, winding back and forth across the ridge, until it dropped down to  shallow, turquoise-colored Egg Lake, my home for the next two days. I picked a campsite on a knoll with views of the lake, Copper Mountain and the Silesia Creek valley to the north. After setting up camp and cooking dinner, I had just enough time to climb back up to the ridge for sunset.

In the middle of the night, I stepped out of the tent into a clear, moonless night. Bright stars extended from horizon to horizon. A vast wilderness surrounded me, nothing compared to the vast universe that extends out for billions of light years in every direction. Rather than feeling small, I felt connected to everything around me. It also stirred my hope that Earth will soon join the Galactic Federation, and I might visit some of those distant places in the galaxy.

My Campsite at Egg Lake, North Cascades

My Campsite at Egg Lake, North Cascades

The next morning, I crawled out of the tent again, this time with a pink glow on the horizon. Camping at Egg Lake for two nights allowed me to leave most gear behind, as I setout along the ridge towards Copper Lookout and Copper Lake. At the lookout, I met a friendly ranger that offered me water. She also suggested I continue beyond Copper Lake, to a small, scenic waterfall.

Beyond the lookout, I reached a cliff with views of deep-blue Copper Lake, and a whole string of mountains across the Chilliwack Valley, like Mineral, Indian, Bear, and Redoubt. Copper Lake’s three campsites sat empty, including one that includes a small island you can reach by rock hopping.

Copper Lake, North Cascades

Copper Lake, North Cascades

For lunch, I sat on a granite slab overlooking the waterfall the ranger had suggested. By dinnertime, I’d covered many miles, with lots of climbing and descending. My fettuccini with tuna tasted delicious, probably much better than it would’ve at home. The stars put on another wonderful display that night.

I broke camp at dawn, wolfed down some oatmeal, and started the long trek out. As I got closer to the trailhead, I started dreaming about my next trip into the area. The park’s network of trails provides many options, and I definitely plan to visit this area again.

Mt Redoubt

Mt Redoubt

If you go, you’ll need a permit from the National Park Service, which you should be able to get at the Glacier ranger station. These permits are in high demand, so you may need a backup plan. There are plenty of beautiful backpacking trips nearby, but outside the park, which don’t require a permit. Glacier, and the Hannegan Pass trailhead are east of Bellingham, Washington on Highway 542. Be sure to check the trail conditions, as this area is buried in snow for much of the year.

My book, Simple Meditation, includes a chapter on walkabouts and vision quests, like the trip I made to another part of the North Cascades. Copper Ridge would be a wonderful place to do such a trip.

 

Climbing Mt Baker

Ascending Mount Baker, Washington

by Curt Remington

Mt Baker, Washington state’s second most active volcano, is a hulking mass of rock and snow that towers over anything around it. Those of us living in Whatcom county look up at it regularly, as you can see it from miles away. In June of 2005, four friends and I made our way up the Coleman Deming Glacier route, to the top of the mountain. Having stood amongst the seracs and crevasses, looking down on the clouds below, gave me a whole new perspective on Mt Baker. Since our route is visible from much of the county, I’ve looked up many times, remembering.

Mt Baker and Wiser Lake

Mt Baker and Wiser Lake, Washington

The mountain is thickly covered with glaciers, holding the world record for snowfall. The nearby ski area got 96 feet of it in the winter of 1998/99. With all that ice and snow, climbing the mountain required specialized glacier gear & techniques.

Climbing Route on Mt Baker

Climbing route w/our camp and crevasses in lower right

One of the most serious dangers is crevasses, cracks in the ice that can be as deep as 100 feet. Many of these crevasses are covered with snow bridges, which have the potential of breaking as you cross them. To avoid plunging to the bottom of a crevasse, we roped together and carried climbing harnesses, prusiks and other rescue gear like snow pickets and pulleys. For traveling on ice, we also used mountaineering boots with crampons and carried ice axes. Along with all the climbing gear, we carried a lot of backpacking gear for camping on the mountain.

Actually climbing the mountain turned out to be an intense mixture of misery and euphoria. Most of the misery came from carrying all that gear through snow, trudging step after step up 7100 feet of elevation gain.

Our camp, high on Coleman Glacier

Our camp, high on Coleman Glacier

Euphoria came during the moments that I stopped, took a few deep breaths and turned to see the incredible views. By the first afternoon, we climbed high onto the glacier and set-up camp at an elevation of 8500 feet. The sun dropped beyond the mountains and San Juan Islands stretched out to the west of us.

The camaraderie of my climbing partners also added immensely to the trip. We worked well together as a team, and all us remained in good spirits, picking on each other just enough to keep things light.  

I woke up that night, having slid towards the opening of our steeply sloped tent. That got me to thinking about the snow outside, which was freezing into slippery ice. I also realized that we’d never staked the tent down. What if it starts sliding toward that crevasse field below us? I could feel that the snow wasn’t freezing directly under us. Whew! My next thought was that I really had to pee, and two other guys were blocking the exit. I sat up in my sleeping bag and pondered whether I should wake them. Instead, I laid back down to think about it some more.

Sunset over the San Juan Islands

Sunset over the San Juan Islands

Before long, 2:30 AM arrived, and it was time for everyone to get up and start climbing. In the early morning hours, snow bridges and the loose snow would be solid, safer and easier to cross. After a quick breakfast, we strapped on our gear, roped together, turned on our headlamps and started up the glacier, carefully watching for crevasses in the dark. And yes, we came across a few. On one snow bridge, we looked down into a hole where someone’s leg broke through. A number of crevasses required jumping over. On the far side of one, Kerry caught his crampon and did a spectacular flip, while the rest of us plunged down onto our ice axes to pull the climbing rope tight and prevent him from going deeply into the crevasse. He landed clear of the crevasse, got up and brushed the snow off.

By sunrise, we climbed over a ridge, opening up stunning views of the North Cascades. Mt Rainier glowed orange, 100 miles to the south of us, and the early sun just lit up many of mountains between us and Rainier. It felt like nothing but clear, thin air separated us and heaven. Next, I looked up at our last obstacle, the Roman wall, a thousand vertical feet of steep, icy terrain. We slowly made our way up in a line, stopping regularly to catch our breath. We used the “french technique” or “flat-footing” to keep our crampons in contact with the snow, walking sideways with ankles bent at peculiar angles. Occasionally, I looked down on the crevasses far below and realized that if we all started sliding, they would be the only thing to stop us. With that thought in mind, I placed each step, and each thrust of my ice ax, very carefully.

Eventually, the slope lessened and we reached the massive top of the dome. What a wonderful relief. We strode across with pride to stand on the knob that is Mt Baker’s true summit. I was elated! This confirmed what I had wondered most of the way up, that I could do it. We were on top of the world. My next thought was that it’s all downhill from here.

Curt, Kerry & Andre on top of Mt Baker

Curt, Kerry & Andre on top of Mt Baker

The downhill felt worse than the climb up. We were tired, sore and started breaking through the soft snow on the way down. But the long trudge down gave me plenty of time to reflect on our trip and to contemplate the big plate of pasta I planned to eat at Tino’s Restaurant that night.

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