Intro to Mt Baker
[Deming, WA, Sep 2, 2022]
For Labor Day 2022, I finally visited a national forest that had been on my list for almost a year – Mt Baker.
Hiding near the Canadian border just 2 hours North of Seattle, Mt Baker is best known as a ski resort. The ski area is home to the world’s greatest recorded snowfall in one season, 1,140 inches (95 ft or 29 m), during the 1998–99 season. Mt. Baker also enjoys one of the highest average annual snowfalls of any resort in the world, with 641 inches (53 ft or 16 m). As a hiking destination, it gets overshadowed by nearby North Cascades national park. But since I had Labor Day free and I had already been to North Cascades, I decided to head to Mt Baker. It was only 4.5 hours from Portland by car.
I left Portland before 8 am and by the time I was in Deming, it was time for lunch. I stopped by a little Mexican place called Michoacana and was surprised to see cow tongue on the menu! I’ve had cow tongue in Bulgaria, where it’s served as a stand-alone dish cooked in butter. At Michoacana, it was served in a taco and it was delicious!
It was too early to check into my AirBnB, so I headed to Heather Meadows Visitor Center on the mountain. I arrived just after they closed at 4 pm. The ranger on duty, Dale, was just walking out as I was making my way in. He was nice enough to walk back to inside and give me the scoop! Such a nice guy! He told me that the haze I was seeing was due to due to lightning strike fires from the previous week.
Next, I drove to Artist Point trailhead at the end of Highway 542. You know you’re at a really snowy place when you encounter a giant snow patch at 5,000 ft in September.
From here, I enjoyed a short (1.5 miles) but spectacular hike with great views of Mt Shuksan and Mt Baker.
I could also see the ridge I was going to do tomorrow’s hike, Ptarmigan. The views from this short little hike got me excited for the bigger treks I had planned for the weekend.