Heather Meadows Trail Medley (Mt Baker Ski Area)

North Cascades, Washington

Ptarmigan Ridge, Chain Lakes Loop, Lake Ann, Shuksan Arm

September 2007

Dave Svilar, Jill


Mt Baker emerges from the clouds for one of the few times on this two night/three day trip.

The objective of this trip was to show Jill why, in my opinion, the North Cascades are the most beautiful place in the lower United States.  Since this was a first trip, bushwhacking was not an option with left us...  few options.  The area near the Mt Baker Ski Area, otherwise known as Heather Meadows, is not only one of the prettiest places in the Cascades but is certainly the place to maximize bang for the buck.  That's all assuming you can actually see something.  The pictures here will give you the impression that views were aplenty, but the reality was the storm never totally cleared.  During the three days of walking we covered all the maintained trails in the area while camping the first night on Ptarmigan Ridge and the second at Lake Ann.  We returned to the road via the Shuksan Arms which, technically, does not have a maintained trail.

Lupines were still in full bloom on the trail to Ptargmigan Ridge.


As a photographer I was desperate to find a unique reflection of Mt Baker.  This pathetic attempt shows how a single-minded approach to photos (reflection shots) can lead to crappy pictures.  Here Mt Baker is reflected in a volcanic rubble pond with only the top 1/4 of the mountain revealed.




Contrary to what these photos suggest we didn't make any gnarly glacier ascents.  This is just Jill walking up and down the same 50' of glacier using crampons and ice axe for the first time.


Tearing down camp beneath cloud-shrouded Mt Baker.


Finishing the Chain Lakes loop and hoping that Shuksan will finally reveal herself.


This sunset caught me completely off-guard.  I was wandering the far shore of Lake Ann (our camp was in the trees on the opposite shore) when all of a sudden the clouds opened - for the first time in two days - to reveal the summit of Mt Shuksan bathed in some of the best alpenglow I've ever seen.  I threw my tripod on the ground and got off three shots before it all disappeared back into gray, cloudy, murkiness.


Just as I was surprised to see Shuksan at sunset I was almost more suprised to see Baker at sunrise on this hillside above Lake Ann.  For whatever reason, the only hole in the clouds was between me and Mt Baker!  I wouldn't have bothered to even look if it hadn't been for a pre-marital dispute that drove me away from camp.  Sometimes fights are good.


Just like our pre-marital dispute, the weather cleared as we left for the Toyota.  We opted to walk across the Shuksan Arm from Lake Ann back to the road which provided brilliant views and perfect solitude. 


Looking down at Chair 8 from Shuksan Arm.  It's always interesting to see a familiar ski area without the snow.


compiled October 2008

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