Walter and Sara Let the good times roll
On Aug 3, 2009 Walter and I set out to go camping on the north flank of Mt. Baker. It's a 3 plus hour drive up through Bellingham and out the Mt. Baker Highway from our home in Monroe.

We got a great campsite at Silver Fir, a lovely small Forest Service campground along the north fork of the Nooksack River. It's rated 4 1/2 trees in our campground book and it deserves it. Here's the view from our site.

View of Nooksack River from campsite at Silver Fir Campground

That large lump of earth on the lower right is the root ball of the tree that is lying out in the river. It fell this last winter and took a junk of the campsite with it. But there was still plenty of space for the trailer. You just had to make sure someone was watching carefully when you backed up to park so you didn't end up in the river!

Here's the view the other way. The water is that lovely emerald color because the river is fed by glacial melt.

View of Nooksack River from campsite at Silver Fir Campground

After lunch we drove back down Mt Baker Highway a few miles to visit Nooksack Falls which is about a 1 mile drive off the highway.

Nooksack Falls Mt. Baker WA

When you stand at the overlook you can see Nooksack Falls on your left and to your right you can see a cascade/fall created by Wells Creek.

Wells Creeks Falls at Nooksack Falls Mt. Baker WA

The area is lush with ferns and moss. There are lots of warning signs about how slippery everything is and how many people have died climbing in the area around the falls. And then they have to tell you to please don't climb the fence.

The next morning we drove up the mountain about 20 miles. First you come to the Mt. Baker Ski Area which is of course closed this time of year. After that you come to Picture Lake, a sweet little lake with flowers and a mirror calm surface in the morning.

Picture Lake Mt. Baker WA

This is Mt Shuksan reflected in Picture Lake.

Mimulus lewisii (Great Purple Monkeyflower) at Picture Lake Mt. Baker WA

This is Mimulus lewisii (Great Purple Monkeyflower) that was blooming along the lake shore.

From there we stopped at Heather Meadows where there's a visitor's center. There are lots of hikes that leave from here but we opted instead to go to Artist's Point at the end of the road. You can't see Mt. Baker from Heather Meadows but you sure can see lots from Artist's Point.

There were still a number of nice piles of snow for folks to play in.

Walter Cooke in the snow at Artist's Point Mt. Baker WA

We took the trail west from the parking lot that goes to Ptarmigan Ridge and Chain Lakes.

Table Mountain from Artist's Point Mt. Baker WA

You can see the trail running along the base of Table Mountain before the scree starts to fall away down into the valley. You can hike up to Table Mountain but since the trail goes straight up we opted to go the easy way instead!

The meadows were in bloom and there were lots of flowers.

Wildflower meadows on trail to Ptarmigain Ridge from Artist's Point Mt. Baker WA

Asters on trail to Ptarmigan Ridge Mt. Baker WA


Partridgefoot (Luetkea pectinata) Mt. Baker WA

Tons of Partridgefoot (Luetkea pectinata)

Alpine Willowherb (Epilobium anagallidifolium)

Alpine Willowherb (Epilobium anagallidifolium)

Phlox difusa Mt Baker WA

There was tons of Phlox difusa. In fact, I've never seen such a big spread of it all together as we saw here.

Saxifraga tolmiei Mt Baker WA

Saxifraga tolmiei, a saxifrage I'd never seen before.

The trail forks after about 1 mile.

Trail markers on Ptamigan Ridge and Chain Lakes Trail Mt. Baker WA

If you follow the Chain Lakes trail it drops 500 feet down to some lovely alpine lakes and then goes UP 1500 feet. We stood and looked at the lakes in the distance and decided we didn't need to go that way. The Ptarmigan Ridge trail just went out a ways before it ended in a big snow field...

So we took photos and then turned around.

Mt. Baker from fork in trail of Ptarmigan Ridge and Chain Lakes Trails

Here's Mt. Baker from a small hill just past the fork in the trail.

And here's a panorama shot from just north of the little hill. Mt Shuksan is here on the left. Then this is series of old cinder cones. And Mt. Baker is just peaking out from behind the trees over on the far right.

You can click on it to see a full sized version.

Panorama shot from hill at fork in Ptarmigan and Chain Lakes Trail Mt. Baker WA

And here's Mt. Shuksan from just back from  with the trail leading back to Artist's Point.

Mt. Shuksan from Ptarmigan and Chain Lakes Trail Mt. Baker WA

Since we'd only hiked a couple of miles, after lunch we took the Artist's Ridge trail east from the parking lot. It starts out level but then gains some altitude via lots of stone steps--hard on the knees coming back!

Here's Mt. Baker from along the trail.

Mt. Baker from Artists's Ridge Trail WA

There are small pools (called tarns) hither and yon and at the end of the trail there was a pretty good sized one. It had gotten hot and one of our fellow hikers had decided he needed to cool off.

Mountain Tarns at Mt. Baker WA

I was standing up on the rocks above him in my khaki pants, vest and hat. He started talking about how he was probably breaking a law or something and he was sorry. I just shook my head and said he had plenty of time because we'd just seen a range going back the other way. He made my day by saying he thought I was a ranger. Ha!

Here's Mt. Shuksan with the tarn in front.

Mt. Shuksan with tarn on Artist's Ridge Trail

There was also a whole field of stacked rocks out at the end of trail. Given flat rocks people do have fun!

Rock piles on Artist's Ridge trail end

When we got up the next morning it was sunny on the mountain but we met the coastal clouds in about 5 miles as we drove homeward down the mountain. Mother Nature's air conditioning had been turned on and we got our hike in just in time!