Plan B

Snow-covered Mountain Hemlock boughs
Snow-covered Mountain Hemlock boughs

Sunday promised to be a nice day in the mountains following a long period of heavy rain in the lowlands and lots of snow at higher elevations. Brian and I hadn’t been out on snowshoes yet this winter so we figured it was a great day to hike up to Artist Point and enjoy the grand views of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. However, we ended up executing Plan B when we got to the Mt. Baker Ski Area and found there was no place to park. Cars were jammed along the road all the way around Picture Lake and the ski area lots were full.

We chose to drive back down the highway to the White Salmon Road and snowshoe through the forest there. The road is closed in the winter and is a favorite cross-country ski and snowshoe destination with occasional nice views to Mt. Shuksan. The usual parking area was full there, too, so we ended up parking in a wide spot down the road a short distance.

The hike itself is gentle and with all the previous visitors packing down the trail we didn’t really need showshoes. We saw other people who started out with them and ended up carrying their snowshoes back because it was easier walking.

We followed the road to its end in the forest, only breaking trail for the last 1/4 mile or so. We ended up enjoying the view in the photo above for a while before retracing our steps. The mountain hemlocks (Tsuga mertensiana) were expected; the black cottonwoods (Populus trichocarpa) were not, but there must be a wet spot for the cottonwoods to thrive this high on the mountain.

Brian Small

According to the health app on my iPhone, we hiked a little over 6 miles in the roughly three hours we spent enjoying a very pleasant Sunday afternoon in the woods. The sky was mostly overcast and while we had views of Mt. Shuksan they didn’t rise to being photo-worthy.

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