Saturday, July 2, 2016

Heather Meadows

Viewing our National Park Service map of the North Cascades National Park, we saw an area called Heather Meadows and the Mount Baker Highway. After "googling" the site and finding out the road up to the Visitor Center had just opened, we knew we just had to make this drive. What we found was snow (lots of it) and outstanding views of Mount Baker.

Traveling State Road 542, also known as the Mount Baker Highway, views of the small communities were quiet and pastoral. That's Mt Baker's snowy cap peaking out from the rugged mountain range.

The roadway ditches are full of wildflowers, especially foxglove.

The Mount Baker Scenic Drive travels by Western Red Cedars that we read are at least 900 years old.  It is a wonder that these trees survived because some of the tree stumps we saw in the surrounding forest were huge.

Our GPS took us right there.  The drive up went by the Mount Baker Ski Lodge.  Ski season is over, therefore the Lodge was closed.

Continuing our drive up towards the Heather Meadows area, you pass picnic spots and parking lots for the ski lifts.

Yes, this is way more snow than what we saw on the Beartooth Highway in Montana. This is the 2.7 mile drive up to Artist Point.

The snow drifts get deeper and deeper along this scenic and curvy road.  We couldn't help but to wonder, what this road would look like during winter when the skiing is in season. Researching, I found that the Washington Dept of Transportation doesn't attempt to keep this section of the road open. There is just too much snow accumulation up here and the heavy snow would crush road warning signs and guard rails.

When we reach the anticipated Artist Point, the surrounding views are amazing.  Ron and I climb the high snow drift to see the Nooksack Ridge and it's gorgeous.  Most folks we saw had on shorts and short sleeves as the temperature was in the upper 60's.  The snow was melting fast and you could see many waterfalls in the area.  I had on heavier tennis shoes and had no trouble walking in the hard packed snow but it was a little slippery at times. Here's what I saw from my left..
Nooksack Ridge

And here's what I saw to my right..
Mount Shuksan 9131ft

And from behind me, you can see the parking lot and the tremendous snow drifts!

That's the bathroom covered with snow drifts.

Walking across the parking lot, you get the view of Mount Baker 10781ft.  This was my view from top of the snow drift.

And a zoomed in view of Mount Baker..

To give one some sort of size comparison of the snow drifts up there, here I am standing beside one.
and this link too.
Yes, you read that right.  In 1998-99, the National Climate of Extremes said a world record snowfall fell on Mount Baker of 1140 inches.  That's 95 feet.

Leaving Artist Point, the views to us are just as spectacular.

The Heather Meadows Visitor Center was not yet open this day.  Built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1940 as a ski warming hut, this sturdy building looked as if it blended into the surrounding rugged landscape.

Even the nice paved hiking trail down to Bagley Lakes was still closed by the snow.

And finally as we are leaving, a drive by a peaceful lake with a reflection of Mount Shuksan.

More Later.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful scenery but too much snow for me! That's an impressive record setting snowfall!