Are you interested in learning to snowshoe? Or are you already experienced and looking for a group? Either way you’re in luck! Now is the time to sign up for Ranger Guided Snowshoe Walks at Mount Baker in February and March 2014.
Dates for the walks are:
- Fridays: Feb. 7, 14, 21
- Sundays: Feb. 23, Mar. 2, 9, 16
Each walk begins at 10 a.m. at the Glacier Public Service Center (which many refer to as the ranger station) located at milepost 34 of the Mount Baker Highway. It’s about an hour drive from Bellingham. There you meet your ranger (and the rest of the group). Each participant is provided with snowshoes and poles. Experience is not necessary, but reservations are required. Each date is limited to 15 participants. A $15 donation is suggested.
Last winter I had the opportunity to try this for the first time. Now I can’t wait to get back up there again. Once we had equipment and were given basic instructions about avalanche awareness, our group continued driving up the Mount Baker Highway to the point where the road ends in the winter – a parking lot surrounded by a snowy wall near the upper lodge of the Mt. Baker Ski Area. I was excited as we climbed out of the car, not quite knowing what to expect.
It was a gorgeous day – cold, but sunny. We had been instructed to wear: layered and insulated clothing, sturdy waterproof shoes or boots, hats and gloves. I wore my usual ski coat and ski pants, which always keep me warm on the slopes and I seemed just the right temperature as we started out. I quickly learned the purpose of smart layering though. Whereas skiing requires a lot of motionless time standing in line, and riding on the lifts, snowshoeing is a full body workout. We were walking on snow and working up a sweat. I actually started peeling layers off as we went. I was glad I had a thin, long-sleeve Under Armour shirt as the bottom layer.
Our walk took us over the top of Heather Meadows. I had been here in the summer many times, when the snow is gone and the road continues up to Artist Point. There is a beautiful stone and timber cabin at Heather Meadows that serves as a seasonal visitors center, and trails that line both sides of Bagley Lakes. I had never been here in mid-winter when the snow reaches to the roof of the cabin and the trails and lakes are hidden 10 feet down.
Our group padded fresh tracks through the recent snowfall. The air was quiet and still. I gained a new appreciation for looking up to admire the rocky peaks that surround the “meadow.” I also gained a new appreciation for the backcountry snowboarders who climb these slopes in order to glide down them in a powdery rush. We saw a couple of those in the distance.
Halfway through the walk we stopped to enjoy the granola bars and water we had carried along. We breathed in the beauty around us. Our ranger, Magenta Widner, was an excellent guide, who helped us with technique and skillfully answered a range of questions about our surroundings.
We were out for several hours, but the time went too quickly. On the way down the mountain I made a mental note to mark my calendar and do this again, bringing my whole family next time.
To make reservations:
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-599-9572. Be sure to leave a message including your name, number of people you would like to reserve space for, your phone number and your email address.
Groups meet at the Glacier Public Service Center, milepost 34 Mt. Baker Hwy., State Route 542. Routes vary according to weather and conditions and may include Hannegan Road, Heather Meadows or another setting in the Mt. Baker District area. A donation is suggested of $15 for adults and $10 for youth 16 and under. Reservations are required.
For a list of other snowshoeing trails and winter activities at Mount Baker, visit the Snow Sports page at bellingham.org.