Lake Ann and Ptarmigan Ridge, 2007

In the North Cascades, September 2007

In mid-September, I left Wisconsin to return to the Pacific Northwest. I had a notion to visit the Pacific coast this time, but the weather forecast was not good when I arrived in Seattle. Another storm front was blowing in from the west, with a possible break midweek. I decided that I'd rather be wet and miserable in the mountains than somewhere along the coast. Better the devil you know.

I hung around Seattle a couple of days. There's plenty to do in Seattle. But I had come equipted and eager to have some kind of wilderness experience, and I was determined to camp someplace away from the hustle and hassle of city life for a while. A city is only human... but a wilderness is wild.

Wednesday provided the weather break I was hoping for. I left Bellingham early and cruised up the Mt Baker Highway with a hint of blue skies to come. I thought to try my luck at Lake Ann again. Last year hadn't worked out too well, so I figured maybe I was due this time. But before starting out on the long hike in, I decided to "profit from the moment" and climbed up the rocky mesa of Table Mountain to take in the magnificent views of Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan (on opposite sides) while the weather was good.

I'm glad I did, because, contrary to the forecast, the weather the next day sucked.

Oh, well, no pain, no gain. At least this time I could find my way back down. I had been careful to pay close attention to the nearby landscape on the way up (versus gawking at the distant views) so I would be able to pick out the right trail later, even in thick cloud.

After a recovery day in Bellingham (a good meal and a couple o' pints at L'Chat Noir certainly helped), I was ready to go back and do it all again. But my time was getting short. The clouds were still pretty thick up in the mountains, but at least you could usually see where you were going. So I hiked along Ptarmigan Ridge toward Mt Baker, which was invisible, but you could feel its presence.

Along the way, I met a couple of fellow mountain travelers, Tim and Daniel. Tim was particularly self-sufficient. He even carried his own wood supply !
(campfires are usually outlawed in high country, not because of fire danger, but because trees are few and fragile, and a BYO exception would be hard to enforce).
Seeing Tim hobbling up the trail reminded me of a certain classic rock album cover... Can you guess which ?

Anyway, an impromptu wine and cheese party ensued, and a splendid time was had by all...
Thanks, guys ! See you next year ?

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