After less than 5 hours of sleep we woke up bright and early to make it to the 7:30 ferry on time, which also meant it wouldn’t start getting light out until we were on the boat. The adventures, bonfire, and stories from the day before were still fresh in our minds and we would have loved to stay longer, but some of us had a flight to catch. Unfortunately we would not get to see the island in the light at all during this trip, but I’ll venture out that way again soon.
All we got to see of Lopez Island (the low island between the hills and Olympics)
As sad as we were though, heading back to the mainland with the sun rising in front of us was a real treat. Directly to the east of us Mount Baker was easy to spot, but far to the south Mount Rainier was now visible as well.
Mount Baker (left) and Mount Rainier (right) clearly visible.
To the north the Coastal Range of British Columbia poked out from behind other islands, and to the southwest the Olympic Range was also jutting out from behind a veil of clouds (seen in the first picture).
Our sister ferry with the Coastal Range in the distance.
The San Juan Islands in a truly amazing location, nestled in the midst of multiple large mountain ranges. Which brings me to the next segment of this weekends plans… another mountain hike!
First light of the day caught on Baker’s flanks.
My car was parked at my friend’s house on Mercer Island, so as soon as we got there I turned around and started to drive back north. This time my destination of to the east though, out along highway to in the town of Baring. There I was meeting other friends to hike the 4.4 mile Barclay Lake trail.
Baring Mountain towering above us.
The entire trail was in the shadow of Baring Mountain, a huge monolith of a rock face that dominated our view to the south.
As I mentioned, our destination was another lake, once again frozen solid. It was clear people had walked out on it, but none of us wanted to risk falling in and to then having walk the 2.2 miles out freezing. Moreover, none of us wanted to deal taking care of another person who fell in, so we limited our direct lake contact to a few logs that were very thoroughly stuck and most definitely NOT going anywhere.
The texture of the solid ice.
Almost the whole length of the trail was above snow level, if only due to the constant shade the valley experienced. This made for some slippery sections and a partially frozen river crossing.
A snow-covered river crossing.
A few snowballs were exchanged in the abundant clearings, but I always lingered behind the group to enjoy the peacefulness that inevitably comes hand in hand with winter landscapes.
Footsteps in a solitary land.
Slopes on the northern side of the valley received sunlight for the entire day and were therefore devoid of snow. Green hues of those trees contrasted with the black and white shades of the trees in the valley. Most of the clearings opened to the south, so this view was only seen at the very beginning and end.
In fact, the only section of the trail that didn’t have any snow was right near the trailhead. What it lacked in snow it made up for in another beautiful phenomenon…
Spindly tendrils of ice make up the white patches on the ground.
We saw some great examples of frost heaving on this hike. This happens when moisture in the soil freezes and forms tiny, delicate columns of ice that shoot skyward. The examples we saw on this hike were much longer and thinner than the one I photographed earlier this winter on another hike just outside Bellingham, seen below.
Frost heaving sample seen on 7 December.
With all said and done I left for the San Juans at 11am Saturday and got back home from my hike around 5pm Sunday. Thirty hours of nonstop excitement from sea level to 2400ft including everything from island fires to frozen lakes, and old and new friends. I’d say it was a pretty memorable weekend.
All this trekking in snow got me thinking I should get my snowshoes out again, which just occurred 4 days ago! Look forward to those pictures soon, until then.
Photos taken 5 January 2014 with my Nikon D7100.