Forum Index > Trip Reports > Ptarmigan Ridge (Mt. Baker) 08-13-06
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Elvis
Shuffl'n



Joined: 09 Jun 2004
Posts: 1803 | TRs
Location: del Boca Vista
Elvis
Shuffl'n
PostMon Aug 14, 2006 3:37 pm 
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Cheers!

Before I get into the my typical rambling trip report, let me say that nwhikers.net was the portal through which this destination was brought to my attention.  Someone at some time posted a spectacular picture of Mt Baker from this trail.  Ever since then, this trail has remained at the top of my 'to-do' list.

Additionally, it is through the NWHikers.net members and acquaintances that provided me with a perfect hiking buddy for this trip on this day.

I've visited this trailhead 3 or 4 times in the past but have always been hindered by poor weather or reluctant partners.  Today, however... was completely different.

I left the house about 9:00am and stopped in Maple Falls at 9:45 to say hello to JenJen at the Farmers Market.  She was all smiles (as usual!).  From there, I met David (of David & Karen) at JenJen's house where we left one vehicle and carpooled to Artist Point.

David and I met at the Summer Solstice event in June and I was thrilled to have him accompany me on this hike.  Thanks JenJen for getting us connected this weekend!  David was not only a great conversationalist, but he was kind enough to bring two ice axes since I don't own one and we weren't sure how much snow we would encounter.  To further demonstrate his kindness, when we discovered my pack doesn't have an ice axe loop, he added the second ice axe to his pack without hesitation.  Ultra-light?  Ultra-not.  Thanks again David.

On nice days in the summer, Artist Point can become quite the zoo.  Upon our arrival around 11:00am, the lot was about 40% full and it was very comfortable outside.  We quickly changed shoes, and got ready to head out.

After low clouds denied me from experiencing many of the beautiful vistas from Skyline Divide the day before, my trip along Ptarmigan Ridge was completely cloud free.  Spectacular mountain views from the start.


Our hike was approx. 11 miles round trip and included a total of 6 hours on the trail.  We started at the Artist Point parking lot and turned around at Camp Kiser.  Map attached (ignore the deviant waypoints).

Ptarmigan Ridge snapshot
Ptarmigan Ridge snapshot

While the elevation difference between Artist Point and Camp Kiser is only a gain of 1,000 feet, my GPS claims that with all the ups and downs involved while crossing a variety of ridges, the real gain (and loss) is more like 3,100 feet.  Spread over 11 miles it was barely noticable.

Snowfield crossings were pretty safe and there were probably 15 - 20 individual crossings each way.  Ice axes weren't a necessity, but we did locate a steep but short slope which gave David an opportunity to give me a lesson, demonstration and practice on self-arrest and  glissading with an ice axe.   up.gif   I'm very thankful for his patience and instruction.

At one point we stopped to watch a marmot play on a snowfield.  Frisky and fast... oh... it's a dog, not a marmot.   doh.gif

The tarn/glacial lake near Camp Kiser is partly melted out and we didn't venture down that way but I certainly will sometime in the future.  We were hoping to see goats in this area, but they must have been vacationing elsewhere.

Flies / bugs were not a problem today.  Shoo-fly don't bother me.

The columnar Basalt rock formations are awesome!  I love those things!

Similarly, the lava flow upon which Camp Kiser sits is also very interesting with it's smooth curves and rough edges.

Flowers are mostly gone, although the last two meadows before Camp Kiser still had quite a few blooms on them.

If you have a fear of heights, there are some portions of this trail that you may not feel comfortable on, so please proceed with caution.

The trail is fairly easy to follow for the most part, but if you are caught in thick fog or heavy snow it would be easy to miss a turn and end up off route.

Bring plenty of fluids since there is very little in the way of shade along the entire trail.  Chances are that if you are going to see Baker... the sun must be shining.  Don't forget the sunscreen.

My eTrex Legend GPS, which consistently performs poorly on most hikes near trees, performed pretty darn well for once.   up.gif

All in all, it was a great day on the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail!  (I may add some additional pics later)

Thank you to all the NWHikers.net members for making this site what it is today. up.gif  up.gif

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"Ill habits gather unseen degrees, as brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas."  ~John Dryden
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Davidą
Token Canadian



Joined: 25 Jul 2002
Posts: 3045 | TRs
Location: The Great White North
Davidą
Token Canadian
PostMon Aug 14, 2006 5:05 pm 
Dueling Trip Reports
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This was a first for me (David) - not the trail - but as far I can recall this is the first hike I have ever done without the company of a woman.  It was just Elvis & I and all that unchecked testosterone!  No fru fru flowers & fuzzy marmots for us guys, just rock and ice and a long airy ridge.

Back in the day when I chose hikes out of a guidebook we headed the warnings about the trail and waited until we had the proper 'experience' to attempt it.  So after we took a mountaineering course, and had 'practice' climbs up Mt. St. Helens & South Sister we felt ready.  Armed with crampons & ice axes we soon discovered that there is very little actual snow on this trail and our tools never left the pack.

Elvis had similar reservations at first but bolstered by my confidence and the promise of an ice axe & some impromptu lessons he felt up to the challenge.  Well the trail is presently 95% free of snow and the few snow patches that still exist are either too small or too flat to practice a self-arrest.

Beyond this minor 'hazard' the trail is near perfection.  There were no bugs of any kind thanks to a wonderfully cool breeze that kept us at 'room temperature' the entire hike.  Views were constant the entire way, sometimes it was heavily glaciated Mt. Baker, other times it was picturesque Mt Shuksan and often we could see both at once.  This was a special bonus for Elvis who had logged many cloudy hours around these two giants and was nearly overwhelmed by his visual options.  After so many sub-par outings I admire his persistence and hopefully he has some great pics he can show his wife to convince her he isn't crazy   eyes.gif ...at least for wanting to go hiking.

Park Glacier
Park Glacier
Elvis
Elvis
Ptarmigan Ridge
Ptarmigan Ridge
Park Glacier
Park Glacier
Elvis
Elvis
Ptarmigan Ridge
Ptarmigan Ridge

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Warning! Posts may contain traces of sarcasm.

Hiking Website: http://members.shaw.ca/karenanddavid/Index.htm
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nuclear_eggset
Member
Member


Joined: 02 Jul 2006
Posts: 2165 | TRs
Location: Eastside
nuclear_eggset
Member
PostMon Aug 14, 2006 9:07 pm 
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Sounds like a cool trip.  Very interesting pictures.
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Elvis
Shuffl'n



Joined: 09 Jun 2004
Posts: 1803 | TRs
Location: del Boca Vista
Elvis
Shuffl'n
PostTue Aug 15, 2006 1:14 pm 
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Elvis wrote:
Cheers!
  Someone at some time posted a spectacular picture of Mt Baker from this trail.  Ever since then, this trail has remained at the top of my 'to-do' list.

I found it!
The original poster of the above referenced picture was Roberta0011 from Webshots.  I'm not sure how I ended up there... maybe Roberta0011 is a NWHiker poster?

~E

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"Ill habits gather unseen degrees, as brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas."  ~John Dryden
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SlowPoke
Member
Member


Joined: 04 Jun 2003
Posts: 12 | TRs
Location: Bellingham
SlowPoke
Member
PostTue Aug 15, 2006 9:29 pm 
Hey *waving* that would be me
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My trail name is SlowPoke and posted several pictures of Ptarmagin Ridge on my webshots site. My favorite hike around here. I don't post often because I've been busy putting together a site for people to lear how to take outside photography while hiking and backpacking. I am hoping to get out there before the year and weather put an end to it this season.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Ptarmigan Ridge (Mt. Baker) 08-13-06
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