Exactly 100 trails ago I made my first visit to Church Mountain with JenJen, PSnA, Quark and Sarah in conjunction with the 2006 Summer Solstice get together.
During that visit in 2006 we made it to the meadow when we encountered snow and turned around.
It's been on my 'to finish' list ever since but always pushed aside because there is one section where a creek crosses the road and my Camry isn't known for high clearance.
While hiking in the Mt. Baker area last weekend, a fellow hiker provided a first hand report that the water over road crossing is no longer the issue it once was and seemed confident that my Camry wouldn't have any trouble. Plus, they told me the road now intersects with Hwy 542 a bit east of where it used to connect and is no longer flagged as 'Church Mtn'. The new location is at the west end of the current construction zone and the first 30 yards or so has been paved.
Fast forward to today.
My original plan was to drive down and hike to Rachel Lake, Rampart Ridge and maybe Alta Mtn. Unfortunately, after 45 minutes of driving it came to my attention that my backpack was still at home on the couch.
I was completely annoyed, but also a little relieved. Relieved because it was raining when I turned around but still blue skies at my house.
Due to the late re-start it seemed like a poor choice to risk driving back toward the rain when the weather seemed so much better closer to home.
Obviously, plans changed and my new destination would be Church Mtn if the weather was still nice or the Chain Lakes Loop from Artist Point if the weather turned for the worse.
The road to Church Mtn TH was located right where people promised it would be, and the water over road crossing is still just that... water flowing over the road, but it was indeed shallow enough that the crossing was uneventful.
Arrival at the trail head (about 11:00am) revealed 7 other cars. 5 of which were from BC. Since this was Saturday of Labor Day weekend (and not raining) I expected a lot more than that.
The hike was rather uneventful and after 1 hour I had already pounded through 2,000 of the 4,000 ft for the day. Then I started to slow down a bit.
About half way through the first meadow there was a group of hikers sitting down eating lunch and chatting happily.
15 minutes later there were about 10 hikers descending and they informed me that I was the last one on the mountain.
Being alone on a mountain isn't something I like to think about. It puts me on the edge of my comfort zone. Often times I'll just turn back and vow to do it again with a hiking buddy.
Today, however, I convinced myself that after battling the water crossing and 3,000 feet of elevation grinding that took 4 years to attempt, TODAY was the day to finish this up and get it off the To-Do list.
So, logic and reason won out over Comfort Zone and eventually I made it to the Lookout site.
The trudge up through the forest wasn't too interesting, but the second half of the hike in the meadows did in fact make it totally worthwhile.
Shot a couple videos from the meadows, might post them later if I get around to it.
For those that care, I counted 17 switchbacks from the parking lot to the lower meadow.
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