August 05, 2006

Mt Baker West

Since I wasn't able to make it to Baker due to cloud cover two weeks ago, I decided to give it a full day today since the sun was out. I was concerned about the haze in the air, but wasn't going to let it stop me. At the very least it would be a good research trip.

I'd planned to head up all the way up to Artist Point at the end of SR-572, but I wanted to take a quick stop by Glacier Creek Road first. I had remembered a decent sunset view of Baker from the viewpoint at the top, but it had been a while and I couldn't quite remember what it really looked like. So I thought I'd take a quick detour to document it before heading on.

The trip up Glacier Creek Road (aka FS-39) was uneventful, and the trailhead for Heliotrope ridge was completely packed. I wonder what the view of Baker is like from that trail. I'll have to research that. I drove past the trailhead to the viewpoint and wasn't too impressed. Yes, you can see the west face of Baker, but there are too many trees in the way, most blocking Baker too much for any decent composition. I gave up a headed back down and soon realized the best views are from the road up, not from the viewpoint itself. Maybe that's why it has been decommissioned. The light was way too bright, being mid-afternoon, so I marked this as a potential place for sunset.

This got me wondering what the views were like from the other roads in the area, the spurs branching off Glacier Creek Road. Studying the map, I noticed one that went up near the top of Lookout Mountain. Ooh, that sounded promising. So off I went!

The views from the entire length of FS-36 and FS-3610 up Lookout Mountain are phenomenal. The only drawback is the old clearcut on the near slope. It would make nice foreground otherwise. The light was still way too bright for photos, so I grabbed some snapshots just in case, and explored the rest of the nearby roads.

Meadow Wildflowers The area has been heavily logged, thus the open views of Baker, but there is one area just before the end of FS-3610 that was missed for some reason. It's an alpine meadow with a fantastic view of the mountain, and to my surprise it was also filled with patches of wildflowers, many of them in the shade of the trees. I fought the mosquitoes and flies to try to compose a few shots, but nothing jumped out at me. I'm just no very good at flower photography. For some reason I don't see the photos like I do for rivers and mountains. But I tried nonetheless until I'd had my fill of bugs.

I spent quite a while exploring the rest of the spur roads -- 3620, 3630 -- mainly to kill time until the light was better. There wasn't much to see there, but Artist Point was right out by this time. Once the sun began to set, I took photos from several different locations along the road, and went back to the meadow for some additional shots as well.

Mt Baker Sunset The best view of the mountain had been from just below the old viewpoint, so I hopped back in the car and headed there in time for sunset. I spent the next hour or so, kicked back in my portable chair with the camera set up, snapping photos every few minutes as the sun set on Baker. The haze took some of the color out of the sunset light for most of the time, but suddenly the golden light burst through low on the mountain and slowly worked its way up until the entire peak was aglow. It was a marvelous experience, and produced some colorful photos.

More Baker photos:

Mt Baker From Meadow
Mt Baker at Dusk

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