After our road trip to the southwest we had three weeks to spend back home before our next departure.
Our first weekend was spent camping with family for the Memorial Day holiday and hiking up to Camp Muir, the basecamp for summiting Mt Rainier. The following weekend we did something that has been a long time coming: we climbed Mt Baker!
We had intended to climb Mt Baker last summer but plans fell through. We were both pretty bummed about it since we had spent several months training and Alastair had been teaching me about glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and other important things involved in climbing a glaciated mountain. On this weekend, however, everything fell in to place perfectly. Five fellow climbing friends were available to join us, we had a great forecast to work with, and we were all fit and healthy!
Saturday, June 3
4:30 AM: Wake up and drive to Seattle to meet friends for carpooling. Then continue driving north to the trailhead.
11:00 AM: Start hiking up the trail and eventually tie into rope teams (one team of three people and one team of four people) for the last push before reaching camp.
3:30 PM: Arrive at camp at an elevation of about 7000′. Consume all the calories you want!
8:30 PM: Attempt to fall asleep but realize it’s still really light outside and your body is going to protest sleeping throughout the night.
Sunday, June 4
1:20 AM: Wake up to the sound of a mouse rustling around in your backpack. Thankfully, your backpack is outside the tent and the mouse only got in to the pocket full of garbage.
2:00 AM: Get up, put on every article of clothing you’ve hauled up with you thus far, eat a warm breakfast, and get prepped for the looming departure.
3:20 AM: Depart a tad later than intended in the foggy dark, but eventually climb above the clouds in time to watch the sun rise.
7:40 AM: Arrive at the summit at 10,780′ and find clear blue skies as far as the eye can see but a dense cloud cover below. Look out and see the area’s other big mountains popping up from the clouds in the distance. Have a quick summit snack, a photo op, then begin the long haul back down.
4:00 PM: Arrive back at the trailhead after a long descent including the steep and icy Roman Wall near the summit which was, by far, the most intimidating section of the climb.
9:30 PM: Arrive back home after a delicious dinner in Bellingham with your climbing group, feeling tired but accomplished!
It was a really great adventure and my first time on a glaciated mountain. Although I slowed way down on the final section of the ascent, I’m still proud of having made it all the way up and down with no injuries or other issues. Although it’s too soon to say if/when I’ll be climbing a big mountain again, this was a great introduction to the activity.
The following week was spent nursing a few sore muscles, catching up with a couple friends, and packing and repacking our bags for the next trip. For our final weekend back home we got to go to my nephew’s 4th birthday party. He’s a pretty cool dude (which, really, is the case for all of my nephews; I’m such a lucky Auntie!) and I’m so glad we were able to be there to celebrate. It was a Lego-themed party and, thankfully, I still had the Lego costume my dad and I made for Halloween a few years ago. My nephew wasn’t quite sure what to think at first, but he eventually warmed up to it once he realized it was just Auntie inside.
Our three weeks back home went by so quickly! I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with family and a few friends, but now our bags are packed once again as we begin Part Three of this journey: the UK!
P.S. Photo credit for most pictures from Mt Baker go to Jan, our friend and fellow mountaineer.