Mount Shuksan, Artist Point
September 7, 2012
I took the week off from biking after I completed the Cascade Loop trek. I jumped right into planning for my next ride. I was very happy to see that the warm weather would continue. I decided that my next trek would return me to Whatcom County where I was born and raised.
By weeks end I was ready to warm up my biking muscles with a trip around Camano Island. This 37 mile ride is very enjoyable and offers a view of islands, the Olympic Mountains, and the Cascade Mountains. There is just enough hills to keep the ride interesting.
I hit the pedals hard throughout the whole ride as I needed to prepare for the much harder Artist Point ride the next week. That next Friday wouldn’t come soon enough for me.
Finaly it was Friday. I woke up early, put my bike and support gear in the truck, and drove to Deming, Washington. By 6:55 I was pedaling up the Mt. Baker Highway. I soon realized how happy I was that I had decided to bring along my polar fleece pull over shirt. Even with gloves, three layers of clothing up top and two below, I was still cold. With Mt. Baker and other mountains between the sun and I, hours went by before I was warmed by sunlight.
There was a feeling of fall and crispness to the air. The fields and lowlands were blanketed with morning fog and the traffic was light. Cell service was spotty so I took a moment MapleFalls to let Tawnee know where I was. I tried to keep my pace up as I knew it was 44.5 miles to the top. I was stopped for road construction at mile post 39 which gave me 20 minutes to BS with DOT flagger. Once I made it though the work zone I found that this had turned out to my advantage. For the rest of the trip I was free of traffic but for a half dozen vehicles that would come through all at once every 30 minutes. As I made my way up the mountain road I saw teases of snow capped peaks through the trees. The trees thinned as I neared the Mt.Baker ski lodge. This provided an incredible view of Church Mountain and the surrounding hillsides.
Before I hit the serious grade I found that the mosquitoes motivated to keep moving and to keep my long sleeves and pants on. I reached the ski area and thought to myself, “Now that was a good climb.” As I looked up at the Artist Point road switch backs I realized it had just been the warm up for something even bigger.
It was a grind making it to the top but well worth it. I stopped about half way up to pump some water out of one of the many snow fieild streams. As I entered the parking area I was cheered on by a large group of mountain climbers that were taking a break after crossing Mt. Baker’s glaciers.
The views from the top were incredible and the weather was perfect. By now I was down to my bike shorts and a sleeveless shirt. There was still much snow around me. I took the final leg of this trek up the paved trail until it disappeared into the snow bank.
I spent about an hour taking photos, eating lunch, and meeting some really cool people. One can take a variety of trails from the Artist Point parking lot. The one that follows the ridge allows for some incredible views of both Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan.
I headed back down the hill. The many switch backs in the road kept my speeds somewhere between fast and almost too fast. My timing at the road construction could not have been better. The flagger seemed undecided on whether to allow my passage as I came towards his position at around 18 MPH. I took his Stop / Slow sign turned sideways to mean go, but go fast. I received a nod of approval as I passed him. I caught up to the cars behind the pace car within a mile.
My old friend Mr. Headwind was there to greet me for the last 20 miles of the trek. I was very glad to get off of my bike in Deming after logging 89 miles on it this day.
This was another great ride and I am one mountain closer to my goal. Now I pray for the weather to allow be to hit at least one more mountain before the snow hits. Next on my list…Mt. Rainier.