Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Baker's Dozen

September is perhaps the best month for hiking in the North Cascades. The snow levels are high. The bug levels are low. The heat is down. The sun's light is at a less direct angle-better for photographing. The berries are profuse. The crowds are down. Do I need to continue?

The Mount Baker area offers some of the most dramatic and accessible hikes in the region. I am currently working on a new guide book of the North Cascades (Mountain Loop Highway to the Canadian Border and out to the Methow Valley) and have been revisiting some old favorites (and a few yet to be favorites) in the Baker area.

Here's a Baker's Dozen of hikes that need to be hiked at least once in your lifetime if you cherish alpine beauty and sweet hiking serenity.

1. Skyline Divide (pictured above)
2. High Divide (choose your access-Damfino is easiest)
3. Yellow Aster Butte (especially the tarn-speckled basin below)
4. Winchester Mountain (with side trips to High Pass and Skagway Pass)
5. Chain of Lakes (only a chain of fools would forgo this incredible loop)
6. Goat Mountain (high meadows and lonely wandering)
7. Hannegan Peak (a sneak peek into the North Cascade backcountry)
8. Ptarmigan Ridge (march off into the snowset)
9. Lake Ann (feel Shuksan breathe upon you)
10. Heliotrope Ridge (glaciers at your fingertips)
11. Park Butte (front seat viewing of Baker's immense ice pack)
12. Scott Paul Trail (a loop of grandeur)
13. Dock Butte (A nice perspective of the snowy king from the south)

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