A Date: Snowshoeing on Mount Baker

By Leslie Parks - Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Stepping out of the van, I breathed in and turned my face toward the sun. The air was cold on my lungs and I wrapped my scarf around my face to warm the air before breathing in. John and I filled our backpacks with food and our 10 essentials bag, then picked up our snowshoes, and poles, we walked over to the boundary of the ski area. We've been to Artist Point before, in the summer. We've skied at the resort during the winter. We've even hiked around Table Mountain but this was our first endeavor in the winter with snow shoes. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was excited. I had listened carefully to the lady who rented us our equipment so I placed the ball of my foot at the edge but not off the snowshoe and strapped in the heal first. Looking down at the ground, my sunglasses fogged up as I finished with the straps. Glancing around we started up the path, learning how the shoes worked. With in 15 minutes I shed a layer and then another and another. My mittens were in my pack as well as my outer jacket and my other one tied around my waist. I was sweating under my hat and where my backpack rested against my back. I was breathing hard and my calf muscles were burning. We came to a fork in the path and wondered which way to Artist Point. There were ski and boarding trails all along the ridges and into the valley. Voices carried and people were everywhere. I had envisioned that we would be alone on this trek but I was greatly mistaken with a fairly calm, windless yet sunny day, the mountain attracted the masses. We continued our hike until I begged for lunch. My internal clock is set for lunch between 11 and 12 even if I have breakfast at 8 am. Pulling out our sleeping pad we sat down to enjoy the view, the sun and food.  I just couldn't stop marveling and looking around at the area I was in. The snow glistened and sparkled. The blue sky stretched over mountains and valleys and the snow clad trees stood as silent sentinels along the pristine and untouched snow. I was in another world being powered by the sun, re-energizing my internal solar panels. Shouldering our packs we headed further into the wilderness with the top of artist point being our goal. We hiked and rested and I took photos and my calves burned with my lungs and we kept going. At the top of Artist Point we were greeted by a Camp Robber. He was daring, brave and probably hungry. He took apples out of John's hand. Our adventure didn't stop at the top, it was just a momentary distraction, a place to start. From there we wandered back towards the upper lodge, exploring side canyons, talking about our next foray into the white wilderness of our beautiful wilderness area.  I had no idea of the diversity of the "back country" of our ski area. It brought people out to snowshoe, the cross country ski, to downhill ski out of bounds and to create monster jumps enough to flip from. It was a world that I hope to explore again.

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