Hill - Oyster Dome Loop2
was free for a Sunday hike. It looked to be smoky most everywhere but
up near Bellingham. That was our choice. We did a hike on Blanchard
Mountain back in May. Time for a return trip. I met Kim in Shoreline at
7:15 am and we headed north. We reached the Upper Blanchard Hill
Trailhead at 8:30 am. The road to the Samish Overlook was gated for
logging. We hoped that might reduce the crowd at Oyster Dome, at least
a little. The lot was more than half full. We packed up and headed up
the gated road at 8:35 am. The road is still lined with green. Some
leaves are changed but more are just shriveling up. We have had almost
no rain for at least a month. It is October and Seattle hit 80 degrees
this day. It was little cooler on Blanchard Mountain. Nobody
passed us going up. We did meet several hikers with dogs coming down
already. I stopped at the view to Mt. Baker from opposite the old
quarry. White smoky sky is all I saw. We did not see Mt. Baker all day.
On the Alternate Incline Trail Kim noticed a white pattern on a
barkless tree that looked like ice. Not likely on a 70 degree day. When
we reached the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) we turned right and headed
to Lizard Lake. A couple hikers were leaving as we approached. One of
the strange parts of this hike was the silence. There were almost no
birds. There was no wind almost all day. It was strangely silent. I
took photos of the lake as it was as smooth as glass. It made for great
reflections. We arrived at the lake at 10:08 am. Our pace was slow but
we had much of the days elevation gain out of the way. We left at 10:25
am and headed up the trail towards Lily Lake and North Butte.
I had Kim get a photo of my playing Sisphus trying to push a
boulder up a hill forever. The boulder I picked was about ten times as
tall as I am.
At the next junction we took a right and headed uphill to North Butte.
I expected to find someone at the summit. There were signs of trail
work on this short trail. A short scramble across a sloping rock now
has a new roughed in trail up and around it. That will be especially
nice when the rock is icy in winter. We reached the top to find nobody
there. After the first road stretch the entire route was in forest. At
the summit we were now out in the sunshine. It was pretty warm. The
view out to the San Juan Island was just into white smoky mist. I could
just make out an island or two. Blue sky overhead but white everywhere
else. We could smell a little smoke but it was not bad at all. We
arrived on top at just about 11:00 am. We stayed until 12:10 pm. We
heard voices of several groups that came almost to the top but nobody
did. I went over to the Mt. Baker viewpoint and it was still completely
lost in the smoke. Not even a trace of its outline.
We headed down to Lily Lake. There was nobody at the lake so we went
over to the outlet. There was a good look down the lake and once again
it was as smooth as glass with no wind present. Next, we headed for
Oyster Dome. So far, we had seen very few other hikers. The trail
descends gently and meets the very popular trail coming up from
Chuckanut Drive. The last quarter mile or so to Oyster Dome was crowded
as we expected. It was now quite warm in the sunshine at the viewpoint.
We found a good spot just into the trees that was a little cooler We
arrived at 1:08 pm. People came and went. Later it was just a few
groups left. The views were just like on North Butte. In a word, poor.
It was bright and sunny with little smoke. Not a bad place to be. In
keeping with the relaxed itinerary of the trip, we had a nice long
stay. At 2:28 pm we packed up and headed down.
Once we passed the junction with the Chuckanut Drive trail the crowds
disappeared once again. We passed the turn to Lily Lake and continued
on the PNT. At the next junction we turned right and began the descent
on the Lily Lake Trail. This would bring us back to the parking lot for
a loop trip. The trail down is smooth and mostly gentle. After four
consecutive weeks with a 4000' gain hike my legs were getting
a bit sore. This easy trail caused no pain at all. We saw only a few
more people on the descent. Lower down it was warmer and a bit humid.
We arrived back at the car at about 4:50 pm.
This trip turned out really well. The I-90 bridge was closed all
weekend and going north did avoid traffic problems. We avoided most
though not all the wildfire smoke on th west side and in the mountains.
Our route avoided most of the Oyster Dome traffic and allowed
for a lot of solitude. For the day we hiked 8 miles with 1700' of
elevation gain. A little below my average hike but a very pleasant day.
At some point these 75 degree October days will have to end. Until
then, we will just get out and enjoy them.
Heading Up Road
New Trail Section
North Butte Views
Kim On Top Of Butte
No Mt. Baker View
Fungus On Fungus
Oyster Dome View
Click on thumbnails to get
View Of Ridge
Hazy View South
Kim In The Forest