Blanchard Hill - Oyster Dome Loop2

Kim 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.

Parking Lot
Heading Up Road
Smiling Stump
White Stuff
Lizard Lake
Lake Campsites
New Trail Section
North Butte Views
Kim On Top Of Butte
No Mt. Baker View
Skunk Cabbage
Lily Lake
Fungus On Fungus
Oyster Dome View
 View Of Ridge
Hazy View South
Holy Stump
Kim In The Forest
Colorful Leaf
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2022