Some things are different in the US. The cars are bigger, the people are fatter, and the trails are much wider. We still had fresh memories of our eight day traverse on Vancouver Island where we seldom saw a trail, people, or any sign of humans at all. So we actually enjoyed the wide trails and excellent signage – no need to wonder if we’ll manage to drive up this rough gravel road to the trailhead, whether we are at the trailhead and where this particular trail goes. This was our first trip in years to the North Cascades, and we were dumbfounded by the beauty of the mountains and easy access to them, and swore to come back soon.
We picked up a Northwest Forest Pass (5$) at the Ranger Station in Glacier and drove up a good gravel road to the Yellow Aster Butte trailhead. Just five minutes up the trail, we already enjoyed a view of the icy north face of Mt. Baker, the type of view that is typically reserved for being high on an alpine ridge or summit. After a short section in the forest, we broke out into the sub-alpine, where we enjoyed a bounty of delicious blueberries and views of the pointy Mt. Shuksan. We then reached a ledge overlooking a flat area with tarns (where we would later camp) and excellent views of Mt. Larrabee, Tomyhoi Peak and the American and Canadian Border Peaks. After we had lunch I busied myself taking photos, and Maya fell asleep, not a rare occurrence…
We stashed our backpacks and hiked up to the summit of Yellow Aster Butte, named for the abundant yellow flowers on the slopes around it. From the way up we admired the colourful American Border Peak in all its glory, and the very pointy looking summit of Yellow Aster Butte (an easy scramble). By then some dark gray clouds had rolled in, but the sun was still slipping through, making for some excellent lighting. We put up our tent next to one of the tarns at the base of the Butte, and enjoyed a leisurely dinner.
It was a cold night, and the next morning dawned with a cool and foreboding fogginess. We followed the trail up the ridge leading to Tomyhoi Peak, first on a trail, then crossing some hard snow slopes (we were glad we had brought our ice axes) and finally some scrambling on rock. We reached a col, with a view of the last section to the summit in front of us, a steep section of rock requiring some harder scrambling, and we were happy it wasn’t wet. From the rocky summit, we admired the whiteness of the fog, and could imagine the wide Fraser Valley sprawling below us. We had lunch, hoping for the fog to clear, but it didn’t.
On the way down it started snowing, which turned into rain. We packed up the tent and hurried down. Part way down the trail I discovered that our camera had stopped working, probably due to the moisture, but there wasn’t much to photograph anyway. After several serious drying efforts where the camera would come back to life, just to die again after a short use, we bought a new camera. A few months later I tried out our old camera, and lo and behold: it seems to work fine now!