On the Remembrance Day Long Weekend we set out to get some early season turns with Anne and Marcin. The Mt. Baker area is supposed to be a good place for this, so we booked a cheap cabin and planned to do day trips from there.
On the first day, as we were driving up to the ski area, I was starting to get worried. There was no sign of snow. Only when we got to the very top it started looking like there was enough snow to ski. It was chilly, and there was a strong wind that blew snow sideways into our eyes. We attempted to maximize our time in the car, putting on our ski boots and getting dressed inside. Eventually we had to get out. Since visibility was very low, we though we would try to ski some of the runs near Austin, in the downhill ski area (which hadn’t opened yet). We could barely see 20m away, but I think we found Austin and skinned up it.
Then we hit a snow covered road that I had never noticed, and I started being confused about where we were. Turns out we were on the road to Artist’s point. I’ve only been to Baker for skiing once there was enough snow that the road just looked like part of the steep slope. Anyway, we followed the road for a ways, at first thinking that it was the cat track which we wanted to follow. We realized it wasn’t our road, but kept going hoping it might still lead us to the top of the ski area or at least some good skiing. Suddenly, out of the fog and somewhat nasty fog, we could see a building. Must be part of the ski area we though, and skinned up to it. Turns out it was just a bathroom for summer use, but it gave us some good protection from the wind.
After hanging out there for a while, we decided to go down and look for some skiing on the way. We did one run through the trees which was very nice, on soft but a bit heavy snow, and the coverage left much to be desired. When we arrived back to the car, it was completely covered with snow and there was a mound of snow behind it. I thought we might be in for lots of shovelling, but with the four snow tires and AWD, our Subaru handled it easily. We were completely wet, so back at the cabin we strung lines up above the (gas) fire place to dry everything out. It was very relaxing, and we all agreed that we’d much rather be at the cabin than camping with that nasty weather.
The next day we thought we’d go skiing at Herman Saddle, above Bagley Lake. Again it was snowing and a bit windy, but much better than the first day. We found some nice slopes directly above Bagley Lake and skied two runs in low visibility. The snow coverage was spotty – we kept on hitting rocks and an icy layer below the snow that threw us off balance. Then Maya and I returned to the car and hung out, while Anne and Marcin headed up towards Herman Saddle, but it was too rocky so they came back down.
Once again we headed back to our warm cabin, dried out our stuff and cooked up a storm (or rather, it was Marcin and Anne’s turn to cook). The forecast for the next day was looking bleak – strong winds again, so we decided to take it easy, and drive back through Bellingham, making the (almost) obligatory stops at Trader Joe’s and REI, and most importantly: a Mexican food truck.
In terms of weather and coverage it was a bit of a rough start to the season, but the snow was soft and the cabin was cushy…