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  1. #1

    Mt. Baker - Table Mountain/Little Alaska

    Peter’s Subaru has seen better days. I can’t help but feel there’s some foreshadowing when he stops by to pick me up for our Sunday ski tour and I survey the carnage of his right front fender. “Yeah, got involved in a hit and run a couple weeks ago,” he says, “but she made it up to the hill fine last time. It’ll be alright.” Enough reassurance for me. An hour later we were pulling into the Heather Meadows parking area under sunny (!) skies.

    Touring in the yoyo terrain just west of the ski area proper gives one the unique advantage of being able to see pretty much every major destination from the parking lot. With a lack of trees, the only navigational challenge is deciding which icy, snowshoe-ridden, I-5 gone way bad type of skin track to choose today. The mile and a half between the parking lot and Artist Point was not only our choice of where to recreate, but also the choice of every snowshoer, sightseer, dude-from-the-ski-area-ducking-ropes, off leash dog, and lazy backcountry skier in the Pacific Northwest. Or something like that. Such ease of access leads to the Mt. Baker sidecountry getting mobbed, possibly more so than the ski area itself. The runs off of the ridge between the area and Artist Point - Cheap Date, 5 Minute Trees, 10 Minute Trees - all reflect the accessibility and hold untracked snow only slightly longer than what lies inbounds.

    The last image shows Little Alaska, with our line going down the center.

    We had our eyes set on a destination only slightly beyond backcountry Seattle - the steep runs off the north face of Table Mountain, known as Little Alaska. Beyond Artist Point, the chaos subsided, with the masses out of sight and sound. We followed just a single, clean skin track up towards Table, where the skis came off and we switched to a steep bootpack up to the summit. The steps were kicked in well enough and we felt really solid - fortunate, because the snow was very firm otherwise and I would’ve liked to have some variety of sharp, ice piercing objects if I was kicking steps. Once on top, the full scope of Table’s nomenclature sets in and we breeze across the summit to the drop in point of Little Alaska. All kinds of variable snow conditions exist in the short distance we already traveled, but we can see we have chosen wisely. The north slope never sees sun mid-winter, and in direct contrast to the sun crust and wet sluff of south facing slopes, we have 1000 feet of creamy, shallow powder taking us down to Bagley Lake - with surprisingly only a couple tracks before us. The pitch is perfect, starting off mellow enough to get into a groove before a steep rollover into the mini spines giving the run it’s name. Lots of high fives, yeehaws, pow slashes later and we’re skinning back up for round number two - even better than round one knowing what to expect. The single track leading out of Bagley Lakes soon merges with the mish mash of others cruising around Heather Meadows and we meet up with the varying walks of winter recreation life in the parking lot, and get to look back on our lines down Table with satisfaction.



    Somewhere in between Maple Falls and Deming, taking 542 back to Bellingham, something blew. Neither of us knew a lot about cars, but we figured smoke pouring out of the engine combined with a dripping fluid probably meant something was up. Turns out the radiator just decided it’s time in Peter’s Subaru was up and cracked in half. Assorted other bits and pieces dropped off the area surrounding the right headlight (a result of the recent hit and run) as Peter put it in neutral and coasted back to Bham, stopping whenever the temperature gauge went into the red. An unfortunate ending to a really good day, but Peter was optimistic about the situation and agreed it’s not a bad swan song for an old car.



    I'm testing out a new image hosting medium so I'm not quite sure if the photos are displaying right on other computers... if trips from a couple weeks ago were adventures in gray, this one was definitely an adventure in blue. Shattering Subaru radiators and western Washington gray sky stereotypes alike!
    Last edited by mtangeman; 01-13-2016 at 12:28 PM.

  2. #2
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    Matthew, Pictures aren't coming through... maybe the radiator sucked them up.

  3. #3
    Huh, weird. How about now?














    Last edited by mtangeman; 01-14-2016 at 10:10 AM.

  4. #4
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    Yes, these came through. Wow. Gorgeous. The pictures are slightly marred by the other inconsiderate powder gluttons who had the bad manners of letting their unruly tracks wander across the canvas of your artwork. They should all be flogged.

    Pictures are still not showing in the original window of this thread.

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