11 miles rt
gain: 2755 ft
gpx track, use at your own risk: Ridley
This is an old trail, one that did not see many visitors for many years because the bridge across Ridley Creek washed out. But the Bay to Baker guys have established a log bridge across and it seems to be staying for the moment. This is the bridge Miranda fell off of a while back so I left her at home today.
The trail spends quite a bit of time in woods, probably for the first three miles, but the woods are old, green, and beautiful!
That last tree there is so amazingly big that it would take 5 or 6 people to join hands around it with their arms stretched out! It is AMAZING!
There were still several creeks running down low but up high everything, even the major creeks, were completely dry!
After the three miles, the trail gets a little brushy as it passes through blue huckleberries on the way to a beautiful meadow. It is here that the views start. First you see the Twin Sisters and then the views of Baker start.
At the far end of the meadows before you climb up Bell Pass is Mazama Camp, an established camping area with a shelter and multiple tent pads. The hike up Bell Pass is a series of switchbacks which makes the climb quite easy. There were tons of butterflies on the way up but nothing like what I saw on the way back down! A butterfly bush!
This was the first time I have been to Park Butte from the Bellingham side but I have been to Park Butte many, many times and at the top of Bell Pass is where the Bham side trail meets the usual (for me) approach. The big views of Baker and Railroad Grade start here at the top of the pass. I went to the right and continued on up to the tarns and to Park Butte.
As you can see the tarns are really drying up, we need water to come down out of the sky.
I was surprised at how few people were up here today. It was a Sunday and the weather nice, usually this place is packed, it is a popular trail. I passed two people as they were leaving the lookout and then I had the place to myself for a good half hour while I enjoyed the views and a snack.
On the way down from the lookout I pass a group of people with a couple of older women and a younger girl. One woman looked to be solidly in her seventy’s possibly eighty’s. I asked if she had been up there before and she chuckled. Turns out she and her husband Fred Darvill, with the alpine club, rescued and maintained the lookout for 30 years often spending large amounts of time up there. Very cool to have met her, I would have loved to spend many hours just chatting and she wanted to share her memories but sadly, the members of her group encouraged her to get going.