8.9 mi rt
2897 ft total ascent
2866 ft max
gpx track, use at your own risk: Stewart
I have new snowshoes, I wanted to take them out for a spin. The reason I have new snowshoes is that someone decided they needed my stuff more than I needed my stuff and broke into my truck while I was at work at the community college here in Bellinghome. I try to keep it in prospective but argh! people can suck some times. Some kind friends gave me their REI gift cards so I was able to get the new shoes right away and had enough to upgrade. I stayed with MSR’s and after doing the research chose the Lighting Ascents. I am quite happy with them.
So, I wanted to go for a shoe and I wanted to stay local so I headed out to Stewart. I decided to go up from the parking for Hertz Trail (N48 43.817 W122 18.539) taking the Brown Pow trail up (what I have previously called the Powerline trail), traversing the ridge then down the Surf and Turf trail. This worked out well for me.
Leaving the parking area I headed up the trail on climbers left that connects up with the road. I don’t go all the way to the connection rather turning climbers left onto a connector trail that runs under the power lines at N48 43.901 W122 18.326. From there it is simply a matter of going up, up, up. The trail is entirely in older forest but does run parallel to the powerlines so if it is raining there is a crackling from the lines.
This trail is not shy. In just 2.4 mi it gains about 1500 ft., well, I guess that isn’t too bad but it has steep parts! As I was about midway on this trip I met a really nice guy heading up the trail! What?!? I have never seen anyone else on this trail. Of course it was right after I had peed…wonder if he just nicely help back a few minutes so that it wouldn’t be awkward. Oh well, every one pees ( :
We chatted for quite a few minutes talking about trails and such. Turns out, he is one of the original builders on a bunch of trails around here and he gave me the history of some of the trails on Stewart and up on Lookout. He also said that he welcomes hikers because not only is it public land but the more the trails are used, the better they stay brushed out. It was refreshing to get some kindness and open discussion from a mountain biker. He also told me the real name of this particular trail, Brown Pow.
The snow was getting deeper but it was still easy to boot up and the snowshoes stayed in the pack for the time. The nice guy was now ahead of me so I didn’t have to break trail. The top of the trail dumps down onto a road at N48 43.383 W122 16.516 Here there are choices…left? right? straight? Normally I cross the road and go up the hill, today was no different except I had to stop here and put on snowshoes before continuing on. First time with the new shoes!
The views here are great but they do include powerlines but since I was hiking up the powerlines it makes sense! I followed the other guy up the side of the hill some more until I reached a road (N48 43.099 W122 16.280)then went up that to the ridge. As an aside, at the bend in this road (N48 43.018 W122 16.178) there is an old old track that connects this side of the mountain with the other. I have used it several times, as recently as last fall and while the trail is getting brushy it is still discernible.
After reaching the ridge it was just a matter of following it south to where it connects back up with the road system (N48 42.463 W122 16.156).
Shortly after this road is the gate to where you enter back into Whatcom Park property. There was more snowshoe travel down on the road, I hadn’t seen any along the ridge, just a lone skier’s tracks.
I traveled that road for a bit and knew I would soon have to make a decision…try to follow the Surf and Turf trail down to the Hertz trail for a 2 mile walk out in no snow along a flat maintained trail or follow the road system out for about a 4 mile snowshoe. When I came to the entrance to the trail I felt I could follow it well enough. I have been on this trail before so I knew the general direction and while there was a fair amount of snow I could still tell where the trail went. About a third of the way down I switched out the snowshoes for microspikes. About two thirds of the way down the guy I saw on the way up the Brown Pow caught up with me as he also had the same plan as I did…get out of the snow for the walk back to the truck. Once I hit the Hertz trail it was a smooth quick walk along Lake Whatcom back to parking. It was a long day on the mountain and I was ready for the after hike beer at Wander.