travel writers tales home pagenewslinkscontact Jane Cassiesign up for travel writers tales newsletter
travel articles
sign up to receive our email newsletter
freelance travel writers


By Jane Cassie
(For Travel Writers’ Tales)

In our opinion, September is the best month for hiking. It's often sunny, usually bug-free and not as busy, especially mid-week when the kids are back in school. From our White Rock deck, Mount Baker juts up like a frosted pinnacle and prompts us to dust off our packs, poles and boots. Although not the highest Cascade peak, it’s definitely the iciest. No doubt, that’s why the Lummi Indians coined it Koma Kulshan, meaning, “The Great White Watcher.”

In our earlier years, we’d tried a few of Baker's more challenging routes; the steep switchbacks of Church Mountain, the craggy ascent up Goat Trail, and the heart-thumping heights of Heliotrope Ridge. During every thigh-burning ascent, we were privy to eye-popping rewards –from flower-clad meadows to panoramic views.

Now, years later, my quads aren’t quite as peppy about doing the pitch. Thank heavens Ptarmigan Ridge offers us the best of both worlds –awesome vistas without as much grunt work. But even though there’s a little less elevation gain, this hike isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It can be sketchy in parts and depending on the annual snowfall, may be still draped in some of the slippery white stuff.

A National Forest pass is mandatory to park anywhere in the Mount Baker recreation area and after leaving the Glacier Public Service Center we travel eastward and upward, 1,676 meters (5,500 ft) to Artist Point. This is where our SUV gets a well-deserved break and our legs take over.

Access to the trailhead is in the parking lot’s northwest corner and on this sunny Sunday morning, it’s not hard to find. “It seems like Grand Central,” Brent, says, as we follow the crowd, “But it’ll thin out once we get going.” My hubby has hoofed enough popular hills in the past to know, and as soon as we head away from this bustling hub, the strand of nomads fan out over Mother Nature’s wonderland like ants at a picnic.

Our pathway traverses the base of Table Mountain

Our pencil-thin pathway traverses the base of Table Mountain and though the steady incline isn’t strenuous, my eyes are fixated on the route ahead. Primarily, this is so I can safely maneuver the roots and rocks underfoot. Secondly, it helps steady my vertigo on this trail that hovers high above Swift Creek and Rainbow Valley. But every so often, I just have to take a moment and look around. And this isn’t a tactic to slow my raging pulse. Beyond the talus slope and yawning gorge is a vista that even Heidi would drool over. Majestic Mt. Shuksan dominates the backdrop of this picture postcard setting. I’m awestruck by its magnitude and mesmerized by its beauty. But just ahead there’s a lot more visual overload in store, and if I want to see it, I have to keep on trekking!

Mt Shuksan backdrop on trail

At the 3km mark, we come to a junction, where the Chain Lakes Trail divides. Many hikers take this low road that descends 152 meters (500 ft) to a few lakes, then elevates to Herman’s Saddle at 244 meters (800 ft) where the snow cone of Baker beautifies the backdrop.

Brent overlooks a ridge But we manage to get even closer.

As if spellbound, like mice of the pied piper, we head for the high road, a route that eventually leads to the base of this icy apex. Along the way our trail is flanked by a riot of wildflowers: flaming paintbrush, Partridge Foot and alpine Spirea. Mountain Monkey plants provide a cushy groundcover and edible-ready blueberries are perfect for snacking on –especially by the namesake ptarmigan birds who populate the area.
So many scenic peaks

We elevate to higher ground, gingerly cross snowy patches and steer clear of gaping cracks and crevices. And with each step we get closer to that alluring landmark. We pass the 1,768 meter (5800 ft) mark and a mile further come to the base of the Coleman Pinnacle. But there’s no need to scale this steep-pitched summit. We’ve got what we’ve come here for. And while setting up our picnic at Camp Kiser, we can’t take our eyes off of it. It seems to be within our reach and is more captivating than ever. There, in all its full-blown beauty is the glistening gem, the crown jewel, the snowy mountain that we can see from our deck in White Rock –beautiful and breath-taking Baker.

Up close and personal with Baker



PHOTOS by Jane & Brent Cassie

#1 Our pathway traverses the base of Table Mountain

#2 Mt Shuksan backdrop on trail

#3 Brent overlooks a ridge

#4 So many scenic peaks

#5 Up close and personal with Baker

Travel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit


travel articles by travel writers featuring destinations in Canada, Europe, the Caribbean Islands, South America, Mexico, Australia, India, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific Islands and throughout the United States
travel writers tales mission
partnership process
editorial line up
publishing partners
contributing writers
writers guidelines
travel articles
travel articles archive
travel themes - types of travel
travel blog
travel photos albums and slide shows
travel videos - podcast
helpful travel tipstravel writers tales home page


freelance travel writers Jane Cassie and Margaret Deefholts

All material used by Travel Writers' Tales is with the permission of the writers and photographers who, under national and international copyright law,
retain the sole and exclusive rights to their work. The contents of this site, whether in whole or in part may not be downloaded,
copied or used in any manner without the explicit permission of Travel Writers' Tales Editors, Jane Cassie and Margaret Deefholts,
and the written consent of contributing writers and photographers. © Travel Writers' Tales