Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Return of Fall

I am taking my Physical Geology students on a field trip today so I turned on the weather channel to see what the weather was going to be like. A screenshot from their website shows the weather forecast for our area.

A bit of good news for me! As we are headed for that little gap in the rain shown by the arrow!

 But another section of the map caught my eye, that light blue swatch of snow along the Washington/Canada border. This is the area around Mt. Baker Ski area, and when Sam, Stanton, and I took a trip up there during our Rodeo Holiday in mid-September spring had just arrived.

It had been a gorgeous warm fall, and on the beginning of the Rodeo Holiday trip we had taken advantage of weather and went to the San Juan Islands.

 Because the weather was nice, and we were about as close as we would ever be, I thought we'd extend our trip a day and go up the Mt. Baker Highway. Mt. Shuksan is one of those oft photographed Mountains, and I wanted to see it for myself. However, by the time we got to Heather Meadows Visitor Center, this was the view that greeted us.

We had actually intended to go all the way to Artist point, but the road to Artist Point did not open this year because the snow never melted. There were record snowfalls (over 900 inches) and when they went to plow the road in July there was still over 50 feet of snow over portions of the road. With all that snow, summer never really arrived. We saw one willow bush that was still in bud.

Because of the snow we went on two short hikes near the visitor center. One, The Fire and Ice trail, which has placards which presumably highlight geologic features of glaciers and volcanoes, only the placards had not been put in yet for the season. We did see lots of neat basalt columns.

The columns were tilted in many places 
so you could see the tops too. 

and a nice cirque/tarn at the end far of the trail.

Despite the lack of view and winter like weather, I had a good time looking at the rocks. In fact a HS geology class was up there at the same time we were, and the instructor told me about some geology to look for which I'll summarize in a future post. 

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