Saturday, August 18, 2018

Exchanging Wildfire Smoke for Wildflower Beauty

Mt Shuksan and Reflection Lake
The wildfire smoke from Eastern Washington and British Columbia had hung in the air for days. It was beginning to feel oppressive. So we picked up my mom and headed to Mt Baker, where we traded in the wildfires for wildflowers.

I was excited for this day trip, although I didn't have much confidence that the air quality would be better at Artist Point (just past the ski area at Mt Baker) than it was at sea level, where we live. Nor did I understand how you can travel closer to Canada, where many of the fires were burning, and yet not have the smoke. But that's what we found.

To get to Artist Point, take Interstate 5 to Bellingham, and get of at exit 255, WA 542-E/Mt Baker Hwy.  Follow the signs (or you GPS) to Artist Point. It took us about two hours to make the trip from Stanwood. We drove through beautiful farmland and passed rivers, giant trees, and small towns. My body relaxed more with each mile. Although the drive up the mountain is winding and mostly without guardrails. the roads are well maintained and safe. The sky, free of most of the smoke, held  just enough clouds to provide drama for our photos.

My Grampa Blanton was a tall, strong man who spent most of his life in the woods of the North Cascades, cutting down trees. About 17 miles from our destination we found this bronze sculpture which was recently installed at the Glacier Public Service Center to honor lumberjacks. It gave Mom a perfect photo op as well as some special memories.

My first glimpse of wildflowers. (Notice the switchbacks far below the trees and plants.)
Somehow I had a mental picture of the fields being filled with wildflowers, everywhere you look, when you go to the mountains in July and August. The reality is that I have never seen such a spectacle. Still, there were many beautiful flowers as well as glorious mountain scenes that called for numerous oohhhs and aahhhs.

My favorite photographer with Mt Shuksan in the background

Mt Shuksan

And when it was time to drive back down the mountain we were filled up with the beauty and the fresh air and the time we got to spend together.

Mt Baker
~ Ginger Kauffman

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