Hike Name: Nooksack River to Excelsior Peak
Date: Saturday January 14
Location: Glacier, WA
Approx. drive time: 75 minutes
Distance: 9 mi. / 15 km
Elevation gain: 3640 ft / 1109 m
Max. elevation: 5480 ft / 1670
Time on trail: 6 hours
The trailhead was easy to get to, a well-labelled parking lot about 8 miles east of the Glacier Ranger Station. There were a few cars already there when we pulled in just before 10 a.m. It was cold and a bit breezy as we got going, strapping on our snowshoes and arranging our gear. Our fingers were pretty frozen by the time we hit the trail.
A few switchbacks later we took a brief rest stop to admire an incredible ice formation dangling off some mossy rocks.
After a handful more switchbacks, and deepening snow, we popped out into a small meadow, which offered us our first view of Mount Baker to the south.
The snow deepened and changed to a lighter, fluffier quality as we got higher. I was really glad we had our snowshoes, as we made the last challenging push through the trees and into the wide bowl below Excelsior Peak. We could see our destination, a ridge to the south of the peak. Unfortunately I've found that snow always makes slopes look shallower than they actually are! It was a slow, steep slog up to the ridge, but the reward was amazing views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan.
The trip back through the forest passed quickly with good conversation. We were back to the car by 3 pm, just as the sun set over the nearest ridge. All in all we saw only 10 other hikers through the day, significantly less than the crowds at Artist Point! It was an awesome, challenging hike that proved to us just how strong and capable we are! I look forward to getting back to the Excelsior Peak trail in the summertime, and making it right to the peak!