Goat Mountain, Mount Baker
August 2014 with Daphne, Nancy, Bettina, Jane S, Bill N, Ron, Ellen E, Caroline H.
I’d never done this hike before but after hearing other reports it sounded like a good option for an early season hike. By Mount Baker standards, early season means the beginning of August for most trails. Similarly to the nearby Hannegan Pass trail, Goat Mountain is steep and south-facing so it’s free of snow earlier.
The trail sign told us that the trail was for hikers, horses and llamas, but we had to make do without horse or llama, and set off on the trail which works its way up through mature forest. The forest flowers were still doing well in early August – this is Mount Baker and even the relatively low elevations are still likely to be in snow in early summer. Of note were pipsissewa, rattlesnake plantain, wild ginger and green flowered wintergreen.
The trail gains 900 metres elevation to the meadows in six kilometres but the grade is very gradual. Once the trail breaks into the meadows it steepens a bit more, but the flowers start to get good and they give you lots of opportunity (or excuse) to rest. One plant that isn’t easy to find anywhere is bronze bells (Stenanthium), of the Lily family, but here there was one large patch where it was abundant.
We also found one small toad hiding beneath a wooden tread in the trail. Well I think it was actually Daphne who found it, and this is her photo.
Goat Mountain is fairly central in the area, with good views of Hannegan Peak to the east, Mounts Sefrit, Shuksan and Baker to the south, and Skyline Divide and High Divide to the west. If you scramble to one of the summits (we didn’t) you can also see Mount Tomyhoi and Winchester Mountain to the north. Our lunch spot was in a series of open benches with views of most of the above. This was only two straight line kilometres from the trailhead but 900 metres up. Intriguing is Price Lake, what appears to be a lovely tarn in the lower slopes of Mount Shuksan but with no trail to it that I know of.
After lunch, four people decided to take it easy there, and the rest of us continued another kilometre, gaining another 100 metres up a narrow ridge to the end of the maintained trail and even better views. Here we met a father and son on horseback who had ridden up the trail but decided at the narrow ridge that it would be best to tie up the horse and continue on foot. That no doubt came as a relief to the horse who was looking pretty depressed. Maybe they should have brought a llama instead.
We stopped as usual for ice cream at Graham’s on the way back. Ron’s car managed to shoot ahead of us when we left (I won’t make any comments here about his driving habits) but somehow we managed to catch up and pass him at the border crossing (hint: coming back into Canada at Sumas, take the left lane since the right lane has to deal with traffic merging from the side streets). Somehow Jane managed to get ahead of both of us and was not seen again. It still took close to an hour to get across, with Ron well behind us at that point, but he still managed to catch up with us on the highway going west between Abbotsford and Langley. When we got to the Port Mann bridge we found a further delay – westbound on what’s allegedly the world’s widest bridge was down to one lane for some kind of maintenance or construction. We never figured out what it was, maybe they were just getting set up for the night. But we managed to merge into the single lane, right in front of guess who.
We often seem to get back to the carpool location about the same time, and this time we did though there was no sign of Jane. Somehow we managed to arrange it so that the one person who was travelling by bus had to get home to the west side, and here we were with four people with cars who all lived on the east side. She made her way to the bus stop at Hastings and Nanaimo where she got to witness a couple of taxi drivers nearly coming to blows over fares, followed by the usual Saturday night adventure riding the bus through the downtown east side and downtown Vancouver (note for next time – when dropping off a single passenger late in the evening, wait to make sure they get on a bus). Even better was her story from the bus ride to the meeting place that morning – a street person at Hastings and Main towing around a large patio heater from a restaurant. Pretty sure he wasn’t taking it to a restaurant at Hastings and Main at 6:30 on a Saturday morning.