Heliotrope was nothing short of perfect on Saturday. This beauty is in the Mount Baker area, 5.5 miles round trip, 1,400 ft. elevation gain and the highest point is 5100 ft. The hike is popular, but the parking lot is plenty spacious (with a bathroom) and the trail was not too crowded. Everyone we met along the way was super friendly. In my experience, hikers are some of the nicest people out there!
Leaving our homes early and carpooling to the trail, we saw one of the most gorgeous sunrises I’ve seen possibly….ever! The sky was afire with red waves and as I drove, I remembered why I love getting up and heading out early. There were 14 of us this time and we started our hike about 9:30am. These girls—-they are some of the sweetest, most inspiring people. See, when I first became a Mom, I never knew I’d need this. I thought I’d stay home with my kids, read books to them all day and push them on swings. I never knew how life-giving it would be to get out with other women and challenge myself both physically and mentally.
We knew the glacier at the top would be impressive, but honestly, the entire way was gorgeous. Stepping quickly along this well maintained trail that climbs up, up, up through the Mount Baker forest, we were sweating in no time. The temperature was cool- somewhere in the mid-upper 40’s, but before long, we were peeling off layers.
There’s only one negative about this hike and honestly, I’m a bit surprised, since it’s so popular. Here’s the problem- you need to cross Heliotrope Creek (not pictured here, since I was too busy concentrating on how I’d cross). This creek is NOT small, nor is it easy to cross. However- it IS doable and everyone in our group made it safe and dry. So, if you struggle with balance or you’re thinking about taking your kids on this hike, you might want to think again.
Along our way, we crossed a few small creeks, the BIG one and then BAM! We were greeted with Mount Bakers practically in our laps. The fall colors were coming to life and the glacier was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Parts of the trail were surrounded by what used to be a huge array of wildflowers. Greenery from lupine was everywhere. I’m making a mental note to come back during the summer because I’m guessing it’s gorgeous.
And water droplets….although the weather was perfect for us, dew still glistened on some of the trees. The last leg of the hike was beautiful. Mount Baker sat near us, almost touchable as we climbed a few final switchbacks, before sitting down for lunch.Our lunch view!Can you see the people crossing the glacier below? This photo is NOT amazing, but this lunch was perfect! A microwave cooked sweet potato, mixed with dried cherries, chopped pecans and some avocado on the side. Wow, wow, wow!As we ate. we watched these guys (or girls?) do their climbing thing. Talk about lunch entertainment! They were incredible!Heading back down, the Gray Jay’s greeted us and asked for a treat. Afterwards, we headed (without the birds) to the North Fork Brewery. The pizza there was everything a girl could want after a day hiking!On our hike, I couldn’t stop thinking about my husband and how thankful I am for him. He sees that days like this fuel me and because of him, they happen. I have some ideas floating around in my head about how we as women can encourage our husbands to let us go adventure with friends (without any fights or weird relationship tension) and how we can show them it truly helps us be our best selves. A post on those thoughts is coming…..
In the meantime, go hike Heliotrope! The road to the trail head is passable by all vehicles. You’ll need a Forest Pass and you can grab directions here.