In my Book View Cafe blog post of May 28, Thor, Bear dog, and I went “forest bathing,” a trendy new term for an age-old practice of simply being in the forest and soaking in the “is-ness.” So this summer we expanded our usual hiking repertoire with “sky bathing” (and “mountain bathing”) on the Skyline Divide Trail.
Another very popular trail in the Mt. Baker Wilderness east of Bellingham, WA, this one starts at the end of around 15 miles of potholed logging road, which reduces the elevation gain of the actual trail. The first mile or so of the trail climbs through fir and spruce forest in a lovely, subdued hush.
Then we climb through wildflower meadows for the first glimpse of Mt. Baker.
Reaching the ridge, we’re greeted by nearly 360 degree views of surrounding mountains and a big blue bowl of sky with fluffy white clouds. Here’s Mt. Baker, still cloaked in snow in early August (and year-round).
Originally named Koma Kulshan by the natives, the mountain remains an active volcano and has always been a place of power. In his book Impressions of the North Cascades, Bob Keller shares an interview with native historian and linguist Vi Hilbert: “It is part of the spirituality of our people that the isolated areas, places uncontaminated by other humans, are where you found the strongest spiritual help. The mountain goat, for example, could give you some very strong spiritual help. . . . Each person, each family, had a different set of secret rules. There was no one way people were sent out to quest. Every family gave directions and instructions to the young people, then kind of checked on them. If the vision and the spirit revealed itself, the young person could come home and the family would know it had been successful.”
We can only imagine the hardships and courage involved in making the trek to the mountains in the days before roads and maintained trails! But the power and spirit retain a strong pull, and we pause to open our arms and “sky bathe” in the pure, clean air.
Turning to the left, across the meadow we see Mt. Shuksan and part of the Cascade Range that stretches north toward the Canadian Border Peaks.
The ridge is a popular destination for family outings, and these kids adore our Bear dog, begging to “keep him, he’s so fluffy.”
The ridge hike takes us along a steep edge overlooking lower peaks to the west, and beyond them, Puget Sound.
And closer to Mt. Baker/Koma Kulshan.
Bear cools off on a remaining snow patch.
And we enjoy our view of sky, mountains, and meadow for a picnic.
On the return trip, we bask some more in the golden afternoon light over the lush meadows.
These twisted alpine trees are only three to four feet high, surviving the winter snowpack to strain for their brief time in the sun.
Last glimpses of the meadow and mountains, breathing it all in before heading down the trail.
You will find The Rambling Writer’s blogs here on alternate Saturdays. Sara’s newest from Book View Cafe was recently released in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction.