I moved to Bellingham WA in March 2020 (great timing! 🦠😷) and discovered pretty quickly that, hey, hiking is cool. I’m a creature of habit, though, and if I didn’t have something kicking me out of a rut I’d probably hike the same handful of trails over and over. Don’t get me wrong, almost every hiking trail around here is stunning, but some variety is nice.
Enter the yearly Backcountry Essentials Trail Challenge. Every year in late April / early May this excellent local outdoors shop publishes a list of ten hiking trails on Instagram, and if you do eight of them before the end of September, you get entered in a giveaway for some gear. (I did eight last year just under the wire and picked up a pink double-wall mug that I use constantly.) The gear is really a bonus, though; the main benefit is (a) added motivation to get out consistently, (b) a list of sweet mostly-new-to-me trails to check out. (I think one last year was one I’d done before, none this year.)
It’s fun, motivates me to take a few pictures, and pushes me to get out and see new places. The trails are almost always stunning, and often less crowded than the North Cascades’ greatest hits. Here’s 2022’s trail reports, in which I tried to get creative with layouts etc:
- Fragrance Lake via Two Dollar Trail
- Baker Lake
- Chuckanut Ridge Trail
- Thunder Creek
- Park Butte
- Mt. Dickerman
- Chanterelle Trail
- Accomplished with a 45-lb pack or so!
- Second bite at this one, since I already did most of it solo with the kid in a backpack, but didn’t make it all the way to the lookout. Having another adult to help entertain her was clutch this time.
- GPS track
- route as planned
- 4.34 mi round trip
- 1,150 ft total ascent
- 9.4% avg grade on ascent
- Shannon Ridge
- Last-minute solo hike for number 8 (though I’m hoping to get 1-2 more in this month)
- Ended up going farther than planned with a few more “Oh I wonder what’s around that ridge…” extensions. On the track you can see that I accidentally left the trail looking (in vain) for a view…
- GPS track
- route as planned:
- 7.06 mi round trip
- 2,767 ft ascent
- 14.8% avg grade on ascent
Still to come:
- Yellow Aster Butte (route plan)
- Ptarmigan Ridge – waiting for more snow to melt! (route plan)
- 9.84 mi round trip (as mapped, probably won’t go this far)
- 2,615 ft total ascent
- Up and down, but the longest ascent section is only a 9.7% avg grade
2021 hikes are scattered around my IG profile.