With the last couple of days of 2017, Justine and I decided to head down to Mount Baker in Washington State to do a bit of skiing. Neither of us had been there before, despite the fact that I've been trying to get down there for the entire time that I've lived out west. As with many things, now that I've been there, I can't believe it took this long to try it out!
We had booked a small one room cabin just outside of Maple Falls WA, about a 40 minute drive from the ski area. Mount Baker is an old-school ski hill - no fancy village (or any on-mountain accommodation), just a bunch of old lifts covering two mountains, lots of great snow and no lift lines!
We had decided to finally try Baker as we're totally disillusioned with Whistler. Since Vail bought Whistler a couple of years back, the changes they've made have made it clear that they have no interest in catering to the casual local skier. They killed off the 3-day Edge Card that we used to buy (you paid for 3 days up front, and it worked out to about $80/day for the lift ticket), which meant if you went up a few times you would have to pay full price. Which they jacked up to $120/day if you bought in advance, or over $150/day if you bought day of at the mountain. It's insane, completely unsupportive of the locals that made the place, and it makes me wonder if we'll ever go back again. Screw Whistler - Baker was way more fun!
We drove down Friday afternoon, making a couple of stops in Bellingham (Costco, gas) and to have some lunch at one of the local breweries. We really like Bellingham - it's a cool little town.
The cabin was ~45 minutes away, and we arrived just before dark. It took us a little bit to find the place, but once we did we were settled in for the night. The cabin was quite basic - a single room, a wood stove for heat and nothing much more. But it was all we needed. It was pretty cold out, so first priority was getting a fire going in the wood stove.
We had eaten late, so we had a light dinner, played Scrabble, read and relaxed until it was time for bed. We were expecting some weather to come in overnight, and with the temperatures being what they were, the cabin got mostly rain, but was mixed in with enough ice that half way through the night the power went out. So that made for an interesting rest of our stay. Fortunately we had the wood stove for heat, but no power meant no running water.
We had planned to make breakfast and such, but with no lights and no water, we got ready and headed up to the mountain for our day of skiing. The roads were actually not in bad shape for the 45 minute drive up to the ski hill. As we drove through Glacier (closest town to the ske area) there was a big tree down, and you could tell the whole area was out of power.
The crappy weather down low had, however, resulted in a ton of new snow up on the mountain. We had about a foot of fresh snow, and after having some breakfast in the lodge we got out and enjoyed some great powder skiing all day. The visibility however was quite poor, so we limited the runs we had, and being the first day of the ski season for us, we wrapped things up a little early and headed down off the mountain around 1:30 after having a beer on the "patio". The visibility was just too poor.
There is a bar/pub just outside Glacier that is one of the few food options, and we decided to stop there for a late lunch on our way back to the cabin. Glacier was still without power (which didn't bode well for us...) but the pub was running on generators, and was jammed packed. There was a college football bowl game on, with the local Washington Huskies playing Penn State, so it took us some time to get a seat and get some food ordered. It was close to 4:00 by the time we got back to the cabin, and we still did not have power. We settled in for the night, playing cards and Scrabble by candle light.
The power came back on half way through the night, but the water never made it back. I guess the pump had to be reset. The wood stove kept us toasty warm, but I did have to keep getting up throughout the night to keep it going.
Fortunately, in addition to waking up to power, we awoke to blue skies and a perfect sunny day! We headed back up to the mountain, and got a perfect day in on the hill. We skied both mountains, and got in over 20 km of skiing throughout the day. While there was no fresh snow, the conditions were amazing on most runs. And the views of the surrounding mountains were breathtaking. Sadly, we soon had to go and make the drive back to Vancouver to celebrate New Year's Eve.
A few pano images from the day.