Spend nine days immersed in the backcountry on Washington’s Mount Baker–or Kulshan, as it is traditionally to known to local Indigenous peoples. For the first part of the trip we’ll make our camp in a beautiful alpine meadow, venturing out for day hikes to places like the iconic Park Butte Fire Lookout and the base of a mountain glacier. We’ll then descend in elevation as we hike through old-growth forest on the way to our next campsite at the remote Elbow Lake. Be prepared to experience the full range of ecosystems that thrive on the mountain, from ancient hemlock and Douglas-fir forests to flower-filled meadows and boulder fields where pikas and marmots make their homes.
Below is the planned itinerary for our Mount Baker Wilderness Immersion trip. Please note that days with less mileage often include more elevation gain, while days with longer mileage involve hikes that are less steep.
Day 1: Meet at Park Butte Trailhead (assistance getting to the trailhead from Bellingham or Mount Vernon is available). Hike from the trailhead to Mazama Park to set up camp. Total mileage: Approximately 3.5
Day 2: We’ll start the day with a facilitated discussion exploring our connection to the natural world, then set out from camp on a day hike to the Park Butte Fire Lookout. Be prepared to scramble up some steep slopes as we follow the trail through heather meadows with stunning views of alpine lakes below. After returning to camp we’ll have some rest time, then re-assemble for another facilitated activity or two in the late afternoon. Total mileage: 3-4 (depends on if we make optional side trips)
Day 3: This is a rest day, on which we’ll have a chance to sleep in and/or explore the beautiful area around Mazama Park in the morning, before coming together for Reconnect Earth’s Grassroots Campaign Planning Workshop after lunch. During this activism skills-focused activity you’ll plan a hypothetical campaign around an issue of your choice that you care about! Total mileage: 0
Day 4: Get ready to set out from camp again on a hike up the Railroad Grade Trail to the base of the mountain’s Easton Glacier. After taking in the stunning views of alpine environments, we’ll pause at the glacier for a conversation about impacts of climate change in the Pacific Northwest. Climate will also be a theme throughout other facilitated discussions in the morning and evening, during which we’ll grapple with how take action on the biggest environmental crisis of our time. Total mileage: 4.5
Day 5: This morning it will be time to pack up camp as we make the journey to Elbow Lake, a body of water surrounded on sides by old-growth forest. On the trail we’ll pause to admire huge trees and have a conversation about what the concept of “wilderness” has meant to people from diverse backgrounds. Total mileage: 5.5
Day 6: We’ll spend our second rest day beside Elbow Lake. Weather and temperatures permitting, this is a great opportunity to rinse off dirty clothes in the water or even take a plunge into the mountain lake yourself. Activities in the afternoon will focus on developing valuable activism skills. Total mileage: 0.
Day 7: Greet the morning at Elbow Lake, then we’ll set out on a day hike to the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River, which is fed by glaciers on Mount Baker and nearby Mount Shuksan. Keep an eye out for big fungi, saprophytic plants, and forest-dwelling amphibians as we pass through a unique old-growth ecosystem on our way to and from the river. Total mileage: 7
Day 8: This concludes our time at Elbow Lake, as we pack up camp and return to Mazama for a final night in the meadow. During some closing activities we’ll reflect on our time in the backcountry together and opportunities to apply what we’ve learned back at home. Total mileage: 5.5
Day 9: We’ll break camp one last time and hike back to Park Butte Trailhead, where transportation back to Mount Vernon or Bellingham is available for those who request it. Total mileage: Approximately 3.5