Hiking ‘Mt Baker Bibleway Camp’ Trail

Article and photo by Richard Drake

We woke on a Tuesday morning to high ‘marine’ cloud that kept the morning cool and caused the question: was it worth a light jacket? After a camp breakfast (phenomenal as usual) and a little puttering around the cloud cover noticeably thinned and began to dissipate as the sun burned it off, raising the ambient temperature to the upper 70’s by late morning.

Striking out on the main road from behind the dinning hall you pass the incredible and rare patch of “Methuselah’s Beard” lichen just North of Mt Baker cabin. As the road curves to the right up hill, we stayed to the left as directed by the sign, entering the large gravel parking area. At the North East corner of this parking lot is an ancient logging road, now narrowed by time and the ever growing vegetation, that presents a steep trail of varying degrees; wide enough for two people to hike side by side although occasionally has somewhat tricky footing. It doesn't take long to start to feel the ‘burn’ in the calf and thigh muscles complete with heavy breathing to indicate you may want to slow down your pace.

Through the varying shade and open sunshine of the trail you quickly lose sight of buildings and camp activities – lost in an abundance of deciduous and evergreen trees along with prolific varieties of undergrowth, dominated by large clumps of sword fern, witches hair lichen and mosses (of which there are over 70 varieties). Two thirds of the way up the trail forks, the right swinging eventually back left in a steep but long switchback to the ‘wilderness camp site’. Fir, Hemlock and Cedar keep the trail shaded along with the Western Red Alder and Broad leaf Maple. The trail is lined with several varieties of berry shrubs that – due to the constant shade – were still in their flowering or developmental stages. After a quick perusal of the wilderness camp site and it’s surrounding views of the upper old logging cut, long overgrown by the softwood reforestation efforts and a lot of hardwood volunteer trees all competing for space, we moved back down the trail retracing our steps to the fork.

Taking the Left fork this time we headed up the trail that would eventually lead us into the very same old logging cut we had viewed from the wilderness camp site (and officially off the Camp’s property) The sweet yet tangy aroma of sun baked Fir and Hemlock needles escort you as you climb this portion of the trail. The forest opens up slightly until the sword ferns and the canopied forest give way to the young evergreen re-growth and “Bracken Ferns” that easily reach six and a half feet tall. The varying pitch of the trail eventually ends at what used to be a log landing or the “end of the road” for the logging company.

It is here that you can see a spectacular view of Boulder Creek, the Nooksack River and Mt Baker Hwy as they thread there way through the Nooksack Valley to the West. Re-entering the trail for our descent we stopped to snack on the sun ripened fruit that, in the more open spaces, were growing in abundance. The very tangy Thimble Berry with its sweet yet pleasingly unique flavor, a lone Saskatoon Berry bush, Trailing Blackberry (or Dewberry), Salmon Berry and the prolific Red Huckleberries that were great yet a bit tart. Back past the fork in the trail on a longer level spot we even found a few remaining wild strawberries that packed a powerful flavor punch for such tiny specimens.

Take it at whatever speed you like, the hiking trail at Mt Baker Bibleway Camp can be as aerobic as pumping the ‘stair master’ at the fitness club or just a healthy stroll in the woods. Whatever your pace – take the time to look around – it’s worth it.

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