High Divide & Excelsior Pk (Jun 14, 2015)

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high_divide_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Bearpaw Mountain
Area: Mt Baker
Reference: Day Hiking North Cascades
Stats: 9.46mi, 2105' gain (round trip)


Wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW! Weather forecast was good. There were a couple of us interested in a dog friendly hike. I had seen a recent trip report from High Divide and it made it onto my short list. I was last in the area of Excelsior Pass back in 2010 but didn't make it much further than the peak. From the other recent trip report it looked melted out and maybe the flowers would be going strong. Dani and Lynne were interested...so was Jasper...so off we headed.

We started from the Damfino Lks trailhead to the north of Excelsior Pk. I liked that idea since we then had all day to wander as far as we wanted. In the end...I wish we could have wandered more but...I'll have to leave that for an overnight trip.

The trail starts out in the trees but doesn't take too long before it pops out into the open meadows. The area around Damfino Lks can be pretty buggy but it was surprisingly snow free. The entire trail to the Lakes, the peak, and well beyond is completely melted out. There are some patches of snow nearby but those won't last long.

We got to the basin area just north of Excelsior Pass and then continued on up. Some wildflowers blooming down low but not too many...not yet. As soon as we reached the pass area and we could see south down towards Mt Baker we all gasped...the views are just INCREDIBLE! We took a short break and decided to hike the High Divide trail as far as we wanted to wander. We could always do the "hike" up Excelsior Pk on the way out. Once we dropped down to the south side of Excelsior...wow...the hillsides are wide open, green, and the flowers aren't all that far from peaking.

We stopped many times to pull out cameras/phones to take photos. The views are breathtaking. Occasionally when we'd hit a high point we could see west to Church Mtn. Lots of peak spotting too from the ridge (Baker, Glacier Peak, Icy, Ruth, Shuksan, Sefrit...). Our turnaround point was just to the east of Pt5930 (about 4.75mi from the trailhead). We took a nice long break here and talked about why none of us has hiked this section of trail. We also dreamed of plans to return and hike all the way out to the YAB tarns and out the YAB trailhead. I need to find a way to make that trip happen.

Eventually we decided it was time to head back the way we came but given how scenic the trail is...there were plenty of stops. I'm putting this trail on my "I'd love to repeat this hike" list.

The road to the trailhead is potholed for sure but it looked like that with some care even my Jetta could get up there (in fact, there was a Jetta at the parking area when we arrived).
 
High Divide Slideshow

high_divide_map

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Copyright 2013 Janet M. Putz
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