"In a day," Andrew said. "And I want to bike there to do it."
Riding to the mountain and skiing it seemed reasonable to me. I'm not really much of a cyclist. I ride to work and use my bike for exercise sometimes. But I don't have tight bike shorts and it seems like everyone who does passes me on the road like I'm standing still. But even without speedy shorts, it still seemed like riding up to the mountain and skiing it was reasonable.
Doing it in a day however, seemed a little extreme.
But then Randall Nordfors arrived. Nordfords rode 58 miles from Bellingham to the Mount Shuksan Trailhead. He climbed the peak via Fisher Chimneys, then traversed over to Mount Baker, climbed the Park Headwall, and descended the Coleman Glacier. From the parking lot he rode back to Bellingham. His entire adventure was 33 hours and 29 minutes long. It involved 15 volunteers, four hired hands, and two-years of meticulous planning.
I'm no Randall Nordfors. I'm not that fit. Nordfors is a real athlete, a cyclist and a runner. I'm a mountain guide that bikes from here to there sometimes.
So I came up with my own plan, a plan that included no volunteers, and about an hour of planning. I wasn't going to do Baker on a bike in a day. Instead, I wanted to see what it would be like to do something a little easier. How about Ruth Mountain?
I've guided Ruth Mountain (or Mount Ruth) four times. It's a pleasant beginner peak with a small glacier on its flanks. But the views are absolutely stellar. The whole way up the mountain one can see Mount Shuksan. As you get higher, Mount Baker, Mount Slesse, Glacier Peak and the Northern Pickets all come into view.
So on Friday, August 25th, I left work at 2pm. By 2:30, I was on my bike, pulling the kids cart full of gear up the Mount Baker Highway.
I rode from Bellingham to Glacier (approximately 33 miles) in about three hours. That felt like an okay speed with a heavy cart. I stopped in Glacier for dinner and then continued my journey up the highway.
The Hannegan Trail in the late summer is extremely buggy. This helped expedite my descent. I was back at my bike by 11:00am.
The ride home wasn't super fast. I took two longish breaks on the way home. I took an hour for lunch at a restaurant in Glacier and then another half-hour in Deming. I arrived at my house at approximately 5:30pm. The total time from house-to-house was 27 hours on the nose.
So this adventure was by no means as big as Mr. Nordfors'. But it was big for me. Prior to this, I'd never toured on a bike, pulling my gear and I'd never done any kind of dual adventure like that. So it was an experiment more than anything else. When I was done, I was definitely tired, but it was clear to me that I could have done a bit more too...
So skiing Baker in a day with a bike approach might be feasible. I'm just going to have to do more of this kind of stuff to find out if it's feasible for me...
--Jason D. Martin