Last Wednesday I headed up to Bellingham to soak in some fall colors on the trail and visit my Grandparents. Bellingham (specifically Fairhaven), is the cutest little town right on the bay and I couldn’t wait to spend a few days there.
My first stop was Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout in the Mount Baker Wilderness. It’s about an hour and half away from Bellingham. I got a later start than I intended but the skies looked clear, and I wasn’t mad about the possibility of catching the sunset on top of a mountain.
When I pulled into the parking lot at Twin Lakes, there was SNOW! I couldn’t believe it! There was no snow on the roads and it wasn’t freezing, but there was a perfect dusting over the mountains and trees. It was a very beautiful surprise. Also, I was the only car in the parking lot. It was a little unnerving to be all alone way out there so close to sunset. There were a few ravens circling and cawing… It wasn’t eerie at all… The trail climbs about 1,300ft in less than 2 miles, so it’s a bit steep, and I wished I brought my micro-spikes. The trail has a few sections that could get dicey if there’s ice. But, I had my trekking poles and did fine.
The trail was quiet and gorgeous with the fall colors still showing beneath the snow. There was still some wild blueberries out too. They were so sweet and a little frozen, so I had a nice treat on the way up the trail. I didn’t see a single person the whole way up. It wasn’t until I was halfway to the lookout that I started kicking myself for not bringing my overnight gear. I would’ve had the lookout all to myself that night. The views were incredible! It was very cold at the top and there were little icicles hanging from the pine needles on the trees. The sun was setting fast and I wanted to make it off the mountain before it got too dark. Just as I started making my decent, the sunset really started to come out. There was bright pink coming over the snow dusted mountains and Mount Baker had a pink and purple haze around it. GORGEOUS! About halfway down I ran into a couple on their way up to stay the night in the fire lookout. They were glad to see me coming down! They thought I beat them to it.
After my hike I headed back to Bellingham to stay with my Grandparents. It was wonderful to visit with them. I got to their house pretty late but they are night owls and were still up watching TV. I gave them the chocolate I brought from France and showed them my videos I made of my backpacking trips.
My original plan for Thursday was to hike up Yellow Aster Butte. But I was nervous about the snow and not having my micro-spikes. So, I decided to hike up Oyster Dome instead. The trailhead is easy to get to at the Samish Overlook. It was a beautiful sunny day and the views from the Overlook are great. You can see the fields in the town of Bow to the left and the San Juan Islands across Samish Bay to your right. I wasn’t terribly impressed with this hike, especially after my winter wonderland experience the day before. If you’re looking for great views of the San Juans, you might has well just enjoy the Overlook. In my opinion, the views were the same from Oyster Dome except you weren’t able to see the farmland in Bow. But, the trailhead is easy to get to and the hike is fairly tame.
On my way up to Winchester Mountain the day before I passed Mount Baker Winery. So, I wanted to head back out Mount Baker Highway to do a wine tasting. Also, since I would be in the area, I thought I would check out Nooksack Falls. When I got to the winery they weren’t doing tastings. Gasp! So, I continued down the highway to Nooksack Falls. The falls were very pretty. I wish I could’ve viewed them from farther down, but I didn’t notice a trail. Still, I was definitely glad I made the stop.
Because I didn’t get my wine fix, I decided to stop at my favorite little wine bar in Fairhaven called, Gainsbarre. They have adorable decor, a reasonably priced wine list, and a delicious selection of wine. The server recommended a Tempranillo, and it was perfect. I sipped my wine and scanned through my phone looking at all the photos I had taken the past few days.
When I left Gainsbarre the sun was just starting to set over Bellingham Bay. I headed down to Marine Park in Fairhaven to catch the sunset before I drove back to Woodinville. I’m so glad I took the time to see it! It was beautiful with gorgeous colors across the horizon. It was the perfect end to a great two days in Bellingham!