The mountain has been patiently waiting for me to come for tea and biscuits and I finally accepted the cordial invitation.
We drove through the farmland which smelled sweetly of corn and raspberries at every turn until we began to wind through the forested hillsides making our way to the mountain. Asphalt gave way to gravel and the road turned to a single lane serpentining along the cliffs edge pockmarked with potholes and trimmed with verdant lace. Up the last stretch of road we stopped to behold Coleman Glacier crouched in a clearing. It took my breath away even in the distance.
When we reached the parking lot there was two main groups assembling. The first was in full climbing gear, with waterproof gators and hiking boots and trekking poles and backpacks so large I could have probably hitched a ride in one. The second group was muddy and outfitted with digging implements and had just come off the trail from doing repairs. Comparatively I had my holey runners and a backpack filled with snacks to share and a single bottle of rooibos tea. I felt like I was under dressed for the event but gladly embarked on the journey.
After the short decent, the trail seems to climb briskly into the forest where I was greeted by huckleberries to the left and to the right. The bridge across Grouse Creek was delightful and the water below rushed over the smooths rocks and boulders. I saw the largest salmon berries just out of reach peaking out beneath the bridge in the most vibrant shade of orange-red.
The trail was rocky in places and packed, richly coloured earth in others. Where a fallen tree diverted us, the ground as soft from the upturned roots. Occasionally we crossed spontaneous areas of runoff that came fresh from the steep cliffs above. The muddy parts of the trail had rough hewn wood bridges that most certainly directed us somewhere magical. There was plants everywhere sporting the finery of their blooms.
I remember passing the former Kulshan Cabin site because there was a wooden sign advertising toilets. This was supposedly at an elevation of around 4700-5000 ft.
Kulshan creek was I believe the first waterway we had to cross without a bridge. The water was cold and it pooled in my shoes and I was happy to feel something so refreshing. Next was a vein of the Heliotrope Creek that soaked me half way up my calf. I longed to linger by the roaring edge of the water but there was more adventuring to be had.
We passed numerous water falls and I remember some seemed to pour right from the heavens. I could barely comprehend the magnificent beauty that enveloped me. The highlight for me was wandering through a cloud so thick I could taste the sweet droplets in my mouth. This is only the second time I have tasted a cloud and it is the most incredible feeling in the world to feel heaven on your tongue. When the forest gave way to the meadows I was taken aback, it was as though I entered a secret garden nestled in the folds of the mountain’s edge.
I have read that when the trail splits into two, it is approximately the 2 mile mark. We chose the Glacier Overlook rather than the Climber’s Trail and made our way to the last creek which was raging, white and frothy, pouring over the rocky bed. On the other side of the watery divide we saw two climbers scaling the rocky edge to find a place to safely cross. We could just barely make out the elusive trail making its way to the glacier. We decided the water was too swift to cross so we found stones, on the mountain side and sat and drank tea and had snacks in the presence of Coleman Glacier and Mt. Baker. After our visit and rest we made our way back to civilization for a dinner of sandwiches on the tailgate of the truck.
I do not know how far or how high or even how long we actually hiked for but it did not matter. It was invigorating. I cannot wait to come visit again. I long to touch the cold ice before it disappears.