Kathie’s Top Five Soul Restoration Hikes
The previous post explored the idea of “soul restoration” day hikes and described one, Lake Ann/Maple Pass Loop. As I thought about other hikes that fit the criteria, four more came to mind. I will share those here and I hope that you will share yours as well. You don’t have to share why, as the reasons are often incredibly personal and private and should sometimes stay that way!
Lake Ann/Maple Pass. Off of Highway 20, North Cascades, described in previous post.
Yellow Astor Butte. This hike, off the Mt. Baker Highway, is beyond gorgeous with its unfolding views of Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker, and multitudes of other peaks. It has it all…wildflowers (including the Yellow Astor, for which it is named…which is really a daisy :-), inviting ponds, and the potential of a further excursion to climb Tomyhoi Peak. I absolutely love this place, and have been there a dozen or more times over the years.
Ptarmigan Ridge Trail. This hike is also off the Mt. Baker Highway and takes off from Artist Point, at the very end of the road. I cannot say enough about this trail. It is all open, meanders gradually up and along a ridge and can be followed to where one is literally standing right in front of Mt. Baker in all its glaciated magnificence! It’s simply stupendous. When my thoughts randomly go to the mountains, this area is where they most often go.
“Lily Dome,” aka North Butte. Much closer to home in Bellingham, this is the alternative to super popular Oyster Dome. This “lesser dome” is right above Lily Lake, hence my pet name for it. It’s a hidden gem that is still mostly undiscovered. Just a stones throw from Oyster Dome, the views out to the San Juan Islands are comparable to Oyster Dome, but there are hardly ever any other people.
The Ridge Trail, on Galbraith Mountain. The background on this requires a little explanation. Galbraith Mountain, right in Bellingham, is a mountain bikers haven. I have been going up on Galbraith since 1994, when I lived at the end of an access road leading up to the trails. I regularly hiked to what I call the “stretching tree,” on the top of the Ridge Trail. The stretching tree is a place of contemplation, where you can sit and see Bellingham Bay in one direction and Mt. Baker in the other. I have been to this tree more times than I can count, and many a time when I HAD to get clear on some major decision or let go of some incredibly persistent stressor in my life. I have come to view it as the place of letting go…and while my life is much less “stressful” now, I have incredibly positive associations of getting straightened out at the tree.
A final note: A soul restoration hike is to be distinguished from a “soul desperation” hike. The latter category involves those places where I go, sometimes with some urgency and desperation, because I need an environmental “fix.” I would put Lake Padden into this category…often, it has restorative value, but equally as often, it is a place I go to get ready for a work day or to transition after one or because I don’t have time to go anywhere else. There is sometimes more of a desperate or needy quality to these walks around Padden. A loop around Padden is my drug of choice. It is hands down the hike I have done most often, literally hundreds of times since I have lived in Bellingham. And I do love it, but it doesn’t quite make the grade for a restoration hike…at least not each and every time. That would be a tall order!
What hikes bring your soul to restoration?
If something comes to mind, please share via email or in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!