Monday, June 25, 2012

Goldilocks, Mama Bear, and Cabin via SST; return via SST, Ridge Trail

Distance: 6.2 miles
Time: 3 hours

Today's hike brings us deeper into the upper trails of Galbraith. My friend Ben had told me about a cabin up in this part of Galbraith, so the hope is to find that cabin today - and to notch up Homestead, Goldilocks, and Mama Bear to our list of hiked trails.

Along with some nice views and woody pathways, today's hike also reminds me of the importance of bringing a GPS and map with me. Some of these trails and crossroads can get confusing and I wandered around a bit before finding the Galbraith cabin, and then again on Goldilocks trail. I don't have the best sense of direction (just ask my wife), but with a little guesswork and some "vectoring" was able to get back on course.

View of Lake Whatcom from Road 2800, in between Mama Bear and Baby Bear Trails.

Raney and I start out from Birch Street, on Tetanus trail. We follow Tetanus to Powerline trail. (Distance: 0.61 miles, time 18 minutes.)

Crossing the bridge on Tetanus Trail.
On the way, I meet a husband and wife on mountain bikes. They're from Skagit County and ask for some trail recommendations. They have a WHIMPS Galbraith map, dated 2011 and drawn by the excellent Bellingham mapmaker Chris Behee. Comparing it to my 2010 map by Chris, some trail names have changed - including Tetanus which is now known as the Back Door. I make a note to buy a new map so that the trail names I use are consistent with current usage.

Following Hannah Creek on Tetanus.
Crossing Pipeline, we follow the Tetanus-SST connector to SST, then take SST up to Checkpoint Lima. (Distance: 1.09 miles, time 28 minutes.)

About ten minutes of hiking later, the trail splits as it approaches Road 1240. We choose the left fork to continue the uphill climb on SST. After a time, SST parallels Road 1200 before merging into it at a junction of trails: SST, Road 1200, 1200 Connector, Upper SST, and an unnamed trail that connects to Candy trail. (From trailhead to this junction: 1.8 miles, 48 minutes.)

Gaining elevation on SST Trail.

SST running parallel to Road 1200.

Road 1200.

Trail marker at SST and 1200 Connector junction.

Walking left a few steps on Road 1200, we reach the fork to the 1200 Connector trail on the left. We take this for ten minutes, going past the forked junction with road 2610 on the left. We choose the right fork, continuing on the 1200 Connector. (2.0 miles, 57 minutes.)

Northwest greenery abounds on this route.

Many forks in the road on this path. Bring your map!

The 1200 Connector trail ends at Road 2600. We turn left here, setting out eastward in search of the old cabin.

The 1200 Connector terminating at Road 2600.

Road 2600.
A short walk later, we spot the Goldilocks sign on the left, with trails splitting off of 2600 to the right and the left. I believe the right trail is Upper Arsenio, and we follow that one in search of Cabin trail. (2.2 miles, 1 hr 5 min.)

Goldilocks Trail leads to Mama Bear, Baby Bear, and Papa Bear trails.
We stumble through a number of forking trails at this point, backtracking occasionally until we reach the old cabin. (2.5 miles, 1 hr 20 min.) Long abandoned, the ancient structure must have served its purpose for some logger or homesteader many years ago.

Galbraith's old cabin.
We briefly examine the cabin and then pick our way back down Cabin trail, returning to the junction of Road 2600 and Goldilocks. (2.71 miles, 1 hr 28 min.)

Crossing 2600, we follow Goldilocks east and then north, towards Mama Bear trail. Part of this trail goes through the ugly debris of past logging operations.

Eventually, though, the trail becomes the beautiful set of tight loops known as Mama Bear trail. Many mountain bikers include Mama Bear among their favorite sections of single-track on Galbraith.

The route snakes through Mama Bear trail.

Mama Bear runs into Road 2800. (3.66 miles, 2 hours.) Crossing 2800 would take us to Baby Bear trail - something we'll save for a future hike.

We go left on 2800 for a few yards, where it dead ends and offers a view down into Lake Whatcom (shown in the first photo in this post). Turning around, we follow 2800 to Road 2810 where we turn right. (4.3 miles, 2 hrs 15 min.)

Road 2810 takes us back to the 1200 Connector; turning right we continue until we reach the junction labeled Checkpoint Juliet. Here, SST descends in a steep trail to the right. (4.5 miles, 2 hours 25 min.) We follow SST down its familiar route.

SST and upper SST meet at Checkpoint Juliet.
SST drops away from Checkpoint Juliet, heading west.
We follow SST to Checkpoint Lima, and for variety we turn left at Lima to head to Ridge Trail. We reach Ridge Trail at 5.3 miles, 2 hours 40 minutes from the trailhead. We follow Ridge Trail back and take Miranda down to the Birch Street parking lot.

All told, it's 6.2 miles of hiking when we reach the car, and about 3 hours.

As I write this, Raney is stretched out on her cedar bed, spent for the day. It's great to get to know these new trails on Galbraith. Next time we're out this way, we'll head further east towards Baby Bear and Papa Bear trails - tracing the eastern boundary of trails on Galbraith Mountain.

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