Blanchard Mountain

Pacific Northwest Trail


December 31, 2006  - A solo hike on the last day of the year.  My last hike of the year took me to Blanchard Mountain near Mount Vernon Washington, where my goal was to reach the Oyster Dome.  The drive through Skagit Valley is always delightful at this time of the year, and I saw several eagles, fields of snow geese and a few large trumpeter swans.  After making a very late start on the trail, I set my turn-around time at 1:30, whether I had summited or not.  This trail wastes no time getting down to business, and the first mile is very steep.  The trail switchbacks steeply up Blanchard Mountain through second-growth forest, and after a mile, the trees open up to a nice view of the San Juan Islands.  After the 2-mile point, the trail becomes rough and rocky with a few downed trees, but it levels out and becomes less steep.  At 1:15 I scrambled up a boulder for a quick snack break and began my return trip, taking in the half mile side-trip to the Island overlook on the way down.  I returned to the trailhead with plenty of daylight to spare and checked my map.  Had I known when I was on the rock that I was little more than 1/4 mile from the Oyster Dome, I would have continued on.