After a nice quiet 1.5hr drive up the upper lodge at the Mt. Baker ski area our little adventure began. We parked the truck, got all our gear on, activated our GPS beacon, and we were off! This was Auden's second snow shoe trip. He did so well on the first trip we decided to take the plunge and go for it.
The trail starts at the south end of the maintinence shed near the upper lodge. You have a couple choices at this point. You can take the low route down to the Bagley Lakes area, and eventually work your way back up to the little forest service house, or you can stay to the edge of the cat tracks all the way up to the out-of-bounds gate. The snow shoe route up to Artist Point isn't particularly long (about 3mi round trip), but it is quite a bit of elevation gain so we chose to take the easiest route possible to the top then play on the way down.
Once we made the hard pull up the road next to the cat tracks we headed for the top. Part of the route is basically on top of the road that's accessible in the summer, but the last 180* switchback that the road makes needs to be avoided. This is potential avalanche terrain that needs to be taken seriously. We cut the switchback and headed straight up through a natural "v" in the terrain.
It was neat to see the look on his face when we crested Artist Point (4,750ft). He just sat there with his mouth wide open. The views from here are second to none. On a clear day you can see Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, Table Mtn. Mt. Herman, and the beautiful terrain. We were blessed with those views on this day and he was able to get the entire experience on this trip.
After he spent some time flinging snow around with our avalanche shovel and a sip of hot cider we decided it was time to head back down. The way down was much more casual and full of laughter. We worked on his traversing, and gave him an opportunity to get into some real powder. I was quite surprised at how energetic he was at the end of the hike. He had so much extra energy he insisted on doing a full face plant in the snow. What I would give to have even just 1/2 of that energy!