Racing Against Time To Mount Baker In Washington State

The distance between Seattle and Mount Baker Ski Area is 93 miles. 

MOUNT BAKER
PHOTO ANDY CHENG

My sister had slept-in an hour later than expected, prompting our meticulously planned schedule to shift off course. Therefore, we needed to drive extra fast to leave our motel in northern California, drive through Oregon, and get to Washington State before dark. After driving an entire day, we reached the crossroads an hour earlier than expected – the excessive speeding on the freeway had paid off. The exit pointed towards our motel, whereas the freeway continued towards Mount Baker National Park.

Although the family was exhausted from sitting in the car all day, we didn’t want to stay indoors for the rest of the evening. Lying around and watching TV can be done anywhere, anytime. It was a rare moment spending family time together and we wanted to make the most of it. Onwards we drove.

MOUNT BAKER
PHOTO ANDY CHENG

Mount Baker was still 40 miles away and it was already past 7pm. To reach the glaciers, my father pushed the car to its limits. It was late at night, so there were no other cars driving up the mountain. After getting through all the tight corners and accelerating through short straightaways, we finally reached the summit at 8pm.

The anxiety we went through was worth the sight. Right in front of me was the first glacier I’ve ever seen. We were puzzled as to why it was still light outside. And then it all made sense: we had driven a few degrees longitude northward, and this was in the middle of summer. Therefore, the sun stays out until a later time.

The cold bit into our exposed shins and feet, for we were all wearing shorts and sandals. The turquoise-colored ice sheets gleamed at us. The air was thin and smelled incredibly fresh. The pine trees looked unscathed and natural. These pristine images were reinforced with zero traces of human life – we were the only visitors in the entire park. After admiring the view for 30 minutes, the skies eventually darkened and we patiently drove back to the motel. The calm image of Mount Baker has followed me, even until today.

MOUNT BAKER
PHOTO ANDY CHENG

Andy Cheng

He was born and raised in Orange County, southern California. He graduated from UC Berkeley, studying political science with a concentration in international relations. In his free time, Andy frequents exercising, spectating eSports, meeting new people, and learning new things.

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