Swift Creek Trail #3
Although I now reside in Seattle, I originally hail from Whatcom County. Most of my family still lives in that area, so I headed north to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with them like I do every year. My mom is also a hiking enthusiast, so the day after Thanksgiving we hit the trails to work off some tasty pumpkin pie. The forecast called for 100% chance of rain all morning, so I put all my gear and devices into plastic bags and planned accordingly.
My mom is a regular on Sumas Mountain. The mountain beckons from her kitchen window, and she frequently rambles the hillside with her dog, Chumley. She’s the branch manager at a local library, and fellow hikers that she meets in the woods know her as the Library Lady.
The closest thing to an “official” trail on Sumas Mountain is the Goldmine Trail. The Goldmine’s trailhead is marked with a wooden sign next to a pasture, with parking across a dirt road from a dairy farm. On today’s hike, the Swift Creek trail started off of a neighbor’s driveway. My mom knows these folks, who have kindly given permission for her to park there anytime she wants to explore the mountain. There is no trailhead or officially marked trail.
Chumley is Ready to Go on a Hike!
We hit the trail around 8:30 am and suited up with raincoats and raincovers for our packs. After winding through a wooded area, the trail broke into a river plain. My mom explained that from here, the trail forks into several different paths – which she has unofficially named Swift Creek trails #1, #2, and #3. Today we are heading on trail #3, and followed a bridge as it crossed the river.
From here the trail entered the forest and followed an old logging road as it steadily climbed uphill. We were both wearing several layers, and before too long we were sweaty from our efforts. I considered stopping to remove some layers but it was raining so hard that it seemed like entirely too much effort.
Soon the path leveled out and we stopped for a breather. My mom shared some local history of the Swift Creek area, including a landslide that occurred some years ago that wiped out a portion of the hill. It was recently discovered that the landslide unearthed some natural asbestos deposits, so some care must be taken if exploring that part of the mountain – especially in the dry season.
The Library Lady in Repose
After a short break, we continued following the road as it switchbacked up the mountain. Soon we were rewarded with a view of the Nooksack Valley down below. Even with the rainclouds hugging the valley, it was magical.
At this point, the trail’s terrain changed. The path criss-crossed a series of mounds and gulleys which we scrambled over with some difficulty. We continued on a little further, before arriving at a junction.
After consulting the time, we decided to turn around and head back home where some of the extended family was still gathered for the holiday weekend. So we headed back down the hill, taking care not to lose our footing on the slippery path. Water gushed out of my shoes with every step as I walked.
Hiking Down the Mountain
Mother-Daughter Rainy Day Selfie