Monday, December 6, 2010

Side Trip to Mount Constitution, Orcas Island

My work day last Friday was tough to beat. A project on the west shore of San Juan Island and then a short visit to a site on Orcas Island. The downside to work trips to the San Juan Islands is coordinating ferry times or flight times. On Friday I drove and took the ferry and the timing worked out well.

Weaving through the San Juan Islands from San Juan Island to Orcas Island

The timing of the ferry from Orcas back to Anacortes (mainland) left me about 3 hours to spend on the island as my Orcas project took little field time. I headed up Mount Constitution on the northeast side of the island. The road was clear to the high plateau at 2,000 feet was clear. The gate just past the switchbacks on the south side of the mountain was closed as beyond that the road to the summit was ice and snow covered. I made the hike to the summit past the still frozen Summit Lake and enjoyed the classic views from the summit including one toward my current home town.

Summit Lake on Orcas Island

Barnes Island and Clark Island in Rosario Strait, Lummi Island,
Hale Passage, Bellingham Bay, Bellingham and Mount Baker 

Sucia Island - a southwest plunging syncline off of Orcas' north shore

View across Strait of Georgia to Sandy Point and Cherry Point  

Not a bad day at all. Mount Constitution is within the 5,000 acre plus Moran State Park. It is an amazing piece of wild mountain terrain with lakes and cliffs high above the Salish Sea. Moran was a ship builder who retired to Orcas Island in the early 1900s. He bought the mountain and offered the land to Washington State in 1911. The State initially turned down the offer! It took 10 years to convince the powers in State government to accept the offer. The site is now one of Washington State's premier State Parks. Moran's vision to share the pleasure and rest that this area provided him was greatly enjoyed this last Friday by a geologist killing some time between ferry rides.

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