Program for teens offers three-night escape for even inexperienced explorers, camping on the flanks of Mount Baker

Summer is the time to get the kids into the great outdoors, especially when it comes to antsy or bored teenagers.

Not every youth, however, has the experience or gear for wilderness exploration.

To that end, South Whidbey Parks and Recreation will offer a special trip for teens 14 to 17 in July on the scenic flanks of Mount Baker.

Most meals and some gear will be provided on the three-night trip with help from REI Alderwood’s gear bank, plus a $160 fee per camper.

It’s a new trip for the parks and rec department, which surveyed young people last year about what they’d like to do. Backpacking, it turned out, came in near the top of the list with teens.

Program coordinator Carrie Monforte said the trip, which will explore the Park Butte-­Railroad Grade area at Mount Baker, is one of Washington’s classic summer hikes, traveling through meadows, over rivers, next to the mountain’s massive Easton Glacier and up to an old fire watch tower, the Park Butte Lookout.

“It has variety and it’s challenging, but it’s not that hard,” Monforte said of the area, served by multiple trails. “They’ll be seeing little different gems. It’s a great trip.”

Watching marmots frolicking on rocks in meadows and seeing a glacier up close are key points along the way, said Monforte, who has led trips to the area in the past.

Parents needn’t worry about teens traveling on the ice or snow too much, however.

“We’re not getting into crevasses on the glacier,” Monforte said. “We’re looking at it from a distance.”

Monforte’s favorite part of the trip is taking in the 360-degree view from the tower, featuring a top-of-the-world look at Mount Baker and beyond.

“You can see all the way out to the San Juan Islands,” she said. “It’s just beautiful. That’s the highlight … being up there and feeling like you’re on top of it all.”

Alvin Walters of Mountlake Terrace, an experienced backpacker, will lead teens on the trip.

Walters, 22, has worked as a leader on numerous recreation and wilderness survival programs for the city of Mountlake Terrace and has taken the Mountaineers’ scrambling and mountaineering first aid courses.

He now works at REI Alderwood, which, he said, will loan big-ticket items such as backpacks, tents and sleeping bags to kids who need them for the trip.

He’ll hike the trail a few days before the trip to check conditions and water availability on the trail.

“It’s gorgeous,” said Walters, who has hiked the trail before. “You’re basically right on the front doorstep of Mount Baker.”

Reporter Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037 or

Talk to us

More in Life

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay walks into the Prohibition Grille along Hewitt Avenue in Everett Wednesday Dec. 5, 2012 while reportedly filming an episode of Kitchen Nightmares at the Everett restaurant. (Mark Mulligan / The Herald)
Even more films and TV shows filmed in Snohomish County

Readers point out projects previously missed in this series, from reality television to low-budget indie films.

Daniella Beccaria / for The Herald

15-month-old Kantu attempts to climb a pumpkin at Stocker Farms in Snohomish on Sunday, September 20th, 2015. Stocker Farms offers a U-pick patch, farm animals and a corn maze.
Best pumpkin patch in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied, here are the results.

A woman diverts from her walk on Colby Avenue to take a closer look at a pickup truck that was partly crushed by a fallen tree during an overnight wind storm Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in north Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)
Storm season is coming. Here’s how to prepare for power outages.

The most important action you can take is to make an emergency preparedness kit.

Do you prefer green or red grapes? This antique Moser pitcher is decorated with enameled grapevines on shaded red-to-green glass.
Grapevine pitcher was made by renowned Bohemian company

Also, queries about grandmother’s coffee set and late husband’s Beatles records and memorabilia collection.

The city of Mukilteo is having a naming contest for its new $75,000 RC Mowers R-52, a remote-operated robotic mower. (Submitted photo)
Mukilteo muncher: Name the $75,000 robot mower

The city is having a naming contest for its new sod-slaying, hedge-hogging, forest-clumping, Mr-mow-it-all.

Death of parent with child. Piece of paper with parents and children is torn in half.
Helping children cope with the hard realities of divorce

I’s important to set aside one’s feelings and find a way to make this challenging transition as comfortable for children as you can.

In Belgium, each type of beer has its own glass – whether wide, tall, or fluted – to show off its distinct qualities.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Bruges brews lift a weary traveler’s spirits

The Belgian city is a mecca for beer lovers from around the world.

Most Read