If you can see Mt. Baker, you are part of The Experience

Newsroom, spring 2022


Ski to Sea back after two years

After a two-year hiatus, original multisport relay race Ski to Sea is back this year. The seven-sport event is scheduled for May 29 and, as of mid-March, 248 teams were signed up. The maximum is 500.

Ski to Sea, a multisport team relay from Mt. Baker Ski Area to Bellingham Bay, was first run in 1973. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the race was canceled in 2020 and 2021. Race fees for last year, which totaled $65,000, were deferred to this year’s event.

Nonprofit promoter Whatcom Events also started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $10,000 with the announcement to cancel the event for a second year.

“This decision was not made lightly,” the announcement said. “It is based upon a host of considerations, including the inability to stage a race that would allow all of us to experience the personal comradery that is at the core of the event. The importance of this factor was highlighted by the results of our survey, which included an answer from more than half of the 263 respondents that they were unlikely or very unlikely to form a team under the current circumstances.”

The board said a bad turnout could threaten the nonprofit’s financial ability to run the race.

Teams consist of three to eight racers competing in seven different events: Cross Country Ski, Downhill Ski/Snowboard, Run, Road Bike, Canoe (2 paddlers), Cyclocross and Sea Kayak. Racers are allowed to participate in up to three legs on race day, for one team or multiple.

For more information and to register or volunteer, visit skitosea.com.

Galbraith parking lot closed for construction

The Galbraith south side parking lot, which officially closed March 1, will be closed for six to eight weeks as crews finish the final phase of construction on the project, according to Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC).

WMBC encouraged mountain bikers to avoid overcrowding neighborhoods on the north and south side with parked cars. The organization also asked people to ride from home and explore other spots like Stewart and Chuckanut mountains on its Instagram.

The new $425,000 parking lot will provide safer access to the south entrance of Galbraith Mountain and the Lake Padden trails for bikers and hikers. On any given weekend, cars and trucks overflow the current small parking lot off of South Samish Way. Most end up parking on the side of the roadway, putting them in danger of passing traffic.

With 140 spots, the new lot will offer four times the parking space. It will also have longer stalls to accommodate for longer vehicles and bike racks, two vault toilets, and a kiosk with maps and information.

Also as part of the project plans, Whatcom County will be installing a high-visibility crossing on Samish Way from the new parking lot to Galbraith Lane. This will connect the Lake Padden trails with Galbraith Mountain.

The Lake Padden connector trail will also be closed during construction.

For more information and trail statuses, visit wmbcmtb.org.

2022 to have 12 days free of Discover Passes

Washington State Parks (WSP) will have 12 free days in 2022 where a Discover Pass is not required to park at state parks and on recreation lands managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The holidays that the free days commemorate include former chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Billy Frank Jr.’s birthday on March 9, Juneteenth on June 19, and World Mental Health Day on October 10. Many of the free days will honor marginalized peoples and their histories, such as Indigenous and Black communities.

“ a reflection of the state’s continued progress and commitment toward creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive experience for all who recreate in Washington’s great outdoors,” said John Scott, WSP diversity, equity and inclusion director, in a statement.

The free days also recognize the importance of mental health and the ways nature can heal those who are suffering. Studies worldwide show time spent in nature increases serotonin and decreases cortisol levels, along with many other health benefits, according to a WSP press release.

In 2022, the upcoming Discover Pass free days are:

• Saturday, March 19 – Washington State Parks’ birthday

• Friday, April 22 – Earth Day

• Saturday, June 11 – National Get Outdoors Day

• Sunday, June 12 – Free Fishing Weekend

• Sunday, June 19 - Juneteenth

• Saturday, Sept. 24 – National Public Lands Day

• Monday, October 10 – World Mental Health Day

• Friday, November 11 – Veterans Day

• Friday, November 25 – Native American Heritage Day

Discover Passes typically cost $30 to $35 per year or about $10 for a one-day visit.

Open border allows for Race to Alaska

Race to Alaska will be held in two legs this year on June 13 and June 16. The no-motor, no-support, 750-mile race, sometimes called the Iditarod on water, had a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last year, promoter Northwest Maritime Center held alternative-event WA360 as R2AK was canceled for the second year in a row due to the closed U.S./Canada border. It was a 360-mile race around the Salish Sea, starting and finishing in Port Townsend. But the 750-mile epic is back this year.

Stage 1 of this year’s race is a 40-mile sprint from Port Townsend to Victoria, B.C., which is designed as a qualifier for the full race. It’s also an opportunity for people who want to see what it’s about without doing the full 750 miles. Stage 2 is the long haul from Victoria to Ketchikan, Alaska. Racers start at high noon on June 16 and follow their own route across the 710 miles to Ketchikan. There’s no official course besides a waypoint in Bella Bella, B.C.

In 2019, 45 teams started and 25 finished. The application deadline is tax day, April 15. First place gets $10,000 and second place gets a set of steak knives.

For more information or to register, visit r2ak.com.

Guided walks and hikes through Bellingham parks

Recreation Northwest is offering guided walks and hikes through Bellingham parks every day to help people get outside, no matter their outdoor skill level.

The program is made to create a sense of place, while connecting people with nature and fellow outdoor lovers, according to a Recreation Northwest press release. People looking to connect with others, seeking more motivation for outdoor activities, feeling burnout or isolation and people who just moved to the area are welcome to join, the organization said.

The guided tours are $15 per person; scholarships and custom experiences are available. The walks have minimal elevation, such as the South Bay Trail along the Bellingham waterfront that has stops along historical markers. The hikes have variable elevation and are longer in distance, such as the Lake Padden trails.

“We are evolving to add more outdoor recreation and nature education programs for the public to meet the needs of our community,” said Todd Elsworth, executive director. “People will have opportunities to learn essential outdoors skills, trail etiquette and the benefits of nature through our variety of programming.”

Recreation Northwest is a Bellingham-based organization that encourages outdoor activity and education through events such as nature walks and bike tours in Bellingham.

For more information and to register, visit recreationnorthwest.org. x