Glaciers & Mountain Meadows (Trip) - Grades 7 & 8


Glaciers & Mountain Meadows (Trip) - Grades 7 & 8


Tuesday, August 6 - Friday, August 9, 2019 (FULL)

Pre-Trip Meeting (Mandatory): Monday, August 5, 2019

Meet mountain environments in all their glory: cascading waterfalls, brilliant wildflowers, blueberry bushes galore, and wildlife like marmots, raven, pika, and browsing deer. Venture to the edge of two huge glaciers, a must-see sight and sound that may disappear within our lifetime. Mountains bring more than heather-filled meadows and whistling marmots: they take us up! Stretch your edge in new ways as you learn how to shoulder your pack up and down switch-backing trails littered with problem-solving opportunities like downed trees and raging creeks.

Once in the high country, we'll explore the Railroad Grade, a remarkable canyon left by the receding Easton Glacier; walk on the glacier in the tracks of summiting climbers; head up to the restored 1933 Park Butte fire lookout; and ridge-roam through huckleberry parklands above shimmering tarns. Skills and lessons deepen as you take on increased responsibility in this area that many well-traveled geologists have said is their #1 hike in the world! Read more about this hike here, here, and here.

Total trip miles: 11 miles with full packs, collaboratively decided additional distance in day hike explorations.

Elevation Gain: 2,600 ft. Max. Elevation 5,400 ft.


Scholarship applications available during registration.

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2019 Itinerary

Tuesday, August 6 - Friday, August 9, 2019

Pre-Trip Meeting (Mandatory): Monday, August 5, 2019. Time: 10:00-1:00PM. Location: Cascades Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Avenue, Bellingham. Directions. Participants should bring backpack and everything on the gear list they plan to bring on the trip. While this meeting is for participants only, we're happy to fill parents in on everything we discuss!


Meet at Cascades Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Avenue, Bellingham at 9:00AM. Directions. After building group connection, we’ll drive east on Highway 542 to the trailhead at Ridley Creek. Setting out, we say farewell to roads and wheels, and hello to burbling creeks and mountain meadows awash in colorful wildflowers. Each step across, up, down, and around will teach us how to work with our thoughts, attitudes and with one another to climb safely and successfully to our campsite on the flanks of Komo Kulshan. Mountain blueberries and huckleberries will be natural encouragements to stretch our edge, and we're guaranteed to gain more than altitude as we take in some of the most breathtaking beauty in the world. An evening meeting facilitated by our leaders of the day will help us determine our bedtime and wake up time, depending on our choices for the following day. We'll enjoy dinner and sleep in the finest accommodation anywhere, under a sky full of stars, alongside a snow-clad volcano. 


Following our morning routine, we'll embark on our collaboratively decided plan for the day. Do we wake early and head for the restored fire lookout (first hikers there get to sleep in it!) or do we keep our base camp and explore up the Railroad Grade to stand upon the Easton Glacier, marmots whistling at us all along the way? Maybe we'll decide to hike further to the Deming Glacier and peer down at the birthplace of the Nooksack River, or head down to the undulating meadows of Mazama Park. There's enough exploring here for a lifetime, and we'll make the most of our full day!


Our previous day's choices will determine the ebb and flow of this one. The same options remain and we’re likely to choose to do the ones we didn't do the day before! Each day of these trips brings increased responsibility; you'll consult the map, the weather, and each other to help lead us, considering the consequences of each choice, learning to "think it through before we do". We may be moving camp this day or donning daypacks for extended explorations while our tents stay put at our base camp under the trees. 


After our morning routine, we’ll break camp and seek our solo sit spot, holding time for trekkers to connect with nature in deeper ways through extended Peaceful Place time. This setting gives us spectacular choices for reflection and connection, gazing out at breathtaking beauty and taking in the wisdom of the wilderness before returning to civilization. After lunch, we'll say goodbye to this playground and descend into the Railroad Grade to cross Rocky Creek on a seasonal suspension bridge as we loop back to the trailhead. We'll enjoy a last meal in the mountains, clean the bus, and debrief the teachings of our travels before we head back to Bellingham in the early evening. It’s likely to be a drowsy drive back to Bellingham, each of us holding the treasures of our experience and a new connection to each other. Parents: plan on a trip report from the kids before we unload gear and you whisk them home!

Pick-up: Cascades Montessori Middle School, 2710 McKenzie Avenue, Bellingham. Time: 4:30PM. Directions.

Learning Outcomes: Lessons learned and concepts covered on this adventure include an in-depth exploration of all Wild Whatcom mottos, healthy and supportive interpersonal communication, Leave No Trace (TM) ethics, collaborative leadership development, positive and negative peer pressure, common sense camping, analyzing hazards and how to mitigate their risk, living with integrity, exploring how our thinking affects our reality, self care, ecology and botany of alpine ecosystems, multiple intelligence theory, wilderness awareness, glaciers and our connection to them, river ecosystems, survival priorities, navigation, preparedness, human impact on mountain ecosystems, wildlife and their adaptation to humans, working with and through fears, mountain weather systems, accepting and working with emotions, human and natural history, intermediate backpacking skills, practicing gratitude, the bridge of adolescence, understanding personal potential, and more!

Participant pre-trip questionnaire and tetanus immunization required to participate.

Trip Training Tips

Trip Pack List

Essentials of Layering