Link to video
A few years ago atop Mt. Baker I got my first real glimpse of the Twin Sisters when Ben casually asked me if I had ever done the Twin Sisters.
I remember saying something idiotic like “Easy buddy, I’m married.”
Fast forward to this past Saturday when I somehow managed to get away for an overnighter and recruited Ben and Patrick to join me in a two day attempt on the both Sisters.
When I presented my passport to the border guard and responded to his inquiry with “I’m going to do the Twin Sisters,” he half smirked and begged for clarification. He then pointed out I was an idiot for not signing my passport when I received it 3 years ago. When he asked if I had any food, I said just some good ol’ American beef jerky, and he came back with
“What are you really doing down here?”
“The Twin Sisters…seriously.”
And that was that, he waved me through.
I don’t usually get over the border a heck of a lot due to my innate fear of the imperial system and picking up a six pack every time I go to the grocery store for a jug of milk. In fact, as I rolled through the Safeway in Bellingham at 6:30AM, I was shocked by two things in particular: they have bacon jerky down here…no wonder the USA is an international super power… and how everyone said good morning to me and asked me how I was doing. Ya, weird down here for sure.
Patrick, who was already in Bellingham (gorging himself on bacon jerky), picked me up and threw my bikes on his jeep. The night before I had invested about an hour into routine bike maintenance to fix up my old bike into riding condition so Ben could use it. In the end, I probably should have been more focused on the loose crank than the 73.4% chance the rear brake line would snap on descent, but hey, I’m no psychic.
Meeting Ben in Welcome, we were pushing our bikes up the first bit of the road in the hot hot heat of 9:30 AM….this was going to be a loooonnnnggg day. Time passed quickly thanks to Ben regaling us with stories of ascending Mt. Waddington and how he’s super caucasian and Patrick philosophizing about various international birthing rituals. We only had to stop once to Macgyver the left crank back onto Ben’s bike with an undersized allen key and screwdriver bit from a multitool. Apparently I was the multi-tool for not bringing the right Allen key I had double checked the night before.
In no time at all in what seemed like forever, we found ourselves at the end of the road with the ridge line of the South Twin laid visible above us. We had decided ascending the South Twin would be more prudent for the day so we could leave the shorter ascent of the North Twin for the morning. We dumped all our gear, choosing to camp here, versus the camping flats Gunn raves about in just to save a little energy. A quick break at the creek and reload on water and off we went.
Not sure if I mentioned it before, but it was getting incredibly hot. Brief bits of breeze would suddenly end as if someone just closed the door of the sauna and threw some water on the rocks. On the bright side, at least I wasn’t surrounded by elderly naked men in various stages of toweling themselves off.
I drank 3 liters, which was the max I could carry, between the end of the road and the camping flats. While we refilled just below at the creek, I think we were all a bit concerned over the lack of water sources on a long rock ridge in the full sun.
I’ll let the pictures and the video speak for themselves, but all I can say is that the ridge itself is 100’s of meters of scrambling bliss. We tried to stay on the crest itself for the most part, except a couple spots where we veered right underneath some major obstacles. Ben of course, fueled by giant testicles and a freshly burgeoning sunburn, chose to go over pretty much everything. One part in particular, featured in the video looked pretty bad ass from my vantage point.
Unfortunately, the heat was getting the better of us and Patrick in particular started to experience major quad cramps. We stopped several times, to the tune of probably 2 hours in breaks along the ridge where we took turns trying to rid Patrick’s legs of cramps using a strange combination of Mio sport, bad jokes, and pringles. Nothing really worked, yet Patrick would continually defy the turnaround odds by pushing though his pain and moving on at the end of each break.
The summit was a welcome sight, except we were all out of water. Luckily Ben managed to locate a few small trickles coming from some dirty snow patches which allowed us each about a liter for the return trip. Unparalleled views of Baker, the Olympics and the entirety of the Sisters range spread out before us. Speaking of which, are the other peaks in the range (seem to be about 3 or so) named? Unofficially or otherwise? We located a gatorade bottle with some scraps of paper with a few CT'er names stenciled on them.
It was pushing 7pm when we finally decided to drag ourselves away from the summit. We were now in a race against the setting sun, severe dehydration, and raw finger tips. It was here, I reached into my deep pockets of machismo and pulled out a pair of gloves…which I might add, nicely accented my women’s overnight pack.
Down, right, across, up, left, straight, down, up, left, right, straight, over, around, left again, right and then down, across, up and over and straight pretty much got us back to the point we had attained the ridge.
As we descended into the bowl between the South and North, we were treated to an incredible sunset. Honestly though I was having trouble enjoying it as I had an incredible thirst that needed quenching and I could here the creek calling to me from below. I stepped it into high gear and collapsed beside the stream. Hardly stopping to breath, I downed 3 liters in about 5 minutes, followed by a minute of trying not to hurl it all back up. I know, I know, ironic that thecamel couldn’t hold his water..almost. Ben and Patrick arrived on scene a few minutes later and we donned our lights in the darkness of the trail downwards.
I think we arrived at the campsite, which we hadn’t set up yet, at just after 10PM. I had packed a few beers up, thinking we would have a glorious evening of frolicking in the creek like the hundreds of mini frogs we encountered, but that didn’t exactly go as planned. We enjoyed a couple cold ones over tent set-up and dinner then turned in for the night with thoughts of the North Twin Sister dancing in our heads.
The next morning saw us sleep in to about 7:30 before leisurely packing up. We were all hurting to various degrees: leg cramps, sunburn, blisters, corneal eroticism…no wait…that’s corneal erosion I mean, and Patrick expressed his concern about successfully summiting the North Twin in what was going to be another scorcher. Still, not wanting to interfere with the plan, he agreed to man up and push onwards and upwards as long as he could.
We stashed our junk at the junction to the North Twin and plodded up the road/trail in rising temps. At the point the trail becomes more trail than road, we sat down for a tete a tete, Is that how you spell head to head in French?
Patrick was pretty much ready to call it a day and suggested/insisted we carry on and meet him at the car later. Ben and I were fairly conflicted as we looked up at the beautiful looking Sister above us. But after some discussion and soul searching we didn’t feel right about making Patrick wait what could potentially be 5 or more hours for us to ascend and descend. So in the end despite Patrick’s insistence that we carry on, we decided to postpone this adventure for another day. Just as well anyway, as about 30 minutes after leaving, clouds rolled in and poured on the North Twin. Is wet sandpaper still as grippy?
Riding down the road was a blast and in no time at all we were munching on dill pickle chips while pondering what had died in the back of Patrick’s jeep after we had piled all our crap into it. I’ll definitely be back, but this time as a day trip…in cooler weather.
By the way, I noticed the gate had a Weyerhauser sign on it with some information about a rec permit for the area. I looked it up. They are available to purchase for the outrageous cost of $200. Then you can drive on up at your leisure.