" (why would anyone hike up to Excelsior Peak from the Mt. Baker Hwy when you can drive most of the way up from the back?) "
Because the road is often closed due to washouts, made worse by not enough $$$ to fix it. Not even the US Border Patrol - which uses the road for obvious reasons - can make the Forest service get it repaired fast. And when it is open, it's a long drive up with no guarantee that it will be in good condition, and it has some slightly risky sections as you may have noticed.
And the Excelsior and other ways up to the trails are usually open: you're not afraid of a little elevation gain? With the drive and the hike to the Divide it's about the same time as going up from the highway anyway.
Damfino: Original use of the word may come from Buster Keaton's movie The Boat.
quote: Buster is married with two children (both of whom wear the porkpie hat made famous by Keaton). He has built a large boat he has christened Damfino inside his home. When he finishes and decides to take the boat out to sea, he discovers it is too large to fit through the door. Buster enlarges the opening a bit, but when he tows the boat out, it proves to be a bit bigger than he estimated, and the house collapses, utterly.
Buster loses his car during the attempt to launch the boat. The boat passes with impunity under the exceedingly low bridges of the Venice (California) canals thanks to Buster's boat design. While out on the Pacific, Buster and his family are caught in a terrible storm. The boat is barely seaworthy to begin with, and it does not help that Buster nails a picture up inside the boat, causing an improbable leak, or when he further drills through the bottom of the boat to let the water out (resulting in a spectacular gusher of a leak). He radios a Morse_Code call for help, but when the navy or coast guard operator asks who it is, he answers, "d-a-m-f-i-n-o" (in Morse Code). The man interprets it as "damn if I know" and dismisses the call as a prank. Taking to a (ridiculously small) dinghy (that is in fact a bathtub), Buster and his family wash up on a deserted beach in dark of night. "Where are we?" asks his wife (via an intertitle), to which Buster replies, "Damn if I know" (mouthing the words to the camera, no intertitle is used).
This is referenced in one of the best episodes of The X-Files: "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose".
quote: Many of the names used in the episode are homages to the silent film era. The name "Clyde Bruckman" refers to an actual screenwriter and director of silent comedies of the same name who committed suicide. The names of characters Detective Havez and Detective Cline are also references to a writer and director from that era: Jean Havez and Eddie Cline, respectively. One of the victims, Claude Dukenfield, is a reference to the real name of W.C. Fields. The name of the hotel in this episode, "Le Damfino" is a reference to a boat used by Buster Keaton in the movie The Boat.