Mt Baker National Forest Mt Shasta
Picture Lake

Vanlife diaries #27: Mt Baker National Forest & Yakima

This week, we finally rolled out of Seattle and onwards to new adventures! It’s been amazing exploring the PNW for the last 2 months, and we’ve ticked some major things off our outdoor bucketlist lately, but all the long mountain trips have also left us missing our little home on wheels and we are definitely ready to hit the road again, this time “for real”. 

Our plan is to spend the next 1.5 years travelling through the Rockies, Mexico, Central America, South America, and all the way to Patagonia. And having now been vanlifers for 6 months, we feel dialled in and prepared for the trip of a lifetime! Here’s how the adventure began.

Mt Baker National Forest Mt Shasta
Vanlife at Mt Baker!

What we’ve been up to this week

Although we’d intended to leave last week (and make it all the way to Oregon this week), life had other plans. My laptop battery swelled and had to be sent in for repair, our AC took a lot longer to instal than expected, and we spent days running errands that should only have taken a few hours (basically, no one has anything in stock anywhere, thank you COVID).

And so, this week involved a lot of boring life admin— but also brought us up to Bellingham for a farewell camping trip with Dan’s friends and out to Mt Baker National Forest for plenty of jaw-dropping scenery at Picture Lake and Artist Point! It was my first time in this area and I was suitably blown away by what Dan refers to as his “backyard”.

Mt Baker National Forest Mt Shasta
Table Mountain overlooking Shasta
Mt Baker National Forest Mt Shasta
Camping out near Glacier, WA

We loved camping in the shadow of Mt Shuksan and especially enjoyed foraging for chanterelles in the nearby forest. Dan took a mushrooming class over a decade ago (and has been waiting for someone to laugh at his “fungi/fun-guy” joke ever since), so he is a trove of mycology knowledge and truthfully a very skilled shroom-spotter. 

I was surprised by how much fun it was to hunt under the thick forest duff for mushrooms, and even more impressed to learn that chanterelles can go for up to $45/lb at local markets. 

With our 3lb loot, we headed back to Issaquah for one final dinner with mum and Kevin, whipping up a new favourite chanterelle parmesan risotto and drinking our weight in wine.

Mt Baker National Forest mushroom foraging chanterelles
Hunting for chanterelles in Mt Baker NF
Mt Baker National Forest mushroom foraging chanterelles
The magic of mycology

By the end of the week, we were slowly making our way SE through Yakima and into Oregon, stopping to indulge in some awesome fresh hop beers at Single Hill and Varietal Brewing one day and spending the next doing impromptu wine tasting at 14 Hands in Prosser.

Like everything, it took us much longer than anticipated to cross the stateline, but we had plenty of fun along the way that made it totally worth the delay! 

Wine tasting at 14 Hands

Where we stayed this week

  • Camping on Forest Service land near Glacier, WA (free; 5 Sept)
  • Boondocking on Forest Service land near Artist Point in Mt Baker National Forest, WA (free; 6 Sept)
  • Boondocking in Bellingham, WA (free; 7 Sept)
  • Inside at Mum’s house in Issaquah, WA (free; 8-9 Sept)
  • Boondocking on a Walmart parking lot in Yakima, WA (free; 10 Sept)
  • Boondocking near Elgin, OR (free; 11 Sept)