The Nooksack River

Nooksack River in 1976

The Nooksack River drains from near the top of Mt. Baker into the Pacific Ocean in northwest Washington State. This is the river that overflowed its banks a few weeks back and flooded the sumac prairie between Abbotsford and Chilliwack B.C.. It did it again yesterday.

Back in the 70s when I was living in Vancouver, we would occasionally ski at Mt. Baker. I remember the surprisingly flat plain driving south from Abbotsford, BC to Sumas, WA. I have fond memories of the beautiful, rugged and majestic terrain in this area. In the summer we would go camping in the same Cascades mountain range. I recall I was camping near the Nooksack when Mt. St. Helens blew up at precisely 8:32 AM on May 18, 1980. Although some 300 km to the SE. we heard the bang, if groggily.

Mt Baker is visible from Vancouver, accentuated here by telephoto lens.

As you drive south and east into Washington, the plain soon ends and the climb to Mt. Baker (elev. 10, 787 ft.) begins. We used to stop at a great pub in Glacier, WA just before the climb. It was an eclectic spot with milk cans, an old ringer washing machine, a pool table, crab traps and great Olympia, Kokanee and Fosters beer I recall. It is still there known as the Chair 9 now but less eclectic I imagine. Of course we would have to stop there on the way back down too.

Back to the Nooksack. As you drive up the Mt. Baker highway you notice this river on the left in a deep gulley. It is wild water for sure before it empties out onto the flat plain below Apparently the river used to flow north into Sumas Lake before the lake was drained almost exactly 100 years ago. It was diverted westward at the time according to this recent article. Nature has prevailed as the river is now flowing northward again during the heavy rains.

Some of my historical Nooksack area pics taken in the late 1970s.

Fond memories. Now praying that all of the BC flood affected farmers and residents will soon be able to return safely to their properties with minimal additional damage and that their animals can be saved too.

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