Day Hikes, Soft Beds and Good Eats
There's something to be said for day hikes and soft beds. I'm all for backpacking and car camping, but sometimes you need a little spoiling, or you're traveling with folks who like to hike, but would prefer to spend the night with a shower, good food, and clean sheets. (And if you're really lucky, a hot tub for soaking those tired legs in the evening!)
This past Fourth was one of those weekends, and an ideal place to to a soft bed-day hike adventure is the Mount Baker Highway. There are tons of rental cabins up that way (and a lot of vacancies--most folks book during ski season), lots of good restaurants, and absolutely fantastic day hikes. As the snow continues to melt, there's an embarrassment of day hiking riches opening up near Mount Baker: Artist Ridge, Yellow Aster Butte, Church Mountain, Hannegan Pass, Skyline Divide, and Horseshoe Bend to name just a few.
One great food discovery we made this past weekend: Il Caffe Rifugio just outside of Deming, WA. This was a completely serendipitous find: we had planned to have lunch at the North Fork Brewery, but it was closed on the Fourth of July. So the next place down was Il Caffe Refugio. What a place.
The paninis there range from the classic mozzarella-pesto-and-tomato to a turkey, red onion and Gruyere offering. There are pastas, and a very good selection of wine & beers. Each meal is served with a salad of fresh greens and a tasty balsamic dressing. The breakfasts--sturdy enough to fuel your day's hiking adventure--sound scrumptious.
The cappuccino I had rivaled anything I've tasted in Seattle. And did I mention the cinnamon roll bread pudding for dessert? Let me repeat that: cinnamon roll bread pudding. This is definitely a place for a pit stop either on your way up to Baker or on your return. The one down side are the hours--open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. So, if you've got a full day's hiking planned, you'll want to make sure you have enough time to squeeze in an early supper before last call.
[EDITOR'S NOTE 7/7/09: The cafe's summer hours are different from when I originally published this article. Current summer hours are :
The atmosphere is great, too. Lots of natural wood, local art, and a nice covered patio for dining al fresco. Truly a civilized "refuge" out in the woods.
Il Caffe is just east of Deming, about 12 miles west of Maple Falls.