By Doug McKeever February 16, 2010
Updated by Dave Tucker, April 30, 2011
There is a large erratic sitting beside the Reese Hill Road east of Sumas, Whatcom County. It is on a steep slope, so when viewed from the road doesn’t look that huge…just a nice fern-covered rock, but from below, WOW! The upslope side is buried and the thing is nearly covered with ferns, algae, and moss, making it hard to tell lithology. (DT adds: The rock is pale green and cut with many tapering quartz veins. Examined in good light with a hand lens, it is evident that the rock is very silica-rich; it also contains 1 mm quartz phenocrysts (crystals) and probable mafic minerals, altered, pale gray, and tiny. The rock appears to be a very silicic, probably rhyolitic, lava. Source area? There is a Miocene silicic caldera up in the BC Coquihala area. Otherwise, no idea at this time.)
Saar Creek runs right below it, hence the name. This rock would be hard to climb up, since it either overhangs on all sides or is covered with greenery, not to mention being smoothed in transport. The one place it looked climbable is on the road side, but since there is a barbed wire fence just four feet away, I wanted a spotter (hate it when I get hung up on barbed wire). It is also a bit difficult to get around this big erratic to examine it, since it is on a steep slope of somewhat loose material. The most frustrating thing is that it lies in the woods, making picture taking awkward (I did my best)!
Anyway, I was able to stretch a 100-foot steel tape around the behemoth at ground level, and it measured 99 feet around! But the maximum circumference is more, since it tapers from a fat middle to a slim trim base at the ground where I measured. I would guess the maximum circumference is between 110 and 120 feet or more. For height, I used a 7-foot-long board with yellow flagging tape to give scale. The photo at right shows the board leaning up against the rock between two maple trees. The board is 7′ long, so by doing the multiples trick, it looks like the boulder is about 35′ tall.
One other thing…I wasn’t feeling so hot, yet despite my weakened condition, I tried to pick it up to get an idea of its weight, and my conclusion: it’s really heavy.
Getting there: There are two ways to get to the Saar Creek erratic, either from Sumas, or from the Mount Baker Highway at Kendall. If you are coming via Sumas, start at the junction of Highways 9 and 547 (9 goes north to the border at the south edge of town). Head east on 547 for 3.2 miles; the erratic is on the west (right) side of the road ~0.3 miles beyond the intersection with Eagle Roost Drive, nearly at the top of the steep hill, and is unmistakable- watch for the ’40 mph curve’ warning sign. There is ample parking on the left side of the road right across from the rock, and good visibility for safety. From Mount Baker Highway (Hwy 542) at Kendall, head north on 547. The road will jig around a lot, but the erratic will be on the left 7.5 miles from 542. If you reach Eagle Roost Drive you have gone too far. If you go, send a comment and let us know how these directions work out, and what you thought of this monster erratic.