A small crowd of Mount Baker Club members gathered near Sunnyland Elementary School and prepared to depart to Twin Lakes for their first hike of the season.

The Mount Baker Club, which founded the Ski to Sea Race, has been conserving Whatcom County’s recreational areas and providing the county’s residents with outdoor opportunities for over 104 years, according to the Mount Baker Club website.

In 1911, four Bellingham businessmen made a request for the Mount Baker area to be recognized as a national park. Their request was denied due to America’s entrance into the First World War. Despite the dismissal, the businessmen moved forward to create what is now known as the Mount Baker Club, according to the Mount Baker Club website.

Marjan Eicher, club president in 1998 and member for 18 years, said the group split up into two organizations in the 1940s.

Today the club has 195 active members, the club’s membership chair Sharon Holmes said in an email.

The Mount Baker Club offers a variety of outings every weekend throughout the year, said Drew Winsor, the club’s publicity chair.

Winsor said that about 80 percent of outings are hikes, but according to the Mount Baker Club website, the group also leads outings related to biking, canoeing, kayaking, skiing, camping and snowshoeing.

“We kind of compete with [other outdoor rec clubs in Bellingham],” Steve Tuckerman said, a two-and-half-year member and board member of the club.

The club dabbles in a variety of outings, whereas many other outdoor recreation clubs in Bellingham specialize in just one, Tuckerman said.

“We hit all of those [activities], but we don’t go into the extremes,” Tuckerman said.

The club is more leisurely than most, Tuckerman said. While it is a good place for beginners and individuals with moderate experience to start, the club is not meant for people who are looking for a challenge, Tuckerman said.

Outings, which are led and chosen by members of the club, are open to the general public. These are listed on the club’s quarterly schedule online and do not require membership.

Winsor said the biggest advantage of being a member is that there are opportunities to participate in double the amount of outings than nonmembers can. Members of the club have access to a feature called short-notice outings, Winsor said. This allows members to quickly post or respond to trips that any member is putting together last minute.

To become a member, it costs $15 for individuals and $18 for families, according to Mount Baker Club’s informational brochure.

Most trips typically begin an hour within the Bellingham city limits region, but some are in much further places like British Columbia or the San Juan Islands, according to the Mount  Baker Club website.

Winsor said that the club has never held an event in conjunction with Western’s Outdoor Center, but he would be very interested in doing so.

Not only does the club strive to provide a plethora of outings to the public and its members, but it also has a passion for protecting and conserving the nature in the region.

The club used to have a specific member who acted as the club’s conservation chair, Eicher said. When Eicher was president, that man was Bud Hardwick.

Eicher said that there is no longer a conservation chair, but Tuckerman said that Hardwick, along with many members, are still very active in environmental aspects throughout Whatcom County.

Tuckerman said some of the club’s conservation activities include removing invasive plants from state parks and federal lands, getting involved with forest service management plants, maintain and rebuilding trails.

“It’s a rejuvenating experience,” Tuckerman said. “Any worries you have just falls away and renews your spirit.”

Winsor suggests that people get involved with the club for a multitude of reasons.

“It is a quick way to connect with people and helps people get in shape,” Winsor said. “Maybe one of the most important reasons is that it helps people learn about all of the amazing outdoor adventures in our area.”

To find out more about Mount Baker Club, visit their Facebook page, website or contact them by email. The club’s quarterly outing schedule is available online to see what the club is up to this fall.