I headed up to the Park Butte lookout on Saturday in Mount Baker Wilderness and Recreation areas. The trailhead parking lot is shared with Railroad Grade and the Scott Paul trails. It’s about 50 miles from my door, somewhere up above Baker Lake.
The lookout is maintained by the Skagit Alpine Club. I’ve been a member of the club for a few years, but haven’t attended many meetings or been all that active. Hopefully that will change one of these days. That said, I’ve always wanted to check out the lookout I keep hearing about. Today was a great introduction, and I may be back soon for a snowshoe overnight--it seems very doable. The lookout is first come, first serve.
The trail was relatively empty, with snow near the start, and increasing in depth as I went higher. It's a pretty easy trail, really. I think the lookout is at 5300 feet or so. The hike is 7 miles, roundtrip. I wasn’t in a hurry, only running for a small stretch on the way back. I spent a lot of time looking at trees, snow, and clouds. This was my first snow hike in a while. It felt great to be out, just leaning on the hiking poles, kicking snow. A very simple morning.
I never got a good view of Mount Baker, but the clouds were really interesting. They were just moving all over the place, in different shades and shapes. The sun wanted to break through, but just couldn't get there.
The snow was probably a foot deep near the lookout, with a well worn path to go through. It wasn’t sketchy, but I wore yak trax and carried poles. There won't be many more hikes like this, at least without winter gear. The fresh snow didn't obscure all of the fall colors, leaving the occasional red and yellow on white.
Ran into Steph Abegg at the lookout, a climber and nightsky photographer who I heard speak at REI a few years back. As it turns out, she’s been in recovery from a very difficult climbing accident, and this was her first snow hike in over a year. She has an amazing website, where she documents her story, and where you can also see some of her terrific North Cascades and night sky pics. Recommend, highly.
Good day. More pics here.
Hope to run a bit tomorrow. Considering Herzog next week. Put in my registration for Deception Pass. A little leary of all the miles coming up, with my hamstring and all. In some ways, I'm my own worst enemy.