Monday, August 20, 2012

Mount Dickerman

I left work an hour early on Friday, and shot out the Mountain Loop Highway for an early evening hike up Mount Dickerman.  The trail is pretty much all switchbacks going up, with limited views until near the top.  The trail has about 4000 feet elevation gain in four miles.  The views up high are terrific, with Glacier Peak being a highlight.  I did this trail some 15 years ago—good to be back.

I didn’t quite make the summit this time. I should've left an hour earlier. I became a little leary of descending completely in the dark, without anyone there to catch my fall.  (Billy I. reference, catch that?)  The trail is a rocky one, with sudden one or two foot drops, and some steep slopes off the side—not a problem in the light, but it didn’t look fun in the dark.  

As it turned out, it WAS really fun in the dark.  Friday was a hot day, 95 degrees, and walking down the hill in early dark was perfect.  It’s been too long since I’ve done a headlamp adventure. 

Bottom line, I got a great workout to end the work week, plus a nice drive up the Mountain Loop Highway.  I'm calling this a hike, but I pushed hard going up, jogged a bit on the down. I managed to see some North Cascade peaks and wildflower patches, and still got home by 10:30.  This left me time for home, work, and family stuff over the weekend. 

I could take a few more weeks of August this year. 

Hike details:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hidden Lake Lookout

Last Saturday I went up to Hidden Lake Lookout in the North Cascades with friends Craig and Greg.  We got an early start, meeting in Burlington at 5:30 AM, which was key to the day.  Empty trail, empty lookout, quiet on the mountaintop. Maybe 30 folks were coming up as we headed back, midday.

The lookout sits at 6900 feet elevation, and the views on Saturday were peerless.  Glacier Peak, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, all clear and near, not a cloud in the sky.  We could see the Olympics, Marblemount, Skagit Valley, and all the peaks around Cascade Pass.  

It was hot out, and the sun took a bit of a toll on me.  We crossed many tame snow fields, from about halfway up.  Hidden Lake is still frozen, but has cracks of azure blue, crissing and crossing.  By now, it probably has little icebergs floating, after the 80 degree weekend days. The snow fields were melting fast as we came down, with patches of watermelon ice in the drainages.  An avalanche occurred across the trail sometime between when we went up and came down.

The lookout is really a work of love for volunteers.  It has a bed, a desk, a stove.  A stool to stand on in lightning storms.  A little library.  Log books going back decades.  I recognized a few signatories.  It is open to all, first come first served.  I might try to get back this year.  

Wildflowers are on.  This year, I seem better at naming them.  The hike itself is about 9 miles total.  Trailhead is about 15 miles or so east of Marblemount.

Annie’s Pizza afterwards.  Came home and watched the other Olympics.