Tolmie Peak Lookout was AMAZING!

The weather in Washington has been a quite unpredictable lately. Normally fall is cooler temps but little rain. Instead we have been having cooler temps and lots of rain or snow which has made it feel more like winter when hiking. Saturday looked like we had a little window of good weather around Mt. Rainier so we decided to head down to Tolmie Peak Lookout. It is a shorter hike at just 7.5 miles roundtrip and only 1,100 mile elevation gain. It is generally a really nice trail that goes through multiple different scenery options. The downside of this trail is the road to get there. It is about 12 miles of unmaintained dirt road, which translates to large potholes everywhere! Like you will need a new suspension when you finish driving on this section of the road. It is the most uncomfortable ride! I even drive a Jeep Wrangler and you are bouncing all over. It makes me cringe watching small cars try and drive on this road.

We arrived to a 3/4 full parking lot with some people choosing to part on the roadway to skip part of the trail. We started at the trail beginning as this section of the trail walks right next to Mowich Lake which is very pretty! We were greeted with clear, blue skies which made the entire hike beautiful! After the lake the trail winds through the forest where you have several elevation gains and losses. Once you exit the forest, you enter a short meadow which follows a smaller lake. The meadow was filled with fall colors. From this point you can see the lookout up on a rock ridge. Although it looks so far away, from this point is is actually only .9 miles to the top and it goes by quickly!

The trail up to the Ridgeline offers spectacular views of Mt. Rainier. Living in Washington you never get tired of looking at her. She is spectacular! There are multiple entrances to Mt. Rainier National Park so depending on which trail you take you get a different side and view of Mt. Rainier.

The lookout was busy, but we were able to find a spot to sit and eat lunch. There are a number of grey jays flying around and they were quite noisy! Acting like their usual selves they were taking any opportunity they could to steal your lunch!

The one negative I would say about the hike was the sheer number of people on this trail. It was just a train of people. Many who are clearly not regular hikers. They were cutting through switchbacks and walking in large groups (I mean 20 or so people) and completely congesting the trail so no one could walk by. Not willing to move over it created some problems along the trail. We need to be better about educating people on trail etiquette.

The road is scheduled to close for the winter Sunday (today) so we picked the perfect day to close out the Tolmie Peak Lookout season!

Larch month is upon us but ending soon!

October in Washington state is a busy hiking time! Partly because we generally have fantastic weather and secondly because of our fall leaf colors and larches! Larches? Never heard of those? Well, they are a deciduous conifer tree. This means they have pine needles, but unlike most conifers, larch needles turn bright yellow in the fall and then fall off over the winter only to grow back in the spring. In Washington October is called “Larch March” because so many people flock to the handful of hikes where you can find larches. I normally head over to Lake Ingalls because they are pretty spectacular there but the weather hasn’t been very good lately for the hike. We decided to head up to Maple Loop Pass this time.

Maple Loss Pass is on Highway 20 at Rainy Pass. Highway 20 is only open for half the year because of the amount of snow it receives. We are close to it closing this year. Normally in mid-October we might have a dusting of snow but nothing major. The fall leaf colors are pretty amazing in October and Maple Loop is known for larches. I was pretty excited to see them again this year.

After a crazy long drive to get there, we arrived to snow in the parking lot. Not a good sign! Clearly the recent heavy rains have resulted in heavy snow up in the mountains. Even on a weekday the parking lot was almost full at 9 AM. We headed out on the trail and within the first half mile or so, we were walking down a dedicated footpath with a couple feet of snow on the sides. So much for seeing all the larches and fall colors! We have clearly moved straight to winter!

I do love winter hiking! It is so pretty. Fluffy white untouched snow as far as you can see. Rock formations look like clouds as they are covered in snow. Trees are a fraction of their normal size as they are buried in the snow. The treetops are folded over to make them look like Dr Suess trees. We had a recent wind storm so we had to climb over quite a few alder blowdowns. They cover up quite a bit of space when they fall.

Once we got up to the lake we were able to see some larches on the other side of the valley but we could also see some storm clouds rolling in. The wind was starting to pick up and I was starting to question if we would be able to make the entire 7.5 mile loop. Well that question was answered before we made it up to Maple Pass. We hit the first ridge where you could see across the valley and ran into some hikers coming down from Maple Pass who informed us there was not visible trail from Maple Pass so they had to turn around. They had been breaking trail for a bit through knee to waist deep snow. sDue to the wind picking up and the pending rain/storm we decided this would be a good place to turn around.

It was so crazy to see that much snow this early in the season! It makes you feel like fall just got skipped over and winter is here to stay! I guess it’s time to break out all the winter hiking gear as snowshoe season is clearly upon us soon!

Park Butte Lookout

Up Highway 20 just before the small city of Concrete is a turnoff for Baker Lake. This area is really popular in the summer for camping and fishing. If you head a little past Baker Lake you find several forest service roads which take you out in the foothills where several really nice trails exist.

Park Butte is my third lookout I’ve hiked to in Washington. They all are a little different. Some allow overnight stays while others do not. Some are open year around while others close during late fall and winter. Park Butte is on the south side of Mt. Baker and offers spectacular views of the mountain through fields covered in fall colors.

The trail starts out meandering through a meadow with little elevation gain. There is a fairly wide river or mountain runoff stream to cross. When we were there, a temporary metal bridge was placed over the river to allow crossing. I just read that it has been removed for the winter. With the recent rains I would not want to try crossing that river without a bridge. That is some fast moving water! Once you cross over the bridge the trail starts a steady climb up to another meadow. The climb is through the forest and occasionally offers peekaboo views over the valley. We had some low clouds so some of the view was obstructed, however I always like the view when you are actually above the cloud cover. It looks like you are on top of cotton balls or marshmallow cream!

When you climb out of the forest, you enter a large meadow that is currently covered with fall colors. The ground cover leaves were a deep red color, which was a nice fore ground against the white glaciers of Mt. Baker. Across the meadow we had an unobstructed view of Mt. Baker. It always seems so strange to be standing so close to glaciers. You can see the creases and blue coloring of the ice.

From the meadow you start climbing again to get up to the lookout. I’ll be honest you can see the lookout from the meadow and it looks so far away. Like crazy far away! The trail winds it way up and around the rocks. You walk parallel to the lookout for quite awhile. It can get a little discouraging as it doesn’t feel like you are making any progress to the lookout. Outside of the view of Mt. Baker there really isn’t much to see on this hike. The landscape is pretty dry and rocky unfortunately.

One exciting part on the trek up to the lookout was the sighting of a black foraging in a meadow. When I first saw the bear I wasn’t quite sure what it was, until it moved! It was a ways away so it was pretty exciting to see! It made the long trek up the hill go by quickly as we were easily distracted by seeing what the bear was doing. This was my first time seeing a bear int he wild on a hike! Pretty cool!!

The lookout was pretty busy so we didn’t stay very long. We moved off to the side to sit and have lunch looking out over a valley as the fog moved in. While we were eating lunch a group of horseback riders came up to the lookout. Never seen that on a trail before! They were pretty funny and immediately broke out their Coors Light to enjoy at the lookout!

It was starting to get kinda chilly so we headed back down. Another lookout hike to check off the list!

Bridal Veil Falls looked closer to Niagara Falls!

We finished our goal hike of Mailbox Peak on Sept 10 so on the 19th we decided to head to a waterfall hike. Donna always like a waterfall and Bridal Veil is a pretty waterfall.

The weather was pretty rough a few days before our hike, so I wasn’t quite sure what that would do to the trail as it is in a forest and can have some fairly significant trail pooling. It was a bit chilly when we started out but not too bad and no rain!

The trail was actually in pretty good condition. We had some water going up the stairs, where it was pooling and filling the steps. The trails were covered with nice fall cover. The large maple leaves were covered with orange, red and yellow leaves. As we got closer to the falls, you could hear the water flow. Not the sound of a normal waterfall. It was the sound of a raging waterfall! All of a sudden it felt like we were in the middle of a rainstorm. We were getting soaked but it wasn’t raining! The waterfall was flowing so heavily it was creating significant wind which was blowing the water outside of the waterfall. We needed wetsuits! I’ve never seen that much water flowing down Bridal Veil! It was equally impressive and crazy! My friend, who loves waterfalls, was quite impressed! Not sure I will be able to top that for any future waterfall hikes!

Once we were sufficiently soaked at the falls, we walked partway back down the trail and took the trail that heads up to Lake Serene. I knew we wouldn’t be going to Lake Serene as there are thousands of stairs and switchbacks. Okay, maybe not thousands but its close!! A short ways down this trail there is a bridge which allows you to see the entire falls at Bridal Veil. It’s actually in two sections that you can’t see from the top. The rain had been so heavy a few days before, that we were actually treated to two additional smaller waterfalls just down the trail. I think I have filled her waterfall hiking bucket!

By the time we headed back to the car, it had just started raining. Perfect timing!

Mailbox Peak, yep I still don’t like you!

They say 3rd time is a charm, but I don’t think that applies to hiking Mailbox Peak. Although I really do not like this hike at all, this time, it was for a great purpose. September 10 was my friends birthday, but it is also National Mental Health Day. Mental health is something we don’t talk about often. It comes with an air of secrecy and weakness. We don’t talk that way about physical health so we should not talk that way about mental health.

The “why” behind the hike is my friend. She lost her oldest son a couple years ago to suicide. Devyn was (and still is) deeply loved by his family and friends. Devyn had reached out to the crisis line multiple times on that day, but did not get the attention or help that he needed. The feeling of hopelessness that can not be explained or relieved in that moment. That moment when a person feels suicide is the only relief. In reality it isn’t a relief. It is a lifetime sentence of grief and loss for everyone left behind. Choose to stay! Moments are temporary. This level of grief and loss is permanent!

Mailbox Peak is a hike Devyn did with friends. A photo of Devyn and his friends at the mailbox, smiling, full of life and a bright future. A photo she cherishes. Once she said she wanted to do this hike, I was all in with helping her reach the top. We’ve trained all summer for the hike. The weather was cooperating, although it was crazy hot! We decided it would be best for them to take the new trail up and down. Although it is a longer trail, it is not as steep. Both trails meet partway up the trail, so the climb to the summit is the same for both trails.

The day started on the wrong foot. On my way there I realized I forgot my boots! Huge problem! Had to turn around so I was an hour late to the hike. I told everyone else to start and I would catch up. My goal was to catch up at the point where the old trails and new trail meet.

We arrived at the trail and kept up a pretty good pace to meet up with the group. We were quick enough to actually catch them before the two trails meet. One of our group members was having some issues with nausea and anxiety so that slowed our pace getting to the top. Sometimes you just need to stop, breath deeply and focus on accomplishments to calm yourself. Too much thought can get you spinning in a negative direction.

The pace to the top was pretty slow, but that was okay. I started having back spasms along the way so frequent breaks helped by allowing me to take off my pack and stretch out my back.

Although I truly hate this hike, it was amazing seeing my friend step over the top and stand at the mailbox. A huge accomplishment! She spent some quiet time at the mailbox. Left a custom t-shirt. A Starbucks card and a Stay; sticker.

Longest walk every back to the car! 3rd time is the last time for Mailbox!!

Take care of your mental health. Reach out!

Always…..Choose to STAY; You are far more important and valuable than that moment! You are LOVED!

Annette Lake, supposedly the warmest alpine lake in Washington State

September 6 we planned our last training hike before Mailbox Peak. We decided on a fairly easy hike to stretch out our legs and talk about our upcoming hike. Annette Lake is near North Bend Washington off the Denny Creek exit. The Annette Lake trail is roughly 7.5 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1,800 feet. The lake sits at approximately 3,600 feet, which is pretty low for an alpine lake, which is why everyone says the lake is warm enough for swimming. Although I have seen a number of people swim in the upper elevation lakes and they are COLD!!

We were treated to another moody sky hike, with lowland fog, which is pretty common in the fall in our mountains. Sometimes it blows over and sometimes it does not. The nice part of morning fog is how it affects the sun rays when they shine through the trees. September is generally a really nice time to hike in Washington as the weather is still good. Not too hot (for us that means below 80) and not too cold (which means no hardcore rain).

This trail leads you through a forest on a pretty wide dirt trail. Most of the trail is in the forest, with just a couple breakouts into meadows. Not sure really why they call them meadows as its not like you are walking through bunch of flowers or anything. Not really even a large open space. But anyways….. The trail was pretty busy but most people were wearing masks.

We arrived at the lake along with what appeared to be another hundred or so hikers! We had to walk a bit around the lake to find a spot for all of us to relax. We were able to find a downed tree for us all to sit on and eat some lunch. We talked for several minutes about who was going to go in the lake for a swim. I waded in to my ankles and quickly decided that water was not the warmest alpine lake. It was roughly as cold as many of the others I have visited! No swimming for me! Donna and I sat on the log as Michelle and Cathi decided they would go for a swim. Judging by the sounds of their breath after they dove in, they did not think it was very warm either! Luckily we had some extra dry clothes for them to put on for the hike back.

I can see why this hike is so popular. It reminded me a lot of Lake Serene, but without the thousands of stairs and switchbacks! It’s an easy hike that you can do after work to get in some quick mileage and stretch out your legs.

After this we were on the 4 day countdown to Mailbox Peak!

Burroughs 1, 2 and a herd of goats!!

We’d planned on doing this hike a couple weeks earlier but I somehow managed to miss the entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. Still don’t understand how that happened! Just meant we needed to come back.

It turned out to be a pretty windy day with gusts about 25 mph. That’s not all that fun when you are on a dry mountain with blowing dirt. Luckily there is quite a bit of blockage areas along this hike. Burroughs is back on the Sunrise side of Mt. Rainier, which is definitely more desert like. Although the trail starts in the missile of a meadow, you quickly leave that and head out to the dirt and rock! This hike takes you along the side to Frozen lake as well, but instead of turning right to the lookout you go left up the Ridgeline. As we were walking along we would see a large herd of goats hanging out along with Wonderland Trail. We kept an eye on the herd and thought we could divert down there after our hike to get a look at the goats. My GF hasn’t seen goats up close so we were hoping they would still hang around.

Burroughs heading up to 1 and 2 is not the prettiest hike. You have long views out across the valley but the terrain is really dry and pretty boring. I would imagine it’s what the surface of Mars looks like! The highlight of the hike up was my GF attempting a headstand on top of Burroughs 1. It was a bit breezy up there. She tried several time and we ended up with a pretty funny video!

The trek from Burroughs 1 to Burroughs 2 was equally uninspiring. You can tell you are gaining some elevation as the air is a bit thin up there. We pondered on top of Burroughs 2 if we should head to the elusive Burroughs 3. Still not sure where it is or if it really exists. The park map doesn’t even show it! We decided to head back down and keep an eye out for the goats. Fortunately on the way back down we could see the goats the entire time and it was clear they were not moving anywhere. We made it down to frozen lake and made the turn onto the Wonderland Trail. We found a herd of goats bedded down in the trees. I would guess there were about 40 goats including several babies. We watched them for while then decided to head back down as it was getting pretty warm on the trail.

Another hike to check off the bucket list!

Chain Lakes Loop is one of my favorite hikes!

I’ve hiked Chain Lakes Loop in the summer and in the winter. The hike looks completely different in different seasons. You wouldn’t recognize it in the winter.

My birthday is in late August so my GF and I headed up to Bellingham for a little getaway! She had never hiked at Mt. Baker so we left early to spend the day at Mt. Baker. We originally planned on Heliotrope but there were some recent trip reports talking about the river crossings being pretty challenging due to ice melt. We decided we better not push it and went for Chain Lakes Loop instead.

I was surprised there weren’t many cars in the lot when we arrived. After a 5 minute discussion of which trail actually took us to chain lakes loop, we headed out. The trail is nice as it runs along Bagley Lakes. There are a couple nice stone bridges at the beginning. The water level is really low this late in the summer so it seemed closer to a creek or pond. The trail meanders along the water for the first mile or so before it turns into the hillside and you begin a long and steady climb up to the saddle. In the summer this section is lined with wild blueberries. They are a nice pick me up along the way as this section is pretty dry with no sun cover.

We did have some distant clouds so Mt. Shuksan was covered pretty much the entire time we were hiking. We did get some nice peek a boo views of Mt. Baker along the way. At the saddle you get to see Mt. Baker and overlook two large lakes down in the valley. Both of them are great spots for overnight camping. We did see quite a few tents around the lakes. We stopped for lunch at one of the lakes and soaked in the view for some time.

The second half of the trail heads out of the meadows and into a much drier section of the mountain. The backside has meadows in the distance, but the trail is dry, surrounded by rock fields as you head up to Ptarmigan Trail. The views on this side though are pretty phenomenal. Mt. Baker had some cloud cover rolling through so we had some good on and off views as we traversed the side of the hill. At the top you have the choice to head out the Ptarmigan Trail for an up close view of Mt. Shuksan or head towards Artist Point. We already knew the could were covering Mt. Shuksan so we headed towards Artist Point. At this point the trail was getting pretty crowded. A lot of people start from Artist Point so it can be a bit of a train line. The view heading to Artist Point is pretty nice. You get nice sweeping views with the small views of Lake Diablo. It stands out because of the color. You immediately know what lake you are looking at, at soon as you see it!

Pretty sure I’ve sold my GF on more hikes at Mt. Baker! We will definitely be back for some snowshoe hikes in the winter/spring!

Skyline and High Skyline at Mt. Rainier

On August 22, the group headed back down to Mt. Rainier to hike Burroughs. I thought it would be a great opportunity to stretch out the legs and see some different terrain at Mt. Rainier. We were so busy chatting on the way down that I actually missed the turn into Sunrise at Mt. Rainier. Not exactly sure how that happened and I passed at least 3 signs telling me to turn! So……anyways we ended up at Paradise at Mt. Rainier. I haven’t hiked there in a really long time so it was a nice change. The Paradise side has a lot more meadows and waterfalls. You get a much closer look at the glaciers on Rainier and can see the trek to Camp Muir! Camp Muir is still on my bucket list!

Luckily Cathi has hiked Skyline before and knew it was a really nice trail. Portions of the trail are actually paved which is interesting. This trail starts at the well known stairs, etched with a John Muir quote. Right from the get go we saw the most marmots I’ve ever seen! They were everywhere!!! We even saw a couple bucks eating some vegetation. The marmots are clearly use to seeing people regularly. They stand right next to the trail or cross the trail right in front of you. At times they look like they are engaging you in a stare down!

What’s nice about this trail, beyond the view, is the ongoing view of Mt. Rainier. It feels like you are virtually standing on Mt. Rainier at times. It’s so close you can almost reach out and touch it! The glaciers on this side are amazing. You can see the blue ice, cut deeply with crevases and fissures. You just don’t understand the magnitude of these. To be able to see them with such detail at that distance, you know just how massive they truly are.

Although we had pretty clear skies, we also encountered some cloud layers as we gained elevation. One of my favorite parts of being on a mountain is the ability to get above the cloud layer. When you are above the clouds, the tops look like cotton balls. It looks like you could walk right out on them! Maybe that’s what the heavens look like. It just give an entirely different perspective to the environment. We were so lucky and were able to see Mt. St Helen’s, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood from the trail. That is pretty amazing! I’ve summited Mt. St Helens. I’m going back to Mt. Adams in 2021 to finish that hike! If all goes well maybe even add Mt. Baker to the 2021 list!

This hike for the crew was a bit more difficult. It didn’t have more elevation gain or mileage, but the starting elevation point and increase created some issues with the thinner air. Right from the start a couple were having a hard time breathing but I think the views were a nice distraction.

Sometimes getting lost leads you to the best hikes! This hike lived up to that!

2nd try at Fremont Lookout for sunset

On August 10 I headed back down to Mt. Rainier for a second try for sunset. Cathi and I were fogged in the first time. The weather forecast was amazing! Clear skies with no chance of rain! That sounds like perfect conditions for sunset! I arrived at the park and Mt. Rainier was out in all her glory!! I’ve lived here pretty much my entire life and I just can’t express how lucky we are to view that mountain every day! She is spectacular!! Even better is the fact that we have this huge national park that has miles of trails in it. Some venture through meadows and other are more desert like. You can walk so close to Mt. Rainier and see all the glaciers.

I pulled in the parking lot and there she was! No cloud cover. Robin egg blue skies. I was carrying a few extra pounds in my pack with my DSLR camera, tripod and my fun lens ball! I didn’t care as the pictures were going to be so good!

Having just been there a week earlier, I was surprised as how much frozen lake had changed. Nearly all the snow and ice was gone. The snow bridge had collapsed. Even though there are roughly 500 signs and barbed wire surrounding the lake telling everyone to stay out as it is a public water supply, there is always that one person who can’t follow directions! Not only did she have to pass several signs telling her to stay out, she ducked between the barbed wire to get down to the lake to refill her water bottle. I mean seriously!

I got up to the lookout early and found a good spot. I set up my camera and tried some photos with my lens ball. Note to self on a really sunny day be super careful with the lens ball as glass and sun don’t really go together:). In a mater of a millisecond I burned a hole in my shirt and burned my hand! The point where your hand starts burning and your brain knows it hurts but it takes a couple more seconds to put the pain and the lens ball together to realize your hand is burning!

After about 20 minutes I started to notice a familiar fog/cloud layer coming up the valley. I hoped it would be temporary and blow through, but boy was I wrong! Not only did it continue to blow through, it continued to get thicker and thicker to the point of Mt. Rainier not even being visible. I ended up leaving before sunset as it was obvious that it would not clear up for hours.

Another failed sunset attempt for Fremont Lookout! It’s all good though! It was still a really nice hike.

Did you know Melakwa means “mosquito” in Chinook??

Living in Washington State we have a deep relationship with several Native American Tribes. Many of our cities carry Native American names that out of towners badly attempt to pronounce. Lake Melakwa is located outside Snoqualmie (Snoqualmie Tribe) and is located within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It is a relatively popular trail located off Denny Creek. The trail is roughly 8.5 miles roundtrip and has an elevation gain of about 2,700 feet. The trail offers a wide variety of landscape as you gain elevation.

I chose this hike as part of our training hikes in preparation for Mailbox as it gains 2,700 feet, which would be our most elevation gain in a hike. It’s a fairly consistent grade so it would help acclimatize the group to ongoing elevation but nothing dramatic. We had a couple new hikers join us on this trip so that added some entertainment as this was a bit, actually a lot, out of their comfort zone.

The trail starts out in the forest and about a mile in, you come across the Denny Creek crossing. In the summer the creek is easily passable as a log is across it that you walk across. This area has a lot of slippery big rocks that families come to so their kids can play safely. They also make for super fun slip and slides! It’s a nice area to go do something different. If you walk up the creek there is a nice waterfall that has a small pool at the bottom.

We kept heading up the trail and came to the talus field. As we climbed Donna kept asking me if we were heading up that and I kept reassuring her no. We weren’t going up that as we were crossing over to the other side but what I didn’t tell her was that we would be going to about the same elevation point! Pretty sure she called me a liar several times as we gained elevation!! I always laughed! At this point I was beginning to question if her friends were going to make it to the lake as we still had quite a ways to go.

After a couple hours we made it to the lake. Every alpine lake here looks different. Each has their own unique valley they sit in and their own unique color. I’ll never get tired of looking at alpine lakes, but apparently some in my group do! Ha! Although we didn’t have the best weather, it was still a beautiful day. The lake was a bit chilly so it was nice to take my boots off and soak my feet in the chilly water. Too cold to swim for sure! We did celebrate with some whiskey shots at the lake though!

Hiking during a pandemic has been an interesting process. It has been great to get outside and breathe in some fresh air for sure! With a goal in mind of Mailbox Peak on September 10 we have to make sure we get out every week to build endurance to make sure they all make it to the peak. The downside has been the massive increase in the number of people on the trails. A lot of people who don’t normally hike and don’t know hiking etiquette. With trails being so busy it is really important that we practice safe passing, not stepping onto delicate terrain off the trail and practice leave no trace principles! I really can not tell you how much toilet paper or Kleenex I’ve seen off the side of the trail. Not to mention dog poop bags. This has become a huge issue that will require massive cleanups. It’s really disappointing to see people just have a complete lack of respect for our forests. You can’t have nice things if we don’t bother to take care of them!

Next week I think we will do some exploring at Mt. Rainer!

Fremont Lookout in Mt. Rainier National Park

Not sure what it is with me and sunset hikes. Somehow even when the forecast is calling for clear blue skies, which equates to gorgeous sunsets, when I arrive the weather has another idea in mind! Last night was no different!

We arrived at the park and there was a noticeable chill in the air. The mountain breeze was blowing through the valley creating a light misty fog. Good thing we brought a few layers for the lookout! Needed to put on an extra layer in the parking lot! And a hat!

From the parking lot the trail immediately starts on an incline to get up to the first saddle. There is a maze of trails in MRNP so you come across several markers at trail intersections giving directions and distances to multiple trails. Even it was becoming pretty clear there would be no views at the top, the trail was reasonably busy.

At the first saddle we had a cool weather phenomena with the wind pushing the cooler air through the valley up to and over the saddle. It creates a wispy blow over, similar to a misting fan over a beer garden on a hot day. Well of course we were without the beer and the hot weather!

After the saddle the trail takes you through a talus field. There are nice sweeping views of the valleys in this area. It would be a perfect spot to see a bear grazing in the fields. You know, way down in the valley at a safe and acceptable distance! After the talus field in a small public water source. I believe it is called frozen lake. It was mostly thawed, but with a few small icebergs. On a sunny day I bet that makes a beautiful photo!

After the lake, is the steady climb to the lookout. I’m just going to imagine you can see Mt. Rainier along this part. We saw a lot of whiteout and not much more!

Made it to the lookout in about 90 minutes with another 30 or so people to see a sunset……..or not. The wind was picking up a bit at the top so we needed to put on our puffy jackets to cut the wind. Then decide what to snack on. Several funny conversations about that! We both decided we should have brought whiskey. I even thought about bringing my Jetboil for some hot chocolate at the top. We sat at the lookout to block some of the wind. Twice we saw a 5 second peak at the top of Mt. Rainier. Unfortunately by the time I could get my phone out to take a picture it was gone!

We headed back down and needed our headlamps to see most of the way. With so many intersections along the trail on the way back we had a couple spots to make sure we were taking the right trail to make it back to the parking lot.

Definitely will be going back on a clear day because Mt. Rainier is so close to that lookout. A clear sunset would be spectacular. Another day!

Nice hike. Good company and conversation. Always makes for a great day!

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