Friday, September 30, 2011

Itinerary for 10-01-11

The Plan for the day is basically wide open.

In general, Rob & I are heading out to the little hamlet of "Ronald", which is near Roslyn (of "Northern Exposure" fame) to check out progress on the construction of his family Cabin.

While in the area we are considering a couple options. The main three options at this point are as follows:

1) Visit Cooper Lake, maybe hike along the Cooper River while we are in the neighborhood. See the map below.

2) Consider a hike up Polallie Ridge, probably starting at the south end and hiking north-ish until we feel satisfied (or bored, or wet or think of something better to do with our time). See above map, Polallie ridge is the line in the middle.

3) Consider a hike to Rachel Lake. See the map below. The trail is on there, but I didn't highlight it. Might have to click on the map to view a larger size.

We're simply hoping for 'less rain than on the west side of the mountains'.

If all that fails, the there's a slight chance I'll suggest a hike to Lake Annette, off I-90 just east of NOrth Bend a short ways.

Sounds like fall colors won't be too interesting just yet... but we'll just have to see.

Happy Trails!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ready for a fall hike?

Friendly reminder that my next hike is currently scheduled for Saturday October 1, 2011!

Fall has 'officially' arrived, so with a little luck maybe we'll be able to capture some fresh fall colors (although they seem to be running a bit late this year).

The desired destination is 'beyond' Cascade Pass, if the weather cooperates. As always, that destination could change based on a variety of who, what, where, when, why & how's.

Check your calendar and let me know if you are interested in tagging along or just crossing paths.

Happy Trails!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hidden Lake Lookout 09/05/2011

Some of the most stunning hikes in the North Cascades are only available for a limited time each year. The Cascade River road provides access to a number of these 'short season' Premier hikes.

The winter of 2010/2011 provided lots of snow and even more cooler temperatures - much later into spring than what we've seen for quite a while. Basically, the favorite & best hikes were still snow bound well into August this year.

Another factor necessary for enjoying some of these hikes are the fact that you'll want to have fantastic weather - because these hikes are all about the scenery.

Throw in the fact that my trail days are generally scheduled well in advance, it's always a gamble whether or not I'll get to enjoy ANY of the premier hikes in any given year.

My hike date scheduled for 9-5-11 provided the perfect formula for a nearly perfet day on the trail - one of the best day hike trails avaialble in the North Cascades: Hidden Lake Lookout.

Steve G. and I had arranged for an 8am departure from Mount Vernon - unsure at that point whether we'd hike to Cascade Pass or try Hidden Lake Lookout (HLLO).

Unbeknownst to us, the France's were also planning a hike for Sept. 5th. Stars fell into alignment and we decided to head up to HLLO as a group. That turned out to be a grand idea for a number of reasons.

First of all, it was a whole lot of fun and second of all, there is very limited parking at the trail head. It can be a real problem when the weather is so perfect!

The trail is pretty evident, but the first mile or so through the forest of Silver Firs and Hemlocks is pretty rocky and rooty. At the time of our visit there were two or three sections with trees across the trail. We were able to climb over/around/under two of them, but the third one has a makeshift trail re-route that basically cuts off a switchback.

Just when you start to ponder how much elevation you've already gained, Mother Nature distracts you by plopping you out into the bottom of a classic North Cascade alpine meadow.

Cross a creek and the flower show (and accompanying insect infestation) begins... and continues. So much, but no where near too much.

Astounding views are enjoyed at the bottom of the meadow. You may feel grateful and thankful and satisfied that you can enjoy these splendid views... but honestly - this is NOT the time to call it a day. Seriously, the views continue to get better and better as you ascend higher and higher. It's just unbelievable how much MORE you can see if you just keep going a little higher. Virtually every turn brings new sights into view.

Let me show you...

Here comes Mount Baker:

You might have enjoyed those pictures, but you might also be asking yourself "Is that it?"

No, that's not it. That's just the bottom of the meadow pictures.

We continued hiking up the slightly bushy trail (but the way is always obvious), enjoying the flower show and eventually watching out for the less friendly plant life.

***Guess you'll have to watch the video - I didn't upload the flower pics. FWIW, they look like flowers. Colorful ones, too.***

Eventually we emerged from the chest high brush and carefully traversed a few snowfields, had lunch, took a lot of pictures, made a video and finally hiked up to the 6,000' mark to our first view of the Lookout.

We then did the whole thing in reverse (but walking forward, duh).

The Video:

Our GPS Tracks:

The GPS Elevation Profile:

Hidden Lake Lookout trail is located by taking Hwy 20 to Marblemount, then following the Cascade River Road for about 10 miles before turning left onto Sibley Creek Road (signed as Hidden Lake Lookout trail) and following it 5 miles to the end of the road, and the trail head.

There were passenger cars at the trail head - but I wouldn't have taken my passenger car up the last five miles. There are a few large washboard dips on the inside of some tight corners, large rocks here and there and the tire tracks are uneven in some areas. Low clearance cars: be super careful! Also, the road is narrow in spots making passing quite dramatic, if not impossible.

Restroom facilities at the trail head are of the "find a tree" variety.

The hike, all the way to the Lookout, is repoted to be about 4.5 miles (one way) and 3,500 feet of elevation gain. Snowfields commonly linger through out the summer, but most are pretty short crossings without too much risk... so I've read.

Two big thumbs up for this trail! Can't wait to go back and visit the lookout!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Little Cranberry Lake and mine - ACFL - 08/28/2011

Little Cranberry Lake is one of four main areas in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL).

In the last year I've made a first visit to two other ACFL areas: Heart Lake and Whistle Lake/Sugarloaf Mountain. The third area, Mount Erie, contains some trails and climbing areas, but also includes a road directly to the summit... so it's pretty low on the Hikes To Do list.

Little Cranberry Lake came back onto my radar screen after the family mentioned interest in going swimming at Cranberry Lake. I found this request to be odd, because Google Earth wasn't revealing a swimming area that would be compatibale with my family's expectation of 'a swimming area' and 'a good time'.

As it turns out, they were talking about the real Cranberry Lake, which is not too far away... part of Deception Pass State Park. Darn good thing to know and make note of.

So, while trying to figure out why my family would request to go swimming at the wrong Cranberry Lake, I noticed that the ACFL map for Little Cranberry Lake indicates there is a mine nearby.

A search on Google revealed that it's wide open for anyone to actualy walk into it.

Suggestion: Bring a flashlight.

I ALWAYS keep one in my pack. Except today. Yeah, go figure. Guess a return trip will be in the future.

Another Suggestion: Bring an ACFL map of the area with you. The trails are all numbered and the ACFL map really helps in knowing where the trail goes - and how to find your car again.

The trails were pretty popular on this sunny day, but still not at all crowded.

The road to the lake is maybe 1 mile of gravel, somewhat steep in places and some good sized washboard dips on the inclines. My Camry bottomed out once (no damage) but was otherwise fine. If it's wet out, the road could be muddy and slick.

Followed the trail around the lake in a clockwise direction from the main parking area on the southside of the lake, near the dam.

Yes, it's a dam, but a small one, and the water level was pretty low at my visit.

there were people sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, mine exploring, innertube floating and littering.

I followed the trail to the mine, then followed trail 103 to the high point. Very odd phenomenon up there: the ground sounds hollow. I suspect the mine is deep below the highpoint, but I bet there is an inaccessible cavern just below the trail 103 highpoint - or maybe there is another opening that isn't publicized.

Seriously... go check it out and let me know. I'm really curious to find out more.

A third suggestion: Look out for this beehive alongside the trail on the west side of the lake, just south of the bare rocky/mossy area.

Like the other ACFL areas, this was a great local excursion!

Find the ACFL maps here (for free, partway down the page).

Happy Trails!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Itinerary for 09-05-11

Heading out for a day hike with Steve Gilles. Connecting with Andrea, Beau France, Jessica & Josh in the morning as well to decide the final game plan.

Anticipating that Steve & I will head toward Hidden Lake Lookout (Hwy 20 >> Marblemount >> Cascade River Road), but other considerations are Cascade Pass / Sahale Arm (further down the Cascade River Road).

Weather looks fantastic... can't wait!

Happy Trails!