Went for a nice 9.4 miles (RT) and 1,200 feet of gain hike on North Mountain just outside of Darrington on the day after Christmas.
On the way out there, I stopped in Rockport to look at the Eagles. Problem was that it was so comfy and warm in the car that I froze my buns off outside and the Eagles all seemed to suddenly disappear. I saw them from the road, but couldn't find them with the camera. It didn't take long before I was happy to be back in the warmth of the car.
Turned the thermostat WAY down on the way to the trail head. Lesson learned.
Found the turnoff for North Mtn off Hwy 530. It's the intersection that is signed for the "Christian Camp".
GPS aided in making sure I stayed on the right track for about 7 miles at which point there was a 'Y' intersection after which the road up appeared to be pure ice. Decided to park here since I wasn't sure what the conditions would be like further up the road and didn't want to get stuck since I was solo.
Turns out that I probably could have driven another mile and a half without too much risk. Oh well... "I could use the exercise" is what I told myself. Had I driven up further then I might have made the Lookout.
Since there wasn't any real snow here and my pack was jam packed with winter gear ("just in case"), I decided to leave the snowshoes in the car and just use my Stabilicers for the ice.
Just around the corner, the ice and snow disappeared from the road. There were traces of it here and there for the next mile to mile and a half. Oh well.
Another two miles later the snow finally reached a depth of maybe four inches, but it was either pure ice or just enough crust to hold you for a fraction of a second before collapsing. Other sections were pure frozen snow bomb lumps from the trees, making each step a lopsided step in an unexpected direction.
The stabilicers did great for traction, but the snow shoes would have been awesome for taking the limps out of the icy snow bomb bumps.
I called it quits at 1:30 and turned around.
***Please note that the North Mountain Lookout is being considered for demolition by the Forest Service. Efforts are underway to help save and renovate this Lookout - you can read more about how to help (and see a picture of the lookout) on the SAVE NORTH MOUNTAIN LOOKOUT page. ***
On the way home I stopped in Rockport again for Eagle pictures. Had a little better success (I could actually see a few in the trees). Others on hand informed me the best place and time for eagle viewing is at about 10:00am a bit further east where there are one or two hundred eagles having breakfast each day. My guess is that this must be at the little roadside park just west of the Cascadian Farm stand.
Here is a video I threw together. The video starts with the same art-deco style pictures but transitions to the 'real' photo too (since not everyone is a fan of the modified images). The end of the video includes some live video of eagles. It's not very exciting, but you can see one fly out of a tree and can hear one singing (if that's what you call it).