Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chuckanuts North Butte 12-31-2011

Last hike of the year.

It wasn't planned. The family finally got tired of me hanging around the house, bored; they voted that I had to leave and go for a hike.

You know me... always compliant.

Grabbed some running gear and some hiking gear and jumped into the car a short while after noon and drove to the upper trail head on Blanchard Hill (aka Chuckanut Mountain).

The target was the Incline Trail ("new to me") which is an alternate route to Lizard and Lily lakes. It starts out on a logging road and then ascends quickly to the lake. The older route is less direct.

Since I'm trying hard to keep on my 'starting over' running schedule, today was supposed to include a (run+walk)x4 workout and it seemed like a great opportunity to do the run on the logging road and up the trail. Two birds, one stone.

Here is an attempt to embed the route as recorded by my Garmin 410:

Here's a link to the Dailymile workout data (yeah, I'm testing this out - thanks for your patience).

As it turns out, by the time I was on the last running interval, the trail was so steep (and my stamina so low) that I had to cut the 'run' short and resorted to fast hiking. I 'caught up' on the trail flats between Lizard and Lily Lakes (both ways) and then ran extra on the way DOWN the Incline trail.

Weather was ok - it didn't rain and it wasn't foggy.

Didn't actually cross paths with any other hikers but I did see a few and heard a few others but never actually close enough to acknowledge each other.

The trail was wide and easy to follow. A few muddy spots, a few recently regraded spots and a few piles of horse roo too. Hoar frost was evident along many downed branches along the trail near the lakes.

Lizard and Lily lakes look like they did when I made my first visit back in July 2011.

My quick arrival at Lizard Lake allowed me to continue onward toward Lily Lake. This long stretch of pretty flat trail follows an old railroad route. Many of the ties were left to (eventually) rot and you can see lumps of moss that have sprouted up to help the process along.

There are also old railroad and mining artifacts laying around. Please leave them for others to view and enjoy.

Upon my arrival at Lily Lake, I was surprised to see that a tree had been felled by beavers, right across the lake outlet. Such precision! They've also almost finished dropping a second tree. There were at least two other much smaller trees which they have also made use of.

Decided to follow the trail around Lily Lake in the clockwise direction. Mostly because I was hoping to find a bootpath to the local high point.

After a short while there was a small red flag tied to a tree with a bootpath heading in the direction of the high point so I followed it.

Instead of the high point, it led to North Butte - quite an unexpected surprise.

Even better was that the clouds had disappeared so the San Juan Islands were easily viewable. Oyster Dome is the obvious hump in the foreground just to the left of center.

The high point was nearby, but time was getting late and there didn't seem to be any obvious trail to reduce the routefinding time so it will wait for another day.

The hike/run back was uneventful.

Once back on the logging road, clouds to the east had lifted also and provided a single viewpoint to see Mt. Baker in sunshine with Alger Alp aka Little Bald Mtn) in the foreground.

Once back in the car, there was enough time left to drive out to the Samish Overlook and take in a few more views in late day sunshine.

Here is a view to the south, out over Skagit Flats, and also a zoom-in picture of the 4H barn where we spend our Wednesday evenings.

Turning to the right allows views of the Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands.

Considering the available time, the lack of notice, multiple objectives and the unpredictable weather, this outing was a total success!!

Here is a video which includes footage of the hoar frost (blurry), beaver cut trees, North Butte Views and Mt. Baker views.

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