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Labor Day Weekend 2020

A much needed three day weekend.

Saturday was spent on the road pony. Not as eventful as the 75 mile excursion from a few weeks back, but a good ~50 mile ride nonetheless. I had a route mapped on Strava, but per usual I didn't follow it and ended up doing a lot more climbing than I had anticipated. I ended up with 48 miles and ~2300 vertical feet, it was a great ride to start off the long weekend.

Sunday was a scouting day. It's September so skiing is taking over every waking thought. With COVID creating more questions than answers for the state of resort skiing, backcounty skiing is in the forefront of my mind. My research over the next several weeks will be thorough. Hidden Lake Lookout was first on the list to scope out.

The hike was supposed to be a little more than nine miles round trip, but I managed to make it nearly 18 miles. The forest road, to the trailhead, was washed out at the bottom, huge pot holes, large enough to lose your car in. A family from California was at the forest road at the same time I was, about 0800, and they mentioned that "an AllTrails report said a car rolled last week and there are four spots that are like this". So even knowing this, they sent it with their small SUV. Nothing against people from Cali, but....umm, yeah, we'll just leave it at that.

Might not look like much, but these holes were 18" deep

Another obstacle about 2/3 the way up the road

I stood back and watched as this family somehow managed to get through the rough patch with one wheel touching nothing but air, and the other three spinning on the loose dirt, spraying it down the road. I waited and watched. They made it after what must have been the longest eight seconds of that family's life. Two more small SUVs struggled to make it up. After seeing the evidence, I opted to be nice to my Subaru and not subject her to getting rocked around. So, I left her parked in a safe spot at the bottom of the forest service road and started my hike from there. It was 4+ miles to the trailhead, and another 4+ miles to the lookout. Wasn't planning on a long hike, but there I was, going for it.

Early morning PNW haze


Made it to the trailhead by about 0920 and immediately started upward. The early part of the trail was forested with that classic PNW style. Tall straight lodgepole pines, moss and lichen on coating every surface, and everything was wet. When it finally opened back up, you could see an incredible inversion back toward the west.

The Hidden Lake Trail may take the the crown from Ranger Creek for home of the switchbacks. The views were well worth the steep climbing trail and persistent switchbacks. I think there were six or seven switchbacks before getting the the ribbon of trail that looped around the ridge, and another dozen or so switchbacks from there to the top. The first glimpse of the lookout was a welcome sight, even though it was at least another 800 vertical feet from where I stood at the time. Also, there was snow, I was a very happy hiker.

Love a nice lens flare

Mount Baker to the West, had this view all the way up

First glimpse of the lookout, that little white speck perched on top of the cliff band

Cliff band beneath the lookout

The lookout sits atop this astounding rock face, with sheer cliffs to the north side. Located at the highest point on the ridge, the lookout has an incredible 360 degree view. Along with that, Hidden Lake is nestled just below the rock garden the lookout rests on. Picturesque is an understatement. Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, were all clearly visible, along with some lesser known peaks: Sahale, Triad, Eldorado, Torment, Boston, Forbidden, Klawatti, and Sharkfin, to name a few.

Hidden Lake sits below Hidden Lake Peaks North (left) and The Triad (middle)

I don't think this view will get old; Mount Baker from the Hidden Lake Lookout

View South: Glacier Peak (middle) and Mount Rainier on the horizon to the West (right)

The weather for the day couldn't have been better. It was about 65 at the peak with a light breeze, and incredibly clear.

So, I carried a backpack, which was smart, but I didn't have the smarts to carry more than 32 oz of water. Huge mistake. I drank my last drops of water at the lookout, approx. nine miles from my car. Not ideal. I figured if I put in a light jog most of the way back down I'd be able to get water faster. That thought process seemed to be logical at the time.

Good news: It worked, I got water about an hour faster than I would have at a normal hiking pace. Bad news: the combination of not wearing my hiking shoes for a while and running down hill resulted in some high quality blisters. I was rather thirsty so it was definitely worth it, but five days later I'm still dealing with that aftermath.

Overall pre-Labor Day adventure: 10/10, would recommend, but with extra water.

With fire season starting and the smoke moving in, outdoor activity may be limited for the next few weeks until things clear up. Hopefully people will realize that climate change is real and that you can do very small, simple, actions to help improve the health of our environment and climate. It all starts with you.

I like exploring this planet, and as far as I know, it's the only one we've got, so let's take better care to reduce our carbon footprint and make the place we call home a little more homey.

I don't know about you guys, but I trust NASA. They use science. I like science.

Side note: it's not often that more than 97% of scientists agree on something, but 97% of scientists agree that climate change is "extremely likely due to human activities". So, we should be better humans. Less plastic, less waste, less oil, more recycling, more clean energy, more awareness of your actions.

My personal favorite organization devoted to helping our climate, Protect Our Winters:

News updates from Seattle if you want to read more about what's happening outside my front door:

And an interactive map that shows you all the fires in the US right now:

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