Heading to the Trail Head
We walked the 2 miles to the trail and then put on our snowshoes. There were ski tracks leading up that looked a day old. They made it much easier to hike, rather than breaking trail.
At 3000 ft. we headed up the west ridge following the ski tracks. It was grueling work, with 50 lb. packs on 40-50 degree slopes covered in snow. Progress was slow, with about 600-800 ft. vertical gain an hour.
Around 1pm the snow was melting and our snowshoes were sinking in. We heard a loud avalanche several miles away. Glad we were in the trees on the west ridge! The avalanche danger was more likely on the south-east faces according to the avalanche forecast.
Out of the Trees
When we got about 300 vertical ft. from the lookout when we ran into the skiers, whose trail we had been following the entire way. They had been there a day and were up for the weekend for some back-country skiing.
We got to the cabin at 6:30pm, 9 and a half hours and 9 miles from our starting point. We were pretty out of energy. When we got in, the skiers had a propane heater going and it was 50 degrees inside. Outside, it was around 25 degrees with light winds. We had brought two Duraflame logs and got those going with a little white gas. We ate our dinner with some wine and melted snow over the stove. The logs warmed the cabin to a toasty 60 degrees.
I spent an hour taking pictures and watching the stars. Mt. Baker looked incredible with light coming from Bellingham. The skiers took the beds, but there were 3 extra mats to use on the floor. I was a little too hot in my zero bag, even with it opened halfway.
The next morning I woke up at 6:30am to catch the sunrise. The fire had gone out and the propane heater had run out of gas. Inside it was 32 degrees. I stepped outside and was surprised by a dense fog. I couldn't see more than twenty feet. The forecast had predicted clear skies until Sunday night, with low winds and no snow. At least it wasn't snowing or windy. I crawled back into my sleeping bag a little disappointed.
We left the lookout around 9am. It was around 20 degrees out and very foggy. We followed our tracks to find our way back. A few times the wind had covered our tracks, so we had to pull out the gps to find our way. The visibility dropped to 10 ft. at times, making it impossible to navigate without our trail or the gps. After descending about 1000 ft. the fog cleared a little. The hike down was tiring, but much faster than the hike up. By the end we were all exhausted. I had a few blisters and welts on my feet from the snow shoes, but it wasn't too painful.
It took us 6 and a half hours to get back. We hiked up 5,700 ft. and traveled 18 miles round trip. The views and the lookout were well worth the effort!