September 7 – Friday – Hidden Lake Lookout Hike – Hike in the heart of the North Cascade Crystalline Core, 15 miles east of Marblemount on the Cascade River Road. The trail provides constant visual overload: deep blue tarns, wildflowers, firs and heather cast against white granite, watermelon ice.
At our destination fire lookout (6900 ft), 360 view of aretes, glaciers and maybe a nunatak. Hidden Lake lies 1000 ft below. A boulder scramble to the lookout makes this hike unsuitable for dogs, sorry. 8.5 mi RT with 3300 ft elev. gain makes the hike strenuous for humans.
A snow patch lingers into Sept., hiking poles advised. Bring bug spray and sunscreen. Full day required, depart 7:30 am from REI. Last 5 miles very rough road (FS 1540), needs axle clearance. Suggested $10 carpool. Stitching plutons debate no extra charge. Jim and Mei Hoppie
Heard along the Hidden Lake trail: “Magnificent”, unfortunately not directed to the stunning view of the snow and rock ascent ahead, but rather directed at a distant memory of a trip to Glacier Bay, Alaska. “Stunning”, regrettably not directed to the indigo blue lake below caste against glistening white granite, but rather at a recent development in our nation’s capitol. “Marvelous”, alas not directed to the panoramic view of the North Cascade Crystalline Core from the Lookout after a breathtaking scramble, but rather to a description of Structure’s Brewpub Stout.
Six of us climbed through forest, meadow and rock under blue skies. The mountains feel truly Alpine here, and hikers sense the vast-ness of our Cascades wilderness. But the clouds rolled in about the time we made it to Hidden Lake Overlook. An increasingly gray sky caused us to miss the deepest blue reflected by the lake. A bit too-warm turned to wow-this-is-chilly as the wind picked up. Four of us boulder-scrambled to the fire lookout, where we gazed at aretes in all directions, with numerous glaciers to the north, east and south, but a now-overcast sky did indeed diminish the spectacle. However, we spotted our own fire, emanating from the valley below Glacier Peak. Hiking deep in the North Cascades is difficult to achieve in a mere day-trip, so soaking in the sights of Hidden Lake Trail is a treat, even if gray skies did cheat us of a full Kodachrome effect.
Photos have been uploaded to the MBC Flickr album page. I mixed in a couple of photos from a previous trip, not to deceive viewers about the view from yesterday’s hike, but rather to encourage y’all to hike Hidden Lake for yourselves on a blue-sky day. Have a look at the Lake, before-and-after style, changing with sky cover.