By Jessi Loerch
I celebrated my final required hike for the Mountaineers scrambling course I’ve been taking by posing for a photo.
I was perched on a skinny little rock at 7,088 feet at the top of Hidden Lakes Peaks North. I was feeling rather pleased with myself. I’ve gained a lot of skills since I started the course.
Then the woman leading the trip teasingly pointed out my white knuckles.
OK, so maybe I’m still not 100 percent comfortable on high perches.
Still, her joking made me relax enough to let go.
For this trip, we hiked up the Hidden Lake trail off of Highway 20. The trail ultimately ends at a lookout on the south peak, but our goal was the north peak.
The trail is beautiful. It passes through forest for about a mile or so before opening up into a wide gully. It switchbacks up, the views getting better by the minute. The flowers are blooming, and look like they’re going to keep getting better. We saw many butterflies and several hummingbirds. We also saw marmots. Adorable, adorable marmots.
The trail wanders through thick, lush meadows. It’s fascinating to watch the vegetation change as you climb. It was easy to see that many areas had snow very recently.
The snow is melting quickly in this heat, but the trail is still covered in many places. We had our ices axes and pulled them out many times. If you take this trip, I strongly suggest not crossing the first snow field. It looks like it’s going to melt through soon. We went below it, which seemed a safer route.
The melting snow means there are many little streams tumbling happily down the slopes. No shortage of water on this trail right now. And it’s blissfully cold.
Eventually, we turned off from the trail and scrambled up toward our peak. It was a good mix of rock and snow. The snow felt good on such a hot day.
The final approach to the peak is all rock, and it’s fun. I had a blast scrambling around like a kid. I’m still no mountain goat, but I’m getting better.
The view from the top was stunning. We could see Glacier Peak, Mount Baker (mostly; it was partially hidden in clouds) and Mount Shuksan. We could also see down to Hidden Lake, which was larger than I’d expected and still almost completely covered in snow.
If you’d like to do this hike, I’d wait awhile until the snow has cleared out, unless you’re comfortable using an ice ax. I can’t recommend the hike enough, though. It was a gorgeous trip.
If you’d like, you can continue all the way up to the lookout on the south peak. You can even stay there, if you’re lucky enough to be the first group to arrive. Word is it’s pretty posh for a lookout.
WTA has a great write-up of the trail here. That’s also a good spot to check for trip reports to give you an idea of how much snow is on the trail.
I am now done with my scrambling requirements for the Mountaineers course. All that’s left is trail maintenance and the wilderness first aid course. I’m both looking forward to that course and dreading it. I hear there’s a lot of fake blood in the practice sessions.
If you’d like to learn more about the Mountaineers, click here.