11.26.2014

Park Butte Lookout, Mt Baker

Wanna stare straight into the glory of Washington State's 3rd tallest mountain?
Then hike up to Park Butte lookout for a long stare off!!!! 
Mt Baker from Park Butte Lookout trail
Last weekend was cold but also clear so i headed up to the North Cascades for a quick day hike. 
Park Butte Lookout trail runs 3.6 miles long with the final destination obviously being an old fire lookout. 
Red Breasted Sapsucker
Sphyrapicus ruber
The views are outstanding!!! Mt Baker dominates the northern skies while endless mountains nestle in along the skyline to the east and south. Glacier Peak can be scene along with the rugged Picket Range. To the south the Twin Sister Mountains should catch another long stare. 

The Twin Sisters from Park Butte Lookout
Park Butte Lookout is not used anymore as an lookout but rather a place to stay for anyone who loves endless stars and peaks to gaze at. Its first come first serve. Inside the lookout is seems as if the rangers just got up and left. Your the ranger now. If your fortunate to eyeball  clear skies, a fire is hard to miss.
Mt Baker(r) Colfax Peak(m) and Lincoln Peak(l)

The trailhead has plenty of parking which is great but not if your looking for solitude, come early. There's plenty of wilderness campsites below the lookout but bring a tent just in case the lookout is full. This trail is still 5 stars for all you outdoor hermits!!
Looking east into the Picket Range



Park Butte Lookout

Looking southeast from the lookout
Websites
Mt baker snoqualmie National forest site
PDF
National Historic Lookout registar
Skagit Alpine Club

Trail #: 603
Best use: backpacking, day hiking, mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding
Miles: 7.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 2,100 ft gain
Map: Green trails 13S
Land: Mt Baker National Recreation Area
Permit required: NW forest pass for parking lot
Wilderness campsites: Cathedral camp .8 miles from lookout
Regulations: No fires
Parking Lot amenities: Toilets, plenty of parking, campsites
Wildlife scene: Red caped sapsucker, chickadee
Water along trail: Yes



11.16.2014

Visiting Zion National Park

My girlfriend and i took advantage of a companion fare from Alaska Airlines and headed down to Vegas for the weekend!!!
It was near midnight as we drove through the people packed Vegas strip on our way to our hostel.  Driving through the strip took forever but to our full enjoyment!!! Pulling in to Sin City Hostel, very much recommended, we were cheerfully greeted by a happy tourist passing out free Budweiser. After settling into the hostel we set out for Fremont St. We walked the street and enjoyed the festivities and music along with a tasty couple of pizza slices then back to the hostel. But no gambling. Vegas was actually not what we came for!!!
Zion national Park has been on our list of national parks for some time. With spring time being the best time to visit we launched our attack. The weather was in the mid 90's in Vegas to high 80's in Zion. The heat was great compared to drizzly cool Seattle. We enjoyed filling up on vitamin D the whole trip!! 


Our view of the Virgin River from Angel's Landing

Saturday we drove north from Vegas and into Zion National Park. Zion National Park is perfectly set up for tourists. Visiting is fun and simple to navigate. The bus ride is relaxing while the canyon wall landscapes grab your attention the whole ride. Your head may be a little sore from lifting your chin up the whole ride.
Along the ride are many stops with viewpoints and trail heads from easy to moderately hard.
Angel's landing is a must!!!

3/4 of the way up to Angel's Landing

Angel's Landing has sweeping views of the Virgin river along with the gigantic canyon walls. Its not for the faint of heart as the steep cliffs straddle you on both sides. Railings and chains attached to the rock wall help stabilize the queasy feelings you may get.
Another must do.... The Narrows!

The Narrows near the south entrance
We rented from neoprene boots with two hiking sticks and up the river we waded and hiked. The steep walls go straight up the slot canyon as it is almost full of the Virgin River's swift waters. 

Huge rock in the Narrows. This didn't end well!!
One of the deepest parts of the Narrows
It can be a balancing act!

While we only had a weekend to explore we're already thinking about going back as there's so much to explore in Zion!!!!