Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hiking To The Park Butte Lookout With Cindy & Michele

Looking West at the Sisters Mountain Range in the Background
In the photo you are looking at my great nephew Spencer Jack's grandma, my favorite ex-sister-in-law, Cindy, with her hiking partner, Michele, at the Park Butte Lookout, near Mount Baker in the Mount Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest.

Last week it was Maxine making me homesick for hiking the Cascade Mountain trails, with Maxine's tales of hiking to Hidden Lake and Park Butte.

I have only hiked to Park Butte one time. I remember it as a difficult hike.

The last time I hiked from Schrieber's Meadow to the Park Butte Lookout trail  zone was with Cindy's youngest, Spencer Jack's uncle, my favorite nephew, Joey. On that hike Joey and I did not hike up to the Park Butte Lookout. We hiked up what is called the Railroad Grade, that being the trail atop the glacier moraine carved out by the Easton Glacier.

Speaking of the Easton Glacier. During warm summer days that glacier melts copious amounts of water. Early in the day this is no big deal. But, by late afternoon the glacial melt becomes a torrent that can be a bit treacherous to cross. Bridges get built and then washed away. I don't know what the current bridge status is regarding the streams one crosses between Schrieber's Meadow and when you begin the climb up the Mount Baker foothill.

Go here to see photos of one of the aforementioned bridges and the hike with Joey up Mount Baker.

In the above photo from Cindy we are looking east towards Baker Lake. Cindy says you can see Baker Lake in the middle of the picture.

The hike to the Park Butte Lookout is 4 miles, making this an 8 mile round trip. The altitude gain, counting ups and downs, is 2,200 feet. The trailhead is 3,350 feet above sea level.

In his book, Hiking the North Cascades, Fred T. Darvill, Jr. says of the Park Butte hike, "The view from Park Butte is one of the best in the North Cascades; this may be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Dominating the scene is the ice-clad cone of Mt. Baker with its satellite peaks, the Black Buttes..."

Fred T. Darvill is sort of a Pacific Northwest mountain legend. In addition to being an ardent hiker and author, he was a doctor. I Googled "Fred T. Darvill" to find a memoriam webpage dedicated to his memory. The first entry in that memoriam is below...

Dr. Fred Darvill MD passed away on December 29. He practiced medicine for 50 years in the Skagit Valley. When his heart wasn't active helping his patients it was climbing peaks in the Cascades. He wrote several books including Stehekin: The Enchanted Valley and Hiking the North Cascades. For twenty years he and his wife Ginny devoted time, energy, and resources toward their adoption of the Hidden Lakes Lookout. Several years ago I found Fred's name written on a summit register. He had placed the register in 1967 at the unnamed highpoint between Desolation and Hozomeen peaks. Our visit was the sixth party to enter the register in nearly 40 years. As he had left his card I called his home and spoke with Ginny. She said she would mention my visit to him and it would probably help him reflect on more pleasant times. His struggle in the closing years was with Alzheimer's. Those who would like to provide a tribute to his service can donate to the Alzheimer's Association or Doctors Without Borders at the request of his wife Ginny.

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