I love exploring new (to me) places in the mountains, and on July 9 I fed that love with a long day along the Siauttle River and then up to Image Lake. The highlight was a visit to a fire lookout with stellar views of Glacier Peak towering above neighboring ridge lines and the river valley below.
The day began along the Suiattle River, where the trail generally headed up gently, crossing many streams along the way. My friend, Ana, and I came across a lot of backpackers with their dogs (so many happy dogs!) and a group who were heading to Glacier Peak with the goal of climbing one side and the descending the other “if the mountain lets us,” they said.
We finally came to our intersection and headed up Miners Ridge. Once we made this turn, we saw very few people and truly enjoyed having the wilderness to ourselves. This next section is about five miles of climbing, and we definitely earned our Oreos/Glutinos! We lucked out with the weather, and there was a nice breeze that kept most of the bugs away and made the temps just right for that kind of climb. Climbs come with their pain, but also with their rewards. Since I had not been close to Glacier Peak before, it was reward indeed to see it gradually appear through the trees as we ascended.
At the top of the ridge, we detoured to Miner’s Ridge lookout. This is probably my favorite lookout so far! It stands high on its stilts and has 360-degree views that seemed to go on forever. (I guess that’s what lookouts should have, but seriously this one was pretty cool.)
The WTA site said that the lookout was closed to hikers, but a sign at the bottom said that we could go up (but no more than four people at a time—yikes!). It was indeed rickety, with signs warning you not to lean on the handrails. It looks like they’ve got a restoration project in process, as there are stacks of new lumber and other building supplies staged beneath the lookout.
After that, we finished our outward jaunt with a visit to Image Lake, where we filtered water and envied the two backpackers who were napping by the lake in the sun. A nap was tempting, but, no, off we headed back down the trail.
Five-plus miles down a relatively steep trail is definitely faster than up that same trail, but after a while I started to wonder whether it would ever end! I still had fun, and spent the descent practicing using poles. I’m still not sure whether I like running with them, so more practice is needed.
After this descent, we had the nine-and-a-half miles back down the Suiattle River Trail to go. The gentler grade was nice, especially as we were getting tired and ready to be done. Eventually we got there, indulged in cool drinks and some food, and then headed out for home.
Stats: 31 miles; 5,850 gross elevation gain; 9 hours