Hiking to Winchester Mountain Lookout Near Mt. Baker

Every year around my birthday I try to take a solo trip somewhere. I’ve been doing this for so many years and it’s such a great way to enter a new year – solitude, beauty, adventure. This year was busy around Labor Day but last week I was able to take off towards Mt. Baker with my sidekick Griffey the Dog.

I camped at Twin Lakes just north of Baker (map it). 4WD cars can make it to the lakes which makes it an interesting car camping mix of people, but I left my car lower and hiked up the 2miles to the lake with my dog. Not a fun hike being in the hot sun on a road, getting passed by Jeeps.

At the top you reach the two lakes and the setting is beautiful. Here’s a view of the Twin Lakes looking down:

Twin Lakes looking down

My plan was to just walk further than the crowds, however far that was. The road along the second lake is closed to cars so I walked along until meeting three women who were up camping with their dogs.

While our dogs went wild playing in the lake, they told me about a great spot they’d found exploring earlier in the day that I should post up in. Walked up the ridgeline to a clearing and had the entire ridge – and sunset mountain views – to myself! It’s incredible what you can find if you just walk 200 yards past the masses.

View from my tent at Twin Lakes

The pink glow lasted for quite a while. Beautiful view for a dinner!

Pink sunset over the Cascade Mountains

Took some starry shots once the stars came out:

Long exposure star shot

I was hoping for a Northern Lights sighting but Winchester Mountain is straight north so blocked any real hope of that.

In the morning I set my alarm for 4:30am to hike to the lookout for sunrise. The hike up had spectacular views from every step of the trail so it took me quite a while, stopping many times to soak it in and take photos.

Fall colors on Winchester Mountain

Baker was so pretty in pink:

Mt. Baker beautiful in pink during sunrise

Coming around a corner we could suddenly see into the Canadian mountains:

Looking into Canadian mountains

At the top is the lookout shelter – first come first serve to overnight hikers. You know that it’s been taken when you see the flag at full mast from the lakes below. What a lucky couple that got to sleep at the top!

Winchester Mountain Lookout

Sun coming over the mountains

Family portrait:

Me n Griff

Griffey is getting really good at modeling for the jump shot:

Jumping photo with my wheaten

After some breakfast and sun on the face Griffey and I headed back down. I usually am ready to pack up right away and get moving, but my spot was too idyllic. Completely silent except for animal life; a perfectly cozy sunny day; wildflowers stretching out down into the next valley. I pulled out my Thermarest from the tent, laid down and read my book… meaning I fell asleep in five minutes and took a nap for an hour! It was the most relaxing moment, I truly didn’t want to leave.

On the way down a car stopped and asked if I wanted a ride; they said they’d felt bad not picking me up the day before on the way up! Griffey and I packed in and chatted with the Canadian couple until we reached my car. It was a nice slice of backpacking adventure, meeting other travelers and hearing their story. Amazing how just 24 hours outside of the city can feel like quite the window into another world!

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