Wilderness Ranger Corps – Hitch Three


Our third outing this summer has provided us yet again with a combination of adventure, adversity, beauty, blisters and many things in between. The trip began as we left our bunk house in Darrington and headed to the southern edges of the Mt. Baker Wilderness. The first area visited was the Watson and Anderson Lake region where we were greeted at the trailhead by a hungry welcoming committee of mosquitoes, horseflies and several other unidentified airborne vectors. We then hiked up a steep switchback to a meadow where we ascended up Anderson Butte and caught views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan.  After a hard day’s work we treated ourselves to a swim in the brisk waters of Watson Lake.  The next day we headed to the Elbow Lake trail where we camped for a night before splitting up to cover more ground. One group went to Elbow Lake where they were ruthlessly ambushed by a field of stinging nettles while the others went through Bell Pass then ascended up to Park Butte which provided excellent views of Mt. Baker. On day four we made the trek up to the Northern region of Mt. Baker Wilderness and set up camp on the sands along a river bed. We first tackled the High Divide trail. It began with very long and challenging ascent that gained over 4,000 feet onto a ridge that provided truly amazing views of many of the great peaks in the Northern Cascades including: Baker, Shuksan, Larabee, American Border Peak, Tommyhoi and countless more.  The next day the group split up once again with one group tackling the Nooksack Cirque and the other going up to Mt. Larabee and Winchester Mountains.  Day six was spent with one crew surveying the Lake Anne area and the other group surveying Yellow Aster Butte.  What began as a pleasant sunny day ended with both parties racing an incoming storm back to the safety of the vehicles. On the last day of hitch we left Artist Point en route to Ptarmigan Ridge and the Galena Chain Lakes.  Although the ridge normally has great views of Mt. Baker, the fog was so thick that we had difficulties seeing much of anything. In the end we were forced to turn around on Ptarmigan because there was too much snow. Overall, the hitch was a great success that was defined by the obstacles overcome as a group, the spectacular views, the opportunities for character building and several notable personal achievements.  Thomas won the blister of the hitch award with a monster on his heel that he appropriately named Mt. St. Helens. Julie ingeniously devised a time keeping system that is based on the number of times she is bitten by mosquitos. As for the rest of us, it is safe to say that our inner yodelers began to blossom as we hiked on the rugged and unparalleled terrain in the North Cascades.     -Alex