Gain: 1500 ft
Max: 5900 ft
Miranda and I spent the night
Gpx tracks, use at your own risk: Skyline
It had been a beautiful week and I wanted to get somewhere to spend the night. I had to be back in town by 11 so I needed somewhere close and not too long of a walk.
I went to Skyline Divide 8 times last year as part of the Cascades Butterfly Monitoring program, one of the citizen science projects I volunteer for. While I love Skyline, that was maybe one or two times too many. During the normal season, this is a very popular hike and I usually end up frustrated to see so many people abusing these fragile alpine meadows. But during early season, the numbers decrease to a reasonable amount. That said, there were still about 15 cars at the parking area when I got there around 4:30 pm.
I had my pack together so I just had a few last minute things to throw in then I headed up the trail. This trail starts in deep forests not breaking into the meadows until just before your final destination. The trail is well maintained as most very popular trails tend to be. We didn’t hit snow until about 1.5 mi in and then just patches covering the trail here and there.
By the time I got to the meadow everyone except the other group of three also spending the night had left. I took the site just to the left once you first reach the divide. The other group was already over at the start of Chowder Ridge so they were about 0.75 mi away. I could see their tents on the far ridge but with so much distance between it was like I was the only one up there.
I set up camp then grabbed my pack with food and my beers (Basecamp IPAs) and went and sat in the sun watching the mountains as the sun traveled closer to the horizon. I waited for that special time where you get the alpine glow just as the sun is setting. It was so clear out last night that the sight was spectacular. The full moon was rising just to the right of Shuksan then traveled over to the left of Baker. Sigh.
Finally, I climbed into bed, tucked the dog into her sleepwear and bag (flannel coat, thermarest zpad, part of an old sleeping bag I cut up and made a blanket from…if Miranda doesn’t sleep I have learned that I do not either) then I settled down to watch the last of the light fade from the sky and to watch the stars come out. I didn’t make it long. Sleep happens.
And Miranda didn’t sleep well so I got woken up a few times during the night. Truth be told, it was darn cold! There is still snow up there and when the sun goes down the night gets cold. I was in my sleepwear, my down jacket and tucked into my 10 degree zpacks down bag and I was still not totally snug.
I had to be back in town by 11 so I set the alarm for six. I woke up at 5:30 with the sun shining into the tent. After a leisurely cup of coffee with a spectacular view, I packed up and headed back down to the truck. It was a great short trip.