5.7 mi rt
gain: ~1600 ft
max: 6759 ft
gpx track, use at your own risk: High Pass
I am sad to say that I had never before done this hike! Whenever I came up here I was somehow called by the Winchester Lookout (I just looked for the link but couldn’t find it, I need to post that one!) to go up there instead. High Pass and the Lookout share a trail for the first 0.3 mi to where the trail splits.
To get to parking for this trail drive out Mt. Baker Hwy to Twin Lakes Road. This is the road that is used for the Yellow Aster Butte trail (and the old Keep Kool trail!) and the road to that trailhead is in good shape. Beyond that though can be quite rough with some rather large naturally formed water bars. That said, I am always amazed to see these low-rider cars up at the lakes…apparently regular cars can make it up! Parking for this hike is at the end of the road, N48 57.078 W121 38.131
The trail starts off with a gradual uphill until the split and slightly beyond. Then it loses about 300 ft in elevation as it dips down into the valley. The views are outstanding from this point on as you can see from the above shot.
Once the low point is reached, the trail starts its upwards climb through the use of nicely graded switchbacks up a rather steep but short valley. The top of this climb I believe is Low Pass, the trail continues onto High Pass.
I ran into a couple of women at this point. I recognized one of them, a ranger from the North Cascades Park, and had the pleasure of meeting the second one. We chatted a bit, both are really cool and I hope to see them on the trails in the future.
The terrain up here is really cool. Some of the rocks were green, some had a purplish hue, I need to brush up on my geology!
In the above picture is Larrabee being shy but off to the right you can see my destination, the high pass.
There was only one other person up here at this point, a gentleman who passed me while I was talking to the two woman. He was consistently 5 to 10 minutes ahead of me but almost always in my line of vision. At one I saw him stop, I thought he was just taking a breather. Turns out that as he crested a small hill there was a cougar just a few feet away from him! As he reached for his camera the cougar walked away. When I got to that area just a few minutes later I had paused because I heard something in the small tree groupings but continued on because I thought that there was no way something would be up there…I was wrong, it was probably the cat.
The last bit of the trail is switchbacks up a hill of loose rock finally topping out at the pass. The views from up here were phenomenal! I officially met Lahr, the man in front and enjoyed his company while we both took pictures and ate. He is an amazing man, his story is inspirational and I enjoyed his company greatly.
Baker was being shy this day hiding behind some awesome clouds.
I decided to hike out with Lahr because of the cat and all. We had a great time chatting on the way out. Larrabee decided to make an appearance as we headed out. It was a great day, if only I had seen the cougar myself it would have been perfect!