Earlier this month, I planned to backpack to the Sahale Glacier Camp, however despite of calling the Marblemount Ranger Station a day prior with regards to the availability of the relevant backcountry permits, heading out at 4:30am the next day, and arriving at the ranger station long before they opened, I was not able to secure a permit and decided to change my destination to Hidden Lake. As it turned out, this was exactly the best place for me to be in order to witness the glorious full Moon rises and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. As an additional bonus on the second day, I was lucky enough to stay overnight in the fire lookout itself - a longstanding dream of mine.
The Hidden Lake Lookout has become one of my favorite local destinations. The trail always invokes in me emotions and feelings that could be likened to a 'sensory overload' and absolute awe. It is like hiking through 4 distinctly different areas; lush forest, meadows full of wildflowers, rocky slopes, and finally giant granite boulders. I termed it the '4-in-1' hike.
A short but key history of the lookout is presented below, copied from the description available from the wta.org website, but I personally think that the nearby loo, nested on a side of a cliff, some 200 vertical ft below the lookout, deserves an honorable mention :-). If the 4.5 mile, 3300ft of elevation gain hike, or the loo's proximity to the sheer cliff does not get your bowels moving, then it is worth visiting for the amazing views of Mt Baker, Glacier Peak, and on clear days even the Summit of Mt Rainier. Plus the lookout itself looks great from the loo's point of view:
"Built in 1932, the Hidden Lake Lookout was decommissioned by the Forest Service sometime around 1953. In 1960, the Skagit Alpine Club secured a special use permit to renovate and maintain it for club activities, but by 1980, the club had turned its attention to the Park Butte Lookout instead.
One of SAC’s members, however, wasn’t ready to let Hidden Lake Lookout go. Dr. Fred Darvill formed a group called the Friends of Hidden Lake Lookout under the auspices of the Skagit Environmental Council and took over responsibility for its maintenance.
Many people think of the lookout as a camping shelter, and it is in fact available on a first-come, first-serve basis; but Dr. Darvill intended its preservation mostly for historical purposes. Darvill, who passed away in late 2007, is a somewhat under-recognized figure in the history of the outdoors in Washington. He was an authority in backcountry first aid and was an effective advocate for wilderness, playing an instrumental role in the creation of the North Cascades National Park. It’s altogether fitting that this spot, looking out over the park, has become such a visible legacy of his work."
I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude and a HUGE THANK YOU to the late Dr. Darvill and the 'Friends of Hidden Lake Lookout' for making this truly unique place available to the Nature loving public.
"One of the things he liked to tell me was that it is important to leave this world a bit better than the way you found it. I believe he met his goal both in the improvements he made to all medical facilities where he worked and his tireless efforts to save the lookouts he loved, establish the North Cascades National Park, and other continued efforts to protect the wilderness. I hope to take on one or two of his projects to honor him and try to live up to those words."