Skyline with my loves

I’ve heard it said that happiness is only real if shared, and while I might not agree with this entirely, I do believe there is great joy in sharing our happiness with those we love and treasure.

With that in mind, it pleased my soul to spend another weekend in the glorious outdoors of the Pacific Northwest with my sweetheart, my son, and some dear friends.

 Heading up – it’s only a little over a mile, but it’s a steep mile! 😄💪

My son started out on skis but quickly tired. I got frustrated and chucked his skis in the woods, then had second thoughts and being attached to the sled, asked my darling if she wouldn’t mind retrieving them. 😘 

Our merry band arriving at Skyline Lake!

Camp was set up in good time ⛺ 

Woke up to fresh snow and blue skies! Coffee lap of the lake with my boy 😍☕ 

Categories: Alpine touring, backcountry, camping, Environment, Family, Father Son, Hiking, Inspiration, mountaineering, mountains, Outdoors, parenting, randonee, ski, washington, winter | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snow cave camping at Artist Point with my son ⛄🗻❄ 

A brilliant weekend outing with wonderful friends to Artist Point, adjacent to the Mount Baker ski resort.

Categories: Alpine touring, backcountry, camping, Environment, Family, Father Son, Hiking, Inspiration, mountaineering, mountains, Outdoors, parenting, randonee, ski, washington, winter | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Winter climb to the historic Winchester Lookout

A beautiful, if long, night hike to the summit of Winchester Mountain and the historic fire lookout!


What a sunrise!!






Nap time!





Larabee- we wanted to summit this gorgeous peak but avalanche conditions forced us to cancel this plan.


Breakfast of Champions for Quinn: non alcoholic beer and Gummi bears!


A special pic for our buddy Dave who has an orange peel fetish 😉


Calvin and Shea perched on the roof of the Winchester Lookout


Snow softened up nicely in the afternoon sun. Fresh turns = Happiness!



Quinn and Shea


Cheryl and her growlers 🙂


A gorgeous sunset!


Some cool cats showed up just after sunset with a pissy little shitster of a dog. The lookout was rocking on Saturday night!



Good night!


Good morning! 😉 I was roused from my slumber by the monumental crash of Grumpy Cat falling out of bed!


I was told to go back to sleep but couldn’t. Put the kettle on and went out to enjoy another spectacular sunrise –




Back in the lookout everyone was still sound asleep…


I passed the time sipping coffee and perusing the lookout library 🙂


Signs of life! Let’s get packed and head on down before it gets too “avalanchy”!


Me n Quinn 🙂


Adios Winchester and Larabee! I’ll be back!


Larabee and the border peaks –


I keep telling Grumpy Cat that skis work better when attached to feet, but she does look pretty bad ass lugging them around on her back…


We took the direct route down from Winchester Lookout to the Twin Lakes, a decision which, in hindsight, was perhaps not ideal for everyone in our merry band…


On the plus side, Cheryl got to practice life or death self arrest techniques and Grumpy Cat cleaned up the Winchester yard sale after bowling Cheryl’s pack down the mountain…


The yard sale crew walked what was left of Zig Zag’s battered pack down the mountain collecting pieces and parts along the way.


Quinn, Shea and Calvin on Winchester Mountain

Calvin and I had gravity on our side and zipped down and across the Twin Lakes, fired up the kettle and cooked a meal while awaiting our companions.

After biscuits and gravy and a pot of tea our mates were still dicking around on the far side of the lakes so Calvin and I decided to hike part way up the little mountain on the south side of the Twin Lakes to enjoy some fresh turns in the warm spring conditions. Ah, how nice to climb and ski sans pack!


By the time we got down Zig Zag, Grumpy Cat and the Quinnster had made it across the lakes and we headed down the Twin Lakes road to where we’d left the cars. High fives and beers and then Calvin slid off the road… Ooops!

Fortunately I had my high lift and straps and Quinn had plenty of beer. It took us a while to drag Calvin’s truck to a point where we could set up a pulley on a tree and pull him out of the ditch. Good fun!

Categories: Alpine touring, backcountry, camping, Environment, Hiking, Inspiration, mountaineering, mountains, National Parks, Outdoors, randonee, ski, washington, winter | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Hidden Lake Lookout, Day 2!

Good morning from Hidden Lake Lookout! What a sunrise!!

Three more friends were going to meet us today and the original plan had been for us to hike / ski / roll down to the trailhead to meet them for a group hike up. Fortunately, they got a pretty early start which saved us from going all the way down and back! Douchebag Dave lost his vagina and decided to play house while Zig Zag and I went down to meet the inbound bastards 🙂

I was a bit nervous traversing the east bowl, fearing it would be as icy as my ex-wife’s heart, but fortunately by the time we got there the sun had been on it long enough that it was softening up.

I stopped about half way across and chilled for a bit, just taking it all in. These mountains are truly good for the soul!


Here comes Zig Zag! I hear she cried off most her sunscreen right about here- 😉


I continued across and took a few more pics from the safety of the saddle-


Looking NE towards the true summit of Hidden Lake, elevation 7088″-


The west facing slopes haven’t had much sun on them yet so it’s an icy ski down, but still, a crappy ski beats a good day at the office any day! ^_^


Zig Zag was on snowshoes so I let her follow the track we’d made the day before while I stayed high in search of some decent turns. She snapped these rather cool pics 🙂


Then I got killed in an avalanche…

20160402_103455Ok, ok, I wasn’t really dead! 😉


Then, as Zig Zag was digging me out, she got buried by the murderous slide!


Scary stuff, eh? I still don’t know how we survived!


Anyway, let’s keep going!


A few more turns and who do I spot? The bastards!!! Midnight Rider, Quinnster and Grumpy Cat have arrived! ^_^ I tackled the Midnight Rider in a big bear hug cuz I know how much she LOVES to snuggle, then we headed back in the direction of the lookout. I cut high with Grumpy Cat in tow while the other bastards stuck to the established trail. We made good time to the saddle and chilled there for a bit until the rest of our merry band arrived.

I had regaled the Midnight Rider with tales of the wonderful traverse that awaited her beneath the Hidden Lake Lookout- there you have it!


I was impressed- there was no complaining or talk of turning back. Bastards in the mist 😉


Everyone vag’d up and pushed on! Grumpy Cat was behind me, hoping she could somehow squeeze her fat powder boards into my skinny tracks. Oh, and did I mention she’s just learning to ski? Well, if she lost it she’d just roll down the mountain and PROBABLY be ok… Grumpy Cat broke character and made it across with a smile 🙂


The rest of the miscreants followed; should we tell them to space out so that they don’t all get taken out in the event of a slide? Nah! Ignorance really can be bliss sometimes! ^_^


Douche Bag Dave was waiting for us and much merriment ensued ^_^  Midnight Rider passed out in her goggles and Zig Zag soon joined her, proving once and for all that the former actually doesn’t mind snuggles as much as she lets on.

Someone mentioned having to take a dump and we knew there’s a Spectacular Throne® buried some ~500″ down the mountain, we grabbed shovels and rakes and instruments of destruction and headed down to Alice’s Restaurant, ahem, I mean, the shitter 🙂

I actually completely missed the great shit dig of ’16 because I skied down and totally blew past the battle zone. By the time I skinned back up it was Mission accomplished! (Of course, no good deed goes unpunished to I proceeded to lob snowballs at Zig Zag from a strategic position, because that’s just the kind of friend I am ^_^ )


Douchebag Dave took the crapper for a test run 🙂

20160402_152644Sure as shit beats hauling out blue bags, eh?

Back at the lookout we attended to domestic chores, such as melting snow for drinking water in case the beer and whiskey ran out-


And I prepped the windows in anticipation of another spectacular sunset 🙂


The day was still young so I went off for a wee little ski tour down the south face of the lookout peak. Sweetness! ^_^



Finally the shadows began to lengthen and we prepared for the show that mother nature had prepared for us-


Oh, wait, wrong show! If you’ll pivot 180 degrees away from the moon you’ll be rewarded with an entirely more wholesome view-

It was such a beautiful night that a bunch of folks ended up sleeping outside leaving me to snuggle with the lookout mice.

Sweet rodent dreams! ♥


Categories: Alpine touring, backcountry, camping, Environment, Hiking, Inspiration, mountaineering, mountains, National Parks, Outdoors, randonee, ski, washington, winter | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Winter ascent to Hidden Lake Lookout and Hidden Lake Summit, North Cascades National Park

Couldn’t ask for more beautiful weather or nicer companions for a winter attempt on the historic Hidden Lake Lookout and summit!

We drove up the Sibley Creek Rd until the snow got too deep.


The “Winter route” is a steep mofo! 🙂

Here’s a map a friend sent- to avoid the avalanche danger along the summer route we just followed the shoulder of the mountain straight up to where it intersects with the summer trail around 5800″

The woods were quite lovely tho, we made slow but steady progress upwards and everyone was in good spirits.


Heavy climb with skis on my back but my Gregory Baltoro pack does a good job of distributing the weight. Not the lightest pack out there, but super comfortable and bomb-proof!


Summer must not be far away – first mosquito of the season.


Cheryl and Dave are troopers!

Onwards and upwards! I was happy when I could finally put on my skis!

What a gorgeous day!!

First glimpse of the Hidden Lake Lookout perched precariously on the top of that far off peak:

Took a nice break on a warm rock outcropping near the saddle to soak up the warm sun ☀


Here come Cheryl and Dave!

It was such a beautiful warm sunny day that I ended up losing some layers and working on my tan!


Here’s Dave making a concerted effort to ignore my sexiness 😉


Big smiles with some great friends 🙂


The final obstacle, a dicey traverse across a steep east-facing bowl below the lookout.


I went first on skis and Cheryl and Dave followed on snow shoes.


We made it! Welcome to the Hidden Lake Lookout!


Feels good to dump the pack, get the boots off and enjoy a hot chocolate and Jim Beam! Cheers!


Sunset did not disappoint 🙂

DSC_3328 DSC_3331

A final pic of my homies- Cheryl and Dave, before calling it a night-


OK, I lied, one more pic of the three of us cuddled up in the lookout’s little bed-


Good night!

ps. some of the pictures in this post belong to Cheryl and Dave. We pooled all of our pictures in a Google Photos folder and I can’t really be arsed to figure out where each pic comes from 🙂

Categories: backcountry, camping, Environment, Inspiration, mountaineering, mountains, National Parks, Outdoors, randonee, ski, washington, winter | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Failed attempt to reach the Winchester Mountain Lookout, January 2015

One of the dumbest things I’ve done in a long time, but at least I survived to tell about it. Only time will tell if I’ve learned from my mistakes 😉

Mistake number one: Not telling anyone where I was going… (This is such a basic rule and I’m a dumbarse for breaking it…)

Been working mad hours and needed to escape to the mountains. Worked 6-11am on Saturday and headed east towards Mt Baker. My planned destination, the lookout hut on Winchester Mountain:

Winchester Mountain Lookout

Winchester Mountain Lookout

Stopped in Deming to buy some food, then made good time up the Mount Baker Highway, exiting at the DOT depot where the 4wd Twin Lakes Road climbs up and up towards the Tomyhoi / Yellow Aster Trailhead.

Toyhoi / Yellow Aster Trailhead

Tomyhoi / Yellow Aster Trailhead

In the summer I guess one can drive all the way to the Twin Lakes, but in the winter the road becomes impassable. It’s very slow going up the rough road and I didn’t reach the trailhead until around 2pm.

Mistake #2: hitting the trail without giving myself enough time to reach my destination…

Mistake(s) #3: In my rush to hit the trail I forgot my thermarest at home and forgot my goggles in the car…

Finally under way! Had to hike about a mile with skis on my shoulder-

Heading up the trail to Twin Lakes — at Winchester Mountain, Washington.

Heading up the trail to Twin Lakes — at Winchester Mountain, Washington.

A steady slog up the mountain road to Twin Lakes. I guess you can drive up here in the summer, but at this time of year the road is washed out and covered by avalanches and mud slides making it completely impassable.

The mountain road to Twin Lakes, Winchester Mountain, WA

The mountain road to Twin Lakes, Winchester Mountain, WA

Unseasonably warm, I skinned up the trail wearing only jeans, a long sleeve undershirt and vest. Lots of water flowing-


Climbing higher and higher the views become more impressive. Looking back towards the Twin Lakes road-


A few more switchbacks and you can see magnificent Mount Baker off in the distance-

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Welcome to Twin Lakes! ^_^

Twin Lakes at the base of Mount Winchester!

Twin Lakes at the base of Mount Winchester!

Mistake #4: What time is it?!? I didn’t check, but see now that I took this picture at quarter to 4… The sun goes down around ~4:30-5 this time of year. I should have realized that and set up camp here. But no, I pressed on… :/

The Twin Lakes are beautiful! Here is the southern-most of the two. The trail to Winchester Mountain passes between the lakes.

The southern Twin Lake, summit trail passes between the two lakes. — at Winchester Mountain, Washington.

The southern Twin Lake, summit trail passes between the two lakes. — at Winchester Mountain, Washington.

A quick photo stop at the little creek that connects the Twin Lakes-


Woohoo- I’ve reached the Winchester Mountain Trailhead!

Winchester Mountain and High Pass trailheads! — at Winchester Mountain, Washington.

Winchester Mountain and High Pass trailheads! — at Winchester Mountain, Washington.

Winchester Mountain Trail Info

Winchester Mountain Trail Info

Again, looking back, I see I took this pic at 4pm. A smart person would have called it a day and set up camp here 🙂

A steep ascent up the south face of Winchester Mountain-

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Pretty amazing views, but I’m running out of light and the mountain keeps getting steeper and steeper…

5:05pm, The sun is going down and I’m in a bad spot… Steep, icy and very exposed, a fall here would be ugly. An injury here could well be fatal, after all, tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday so it could be a good long while before anyone ventures up here…


A quick check of the GPS and I see that I’m off trail and still have a ways to go to reach the hut. No way I can proceed in the dark, looks like I’ll have to hunker down and spend the night right here…

Off trail and have run out of light and stamina. Damn, less than a mile from my destination, but no way I can get there in the dark — at Winchester Mountain, Washington.

Off trail and have run out of light and stamina. Damn, less than a mile from my destination, but no way I can get there in the dark — at Winchester Mountain, Washington.

I spent an absolutely miserable night propped up above some scraggly pine trees that kept me from sliding down the mountain. I was worried about losing my gear so I punched my skiis through the icy hardpack and used them to anchor my backpack, boots and two corners of the ground sheet of my tent. I put on all my layers of clothing and wrapped my sleeping bag as best I could in the floor sheet. I don’t know if I would have been able to use my thermarest in such a spot… As it was, sleeping on the snow without a mattress was pretty cold… It snowed on and off through the night and my sleeping bag got soaked, but I had enough layers on that I stayed relatively dry, and while I certainly shivered a fair bit, I never felt like I was getting dangerously cold… No way to take a picture of my bivouac, but it would be fun to revisit the spot in better weather. Here’s what I saw at first light on the morning of February 1st:


It was snowing pretty hard and getting windy. Stupid me for leaving my goggles in the car… Oh well, the sooner I get going the better! Lordy my backpack was heavy now on account of my water logged sleeping bag. No sleep or food probably didn’t help either… On the plus side there was a good ~5-6 inches of fresh powder which make the descent a lot easier. Fresh powder turn down Winchester Mountain:

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The light was so flat that I struggled to see the terrain. Wiped out and discovered that my pack was so heavy I couldn’t get back up without taking it off, standing up, then putting the pack back on… Clearly I need to work on my fitness!

There are the Twin Lakes! What a site for sore eyes (literally) 😉


Finally out of danger I stopped at the Twin Lakes sign for a selfie 🙂


From there it’s an easy ski down the mountain road to the Tomyhoi / Yellow Aster trailhead parking area, home in time for the Super Bowl, but my “nap” turned into an all day snooze so I missed it! Sorry Seahawks fans, gonna be a glum day at work tomorrow, but I will still feel the weekend’s adventure in my sore muscles!

Happy Trails!

Categories: backcountry, camping, Environment, Hiking, Inspiration, Laos, mountaineering, mountains, randonee, ski, travelog, winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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