Updated: May 12, 2019
It was a close call. To go or not to go. Smoke from wildfires in Eastern Washington and Canada had blown in all over the North Cascades obscuring views and causing health issues. But when else will two friends' schedules line up like this again? Needless to say, Sam and Mark were up for the adventure.
The drive from Mount Vernon to the trailhead in the Glacier Peak Wilderness seemed endless - or at least the pothole-ridden road made it feel that way. To break up the monotony of the drive we stopped every now and then to stretch, take pictures, and check out things new to us.
Meet Mark and Sam
As we stepped out of the car at an interesting looking bridge, a smoky veil over the sun produced an orange sheen across our faces as if the sun was setting already. The air felt different, a little heavier. Moss encrusted cement barriers ran along the bridge which was a hybrid of traditional construction and steel fabrication over half of the old bridge. The Suiattle River below almost seemed cinereal in color because of the haze hovering over it.
After twenty plus miles, we pulled up to the trailhead with a cloud of dust following our car. The trail can be incredibly popular at times but to our surprise we only saw two cars in the lot when we arrived. Our legs welcomed the open trail ahead of us to put off hours of being cramped up in the car.
The trail switchbacks through a forest for the first mile or so before opening up to endless fields of wildflowers and berries ripe for the picking. Without the cool of the forest canopy covering us the heat started to beat us down - that and the elevation gain.
Mark theatrically telling a story to Sam
Looking up at a fire-scorched tree
Sam and Mark chatting during a break
If the heat and elevation gain wasn't enough, we were assaulted by an army of bugs at every turn. These pictures may show pretty scenery and amazing views but they certainly leave out the constant swatting away of these vile and infernal creatures for several hours. Once we got to the lookout however, the bugs seemed to leave us alone to a degree, as if they respected our sweat and toil getting up there, but I digress.
Delicious berries abounded along the trail
A handful of huckleberries
Mark reacting to the view and elevation again before us
Mark and Sam forge ahead. The fire lookout sits up on the ridge (top right just off screen)
The last 1.5 miles to the lookout was a thigh-burner and the only relief was a stop at a small lake (if you can call it that) along the way where cool waters resided. If it wasn't already obvious, the namesake of the mountain was incredibly vivid in the last few miles. You would be hard-pressed to find another color other than green up there.
A small "lake" along the way
The last couple miles to the top
Ascending closer and closer to the lookout
A brief respite just below the lookout before the final push
Green Mountain Lookout
We dropped our packs as we approached the lookout - we made it. Sweat rolled down our faces while we paused to catch our breath. Two guys who appeared to be in their 40s stepped out of the lookout to greet us and offer us a tour. They were staying up in the lookout for a week and explained that anybody with some training can man the lookout and give tours. Next year?
Table for two.
A bit of laughter in between posing for a couple shots before the sun goes down
The sun began it's ever closer descent below the horizon and with every minute, taking any precious light with it. I thought it would be fun to do a couple of posed shots up there so I had Mark and Sam setup in a couple spots and we got in a few before the sun went down.
Sam taking it all in
The sky was now a gradient of colors, dithered amidst the smoke fading with every minute. We popped our headlamps on and started back down the dimly lit trail. The lookout disappeared behind the hill. The lake was now smothered darkness and barely perceptible as we walked by. We let our conversation fill the night and echo amidst the lonely and cold trees. We still had a ways to go and hours back to home but we left with memories that will last a lifetime.
Last light before the trek back
Did you like this post? Want to go on your own adventure session with me? Adventure photo sessions are coming officially next summer. If you would like something sooner than that, they are available special request only. Be sure to get in touch if you're interested!
- Jefferson Morriss
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