Sauk Mountain (part of the Northern Cascades) lies about 1½-2 hours south of Bellingham, Washington. When I had visited my friends Laurie and Kevin in 2013, it was time for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (the link will take you to that post). This time, we traveled in the opposite direction of the tulip fields to the intersection of the Skagit and Sauk Rivers. Off the main highway, a dirt road started having switchbacks taking us seven miles up the mountain to the parking lot. This post is photo heavy, there were too many beautiful views to leave them out.
This (according to hikers we talked to) was the prettiest outhouse he’d ever seen. It was photogenic on the outside anyway. 😉
As we started up the cloud surrounded mountain, Laurie suggested counting the switchbacks up the mountain (hard to keep track while gaping at the beauty and gasping for breath), we switched 25 times back and forth across the mountain. Each switchback was probably 50-75 yards long (longer than switchbacks I’ve found in the Sierras so far), shortening a bit near the top; the trail was very narrow, definitely single file only. If you meet someone on the trail, trail etiquette suggests you step aside for the hikers ascending. Sometimes there was barely enough room to do that! Looking up the mountain, you could see the people as specks on the top switches of the trail. A hiking club (The Washington Trails Association) was having an outing that day, so the trail was busy.
Imagine if you were part of a clock and you were standing at 12 o’clock, the mountain was so steep from the trailhead it was about 10:30 on the clock. Because we’d traveled by car so far up the mountain, the elevation gain of the hike was only 1,560’ during the 4 miles round-trip. Because we HAD to stop and admire the view so often, although we were on the mountain for 4 hours, we really only moved on the trail for 1 hour and 50 minutes.