Twin Lakes/Winchester Mountain – Round 1

As a continuation of my birthday celebration week in August 2008, my good friend Joe and I decided to embark on a new adventure. My friend Graham had told me about a place called Twin Lakes and a beautiful hike from the campsite. Being a newbie to the outdoors, I let Joe plan the trip and brought whatever he thought was necessary. It ended up being the most glorious 23 hours of my life and is what really solidified my new love for the outdoors.

Twin Lakes is in the North Cascades just off of SR 542. The long dirt road takes you up to a 5200 ft. campground surrounding the two lakes. It is quite simply my most favorite car camping spot. You can hike up the road if you would like or need to depending on the season. Since it’s so high, the snow doesn’t melt down until the end of summer. Be sure to bring a vehicle with a high clearance. Those pot holes are really gnarly.

After taking off in the evening, we arrived just as the sun was setting and watched the reflections of the sun off of Mt. Baker. A perfect viewing area was just a quick scramble from our campsite (located between the lakes). That night Joe introduced me the wonderfulness of having hot links over a fire. This basically became my car camping tradition. Screw hot dogs, or even polish dogs. Hot links is where it’s at. And as we talked of many things, I remember the very moment I looked up at the sky and literally gasped.

I moved a little further away from the campfire towards the road and looked up again. I have never seen so many stars in my life. It was a perfectly crystal clear night and when I looked up, I remember that all I could see peripheral vision and all was night sky and stars. I literally felt like I was in space. Joe followed and we both stood there in silence for a few minutes. We thought about climbing into the truck bed and laying there to watch the stars but thought of the effort of bring our sleeping bags and stuff back out would be too much of a hassle. So we sat on the ground and stared at the sky for probably a good 10-15 more minutes. Then some clouds quickly came in and covered most of our view.

I remember it was that moment that I knew I would need to continue hiking and exploring all the wonderfulness of the mountains. I was just sad I was discovering it so late since I was moving away from the area for my “real life job”. Little did I know how the next morning would blow my mind away.

The next morning we were greeted with blue skies and warm temperatures. The lakes were calm and shiny. I spent much of the morning taking photos of the beautiful mountain flowers. We quickly ate our breakfast and headed up the trail. The first 10 minutes of the hike we were completely surrounded by wild flowers. It was amazing. I had never experienced anything like that before. Within a few more minutes we reached a little lookout area with a view that would’ve been worthy of any peak of a hike. I was so excited to reach the top. The trail is short, probably less than 2 miles, but can get pretty steep at some parts. Not being in hiking shape it took me a little while to get there…Joe quickly reached the top once we were near since I am sure it was bored of waiting for me. But the top…was simply glorious.

A an old fire lookout maintained by a wilderness group is at the very top, equipped for anyone to stay. Bed, stove, table, and lots of things to read/explore. It’s first come first serve, and always thought I would like to sleep there for the night, but the thought of hauling all my camping equipment up, just in case someone else was already there didn’t really appeal to me. I couldn’t get over the view from the top. I literally felt like we were on top of the world.As far as I could see were mountain tops. It looked like it was neverending. I did get a quick video that you can see here:

It was a simply glorious way to spend the morning. I think by the time we were back to our campsite it was only 11 a.m. and the weather was fantastic so Joe decided we should go explore more. And so we drove up further on SR 542, stopped at Picture Lake (second time within two weeks) and explored a different area of Artist Point. Ending up summitting another peak that afternoon…Already working on my next post if you want to continue the adventure…

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