Part 1: Loki and I went off our planned route to explore Railroad Grade trail.
On the way back down to the Park Butte trail, I thought about calling it quits for the day.
Hikers on the way up Railroad Grade Trail.
I wanted to make it to the top, but I wasn’t sure my feet or Loki’s could handle it with the extra mileage we had just done. Plus I only had one granola bar left until I returned to the car. Loki on the other hand was stacked with treats and food, so he was good to go.
Personally I hate feeling like I missed out on experiencing something, so not continuing to the top would have been disappointing.
I decided we’d feel it out and turn back if either of us weren’t pushing ahead like we did on the Railroad Grade trail.
The trail took us through a small grassy meadow before climbing steeply up a number of switchbacks. Each sweep back and forth on the mountain side brought better and better views. Mountain lakes were everywhere and snow capped summits filled the horizon.
We forged ahead, easily cruising up the trail. Both of us had plenty of energy and after another 45 minutes of climbing we made it to the top of Park Butte Trail.
The hidden surprise of this trail can be found on the peak of the mountain. At the pinnacle rests a rustic cabin with sweeping panoramic views of the entire area (Mount Baker dominates the landscape).
The best part of this place is that anyone can sleep here on a first-come, first-served basis. I fully intend to come back at some point to take advantage of this scenic spot.
After a brief break at the cabin we began our decent back down the mountain. Little did we know we were headed into a sweaty, hot and slightly painful misery. Well not misery per se, just no where near as fun as the way up.
Loki took constant breaks to roll and sniff while the sun rose higher in the sky, slowly cooking us both. I didn’t take as many photos on the way down but we did get to see two sights that were unexpected.
Two teams of horses and lamas/goats were making their way up the trail as we neared the bottom. Each team carried building supplies for what I can only imagine was to fix up the cabin on the summit. Loki really wasn’t a fan of the giant horses but couldn’t get enough of the odd looking lamas.
When we got back to the parking lot the car count had nearly tripled since our start at 5am.
All in all, the 3am wake up call was totally worth it. I can’t wait to show Christine this amazing place!