This weekend my friend Skyler and I took a trip up to Winchester Fire Lookout, an historic fire lookout north of Mt. Baker highway on top of Winchester mountain up here in Washington State (see map below). I hadn’t gotten to go backcountry skiing in a few weeks and I was itching to get out, even if the conditions looked a little iffy due to warm weather and tons of new, unconsolidated snow (and I don’t mean powder).
We tried to hike into the Lookout after classes on Friday afternoon, but we didn’t realize that five miles of the road was still covered by snow. Per Dawson family tradition I chained up the Cherokee, but was only able to hog a few hundred yards.
So we slogged till eleven o’clock, and finally camped on a ridge a few miles away from the lookout. I sent my dad a Spot OK message from there, I wonder what he thought? The next day we planned to ski Mt. Larabee, but the snow didn’t want to freeze that night, so we got to the base of Larabee and headed back up to the Lookout. We hung out for the rest of the day and enjoyed the panoramic views from our perch on top of Winchester mountain.
There are a number of these old fire lookouts in these mountains, Winchester is operated as a hut by the Mount Baker Club. The lookouts are usually located on the highground, with amazing views available through 360 degrees of glass walls. I’ve heard some are surrounded by excellent backcountry skiing terrain, as Winchester is. The Lookout isn’t heated, but has a propane cookstove. In a climate such as the Cascades, you appreciate a roof and four walls — heat or not!
We stayed the night and slept in, after waking up early and realizing the temp had not dropped below 35 degrees all night. We headed back in time to catch lunch at the WWU dining hall and finish up some homework.
(All photos by Skyler)