Skyline Divide Backpacking + Hadley Peak Attempt
DATE HIKED: 7/21-22
TOTAL DISTANCE: 13
TOTAL ASCENT: 4,239
DIFFICULTY: MODERATELY DIFFICULT
REQUIRED PERMIT: NONE
DOG FRIENDLY: Skyline divide (yes) Hadley Peak (no)
LOCATION: MT. BAKER WILDERNESS
RECREATION PASS: NORTHWEST FOREST PASS
Skyline Divide had been on my list for some time. As mid summer approached, I looked for a destination on a ridge to possibly escape the masses of mosquitos that are out this time of year. For the most part, this plan worked!
Friday, Kaelee and I left Seattle after battling traffic. We decided to sleep at the trailhead Friday night to get an early start Saturday. Specially since it is 3 hours away from Seattle. The road going up wasn't too bad, just very long. We got there before dark, set up camp in the back of the Subaru and hit the hay. We woke up early, about 5, made coffee and then hit the trail. One major thing to note about this trail is since it is on a ridge, there are no reliable water sources. They did end up being a few patches of snow around, but by mid summer, I wouldn't count on it. Our packs were incredibly heavy and painful with the added weight. The trail climbs through forest for the first few miles and then eventually open up to your first views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. The North Cascades in all of their grand glory.
Right at this opening to the left the ridge continues and there are campsites available right away. Great place to go if you only want to hike a couple miles with a pack, set up camp and then explore. We had beta on an awesome campsite up ahead, but it was already taken. The trail follows these knolls up and down (that I find very annoying). We got to a straight part in the trail about 3.5 miles in with a flat, durable campsite. We knew we could keep going up the trail to look for more spots, but we really wanted to take off the heavy packs and relax and set up camp. It was only 9:00 at this point, but already time for a mid-morning nap!
I had also researched Hadley Peak, which is a continuation of Skyline Divide. I wanted to attempt this if we were feeling up to it, since we had so much time as well. We got moving on this around noon and made our way up the trail, encountering many day hikers on the way. We found the best campsite on the way up that I would deffinitely go for next time!
It is unclear exactly where Skyline Divide ends and Hadley Peak trail starts, but if you do Skyline Divide you can choose how far you want to go. Eventually as we continued we lost all of the crowds. There is a faint boot path for the most part in the beginning. We eventually got to a rock gully that involved some real scrambling and coxing my friend through the annoying chossy rock. We got through that part and on to the higher ridge, which was easy going from here. The mountain was all socked in at this point and we decided to turn around about .5 mile from the summit. Not worth it for no views and our campsite was now very far away and it was late afternoon. We turned around and I wasn't too sad about it since we got to explore more of the area. I'm sure the views of Baker from up there are insane when it's clear!
We got back to camp, made dinner and then waited for the sunset. We shot sunset and went to bed super early. We set our alarms for 2 AM to wake up to take night photos. We were able to see climbers going up to the summit at this time. Such an awesome thing to witness!
I accidentally slept through sunrise and we slept until around 7. We packed up camp quick and hiked the 3.5 miles out back to the car. The trailhead was absolutely packed with day hikers. Make sure to get here early for a day hike or overnighter. I made a goal to explore more of the North Cascades this year and so far it's going really well! These volcanoes and jagged peaks capture my heart.