This Sunday, Bryan, Valerie and Billy, and I set off at 7:30 am to hike Hannegan Peak in the North Cascades. We piled into Billy’s Jeep and hit the road for the just under 3 hour drive to the trailhead. Destination, Forest Service Road #32 off of Mt. Baker Highway (also known as the Mtn Loop Highway), pretty darn close to the Canadian border. We made great time and got to the trailhead at about 10 am. By 10:20 am we were on the trail.
All four of us were dressed for the hot weather and had light packs of just food for the summit, lots of water, and protection against any elements. My pack was very light. The trail we chose started out nice and gentle. There was a very gentle grade for the first 3 miles along the ridge with beautiful views into the valley, of neighboring mountains and quite a few wildflowers. We were for the most part in the sun which was getting warmed as we made our way deeper into the mountain. At about 3 miles the trail stepped up the inclination a bit but we were now in full shade in a beautiful and rich forest. No bugs but lots of blueberry plants along the trail to pick. At four miles we had made it to Hannegan Pass were a few other hikers were taking a break. We had just a mile and about 1200 feet elevation gain to go until we reached the summit.
The next mile was much steeper and was in full sun. But by this point we had sweeping views of the North Cascades that were just beautiful. We pushed our way to the top quite out of breath but immediately found a great viewpoint to savor our hike. The weather was just perfect on the top, a light cool breeze, warm sun, not a cloud in the sky. We could see Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker, the American Border Peak and Yellow Aster Butte that Bryan and I had hiked two years ago. It was gorgeous. We snacked on granola bars, trail mix, apple slices, dried snap peas, and lots and lots of water. We took our time and after about an hour we were ready for the 5 mile trek down.
The going down was quite easygoing. The first mile, again steep and having to watch your footing. The last four miles a very gradual decline. Our time up to the summit was about 3.5 hours. Our time down to the cars was about 2.5 hours. We got back to the Jeep at 4:30 pm, sweaty and exhausted. Billy and Valerie had wanted to see the tourist popular Artist Point so we drove up to Artist Point, which lies just next to Mt Baker Ski Resort (the most visually appealing ski destination in my opinion). We walked around and stretched our legs, again taking in our gorgeous surroundings. Here we learned of the Seahawks victory.
We now had about a 3.5 hour drive back to Seattle. We were all starving but made it to Bellingham (2 hours away) for Thai food at On Rice in the historic part of old Bellingham. We had a surprisingly fantastic Thai dinner, despite awful service, and empty tummys. Bryan and I shared our usual Drunken Noodles and Panang Curry and both were plate licking good. Back in the car for the last 1.5 hour drive to Seattle. We pulled into our driveway at 10:30 pm. A very great day in the mountains with two good friends!