Big Four

With the clear skies, I've been itching to head up in to the mountains to get some photos of the snowcapped peaks. I decided that I'd like to check out Big Four along the Mountain Loop Highway past Verlot. One of the roads I was hoping to explore I found in my inherited copy of "Trips and Trails, 1" by the Mountaineers, which discussed a short 2 mile road up out of Coal Creek with great views of Big Four and the Stillaguamish valley. Unforunately, since the 1967 publishing of this book, that road has long succumbed to undergrowth and is all but gone.

So I decided that just driving up the MLH was enough. I then found out that the road is gated at Deer Creek, just a few miles short of the Big Four picnic area and trailhead. D'oh. I figured it might be bikable so I put the bike in the truck and headed up the next morning. My goal was to get some alpenglow photos of Big Four.

I arrived at the gate at around 6:30 in the morning, still dark. There was a bunch of official vehicles there already. It was the Snohomish County Sheriff Department's Search and Rescue crew. A hiker had gone missing on Dickerman. I found that the road was compact snow and ice past the gate so I proceeded on foot.

I was hustling trying to make the bend to make sure that I would have a decent view of Big Four with the sun rising. I made it to a riverbank with good coverage, set up my gear and hunkered down. I learned that due to the early season, the face of Big Four isn't lit by the sun, only its peaks. Ah well, it was still a great sight.

Undaunted, I decided to hoof it further up the road to see if I could get to its sunlit side. I found myself further and further along the road only to find that there were no better views of Big Four to come. I eventually made it to the Sunrise Mine road with a sign that said "Scenic Overlook, 2mi". Hmm.. I made it this far, what's another 2 miles? So I headed up the road. Thankfully the road was compacted by some snowmobiles in days prior so the progress was easy. A few times during the trek I could hear, and occasionally see a search and recovery Huey near Dickerman. I reached what I think was the overlook at around 10am with great views of Sperry, Morning Star and a distant Del Campo Peak. After taking a plethora of photos, I headed back to the MLH.

Back on the MLH I was really feeling the pain of pushing myself. I met a x-country skiier, the first person I'd seen all day, at around 11am. He'd be the first of dozens of people I'd pass on the road the way back.

I stopped at the Big Four picnic area and took more photos with the improved light. I found out that the hiker that was missing on Dickerman had died and had been airlifted out from this picnic area not much earlier.

After more pictures of Big Four and Hall Peak, I called it a day and limped back to the gate. Over all, despite the soreness, it was a brilliant day. By the time I had reached Silverton, a pall of clouds had worked its way in.



Mountain Loop Highway


Sunrise Mine Road